Minnesota enacts law to protect Black families

05/21/2024, Legislation, Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

On May 21, 2024, the Governor approved SF 716, the "Minnesota African American Family Preservation and Child Welfare Disproportionality Act," Minn. Stat. §§ 260.61 to 260.693.  According to one source, the bill was first introduced eight years ago

The law imposes a duty on social services agencies to "make active efforts to prevent the out-of-home placement of an African American or a disproportionately represented child."  It also prohibits out-of-home placement "[u]nless the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the child would be at risk of serious emotional damage or serious physical damage if the child were to remain..." The law requires the court to assess at each hearing regarding a disproportionately represented child whether the agency has provided active efforts to the child and their family. 

And when a child is placed out of home, the law mandates that the agency "engage in best practices related to visitation", including “active efforts to facilitate regular and frequent visitation between the child and the child's parents or custodians, the child's siblings, and the child's relatives.”


As to the right to counsel specifically, the bill provides:


Notwithstanding section 260C.163, subdivision 3, and the provisions of Minnesota 9.20 Rules ofJuvenile Protection Procedure, rule 25, a parent or custodian of an African American or a disproportionately represented child who is subject to an emergency hearing under this section and Minnesota Rules ofJuvenile Protection Procedure, rule 30, has a right to counsel appointed by the court. The court must appoint qualified counsel to represent a parent if the parent meets the eligibility requirements in section 611.17.


Minn. Stat. 260.66, subd. 3(c) (as to emergency removal proceedings).



PreserveOurFamilies.org has more information about the bill and some of its key provisions.  

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes