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Child protection

Page posted: 8/23/04

Page reviewed: 7/12/10

Page updated:

Legal authority

Minn. Stat. §626.556, Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors Act


Child: Person who has not reached age 18 years.

Neglect: Failure by a person responsible for the child’s care to provide for the basic health, safety and general well-being of the child.

Physical Abuse: Any physical injury or threat of harm or substantial injury inflicted by a caregiver upon a child other than by accidental means. Physical abuse can range from minor bruises to severe internal injuries and death.

Sexual Abuse: Subjection of a child to a criminal sexual act or threatened act by a person responsible for the child's care or by a person who has a significant relationship to the child or is in a position of authority.

Child protection services

Child Protection is a program mandated under the Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors Act that:

  • • Helps families get services they need to change their behaviors to prevent any future abuse or neglect
  • • Protects children from neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse
  • Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors Act also requires a process to review deaths and near fatalities of children from maltreatment or suspected maltreatment. Multi-disciplinary teams, which include county workers and community agencies involved in the protection of children, complete these reviews.

    Mandated reporter information

    The Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors Act requires workers in a number of professions to report suspected child maltreatment.

  • • Child care
  • • Clergy
  • • Corrections
  • • Education
  • • Health care
  • • Law enforcement
  • • Psychological treatment
  • • Social services
  • Mandated reporters who have knowledge of, or has reason to believe, that child maltreatment is occurring, or has occurred with in the last three years, shall immediately report the information to the local child protection agency or law enforcement. Reports older than three years may be voluntarily reported by mandated reporters at any time.

    Non-mandated reporters may make reports of child maltreatment and are encouraged to do so.

    Minnesota Child Maltreatment Screening Guidelines DHS-5144 (PDF)

    Reporting suspected child abuse

    To report suspected abuse or neglect of a child, contact the county social service agency DHS-0005 (PDF) or the local police precinct where the child lives. Law enforcement and child protection cross report daily. If it is an emergency, call the police at 911. Only law enforcement can remove a child from a situation of imminent harm for serious injury without a court order.

    Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect: A Resource Guide for Mandated Reporters in English DHS-2917 (PDF)


    Accepted reports of substantial child endangerment most often receive an Investigative response. The purpose of an investigative response is to:

  • • Respond to the emergency needs of the child
  • • Determine whether maltreatment occurred
  • • Determine whether child protection services are needed
  • Investigations include an assessment of immediate safety and an assessment of future risk to the child. Investigations are forensics based, involve serious danger and risk situations and sometimes include court involvement.

    When accepted reports of neglect are due solely to reasons of poverty, child welfare agencies will work to assist the parent(s) in correcting the conditions of neglect and to meet the protective needs of their child, but will not make a determination of maltreatment based on financial circumstances alone.

    Families Guide to Child Protection DHS-3247 (PDF)

    Family Assessment Response

    Accepted reports of child maltreatment involving moderate and low risk most often receive a Family Assessment Response. Family Assessment is a safety focused, strength-based, voluntary child protection response, which is rooted in principles of partnership and collaboration. It seeks to engage the protective capacities of the family to build safety for the child and other family members.

    Family Assessment Response involves a determination of whether or not child protection services are needed. The Family Assessment Response does not make maltreatment determinations. Family Assessment Response includes:

  • • Family strengths
  • • Needs assessment
  • • Risk assessment
  • • Safety assessment
  • All 87 counties in Minnesota and two tribes now offer Family Assessment Response to families reported to the child protection system.

    Additional resources

    Office of the Ombudsman for Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities
    Ombudsman Services - Overview

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