Commentary: Families are what children need most

By Jodi Harpstead, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, St. Paul, MN

All children need safe, loving, permanent families. But right now, too many Minnesota children aren’t getting the basic building blocks of support, stability and love that families can offer.

During a time of devastating natural disasters, racial inequities that persist in our communities and the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety that families provide is more important than ever. Foster children face their own upheavals, not only dealing with the turmoil of the world around us, but also with day-to-day challenges including the trauma of being removed from their homes.

We at the Minnesota Department of Human Services have three priorities to ensure that children in struggling families get the care and support they need.

Reunifying families

Parents want what’s best for their children and work hard to give them good lives. Yet sometimes parents struggle to manage financial worries, health concerns, work-related challenges, parenting demands and other stresses. When parents have problems and children are placed in the foster care system, our first priority is to reunify families. We support parents to overcome their difficulties and minimize trauma for children who have been removed from home. The more quickly we can safely reunify families, the better off everyone is…

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