This week marks an historic moment for Catholic Charities and the community’s efforts to serve vulnerable children and families in crisis. After serving as a haven for generations of children and youth, Catholic Charities will conclude our Emergency Shelter and Central Intake operations for Hennepin County’s child protection system by the end of 2020. These two programs, located at the St. Joseph’s Home for Children campus in south Minneapolis, have been a critical element of the County’s rapid crisis response system and placement of children in safe settings, especially for youth without other family or foster care options.
An Historic, Intentional Transition
The decision to conclude these programs as we mark our 150th year of service in this community is particularly poignant. Yes, it is hard to say goodbye to a part of our history of which we are so proud. At the same time – Catholic Charities has advocated fiercely for changes in Hennepin County’s child protection system that will better support children who have experienced unthinkable trauma in their lives. Research is overwhelmingly clear that an institutional “congregate care” setting like St. Joe’s is not the best place for kids going through the trauma of being separated from their family.
The transition we are embarking on now 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 less on an institutional setting like St. Joe’s – and that is a good thing.
Learn more about Hennepin County’s Child Protection Strategy.
In fact, just two years ago we had over 40 children in emergency shelter at St. Joe’s. Our efforts to shift toward a new, more trauma-informed model for children in crisis have produced significant positive results: today, there are fewer than 5 children in emergency shelter at St. Joe’s and we are actively working with Hennepin County to find safe placements for them in relative’s homes, foster homes or other community-based settings.
Honoring Community Support and Connections to St. Joe’s
Our tremendous supporters are a part of the history of St. Joseph’s Home for Children and Catholic Charities. Donations, volunteerism and advocacy have not only made it possible for St. Joe’s to be a place of refuge in times of crisis, you have made it possible to advance significant systemic change and better models of care for kids and families in the child protection system. For that, we are incredibly grateful.
Many of you have your own relationship with St. Joseph’s Home for Children. With more than 100 years of history in this community, we are still amazed at how many people have crossed paths with St. Joe’s and speak of their time there with fondness, even during their most difficult days. While precautions around COVID-19 make an in-person gathering challenging, we are working to find ways to honor this impact and all those who have walked through our doors.
Our Child Protection Programs are Ending, But Our Work is Not Done
Though we are concluding our direct service role in Hennepin County’s child protection system, our work is far from over. Catholic Charities will continue to be a strong and clear voice advocating for vulnerable children and families in crisis, for stronger mental health and trauma-informed supports and as part of the movement to dismantle the racial injustice and disparities too many children in our community experience.
Steadfast Commitment to Those Most in Need
Thank you for your steadfast partnership as we continue to serve as a critical safety net, leader and advocate for our most vulnerable neighbors – you bring the mission of Catholic Charities to life. Much has changed in our 150 years of service, but two things remain constant: our commitment to the dignity and worth of those most in need and this community’s generous support of our mission.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where will the children currently at St. Joe’s Emergency Shelter go?
Work is already underway with Hennepin County to identify safe alternative placements for the few remaining children at St. Joe’s, including placements with relatives, in foster homes or in other community-based settings.
What does this mean for the St. Joseph’s Home for Children building/property?
Catholic Charities does own the buildings and property. Our Hope Street programs for youth experiencing homelessness are still located on the St. Joe’s campus, so no activity will take place right away. We have not yet determined what will happen with the actual St. Joe’s building.
What does this mean for Hope Street shelter and housing programs?
Our Hope Street programs for youth experiencing or at risk of homelessness are not changing and will remain on the St. Joe’s campus for the foreseeable future.
Share your St. Joe’s story
We are collecting stories, anecdotes and reflections from anyone and everyone who has a connection to St Joe’s. Your submission doesn’t need to be long or formal; it can be as simple as a short comment to let us know how St. Joe’s has been a part of your life.
We can’t wait to see your stories come to life! We will be posting and sharing them on social media – we hope you’ll follow along.