News Item
Courts Preparing for Change in How Child Welfare Services are Provided in Minnesota

Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Minnesota Judicial Branch and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) are preparing for a change in the way child welfare services are provided in Minnesota.
A new law approved during the 2021 legislative session includes several items that impact children’s residential facilities and the courts’ review of certain placements within those facilities. The Children’s Justice Initiative (CJI) has been anticipating this legislation, as it will spur the next steps in the implementation of the federal standards required by the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA).
The FFPSA aims to strengthen families and prevent children from entering foster care. With a “families first” model, the FFPSA makes significant changes in how child welfare is funded at the federal level and incentivizes actions to keep children in family settings. The federal legislation also created a new type of setting – the Qualified Residential Treatment Program (QRTP) – that will help achieve this goal.
Many stakeholders in the child welfare community will be impacted by the FFPSA and this new state law. DHS is working to license new and specialized settings. (See DHS County Link Family First website for more information). Social services agencies are adjusting for new prevention services that can be made available for families and for new requirements as to how placements are made within certain facilities.
The Minnesota Judicial Branch is also preparing for how this change will impact the courts. Starting September 30, 2021, Minnesota district courts will review and approve or deny decisions to place children in children’s residential facilities that are QRTP qualified within 60 days of placement. In addition to the initial review of QRTP placements, courts will also complete a long-term, ongoing review of the QRTP placement to ensure it meets a child’s well-being.
In addition, the Minnesota Judicial Branch is developing new processes, procedures and training in preparation for the September 30, 2021, implementation date of these new requirements. As child welfare is a collaborative effort among many stakeholders, the training will be available to CJI Teams and all child welfare stakeholders throughout the state. For more information, see FFPSA Help Topic.