New Report Recommends Changes to Handling of Suspected Child Abuse Cases

KSTP TV – A report released Friday calls for changes to be made in how social workers handle suspected child abuse cases in Minnesota.

The report mentions the particular case of four-year-old Eric Dean who was killed by his step mother in 2013. She has been convicted of murder.

A state panel reviewed that report and suggested recommendations. The task force is scrutinizing the system that’s supposed to help abused children in Minnesota and finding ways to improve it.

Fifteen issues are outlined in the report. It calls for every case in which a child has a suspicious injury to be investigated by a social worker and reported to law enforcement. Photos of injuries would be required.

Furthermore, the report argues that when a report of abuse or neglect comes in, authorities should check to see if a caregiver has a substance abuse or mental health problem and needs treatment. Every adult in the home should be questioned, not just the guardian. Background checks should be done on anyone 13 years and older in the home. Vigorous fact-finding should take place.

The state has a long-standing policy of trying to keep families together and not assessing blame for alleged abuse. The suggested reforms would change that.

Irene Griffin said one county isn’t listening to her pleas for help, so she took it a step further and spoke before the panel.

“My grandson is being abused, beaten by the boyfriend in a home in Goodhue County,” she said. “They’re not paying attention to what my family is saying. I need help; I don’t want my grandson to be a statistic.”

A Department of Human Services staffer took her information and promised to follow up after the meeting.

The recommendations offered are just that; the panel votes on them next month.

Eric Dean died in Pope County. The Commissioner says social workers there are already making changes in their approach to high-risk cases. The Commissioner also pointed out, Governor Mark Dayton made a supplemental budget request of $50 million for child protection, which now needs lawmaker approval.