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Children’s Justice Initiative seeks volunteers for child welfare committee

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Children’s Justice Initiative seeks volunteers for child welfare committee

Posted: Tuesday, August 15, 2023

A statewide committee created to change foster care outcomes for Black children and youth is looking for new members.

Led by the Children’s Justice Initiative, which is a collaboration between the Minnesota Judicial Branch and the Department of Human Services, the committee specifically will address the reason why Minnesota’s Black children and youth re-enter foster care following a permanent placement at a higher rate than their white counterparts.

“We’re specifically looking for people who have experienced the child welfare system and have successfully processed the trauma it caused them so that they can provide productive input,” said Judy Peterson, a program analyst with the Minnesota Judicial Branch. “It is an opportunity for them to influence how others might experience the child welfare system in the future.”

The committee also needs healthcare, law enforcement, and education professionals—including doctors, nurses, teachers, school nurses, police officers, and sheriff’s deputies. Participants should have sufficient experience with the child welfare system so that they’re knowledgeable about its procedures and the implications it can have on families, particularly African American families.

“We want this committee to have representation from all stakeholders who intersect with the child welfare system, including parents and youth,” Peterson said. “Only with all voices present can we successfully address this and improve the lives of children.”

Committee members will participate in one hour-long online meeting each month and should expect another hour of reading or other work throughout the month. Volunteers will be asked for a long-term commitment of up to three years so that the committee can implement possible solutions and monitor success.

People interested in serving on the committee should email CJI@courts.state.mn.us with an explanation about why they would like to join the committee and how their experience qualifies them to serve.