New Populations in Rural Counties: Implications for Child Welfare
St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Department of Health
June 17, 2008, 38 pages
Studies the needs of seven rural Minnesota counties with large immigrant populations and recommends multiple approaches to improve child welfare services to these clients. Data collection occurred through focus group discussions in each county; consultation with state, university, community groups and Bridging Refugee Youth and Children's Services (BRYCS); and discussion of an advisory committee. Reliable demographic data on the proportion of immigrant families served by the child welfare system was not available since differentiation between refugee Africans and African Americans, and between newly arrived Hispanics and older Latino settlers is not recorded. Findings include: tense feelings toward immigrant population in the rural counties that reflect the national immigration problem; barriers to social services due to undocumented status; variable support for collaborative models to integrate immigrants; poor access to translation services; educational issues such as truancy; and high rates of learning disabilities. Recommendations to improve child welfare service to immigrant populations include: (1) funneling early intervention for vulnerable families to the schools and public health systems; (2) providing handbooks and cultural profiles to improve case workers' cultural competency and developing professional workshops to address multi-cultural issues; (3) initiating a certificate program for a cultural liaison; (4) creating pamphlets explaining the child welfare system and holding community meetings for immigrant parents; (5) developing a network of community resources; (6) improving interpreter and language services; and (7) increasing advisory committees to report on emerging best practices and policies in child welfare staff and community education.