Children’s Justice Initiative

Working with Minnesota Judicial Branch to improve child protection process

The Children's Justice Initiative (CJI) is collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Human Services and Minnesota Judicial Branch. The purpose of the initiative is for these two state entities to work closely with the local juvenile courts, social services agencies, county attorneys, public defenders, court administrators, guardians ad litem, tribes, and other key stakeholders in each of Minnesota's 87 counties and two American Indian Child Welfare Initiative (AICWI) tribes to improve the processing of child protection cases and the outcomes for abused and neglected children. The overall objective is to find safe, stable, permanent homes for abused and neglected children, first through reunification with the child's parents if that is safe or, if not, through another permanent placement option. When identifying and implementing improvements, the project's goal is for all stakeholders to operate "through the eyes of the child" so as to achieve child safety, permanency, and well-being.

Best Practice Toolkit addresses important dimension of Child Protection

As part of CJI, interdisciplinary teams representing child welfare, chemical health and the court system worked in communities throughout the state to enhance the capacities of these systems to address problems, further develop cross-systems partnerships and improve practices to help families affected by alcohol and other drug problems. Recognizing that alcohol and other drug problems are a significant impediment to the realization of successful outcomes for families involved in child protection cases, a Tool Kit identifies 20 strategies that have been shown to help front-line practitioners as well as the managers and supervisors who set policy in the child welfare, chemical health and juvenile protection court systems. This Tool Kit is, available on both the DHS and the Minnesota Judicial Branch Web sites, was developed by the Children’s Justice Initiative – Alcohol and Other Drug (CJI-AOD) workgroup, with technical assistance from the National Center for Substance Abuse and Child Welfare.

High quality judicial process reviewed

Child protection system stakeholders who want to enhance their understanding of the law are urged to consult a new publication the Minnesota Judges Juvenile Protection Benchbook. Published by the Children’s Justice Initiative and now available on the Minnesota Judicial Branch Web site, the Benchbook specifies the necessary elements of a fair, thorough and timely court process. For each type of hearing (Emergency Protective Care, Admit/Deny, Adjudication, Disposition, Disposition Review, Permanent Placement Determination, etc.), the Benchbook identifies the specific findings, conclusions, and orders required at each stage of the proceeding. The Benchbook will be updated regularly to reflect revisions to federal and state statutes, rules and case law.

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Minnesota Judicial Branch, Children’s Justice Initiative
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