Child protection laws need update

Several highly publicized cases of child abuse and death in Minnesota during the last year have prompted a review of current child protection laws. A Task Force on the Protection of Children, established by Gov. Mark Dayton in September 2014, found several flaws in the current system of statutes on child protection.

Based on its findings, the task force made a series of initial recommendations  in December for improving child protection laws.

The first two of these recommendations were incorporated into a bill that unanimously passed in the House and Senate. Dayton signed the bill last week, noting that the law will “enhance the safety of our children.”

The new law specifies that child safety should be the chief consideration when making decisions about maltreatment reports. The bill also allows case workers to use previously “screened-out” reports when considering taking action on new reports, rather than reviewing reports on a case-by-case basis without accounting for prior history, as with the previous practice.

This law should go a long way toward improving the state of Minnesota’s child protection system. However, there are several more recommendations made by the task force, such as improving information technology systems in the state, which have not yet been addressed.

We are glad that the governor and the Legislature have acted unanimously on addressing the crucial issue of child protection, and we hope to see further changes made based on the recommendations of the task force.