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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Foster Care Moratorium Exception to Provide Care for Children with Severe Autism

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On Monday, March 5th the Minnesota Senate held a hearing on S.F. 1412 which was introduced by Senator Senjem. The purpose of the bill is to create an exception to the foster care moratorium to allow the licensing of facilities that serve children with severe autism. *A moratorium on new child and adult corporate foster homes was enacted in July 1, 2009.

The bill was introduced to bridge the gap between programming and housing. If enacted, a single not-for-profit agency, which was identified in the hearing as Fraser, would oversee the foster care licenses in three counties and provide the mental health services for children with severe autism. The programming would be similar to larger centers in other states that have boarding schools, farms or campus setting. See proposed legislation S.F. 1882 that discusses the development of a campus to serve children with severe autism.

Some figures presented in the hearing were:

  • 1 in every 63 children has autism spectrum disorder
  • In 1982 there were approximately 148 children with autism and in 2011 there were approximately 15,000 children with autism spectrum disorder
  • Over a 60 year lifespan it may cost the state $21,000,000 to provide services for a child with severe autism

We may be asking ourselves, why are these figures so high?

  • Child may have been under diagnosed in the past
  • Awareness may have increased over the past 30 years
  • The switch from autism to autism spectrum disorder may have increased diagnosis

Initially there was a fiscal note associated with the bill but in a proposed amendment the fiscal note was deleted by the use of existing beds that are available through the moratorium and the use of existing waiver slots. The proposal addresses taking the needs of children with severe autism into consideration for the use of these beds. *Note: In the hearing they stated if counties use existing beds to participate in the pilot project there would be no need to create an exception to the foster care moratorium. Essentially, the intent of the bill may need to be reevaluated.

In discussion of the bill the language is not clear enough to move forward. Here are some questions that were raised during discussion:

  1. How does the language identify Fraser as the controlling individual and service provider for this pilot project?
  2. How does this affect current language regarding moratoriums and does the Department of Human Services support this language?
  3. How does this bill affect individuals on the waiting list for a waiver slot?

As autism spectrum disorder and the awareness of autism spectrum disorder continues to grow, what are some ways that you think we can provide services more effectively?

Click here to listen to the entire hearing.

**At this time there is no language in the proposed bill text that identifies Fraser as the not-for-profit agency that would be serving this population. The testifier only suggested that Fraser had the ability to provide services to children with severe autism. Fraser is not taking an active role in this bill at this time. We apologize for the misinformation in this blog post.

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