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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Terms Pertinent To The Minnesota Child Welfare Program

Page address: http://sbs.mnsu.edu/socialwork/child welfare program/appendix_b.html

Public Social Services: County or state child WELFARE unit within county and state social services

In Minnesota, public social services are delivered by a state-supervised, county-administered system.  This means that the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) oversees all services funded by public funds, i.e., tax dollars (county, state, and federal), delivered to MN citizens.  DHS established policies and rules, monitors, plans, evaluates, and makes appropriations of funds, and requests funds from the state legislature and federal government (e.g., IV-E funds).  The services themselves are nearly all administered and delivered by county social services units.  Each county in Minnesota has an elected county board which oversees all county funding and services; social services are a large part of county business.  Each county is responsible for hiring social service workers and delivering social services.

Child welfare services are “mandated” (must be provided to eligible MN residents) by federal and state laws.  Therefore, each county (a few of Minnesota’s smaller counties have combined to provide social services) has its own child welfare units to provide child protection, foster care, adoption, and family services.  Different counties may organize child welfare units differently; e.g., in a small county a social worker may do both foster care placements and adoptions, or a larger county may have a special unit to work with adolescent parents or addicted parents.  Counties have adopted different names for their social services function, e.g., Hennepin County Community Services, Blue Earth County Community Human Services,

All mandated child welfare services are public social services funded by local, state, and federal tax dollars.  Some counties may get special grants, (e.g., from a foundation) to provide a special service, (e.g., a counseling program for children), but all counties must provide basic child welfare services from the tax base, as outlined in child welfare laws.

Some counties may also contract with community agencies.  In other words, the county or state can provide funds to an agency to provide a specific service, for example, a home-based family counseling program to American Indian clients or a program for Southeast Asian children in a school.  However, the employees who deliver these services are not county employees; the program is a contracted program or agency, not “public social services” as defined above

Child Welfare Services

The following is quoted from: The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (PL 96-272, Part B, Section 425(a)(1).
The term “child welfare services” means public social services which are directed toward the accomplishment of the following purposes: (A) protecting and promoting the welfare of all children, including handicapped, homeless, dependent, or neglected children; (B) preventing, remedying, or assisting in the solution of problems which may result in the neglect, abuse, exploitation, or delinquency of children; (C) preventing the unnecessary separation of children from their families by identifying family problems, assisting families in resolving their problems, and preventing breakup of the family where the prevention of child removal is desirable and possible;  (D) restoring to their families children who have been removed, by the provision of services to the child and the families; (E) placing children in suitable adoptive homes, in cases where restoration to the biological family is not possible or appropriate; and (F) assuring adequate care of children away from their homes, in cases where the child cannot be returned home or cannot be placed for adoption.

Child Protection

The following is directly quoted from:  Liederman, David S.  (1995). “Child Welfare Overview.”  In Richard L. Edwards (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Social Work, 19(1), Silver Spring, MD: NASW, p. 425.

Child protective services (CPS) respond to the dramatic increase in the number of reports of child abuse and neglect. According to the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse (1993), in 1993 there were just under 3 million reports of child abuse or neglect, with a substantiation rate of approximately 34 percent. Child protective services traditionally have been undertaken by state or county government agencies that are charged by law with the protection of children. CPS agencies investigate reports of child abuse and neglect, assess the degree of harm and the ongoing risk of harm to the child, determine whether the child can remain safely in the home or should be placed in the custody of the state, and work closely with the family or juvenile court regarding appropriate plans for the child’s safety and well-being. Family and juvenile courts, working with CPS agencies, will, as appropriate, declare children in need of protection, remove children from their parents’ custody and place them in the custody of CPS agencies, and approve children’s placement in out-of-home care. In addition, courts periodically review the progress that is being made toward resolving the problems that led to the child’s placement and toward developing permanent plans for children who cannot return home.

Child Welfare Law

the following is directly quoted from:
Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 in Encyclopedia of Social Work 19(1), pp. 426-427.

The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, considered the most important child welfare legislation enacted over the past several decades, is contained in both Title IV-B and Title IV-E of the Social Security Act. Title IV-B is the major source of federal support for protective and preventive services for abused and neglected children and troubled families. Although the protection and care of these children and families are primarily the responsibility of state or county child welfare systems, federal support has been essential to help states fulfill their obligation.

Title IV-B

The Title IV-B Child Welfare Services Program was originally established to help support initial investigation and law enforcement regarding child abuse or neglect, as well as counseling, parent education, and comprehensive in-home preventive services. The act states that services must be designed to (1) intervene early with problems that might result in abuse, neglect, exploitation, or delinquency; (2) prevent family breakup and the separation of children from their families; (3) secure appropriate out-of-home care for children necessarily separated from their families; (4) reunify children with their families whenever possible after separation; and (5) place children with adoptive families when reunification with their families of origin is not possible.

Title IV-E

Title IV-E, the Federal Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Program, is the single most important program of federal support for children who have been separated from families who are unable or unwilling to care for them and who have been placed in out-of-home care - that is, in family foster care, kinship care, group homes, or residential facilities or with adoptive families. Title IV-E is a means-tested entitlement program under which states are partially reimbursed for the costs of caring for children up to age 18 who have been removed from their parents’ custody if the children receive (or are legible to receive) benefits under Aid to Families with Dependent Children or Supplemental Security Income.

Title IV-E requires states to ensure that children who are taken into the custody of the state and placed in foster care have a permanent home within a reasonable period. It also provides a subsidy program to meet the special needs of children who are adopted. The law sets forth certain standards that states must meet to receive federal funds. These standards, which have had a significant impact on the way child welfare services are provided, include reasonable efforts to keep children with their families whenever possible, permanency planning services, and out-of-home placement in the least restrictive setting.