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/13 August, 2021

Senior Fellow’s Research Shows MN Program Reduces Racial Disparities in Child Welfare

New research published by senior fellow Mathangi Swaminathan shows that one program in Minnesota shows strong results in reducing racial disparities for entry into the child welfare system.

Senior fellow Mathangi Swaminathan

In 2019, Minnesota ranked among the worst states in racial disparities in outcomes for children. From 2016 to 2019 in Olmsted County, specifically, which includes the city of Rochester, Black children were twice as likely as white children to be reported to child protection services, and multiracial children were seven times as likely as white children to be placed in out-of-home care settings like foster care or group homes. 

Mathangi, who works with Olmsted County’s Health Housing and Human Services Administration, focused on building up prevention programs in the county and minimizing racial disparities. One of the ways she did this was through designing and performing an evaluation of the county’s PACE program, a diversionary program for children of color who are between 5 and 12 years old who have been reported to the county’s child protection system for education-related issues. 

PACE, a voluntary program that offers both preventive and corrective case management services for the child referred along with all children in the family, has served nearly 1000 children since being implemented in 2010. 

Mathangi found that children who received case management services from the program reduced short-term entry rates into the child welfare system by 16 percent as compared to similar children who didn’t participate in the program. Long term entry rates were reduced by 7 percent. 

A financial evaluation of the program found that the average cost of serving a child through the PACE program was two to three times less expensive than serving a child in Child Protection & Welfare Services. Additionally, diverting children into the PACE program has saved the county approximately $2 million since 2010.

For more specific information on how the program works, staffing needs and costs, click here to read Mathangi’s full evaluation report. 

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