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Legislative Audit Commission


January 11, 1999

The meeting of the Legislative Audit Commission was called to order by Representative Dan McElroy on Monday, January 11, 1999 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 107, State Capitol.

Members Present:

Representative Lynda Boudreau Senator Bill Belanger
Representative Mindy Greiling Senator Sheila Kiscaden
Representative Dan McElroy Senator Keith Langseth
Representative Kathy Tingelstad    Senator James Metzen
Senator Deanna Wiener

Members Not Present:

Representative Ron Abrams Senator David Knutson
Representative Dave Bishop Senator Thomas Neuville
Representative Kris Hasskamp Senator Pat Pariseau
Representative Mark Holsten Senator Ember Reichgott Junge
Representative Philip Krinkie Senator Allan Spear
Representative Mary Jo McGuire    Representative Tim Pawlenty
Representative Thomas Pugh Representative Ann H. Rest
Representative Jim Rhodes Representative Steve Sviggum

Representative McElroy indicated the purpose of the meeting was to release and discuss the program evaluation report on Juvenile Out-of-Home Placement and recognized James Nobles, Legislative Auditor. Mr. Nobles reviewed the reasons why this topic had been selected for study by the commission and introduced Joel Alter, project manager, and other evaluation specialists who had worked on the study, Dan Jacobson and John Patterson.

Senator Wiener joined the meeting and assumed the Chair. She recognized Mr. Alter.

Mr. Alter reviewed the issues reviewed in the study and why they were studied. He also gave an overview of the methods used in conducting the study, findings, conclusions, and recommendations contained in the report. He and project members answered questions from members concerning costs and the reasons why some children are placed in facilities outside of Minnesota.

Senator Wiener recognized Erin Sullivan-Sutton, Director of the Family and Children's Services Division in the Department of Human Services. Ms. Sullivan-Sutton indicated her department was working to establish baseline data, indicating that the department did not have the resources to develop this information earlier. Senator Wiener indicated that she found the data on out-of-home placement of minority children disturbing and suggested the department seek guidance from relevant community and ethnic groups on addressing this issue.

Senator Wiener recognized Debbie Eng, Director of Juvenile Services in the Department of Corrections. Ms. Eng indicated that the department was improving both the programs and facilities at several locations in Minnesota in order to place more delinquent children in Minnesota facilities rather than out of state. In response to a question from Representative Greiling, she indicated that the main reason it was cheaper to place children in out-of-state facilities was labor costs.

Senator Wiener asked if it would be helpful if judges' orders included goals of the placement. Ms. Eng thought it would be if the goals were specific. Ms. Sullivan-Sutton indicated that meaningful goals would be helpful. Senator Wiener suggested that both agencies should be looking at programs that are working and make that information available to each other. In response to a question from Representative Greiling, Ms. Eng indicated a federal grant is helping the department to offer mental health and chemical dependency services to children placed in Red Wing and Sauk Centre.

The meeting adjourned at 11:05 AM.

Senator Deanna Wiener, Chair

Jean Barnhill, Acting Recording Secretary


Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155