Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Child Protection - Southwest Health and Human Services

Child Protection

Child Protection Reporting

Child Protection Services-Purpose: Minnesota Statute 626.556, the Reporting of Maltreatment of Minors Act, Subdivision 1. Public Policy:

The legislature hereby declares that the public policy of this State is to protect children whose health or welfare may be jeopardized through physical abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse.  In furtherance of this public policy, it is the intent of the legislature under this section to strengthen the family and make the home school and community safe for the children by promoting responsible child care in all settings; and to provide, when necessary, a safe temporary or permanent home environment for physically or sexually abused or neglected children.

In addition, it is the policy of this State to require the reporting of neglect, physical or sexual abuse of children, in the home, school and community settings; to provide for the voluntary reporting of abuse or neglect of children; to require the assessment and investigation of the reports; and to provide protective and counseling services in appropriate cases.

What is Considered Child Abuse and Neglect in Minnesota?


Neglect is the most common form of maltreatment and is usually failure of a child's caregiver to:

  • Supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical or mental health care, education, or appropriate supervision
  • Protect the child from conditions or actions that endanger the child
  • Take steps to ensure that a child is educated according to the law
  • Prevent exposure of a child to certain drugs during pregnancy

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is 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.

Mental Injury

Mental injury is harm to a child's psychological capacity or emotional stability, evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment of a child's functioning.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is the 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.

Anybody who suspects or has reason to belive a child has been maltreated can make a report. Others are mandated to report by statute (MN Stat. 626.556).

If you suspect child maltreatment, an oral report should be made immediately to social services or the local Law Enforcement Agency no later than 24 hours after concerns that child maltreatment may have occurred. A written report should follow within 72 hours of the oral report.

  • To make an oral report during business hours, please call 1- 888-964-8407 to speak to a Children’s Intake Worker.
  • After hours or on weekends and holidays, call your local Law Enforcement Agency and ask to make a Child Protection Report.

If you feel the child/ren is in immediate danger, please call 911.

Resource Guide for Mandated Reports

  • The intake worker will record the alleged maltreatment information provided by the reporter and will ask questions to gather additional information.
  • The reporter is immune from civil and criminal liability if they are acting in good faith.  Any person who makes a malicious or reckless report shall be liable in a civil suit for any actual damages suffered by the person and for any punitive damages set by the Court of jury, plus costs and reasonable attorney fees.
  • Reports can be made voluntarily by anyone and by certain people designated in statute as mandated reporters.  A mandated reporter who fails to make a report may be guilty of a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or even a felony depending on the severity of the abuse.
  • All mandated reporters will be asked to send a written report to SWHHS within 72 hours of the verbal report exclusive of weekends and holidays.  The report should include as much of the following information as possible including:
    • Parental identification information
    • Children’s identification information
    • Victim’s identity
    • Victim’s condition
    • Alleged perpetrator identity
    • Allegations of abuse/neglect
    • Frequency of and/or when the abuse/neglect occurred
    • Parental/caretaker knowledge about and response to the abuse
    • Reporter’s reason for reporting at this time
    • Reporter’s knowledge of abuse/neglect
    • Reporter’s efforts with the family
    • Family’s knowledge of the report
    • Reporter’s perception of the level of risk to the child
    • Identification of others with information such as witnesses
    • Primary family language
    • Any disabilities known
    • Any chemical issues
    • Any family violence issues
    • Other dangers in the home such as pets or weapons
    • Other police involvement

After a report is made, it is screened to determine if it meets the screening guidelines which are based on Minnesota Statutes for a Child Protection Assessment.  It is also entered into the Social Service Information System (SSIS) which tracks whether there have been previous reports on the family anywhere in the State of Minnesota.

If the report is screened out, it means that the information provided does not meet Minnesota's screening guidelines based on Minnesota Statutes as a Child Protection Assessment.  The information will still be kept on file as a report for four years.

Depending on SWHHS' history with the family, previous reports, and the severity of the allegations, reports that are screened will be assigned to either a Family Assessment or Family Investigation Response. The procedure is as follows:

  • The case will be assigned to a social worker who will complete the Child Protection Assessment or Investigation.
  • Depending on the type of care, the worker has between 24 hours or five days to respond to the allegation.
  • The worker may or may not contact the reporter for further information.
  • When the assessment is complete, the worker will make a determination about if Child Protection Services are needed or not.  For investigations, the worker will also make a determination about whether maltreatment did or did not occur.
  • Mandated reporters have the right to request information about the outcome of the assessment.
  • The worker has up to 45 days to complete the assessment.
  • The worker has up to 10 working days at the conclusion of the assessment to notify the parent or guardian of their determinations.  The receiving parties have the right to request reconsideration or to appeal the decision.
  • If the worker determines maltreatment occurred or Child Protection services are necessary, the record is kept for 10 years.
  • If the worker determines that no maltreatment occurred or that Child Protection services are not needed, the record is kept for 4 years.  Record retention is determined by Minnesota Statute.
Scroll to Top