Minnesota has one of the highest rates of out-of-home care – primarily foster care – for Native American children in the country. Native Americans represent 1.9 percent of the Minnesota population and 19 percent of the 13,612 children in out-of-home care in 2015. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is working to uncover the story behind those numbers so strategies can be developed to turn them around.
DHS recently launched Native American Equity Pilot Project to research the causes, at various decision points by social service agencies, for the disproportionate number of Native American children in the state’s foster care system. The pilot project is being done in partnership with the University of Minnesota, Duluth.
“This disparity in outcomes for Minnesota children is unacceptable,” said Minnesota Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper. “We have a responsibility to determine why this is occurring and make changes to help Native American families succeed.”
Over the three-year pilot, the department and university will conduct research, prepare a report, develop curriculum, and train county and tribal social services agencies. The pilot will start in St. Louis County and involve Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe and Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe. Once the pilot has concluded it is expected to expand across other regions of the state.
The department will spend $134,000 annually for each year of the pilot.