Child protection services

Emergency

If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.

Report child abuse or neglect

  • Call the reporting line at 612-348-3552 (Press 1) or

You can call to report suspected child maltreatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call even if you are not sure whether or not to make a report. A child protection intake screener will let you know if your information is a report of child maltreatment.

Hennepin County investigates and assesses situations when a child's health or welfare may be at risk due to abuse, neglect or maltreatment. Child Protection Services may be provided to assure the safety of the child.

If out-of-home placement is necessary, due to significant and ongoing safety issues, work will continue with the parents toward 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.

Expand all information

Report child abuse

Minnesota law gives Hennepin County the authority and responsibility to investigate reports of abuse or neglect to a child when the suspected abuser is a person in the child’s family or household, a licensed day care, or the child’s foster home. Other State of Minnesota departments are responsible for investigating other types of suspected maltreatment, e.g., schools, hospitals.

Where to report suspected child abuse or neglect outside of the child's home (PDF)

Anyone may make a report if they know or suspect that a child who lives in Hennepin County is being abused or neglected, or has been abused or neglected in the past three years. 

Unless mandated by law (see Mandated Reporters below), reports are voluntary and may be made anonymously. If the reporter is acting in good faith, he or she is immune from civil and criminal liability.

What to expect

When you call to report suspected abuse or neglect, you will speak to one of our child protection screeners who will record your information about the suspected maltreatment. The screener likely will ask you additional questions.

Be prepared to provide

  • Information to identify the family, including the names and addresses of the child and parents
  • Specific information about the abuse and neglect to the child, including what the allegation is, who the perpetrator is, when the abuse or neglect occurred

Other helpful information

  • Where the child attends school
  • Who else might have information about the child’s situation
  • Where the child is at the time of the report, if different from home address
  • Identity of other family and household members.

After the Report

Screening

Intake workers screen reports of suspected child maltreatment to determine if what is being described meets the law's definition of child maltreatment. If so, this triggers Hennepin County to inquire further and to take possible further steps to protect the child. If not, no further action is taken. Reports are kept on file for four years.

Initial assessment

If the reported information meets the criteria for involvement by child protection, that leads to assessments of both the child’s current safety and the potential future risk. These assessment results determine what kind of response will follow, either a traditional investigation or a family assessment.

Investigation versus family assessment

Where there is a substantial safety risk to the child, the child protection worker conducts an investigation which is the traditional child protection response. The investigation determines answers to two important, but different, questions:

  • Did illegal maltreatment occur?
  • Does the family need child protection services for the child to safely remain in or return to the home?

If the initial assessment determines there is not a substantial risk of harm to the child, the family may chose to have a family assessment response. A family assessment does not address whether the alleged abuse or neglect occurred. Rather, family assessment focuses on the safety of the child, risk of future maltreatment, and the family’s strengths and needs. Determining the need for services and which services will best protect the child are at the heart of family assessment.

Participation in Family Assessment is voluntary; however, in situations where there is concern for the child’s future safety, a refusal to participate will result in a transfer of the case to a full-fledged investigation. As with an investigation, there is continuing assessment of the child’s safety and the risk of future maltreatment. Cases may be transferred from Family Assessment to Investigation.

The purpose 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.

Definitions of child abuse and neglect

Types of Maltreatment

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 criminal 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 or maltreatment is the consistent or deliberate infliction of mental harm on a child by a person responsible for the child’s care where there is an observable, sustained, adverse effect on the child’s physical, mental or emotional development.

Neglect

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, education or appropriate supervision
  • Protect the child from conditions or actions that endanger the child
  • Take steps to make certain the child is educated according to the law

Educational neglect

State law requires children to attend school. For children 5-11, seven unexcused absences meet the state guidelines for educational neglect and 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 at 612-348-6041, 525 South Portland Avenue, Suite 1200, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

Read more:

be@school

Information for mandated reporters

State law requires persons in designated professional occupations to report suspected child abuse or neglect to police or child protection that they suspect has occurred in the past three years. These include people who work with children in health care, social services, education, mental health, child care, law enforcement, the courts, clergy, and corrections settings. Find a complete list below.

List of mandated reporters (PDF)

Minnesota statute 626.556

Mandated reporters should

Call 911

If you know or suspect that a child is in immediate danger, call emergency services. Do not delay.

Make a report

If you do not suspect immediate danger to the child, call 612-348-3552 as soon as you have reason to believe a child has been maltreated by a parent, guardian, family child care provider, family foster care provider, or juvenile correctional facility staff person. Make your verbal report immediately, within 24 hours. You must also file a written report within 72 hours of the verbal report (excluding weekends and holidays). If you suspect abuse or neglect of a child, you personally must make the report. You cannot tell a supervisor or co-worker.

Child abuse report form (PDF)

Consequences of inaction

If you are a mandated reporter and do not report suspected abuse or neglect, you could be prosecuted for committing a misdemeanor. If a child suffers substantial or great bodily harm as a result of not receiving needed treatment for the abuse or neglect because of a failure to report, it is a gross misdemeanor. If the child dies as a result, it is a felony.

Liability

As a 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.

Read more:

Where to report abuse or neglect outside of the child’s home (PDF)

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.

Or email them to jessica.m.little@hennepin.us.

For more information, call 612-998-0281.

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)


Collapse all information
Top