Response from Lori Swanson, Candidate for Governor
Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota is a nonprofit citizens’ group that advocates for improvements in Minnesota’s child welfare system. Our volunteer advocates throughout the state serve as watchdogs for the system governing child protection, foster care and related services. We are conducting a survey of all declared candidates for Minnesota governor to obtain their views on the current state of our child welfare system. The results of this survey are being shared broadly throughout Minnesota.
Read on for Safe Passage for Children's questions and Candidate Lori Swanson's responses:
Safe Passage for Children: Our child protection system is overburdened in many Minnesota counties. For example, child protection worker caseloads have increased. Do you favor increased state funding for our child protection system, overall?
Lori Swanson: Yes, I favor increased funding by the state for child protection services. As Governor, my budgets will reflect my priorities and the priorities of Minnesotans and one of our top priorities is the protection of our children. Today we see a growing epidemic of abuse and neglect of children, youth suicides, school violence, opioid deaths, and domestic violence. Early intervention can stop many of these tragedies, and adequate resources for child protection is an important resource in this effort.
Safe Passage for Children: The Task Force on the Protection of Children recommended that child protection workers discontinue the practice of interviewing victims in the presence of their alleged abusers (who may be parents or caregivers). Do you favor changing this recommendation to a requirement?
Lori Swanson: Yes, I support this recommendation. While I think it is important to protect due process, respect parental rights and family privacy, a child should be interviewed outside the presence of their alleged abuser.
Safe Passage for Children: Children of color, especially African Americans and Native Americans, are disproportionally over-represented in the child protection system. What steps would you consider to ensure that the system is working in the best interests of all Minnesota children?
Lori Swanson: As Governor, I will work with African American and Native American child protection leaders to address important concerns about disproportional representation of minorities in the child protection system, working together to find new, creative, and effective approaches to address this issue. We must work together to address and resolve these concerns.
Safe Passage for Children: Please provide any additional comments on Minnesota’s child protection system and how you would approach that system as Governor (max. 200 words).
Lori Swanson: As I stated, I support increased funding across the board for the child protection system In Minnesota, including the Guardian Ad Litem programs statewide. Our current system is underfunded and overburdened and lacks enough effective programs and services to support children and families and protect children from abuse and neglect. Too many times children suffer from the lack of resources for child protection and that is unacceptable.