On Monday, March 12th S.F. 1165 was heard in the Health and Human Services Committee. This bill was introduced to amend language in 125A.30 Interagency Early Intervention Committees. This language would prompt a referral for an early intervention screening for children under age 3 who are subject of an accepted report for investigation or family assessment by a local child protection agency. If the local social service agency did not substantiate a report of maltreatment, the parent or guardian may voluntarily decline to have a referral to early intervention after they have been informed of healthy child development and early intervention referral and services. The commissioner of human services must report the referral rates by county annually.
As many of us know, healthy development of young children is essential to reaching milestones through a child's school years. If a child has experienced abuse or neglect they are at an increased risk for developmental delays. MinnLInk completed a study on The Child Protection and Special Education Outcomes of Part C Participants. Testimony revealed the change in language was introduced to fall in line with the changes in the child protection system: In 2005, all Minnesota counties implemented family assessment as another track to respond to reports of abuse and neglect.
There was a lot of discussion during the hearing about cost versus cost savings. According to testimony, the cost savings would not be seen right away but would be seen overtime with fewer individuals in the criminal justice and child protection system, a potential decrease in the use of public assistance, and a decrease in substance abuse and special education costs. According to testimony, the initial costs would be the responsibility of the county which may result in counties raising property taxes or decreasing existing services to families who are most in need. There was also discussion on the amount of time a case worker would spend on making a referral and the lack of existing resources in the county to serve an increase in referrals.
It was clear, during the hearing, that everyone agreed that early intervention services are necessary to give children a solid foundation.
This bill was referred to the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
What is your thought on this proposed amendment? How do preventative services help families in the child welfare system? Do you believe families would voluntarily request early intervention services?
To listen to the entire hearing click here.
To follow this and other legislation check out the CASCW Child Welfare Policy Bill Tracking page.