Youngsters’s Justice Initiative turns 20 – Minnesota Lawyer

Kathleen Blatz

This month marks the 20th year since the Minnesota Children’s Justice Initiative began.

This collaboration between the Justice Department and the Minnesota Department of Human Services is helping abused and neglected children quickly find shelter in safe, stable, and permanent homes.

Under the direction of former Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz in December 2000, the DHS and the judiciary work together on initiatives to help children in all 87 counties.

“For the past 20 years, the Children’s Rights Initiative has brought together all sides of Minnesota’s child protection system to improve the lives of our state’s most vulnerable children,” current Attorney General Lorie S. Gildea said in a December 8 press release. “We are proud to celebrate everything we have achieved through the Child Justice Initiative and to celebrate this important anniversary.”

In 2005, Minnesota hosted the first National Summit on Judicial Leadership to Protect Children, which highlighted the Child Justice Initiative. According to the Judicial Branch press release, almost every other state was soon implementing similar models.

The initiative provides training and resources to help judges, lawyers, guardians, social workers, and others involved in the child protection system better manage cases.

Among his most recent accomplishments, she launched a pilot in Minnesota’s 8th Judicial District in 2018, with two judges overseeing all children in need of protection or service proceedings in seven counties.

According to the judiciary, this particular approach appears to accelerate the placement of children in permanent, safe living situations. The pilot ends on December 31st.

“We share no greater responsibility than making sure we have the best child protection system possible in our state,” said Gildea. “And there is no greater duty than what we owe to vulnerable children. Children who deserve nothing less than security, stability and happiness. “

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