FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On Tuesday, Hennepin County Juvenile Court Judge Frank Magill issued an order directing that three children of Dahabo Hussein Hassan and Bulale Mohamed Ali be returned to their home under “protective supervison” by Child Protection social workers.
The social workers will provide culturally specific services so the family will be able to remain together safely. Last week, six of the couple’s seven children were removed from the house by court order. All the children were returned to the home between two and eight days of their removal.
The only exception is the family’s eldest female child, one of the children who reported the abuse, who left the shelter last week without permission. When she is located, she will temporarily stay at a shelter until a safety plan can be established within the family or with family relatives.
Last week, Hennepin County Juvenile Court Judge Kathryn Quaintance issued an order for the temporary removal of six children from their Somali parents' home. Her order was based upon tape recorded reports from two children stating that they had been physically abused. The abuse was serious enough to leave bruises and a scar and other children in the family said they witnessed the abuse.
The order was issued to protect the safety of the children while the reports of abuse were investigated. The children were taken to a shelter staffed by trained child care workers. At the shelter, they were fed a diet and given time for prayer consistent with their family's religious beliefs.
The children remained at the shelter for less than 48 hours before a court hearing was held. At the court hearing the mother was represented by a lawyer. Judge Quaintance allowed two children to return home right away. The youngest child was never removed from the home and was allowed to stay at home with the parents and three of the children continued to stay at the shelter while social workers looked for a relative who they could stay with.
Adults in the Somali and the “Western” community share an important value: all children should be protected and safe.
The laws of Minnesota require child protection workers to take reports of physical abuse seriously. In this case, child protection workers from the Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department investigated the claims of child abuse. They determined physical abuse did occur and by law, they had to take action to try to prevent it from happening again. We use the same standard across cultures when we evaluate whether abuse has occurred. The law also requires a judge to hear and rule on the case quickly. That is why the family is together again, just eight days later.
We share another important value with the Somali community. We believe that families are critically important for children and we make every effort to return children to their parents as soon as they can be reunited safely.
Under many circumstances, we are able to provide counseling services to families without ever taking the children from the home. In this case, those services were offered to the mother. A Somali interpreter translated the child protection social worker's words and documents.
The mother decided not to work with the social worker voluntarily. We asked her to name community leaders who she trusted but she chose not to give us that information. Her decisions made social workers worry about whether the children would be safe.
After the court hearings last week, we met with Imaam Hassan Jama to discuss ways to work together on this case and future cases. We talked about ways that Somali community members could become more involved in the court system to help with difficult decision making. We are committed to continuing that discussion and finding ways to learn from each other.
While we may at times hold differing viewpoints, our commitment to children is a strong bond that will help us achieve safety and security for all of our children.