YMC Board hears foster care stats

GRANITE FALLS — A total of 43 children in Yellow Medicine County were in out-of-home placements last year, said members of the county’s Family Services department. However, children’s services staff were working to help keep children in their homes, said Children’s Services Supervisor Stacey Steinbach.

Steinbach and Yellow Medicine County Family Services Director Rae Ann Keeler-Aus gave a year-in-review presentation for Children’s Services to Yellow Medicine County Commissioners on Tuesday. The presentation was part of the Family Services Center’s department update at the commissioners’ regular meeting.

There were 43 children who were put in out-of-home placements in Yellow Medicine County last year, Steinbach said.

Steinbach also gave a breakdown of reasons why children were placed outside the home in 2017. The majority of cases — 79 percent — involved causes related to children’s parents, including parental drug use or incarceration.

County commissioners asked if the number of cases involving drug use had anything to do with an increase in opioid abuse. Steinbach and Keeler-Aus said methamphetamine use was still more prevalent in the county than opioids.

Steinbach said many families and children in out-of-home placement cases also receive other services. Some of the most-used services included mental health services, chemical dependency treatment, and transportation services.

Steinbach said Yellow Medicine County had 22 children in out-of-home placement so far this year. Steinbach also shared data from 2016, showing that in Yellow Medicine County, for every 1,000 children, there were 15 or more children in out-of-home placements.

Those numbers were concerning, Keeler-Aus said. However, Steinbach said Children’s Services was trying to avoid out-of-home placement if possible. While there were 43 children in out-of-home placements in 2017, Children’s Services had a total of 308 cases open that year, Steinbach said.

“It’s showing our staff are doing a ton of work” to help keep kids in their homes, she said.