Child task force submits final recommendations

Published 10:34 am Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The waiting game begins for members of the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children.

The state task force sent its final recommendations to Gov. Mark Dayton last week, which included 93 proposals to reform the state’s child protection services.



Mower County Sheriff Terese Amazi, who serves on the task force, said she was pleased to see so many of the task force’s recommendations were already on their way to becoming law after Dayton signed a child protection bill earlier this month.

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“We definitely were aware of the time constraints we had,” Amazi said. “We wanted to get certain things done as soon as we possibly could.”

The bill passed in mid-March marks the first of what could be several changes from a task force review following 4-year-old Eric Dean’s death. Fifteen reports alleging that Eric was being abused had been filed with child protection officials. Yet, the Starbuck boy died in February 2013 from abdominal blows, and the medical examiner’s report noted bite marks on his scalp and face, according to a Star Tribune report. His father’s girlfriend is serving a life sentence for his murder.

The bill repeals a law preventing social workers from considering past reports of child abuse when deciding whether to investigate new ones. It also clarifies that child safety is paramount in decision-making on claims of abuse of minors.

“Our goal is a child protection system that is child-focused,” the task force wrote in a draft of its final recommendations.

Many of the remaining proposals include updating and streamlining Department of Human Services information databases, as well as mandatory training for anyone who works in child protection, along with their supervisors.

“We want to try to get all social workers, law enforcement, and human services supervisors all on the same page so that we’re all working together and these things are not getting dropped,” Amazi said.

The task force moved quickly last year to propose quick solutions to problems which later became the child protection reform bill passed by both the state House of Representatives and Senate. Dayton signed that bill into law on March 16.

The task force must now wait for Dayton to unveil his final recommendations to lawmakers, which could take place over the next few weeks.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report