Bennett named co-chair of Child Protection Task Force

Published 9:59 am Thursday, September 10, 2015

District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, will serve as a House vice chairwoman of the Legislative Task Force on Child Protection, according to a press release.



Assistant Majority Leader Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, was named a vice chairman by Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook. Bennett’s appointment will be formally made by House Speaker Kurt Daudt today.

As vice chairwoman, Bennett will be designated to chair any hearings that Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, is chairing and unable to attend.

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Kresha serves as one of two co-chairs of the task force alongside Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato.

The Legislative Task Force on Child Protection was created in 2015 to oversee reforms made to Minnesota’s child protection system and examine additional reforms that can be addressed during the 2016 session.

“I’ve learned a great deal in my first few meetings of the task force, and am grateful for the opportunity to serve as vice chair,” Bennett said.

“We have an outstanding group of lawmakers who are taking this important issue head-on,” Daudt said “Rep. Bennett adds a critical voice as a long-time educator who knows what a significant role teachers can play in the child protection process.”

Bennett said she has recently met with child protection workers in Freeborn, Steele and Faribault counties and has been receiving feedback about the challenges they face in implementing newly-passed legislation aimed at improving county child protection systems, as well as ideas about additional improvements that can be made. Tuesday’s task force meeting included testimony from counties who echoed those concerns.

“Rural counties have expressed concerns about the issues they face trying to keep up with the case work involved with these child protection cases,” Bennett said. “We need to make sure our rural counties have the resources they need to handle these cases in a timely fashion so that kids who are in need of help are kept safe and assisted quickly if they are in immediate danger. The task force will continue to explore all options including possibly combining services for rural counties so all cases can be processed in that key 24-hour time window.”