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Volunteer for Hennepin County Citizens Review Panel to Help with Complex Child Protection Services

Article by Claudia Kittock

One of the first things I noticed about living in the Mill District was the endless array of fascinating people I met. After 10 years of living here, I am still awed by the people here and the things they do. Vicki Underland-Rosow is one such person.

Vicki was born and raised in Austin, Minnesota, not far from my hometown. We discovered we had much in common, and she has opened my eyes to so many arenas in Minneapolis. I am endlessly indebted to her and the worlds she has opened to me.

Vicki contacted me recently with yet another area of interest. She is a member of the Hennepin County Citizens Review Panel. Citizen Review Panels are mandated by the federal government to provide child welfare programs with organized, sanctioned oversight. All members of the panel are appointed by the governor and serve for 2-year terms. The members of the panel are volunteers who devote their time and creative thinking to help children in the child protection system and their families. It is a huge undertaking (there were over 15,000 reports made to child protection in Hennepin County in 2014).

The work of the panel is to explore ways to help prevent children from being harmed further, and to help families learn to better care for their children. Offering an outside perspective on the internal workings of the child protection system could better safeguard children who have already been abused and neglected. It is also hoped that the panel will find ideas on ways families and communities can work together to better serve children.

While the panel works on many projects, some recent projects have included:

1) Implementation of the Family Assessment Model

2) Recidivism in the child protection system

3) The length of time spent by children in foster care

4) Use of past history in screening child protection reports

5) Recruitment, training and retention of foster and adoptive parents

6) Preventing child abuse and neglect in children ages 0 to 3

There is significant disparity in the numbers of minorities involved in child protection, and the panel is most interested in continued efforts to address the complex issues impacting this disparity. The culminating reports are sent to both the Hennepin County Commissioners and the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

The Citizens Review Panel members meet monthly, learning about the child protection system on a county level and about state statutes governing child protection. Speakers are brought in to educate the panel about new initiatives, staffing patterns, North Star Implementation, Indian Child Welfare Act, implementation of the new Family Assessment Model, etc. In addition to attending monthly meetings, each member will be a part of a small subgroup that chooses and researches a project for the year.

Community volunteers are needed to serve on this panel. Men and women from diverse backgrounds and perspectives who can work together to offer insight into how Hennepin County can better serve children in the child protection system are being sought. If you are interested, or know someone who may be interested, please contact Vicki Underland-Rosow at

This is important work! We are stronger together, and working to protect children and think differently about the systems that handle this work matters. Please consider volunteering.

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About Claudia Kittock

Claudia is a resident of the Mill District. In addition to writing for Mill City Times, she is a founding Board Member of Friends of the Mill District. Claudia is the author of Health Through Chaos, mentors young adults at YouthLink, and has served on the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA).



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