Hennepin County child protection reforms have changed needs for service
MINNEAPOLIS (July 14, 2020) – After serving as a haven for generations of children and youth, Catholic Charities’ St. Joseph’s Home for Children in South Minneapolis will conclude its operations as Emergency Shelter and Central Intake for Hennepin County by the end of 2020.
The Central Intake and Emergency Shelter programs have been the tools to help the system respond quickly to a crisis and place children into a safe setting. St. Joe’s also has offered emergency congregate shelter for those without other options with family or within the foster care system. The decision to close reflects years of advocacy by Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis to promote greater stability and permanency for children served and to ensure more trauma-informed and equitable practices in the child protection system. With Catholic Charities’ support, Hennepin County continues to advance its current strategic direction to prioritize placement of children with family and foster families first and to provide congregate care as an option of last resort.
These efforts have resulted in a significantly reduced number of children served by St. Joseph’s Emergency Shelter and Central Intake in recent years, with an average census often below 10 children a night in shelter.
Hennepin County and Catholic Charities will work to place children currently receiving care at St. Joe’s into relatives’ homes, foster homes or other community-based options. St. Joe’s Shelter services are anticipated to conclude by the end of August, and Central Intake will transition by the end of 2020. Work is underway to design the next phase.
“Hennepin County and Catholic Charities’ partnership has endured for decades,” said Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat, chair of the county’s Child Well-being Advisory Committee. “As with all great partnerships, it evolves from time to time and this is the next step in our work to bring transformational change to child protection. This closure actually represents wonderful progress to reduce the trauma kids face when families are in crisis.”
Formed in 1869 as the St. Joseph’s German Catholic Orphan Society, what is now known as St. Joseph’s Home for Children is Catholic Charities’ first program in the Twin Cities. Then serving youth left parentless by the dangers of pioneer life, the Civil War and pandemics, the Society opened the first St. Joseph’s German Catholic Orphan Asylum in Saint Paul in 1877. In 1960, economic and social conditions dictated that the Asylum merge with the Catholic Boys Home, which had been serving youth at the 46th and Chicago location in Minneapolis since 1886 to improve services to youth. Over the last 60 years, St. Joe’s has played a critical role in the lives of thousands providing safe, stable and dignified care in times of need.
“From babies to adolescents, children have found safety and stability in the care of St. Joseph’s Home for Children for generations,” said Tim Marx, President and CEO of Catholic Charities. “We are so proud of that legacy. While it’s always hard to leave a bit of history behind, this transition means the community is getting closer to its goal of keeping vulnerable children safely connected to and supported by their families and home communities, relying much less on an institutional setting like St. Joe’s – and that is a good thing.”
In conjunction with this transition and continuing Catholic Charities’ 150-year history of dignified service to those most in need, the organization is implementing a strategic direction to deepen its commitment to housing stability designed to maximize critical impact in the community and strengthen long-term financial sustainability. This commitment is seen in Catholic Charities’ current project, Exodus 2.0 (name subject to change), a $75 million private/public partnership designed to bring dignified housing to more than 200 people in Minneapolis and as the organization approaches the one-year anniversary of Dorothy Day Place, a $100 million public/private partnership serving 1,000 people every day in downtown Saint Paul.