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Putting county workers at the doors of these families should make a difference, said Denise Graves, a guardian ad litem who represents foster children in Hennepin County in court cases. She co-authored a 2012 report by the Hennepin County Citizen Review Panel, a child welfare watchdog, that was critical of the county’s family assessment approach.
“Someone from child protection is coming to call?” Graves said. “That might straighten out some people right there and then.”
If the county succeeds in persuading more troubled families to participate, that will increase the cost to the county and state of providing services. Last year, the county spent more than $900,000 on these services — with two-thirds of the funding coming from the state.
Moore said the county could gain $2 million per year in federal funding by taking over the role of assessing families. She also believes a more effective program will save money by reducing the number of families who end up back in the child welfare system.
“Families understand what child protection is. Families understand who a Hennepin County Child Protective Services worker is,” Moore said. “That in and of itself comes with its own set of perceptions and beliefs that, ‘Wow, I had better pay attention.’ ”
Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744