The main goal for child protective services nationwide is to keep families intact when possible. For residents of Goodhue County, and in the rest of Minnesota, the trend is moving in the opposite direction, with out-of-home placements on the rise.
In 2017, a total of 110 children were placed out of the home in Goodhue County. The length of the placements varied, with some children being out of the home for a brief time and others being out of their homes for a year.
Most of the children (91) were placed into foster homes. They were either placed with relatives who were licensed to provide foster care or with non-related foster parents. Thirteen children had been placed in residential treatment due to significant behavior or mental health issues, and four young people aged 18-21 were in extended foster care placements.
Police Involved in Many Child Removals from Homes
Parental drug abuse was the main reason children were removed from their family homes and placed in out of home care in Goodhue County. Many of these placements started with the police conducting a drug raid at the home. When drugs were discovered at the home in the presence of children, the children were removed.
Other out of home placements were set in motion because the child had been exposed to drugs before birth or the parents were unable to supervise their children appropriately due to their own drug use.
Methamphetamine Abuse an Issue in Child Protection Cases
The most common drug of choice in Goodhue County child protection cases is methamphetamine. The US is still caught in the grip of an opioid crisis, but this fact isn’t borne out by the experience in child protection system in Goodhue to date.
Some of the children who are in residential treatment for their own behavioral or mental health issues grew up in homes where their parents had substance abuse issues. These children may stay in residential treatment for months, and then returning home to parents who are still drinking or using drugs is difficult.
The statistics listed above don’t include young people who are involved in the criminal justice system. These young offenders have often experienced neglect and abuse, as well as have parents with addiction problems.
While the immediate goal of out of home placement is to ensure the safety of the child, it has a cost in financial and emotional terms. The issues around substance abuse are complicated, and social agencies need more strategies in place for prevention and intervention so that at-risk children can be helped before abuse and neglect occur.