Children’s Trust Fund
Mission: Strengthening all Families and communities in Minnesota
The Minnesota Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) serves as a catalyst to prevent child abuse and neglect by working in partnership to strengthen all Minnesota families and communities. The CTF is a unit within the Child Safety Permanency Division.
Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Social & Emotional Well-Being by bridging Prevention and Early Intervention
Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Well-Being
The Minnesota Children’s Trust Fund along with state and national partners is engaged in dynamic and effective efforts to prevent child maltreatment and promote family and community well-being. Minnesota’s work is aligned with the national Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) in the prevention of maltreatment efforts around four areas:
Focus on Well- Being
The Minnesota Children’s Trust Fund emphasizes a strengths-based approach based on the six protective factors that research shows are linked to lower incidence of child abuse and neglect. Experiencing a chronic stressful condition such as neglect or abuse creates what scientists call toxic stress and can disrupt developing brain architecture. Children who are exposed to serious early stress develop an exaggerated stress response that over time leads to serious difficulties in learning, memory, and self- regulation. It also weakens their defense mechanism against diseases from heart disease to diabetes to depression. This impacts not only the cost of the healthcare system but also human potential.
Protective factors for families are conditions in families and communities that when present, work to increase the health and well-being of children and families. These attributes serve as buffers to toxic stress by helping families find resources, supports, and coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively. The Six Protective Factors are:
When children are nurtured, they can grow up to be happy and healthy adults. But when they lack and secure and healthy attachment to a caring adult, receive inconsistent nurturing, or experience harsh discipline or sexual abuse, the consequences can affect their lifelong health, well-being, and relationships with others. Child abuse and neglect affect children of every age, race, and family income level. Studies have shown that when multiple risk factors are present the risk for abuse and neglect are greater.
The Effects of Trauma and Child Maltreatment
The Children’s Trust Fund is organizing its activities around the promotion of social and emotional well-being for children and families who have experienced maltreatment, trauma, and/or exposure to violence. Child maltreatment is a traumatic experience, and the impact can be profound. Research has shown that the challenges are significant for children and families who have experienced trauma. The trauma of child abuse or neglect has been associated with increased risk of: Depression and suicide attempts, substance abuse, developmental disability and learning problems, social problems with other children and with adults, teen pregnancy, lack of success in education, domestic violence, and chronic illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and chronic lung disease, among others.
Early Child Development, Child Maltreatment and Brain Development
Traumatic and toxic stress caused by poverty, neglect, abuse, and caregiver depression can weaken the developing brain, disrupting and delaying the nervous, cardiovascular, immune and metabolic systems with damaging effects on learning, behavior and health across a person’s lifespan.
To prevent child maltreatment and advance healthy development and wellbeing, the Children’s Trust Fund is focusing on increasing both protective factors and reducing risk factors by:
Evidenced informed and Evidence Based Programs
The Parent Support Outreach Program, a program of the Children’s Trust Fund (started in 2005) offers voluntary, supportive, strengths-based family driven services to families who are identified to be at risk to prevent child maltreatment from occurring. .PSOP provides voluntary support for at-risk families identified through screened out child maltreatment reports, community referrals, or self-referrals. The 2013 Minnesota Legislature appropriated funds for statewide expansion of the PSOP program. The PSOP is now in all 87 counties and the American Indian Child Welfare Initiative Tribes (AICWI).
Many reports of possible child maltreatment are received by county and tribal social services but are “screened out” from further action because the reported incident does not reach the legal standard of abuse or neglect. In many of these cases, however, there are factors that put children at potential risk. To help those families, and possibly avert future incidents of child maltreatment, the Parent Support Outreach Program was developed to provide outreach and support to families with at least one child under age 10 who are “screened-out” from a child protection intervention. PSOP offers voluntary, supportive, strengths-based, family-driven services before risk of child maltreatment is realized in an abuse or neglect incident that would require formal child protection intervention.
Research on Parent Support Outreach found that families with high levels of need related to poverty or to chemical dependency, and that received services targeted to those issues, were less likely to have a subsequent accepted report in the child protection system than families with similar identified problems but who received no services. The research also showed that high levels of PSOP implementation had greater reduction of screened in child maltreatment reports. .
Strengthening Critical Partnerships and Networks
CTF is leading and participating in strategic partnerships focused on birth to 3 child populations, integrating parent leadership, Minnesota Café Model discussions and advancement of a strengthening families approach and promotion of the six protective factors within a cultural lens.
CTF works directly with their partners to increase integration of family centered strength-based practices and the Protective Factor framework, the Adverse Childhood Experience research and the impact of traumatic stress. The focus is to:
The Children’s Trust Fund within the Child Safety and Permanency Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services is working in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota to implement Parent Leadership for Child Safety and Permanency. The initiative promotes parent involvement and shared leadership in support of key child welfare system enhancement goals:
A team of diverse parent leaders informs child welfare policies, program and practices to help translate “protective factors” language into understandable, concrete information parents will use, to help promote the protective factors as a child abuse and neglect prevention strategy, and to promote the discussion of strength-based parenting in communities. Members of the Parent Leadership Team serve two-year terms.
The Minnesota Café Model utilize components from the National Parent Cafes and Community Cafes. The Minnesota Children's Trust Fund, Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral, and Child Development Services have committed to statewide training of parents, professionals, and communities in utilizing the Minnesota Café Model. The Minnesota Café Model can create profound changes within families and communities that start with meaningful conversations. The Minnesota Café Model is driven by the knowledge that parents can, must, and do tap into their wisdom and resources in order to strengthen their own families. The Minnesota Café model helps build the protective factors that benefit parents, children, their families, and communities.
CTF’s public awareness efforts include strategies such as:
CTF and Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota have developed a Web site, the Minnesota Network for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention. The site provides education and support to parents, technical assistance, and links to opportunities for professional development for prevention partners across the state.
It was established in 1986 to prevent child maltreatment by partnering with and funding community-based services that provide resources, education and information statewide. Minnesota was the 18th state to establish a special fund derived from a surcharge on birth certificates and dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Children’s Trust Funds are the legacy of Dr. Ray Helfer, a nationally recognized expert in the field of child abuse and neglect. Helfer noted that trust funds were in place for the nation’s highways but not for the safety and well-being of children.
The Minnesota Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) is supported by federal and state funds. The Minnesota Children’s Trust Fund is included in the State General Fund appropriation. The CTF also receives Federal Community Based Child Abuse Prevention Funds (CBCAP) under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. Funds are to support child abuse prevention programs, fathering education programs and teen pregnancy prevention. Minnesota Statute: 256E.20 - 256E.26; Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP).
Strengthening Families Initiatives
Between 2007–2010 the CTF funded and evaluated six initiatives that included: Strengthening Families Grants, Child Abuse Prevention Councils, Statewide Networking, Public Awareness, Parent Leadership and Professional Development and Training. The lessons learned from the Strengthening Families Initiative were integrated within PSOP to support, expand and promote the protective factors within a broader based statewide implementation of an early intervention continuum within the public child welfare system. The CTF contracted with Wilder Research, to conduct an evaluation of the CTF initiatives. The following tools and reports reflect Wilder’s research of the Strengthening Families evaluation.
Safe, Stable, and Nurturing Relationships– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention