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HOW THE CHILD
PROTECTION SYSTEM WORKS
When a report of a troubled family comes into the Hennepin
County office, child protection workers consult with doctors,
teachers, relatives and neighbors as they decide whether the
system needs to intervene. The most important criterion:
Is a child in immediate danger?
Screeners are on duty 24 hours a day taking reports from the
public, police and others.
- Is there enough evidence of abuse or neglect to keep
looking into the case?
If "Yes"--Investigators talk to police, interview
people who know the child, visit a hospital, etc., to evaluate
the risk of ongoing abuse or neglect if the child stays in the
If "No"--Nothing more happens.
- Is the risk high?
If "Yes"--72-hour hold: The child may
be put in a shelter, and within 72 hours a Juvenile Court Judge
must hold a hearing.
If "No"--The family may be referred
to counseling or other community services.
- Is it safe for the child to return home?
If "No"--The county gets temporary custody
and keeps the child in shelter, in foster care or with a relative.
If "Yes"--The system might not intervene
A Case Plan
Field social workers develop a case plan that lays out what
the parents, the child and the system must do to reduce the child's
- Is it still too dangerous for the child to go home?
If "Yes"--Monitoring. With or without
the child at home, the county works with the family to fulfill
the case plan.
- Is the family doing well enough that the child is
If "No"--Taking away rights: The county
may ask the court to pursue terminating parental rights.
Options include putting the child up for adoption, transferring
custody to other relatives or putting the child in long-term
foster care if he or she is 12 or older.
If "Yes"--The family is reunited but
may have conditions to follow for 30 or 60 days.
Star Tribune, 6/22/1999
- In Hennepin County last year, 70,000 calls, police reports,
faxes and letters were received from people concerned about the
well-being of children. More than 5,000 were deemed serious
enough to pass on to child-protection investigators. More
than 650 cases resulted in the county removing children from
homes. More than 200 cases ended with children being taken
from their parents permanently.
- In a Star Tribune analysis of the 220 petitions for the termination
of parental rights filed by Hennepin County since the pilot started
June 22, 1998:
Average age of parents: 29
Average age of children: 5
The petitions involved 213 families and 342 children. Typically,
one child per family was removed, but as many as seven have been
removed from one family.
--David Chanen [Minneapolis Star Tribune]
This document was obtained from http://mclauhead.com.