Child protection services

Hennepin County is committed to protecting our most vulnerable residents, our children. When children are harmed or neglected by the people who are responsible for their care, the county has a responsibility to act to ensure their safety.

If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

Call to make a child protection report 612-348-3552.

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Make a report

Hennepin County investigates and assesses child protection reports when a child's safety may be at risk due to abuse or neglect. Anyone may make a report if they know or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected.

Report child abuse or neglect

You can report suspected child maltreatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A child protection social worker will assist you even if you are not sure whether or not to make a report.

You have three options for reporting abuse or neglect to a child. 

  1. Call child protection services at 612-348-3552. Press 1 to make an oral report.
  2. Open the online reporting form. Fill out as much information as possible and click “submit at the bottom of the form. This form is best viewed and submitted using Internet Explorer.
    Online reporting form (PDF) 
  3. Print out a form, fill it out and fax it to 612-466-9581. 
    Printable reporting form (PDF)

Be prepared to provide information

  • Information about the family, including the names and addresses of the child and parents
  • Specific descriptions of the suspected abuse and neglect to the child, including what happened, when it occurred and  the identity of the abuser

Other helpful information

  • The child’s school
  • Other witnesses
  • The child’s location
  • Names of other family and household members

After the report


Intake workers review reports of child maltreatment in order to determine whether or not the report meets the criteria for an investigation/assessment.

If the report doesn’t meet the criteria requiring an investigation or assessment, no further action is taken. However a record of the report will be recorded and maintained.

Traditional response versus differential response 

In either situation, a thorough assessment of the allegations for abuse and or neglect will be addressed, along with the risk to safety and a determination whether continued services are required for the family.

If the reported information meets the criteria for substantial child endangerment (severe cases of abuse and neglect), or the risk level is high, the family will be subject to a traditional response, which calls for immediate contact with the family and children, as well as individual interviews to determine whether abuse or neglect occurred.  

If the risk level is moderate or low the family may receive a differential response (formerly called family assessment). Differential response focuses on the safety of the child, the risk of future maltreatment, and the family’s strengths and needs. Determining the need for services, and which services will best protect the children, is at the heart of differential response.

Keeping children safe

The mission of child protection is to prevent any future maltreatment (abuse or neglect). If a child is not safe in his or her home, it may be necessary to place the child outside of the home. If out-of-home placement is necessary, due to significant and ongoing safety issues, work will continue with the parents toward the goal of returning the child home as soon as it is safe to do so. In cases when a safe return to the parents' home is not possible, alternative, permanent options are identified, which could include transfer of legal custody or adoption.

Read more:

Foster care


When neglect or abuse occurs away from home

Minnesota law gives Hennepin County the authority and responsibility to investigate reports of abuse or neglect of a child when the suspected abuser is a person in the child’s family or household, a licensed family child care home, or the child’s foster home. The State of Minnesota is responsible to investigate suspected maltreatment that occurs in places such as child care centers, schools or hospitals.

Report suspected child abuse or neglect outside of the child's home (PDF)

Definitions of child abuse and neglect

The information below provides the statutory definitions of abuse. This can provide you with further clarity on how abuse and neglect are defined in Minnesota law. Although you may find this helpful, we ask that if you are in doubt, make a child protection report and let the experts make the final determination.  

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is when a parent, guardian or other person responsible for the child’s care hurts a child, causing any physical injury, other than by accident.

Sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse is sexual conduct with a child by a person responsible for the child’s care, or by a person who has a significant relationship to the child.

Emotional abuse

This kind of abuse is the consistent or deliberate infliction of mental harm on a child by a person responsible for the child’s care, that results in observable, sustained, adverse effect on the child’s physical, mental or emotional development.


With neglect, the most common form of maltreatment, the harm results from what the parent or caretaker fails to do to provide a child with needed care and protection.

Usually, this is the failure to:

  • Supply the child with the necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical or mental health care or appropriate supervision
  • Protect the child from conditions or actions that endanger the child

Educational neglect

State law requires children to attend school. For children ages 5 to 11, seven unexcused absences in a school year meet the state guidelines for educational neglect and form the legal criteria for child protection involvement. 

The Hennepin County Attorney's office has launched an initiative to keep students in school. To report suspected, educational neglect, contact the Office of the Hennepin County Attorney-Child Protection Division: 

  • Call 612-348-6041.
  • Email
  • Send mail to 525 South Portland Avenue, Suite 1200, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

Read more:


Information for mandated reporters

State law requires people in designated professional occupations to make a report if they believe that a child has been maltreated within the past three years by a parent, guardian, family child care provider, family foster care provider or juvenile correctional facility staff person.

Mandated reporters include people who work with children in health care, social services, education, mental health, child care, law enforcement, the courts, clergy, and corrections settings. 

Read more:

List of mandated reporters (PDF)

Minnesota statute 626.556

Mandated reporters should

Call 911

If a child is in immediate danger, call emergency services. Do not delay.

Make a report

Call 612-348-3552 within 24 hours and personally file a written report within 72 hours of the verbal report (excluding weekends and holidays).  

Child abuse report form (PDF)

Consequences of inaction

Failure by a mandated reporter to report suspected abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor-level crime. If failure to report results in substantial bodily harm, it is a gross misdemeanor. If the child dies, it is a felony. 


As a mandated reporter, your name is confidential, accessible only if you consent, by a court order or by a court procedure. If the child protection report results in a court hearing, you may be asked to testify. 

Learn the outcome

You can find out if the report has been accepted for investigation. Unless this information would be detrimental to the best interests of the child, you also will receive a summary about Hennepin County’s disposition of the report. This summary includes what was determined, the nature of the maltreatment, and the services provided.

Parent support outreach program

Being a parent is a big job —and kids don’t come with instruction books. If you have a child who’s 10 or younger, and you’re having a hard time being the kind of parent you want to be, there’s help available.

All kinds of help

The parent support outreach program can connect you to support and assistance in handling many types of issues, including:

Your family’s health

  • Medical needs
  • Mental health and crisis counseling
  • Staying clean and sober
  • Parenting help

Basic needs

  • Getting food, clothing and other basic needs
  • Finding housing
  • Being safe from violence at home
  • Succeeding at school

Financial needs

  • Getting financial assistance
  • Job training and search
  • How to manage your money

Participation is voluntary. Getting some help even for a short period of time can make a difference. We will help you find a social worker who will work with you at a time that fits your schedule. Services can take place in your home, at the agency or in the community.

You may qualify

  • If you live in Hennepin County
  • If you have at least one child age 10 or younger, or are pregnant, and
  • If you want some extra help to be a safe, healthy parent. 
  • If you need help with issues that make it hard to be a parent, such as money problems, addiction, domestic violence, homelessness, abuse or neglect, behavioral health concerns.

Sign up today

To start, fill out the required documents

Fax them to 612-677-6450, or 612-330-2329.

For more information, call 612-348-0211.

You’ll get a call back within 10 days.

You can also have a social worker or other professional send this form in for you. We’ll be in touch with more information.

Download a parent support outreach program brochure (PDF)

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