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Reasonable Efforts or Unrealistic Expectations: a Look at Hennepin County Child Protection Cases

This report is the result of courtroom monitoring, interviews with key stakeholders, and case reviews. WATCH conducted the following activities to gain a sound understanding of CHIPS cases in Hennepin County:

  • Monitored approximately 435 hearings involving 129 cases between August 2008 and December 2009
  • Interviewed 28 guardians ad litem working in Hennepin County • Interviewed eight juvenile court judges who currently preside or previously presided over CHIPS cases
  • Facilitated two focus groups involving thirteen Hennepin County child protection workers
  • Reviewed redacted versions of 47 child protection petitions
  • Facilitated two group meetings involving partner programs

The purpose of this report is to identify ways in which Hennepin County could provide greater support for families throughout the CHIPS process and improve the systems in which judges, social workers, and guardians ad litem (GAL) are operating. In addition to this report, Mary Lay Schuster, longtime WATCH monitor and professor at the University of Minnesota, compiled a companion report on the GAL program to assist in making improvements to that program.