Minnesota is launching an initiative to strengthen foster care experiences for children by focusing on improving parenting skills. Thirteen organizations in the state, including Aspire MN and St. David’s Center for Child and Family Development, are working together to bring the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) to the state. QPI is an approach designed to rebrand foster care “by changing the expectations of and support for foster parents and other caregivers,” according to the QPI website.
Minnesota is joining a number of states and counties in implementing QPI, which began in California and has expanded to Nevada, Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Illinois, as well as agencies in various cities around the country.
According to a report from The Chronicle of Social Change earlier this year, Minnesota is experiencing a shortage of all foster homes, but especially homes for African American and Native American children.
“Minnesota is right at the start of the initiative,” said Janet Salo, co-chair of the Kinship Work Action Group in Minnesota in an email to The Chronicle of Social Change. “We have several Work Action Groups that will be reporting to the Steering Committee.”
Minnesota’s roster of non-relative foster homes has remained stable in recent years, but the number of youth entering foster care has risen from 5,330 in 2012 to 8,793 in 2016, according to federal data.
QPI is being launched partly as an effort to recruit more foster parents and partly to reduce the prevalence of re-entries into foster care. The initiative seeks to enhance parenting skills among foster parents, biological parents who may be struggling to regain custody of their children, and kinship caregivers who have stepped up to parent family members.
Salo, who is a family support specialist for kinship family support services at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has been working to expand resources to kinship caregivers in the state.
“Our goal is to provide relative foster parents with important and necessary training and resources upon placement of their relative or kin,” Salo said. “Our next meeting is in mid-January. We are still looking to recruit relative/kin birth parents and relative/kin youth in foster care to round out our work group.”
Work on the initiative will continue through 2018.