State Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, and state Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, joined advocates and families to announce the Minnesota African American Family Preservation Act Monday, Feb. 11, at the state Capitol.

Senate File 730 and House File 342 would stop the arbitrary removal of black children from their homes by the child protection department.

According to a news release, Minnesota's African-American youths are removed from their homes at an alarming rate and a large number are crossing over from child protection into the juvenile justice system. Racial disparities are found in the entire process; from initial reporting, screening, and assessment to discharge from the system.

"For too long we've failed to address the unequal treatment and poor child welfare outcomes for African-American children and their families," Hayden stated in the release. "African-American children are over three times more likely than white kids to be reported to child protection, while at the same time being less likely to receive services that allow their children to stay in the home."

"The perpetual clogging of the state's child protection system with children who are not at risk of harm exhausts the state's resources and leads to case worker overload and a significant decrease in foster home availability. This leaves children who truly need protection vulnerable and at risk," Moran and Heyden's offices stated in the release.

The Minnesota African-American Family Preservation Act would work to address disparities at every decision point while providing oversight and accountability to the child protection workforce through the creation of an African-American Child Welfare Advisory Council and an African-American Child Well-Being Department within the Department of Human Services.