MN Complaint under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Minnesota

The Minneapolis branch of the NAACP submitted a complaint in this case against the State of Minnesota for using federal funds to discriminate against Black families in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The complaint was compiled by Children’s Rights and NAACP National’s Office of General Counsel.

CASE DETAILS

Venue
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights
City
Minneapolis
Status
Active
Filed
March 1, 2024
Focus Areas
Racial Justice

The complaint, which we believe is the first of its kind brought before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS/OCR) regarding discrimination in the child welfare system, asks HHS/OCR to immediately open an investigation of Minnesota’s foster system, specifically in the State’s two most populous counties, Hennepin and Ramsey counties, and bring the State into compliance with civil rights laws.

The discrimination in Minnesota’s child welfare system is evident in the historic, pervasive, and ongoing overrepresentation of Black families. For years the system’s actions have had a disparate and harmful impact on Black children and families. Despite recent scrutiny for the disproportionate treatment of Black families, the percentage of Black children who have been reported, who have been investigated, and who have been removed from their homes, has remained relatively unchanged. 

In recent years mandated reporters in schools, law enforcement, and social services made a greater percentage of reports about Black children than white children across Minnesota. Once screened in, cases involving Black children are more likely to result in an investigation or assessment, as well as removal and family separation, than cases involving white children.  

A recent study found that Minnesota child welfare agencies removed Black children from their homes in Hennepin and Ramsey counties with a degree of disproportionality that outpaced state and national trends. Data also demonstrate that across Minnesota, Black children are more likely to experience termination of parental rights (TPR) than white children, with disproportionality rates outpacing national trends once again. As a result children, parents and families experience deep trauma and life-long harm.

The complaint includes evidence that in three areas, the State’s child welfare practices and policies drive discriminatory and disproportionate removals of Black families:

This case, a novel one for Children’s Rights, was brought to end the unnecessary, traumatic, and intrusive investigations, surveillance, and separation of Black families by the Minnesota child welfare system. We must use every tool we have to hold governments accountable for the children in their care.

The Minnesota Child Welfare System