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:

  • • Focusing on well-being which includes how children and youth navigate their daily
  • • lives in healthy, positive ways; how they engage in relationships, cope with
  • • challenges and handle responsibilities.
  • • Promoting protective factors as key strategies to enhance well-being
  • • Supporting evidence informed and evidence based practices
  • • Strengthening critical partnerships and networks.
  • 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:

  • • Nurturing and Attachment
  • • Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development
  • • Parental Resilience
  • • Social Connections
  • • Concrete Supports for Parents
  • • Social and Emotional Competence of Children
  • Preventing Maltreatment

    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:

  • • Identify trauma-related needs of children, families and communities.
  • • Enhancing family and community well-being and resiliency.
  • • Including parents as key partners in improving child welfare policies, programs and practices
  • • Infusing the protective factors into training for all people who work with children and families
  • • Integrating the same knowledge, goals and vocabulary into child welfare practices and procedures to create broad and sustainable change
  • • Informing parents and communities about the importance of brain development research and the impact of trauma across the lifespan.
  • 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.

  • Parent leadership
  • Minnesota Café Model
  • Public awareness
  • Professional development

    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:

  • • Integrate Minnesota Practice Model principles and protective factor concepts into cross-disciplinary trainings, for those working with children and families
  • • Incorporate these concepts into new worker trainings and program areas within the Minnesota Child Welfare Training system.
  • • Secure attendee feedback (PDF) on the integration of protective factors into training.
  • • The CTF staff attend, present, and display at conferences and expos that have a child or family support focus and distribute child abuse prevention campaign materials to individuals, organizations, and communities throughout Minnesota. CTF staff help plan conference agendas, identify and select speakers and provide financial support for conferences such as:
  • • Evergreen Regional Conference
  • • Healing Vessels
  • • TeenWise
  • • Minnesota Fathers and Families Network Conference.
  • • Communities of Practice conference
  • Parent leadership

    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:

  • • Including parents as key partners in rethinking and improving strategies that focus on continuous improvement for child safety, permanency and well- being outcomes
  • • Connecting parents to policy and practice-review and initiatives
  • • Advancing the use of family-centered strength-based practices.
  • • Meeting the federal mandate of the Community Based Child Abuse Prevention Program (CBCAP) under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to “…develop leadership roles for the meaningful involvement of parents in the development, operation, evaluation, and oversight of programs and services.”
  • Results of a Parent Leadership baseline web survey (PDF)
  • Parent Leadership Team to improve policies, programs, practices

    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.

    Minnesota Café Model

    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.

    Public awareness

    CTF’s public awareness efforts include strategies such as:

  • • African American Babies Project
  • • Safe Place for Newborns
  • • A statewide awareness campaign
  • • Web site development and maintenance
  • • Promotional material and dissemination
  • • April Strengthening Families to Prevent Child Abuse Prevention Month.