Driving County Roads

An on line journal sharing my views. The content reflects my background as a rural person employed in agriculture and as a retired elected official of local government.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Out of Home Placements

These words are unwelcome by parents and by the community. County officials are charged with the duty of protecting children and making decisions regarding their best care. County Commissioners do not like to hear about out of home placements for many reasons. It is soul wrenching to come to the realization that many children and families are hurting so much that some kind of lawful intervention is warranted. Also, the cost of caring for children outside of their own homes is horrendous.

Recently, Nicollet County Social Service personnell updated the county board on these issues. There are many reasons as to why children are not getting the proper care and are required to be placed outside the home. These include: mental health issues, safety concerns, neglect of the child, physical abuse, parental alcohol or drug use, delinquency, abandonment, and others. These placements are not treated lightly. Every effort is made to place the child in a setting where he/she can thrive. Sometimes the setting is with foster parents, other times the setting is in a residential facility.

The update from Social Service staff gave us a snapshot of current out of home placements of children in Nicollet County on a chosen day this spring. The snapshot indicated a total of 31 placed. The 31 children were in the following categories: 10 placed because of mental health issues; seven placed in long term foster care; five placed because of juvenile delinquency issues; five were in the adoption process; and four were in child protective services. County staff must make face to face visits with these children at least once a month, whether they are placed in facilities near by or whether they are placed in facilities hundreds of miles away.

County staff shared that about 75% of these placements are due to chemical dependency issues on the part of the client and/or the parent. The costs for the county for out of home placements from Jan. 1, 2009 through April 30, 2009 was $379,650. This is all county tax levy dollars. end

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