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.

Browse the directory below for child protection and children's services staff. If your contact is not listed, call 612-348-4111.

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Make a report

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.

By phone

Call child protection services at 612-348-3552. Press 1 to make a report.

Online

Fill out the online reporting form.

Print

Print out a form, fill out as much information as you can, 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

Screening

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 and adoption

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.

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 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 be.at.school@hennepin.us.
  • Send mail to 525 South Portland Avenue, Suite 1200, Minneapolis, MN 55415.

Read more on the Hennepin County Attorney's be@school webpage.

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). 

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.

Liability

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.

Federal court class action settlement

United States District Court for the District of Minnesota – Notice of Class Action Settlement

If you are or have been in foster care placements or otherwise in the legal and/or physical custody of the Hennepin County Child Protection System since May 31, 2011 or if you have been the subject of maltreatment reports made or referred to Hennepin County since May 31, 2011:

  • Your rights may be affected by the settlement of a federal class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.
  • The Plaintiffs in this lawsuit allege that Hennepin County’s child welfare and child protection system is not doing all that it should to protect children in the system by failing to set and maintain appropriate caseloads to enable caseworkers to work effectively with children and families, failing to investigate or assess reports of alleged abuse or neglect, failing to conduct complete and adequate investigations when it does investigate those reports, misusing shelter care resources, failing to provide necessary and adequate services to children and families, failing to develop and maintain adequate and appropriate foster care and adoptive resources, failing to protect children from maltreatment while in foster care, failing to provide permanency to children on a timely basis, and failing to address high rates of maltreatment re-reporting, maltreatment recurrence, and foster care re-entry.
  • A Settlement has been reached with Defendants Hennepin County and the State of Minnesota Department of Human Services for members of two classes of individuals who have been involved in the Hennepin County Child Protection System. The first consists of all children for whom Hennepin County has or will have legal responsibility and/or a special relationship in the context of the child protection system. The second is all children who are or will be the subject of maltreatment reports that are or should be investigated or assessed by Hennepin County.
  • Defendants have agreed to implement changes to the child protection system to settle the claims against it by the Class. The Court will have a hearing to decide whether to approve the settlement.
  • If the settlement is approved, Plaintiffs, including all members of the Settlement Classes agree not to reassert or revive the claims in this lawsuit or any substantially similar claims against Hennepin County or the State for a period of four (4) years after the date of the Agreement.
  • Defendants deny the allegations made by Plaintiffs and this settlement is not an admission or determination of any wrongdoing by Defendants, nor is it a determination of the likely outcome of this case were it to proceed. Neither the Court nor a jury has decided whether Defendants did anything wrong.
  • The Court in charge of case must decide whether to approve the settlement. Plaintiffs in this case sought only equitable relief against the Defendants. There are no monetary payments associated with this settlement to any members of the class.

Your legal rights and options in this lawsuit

Do nothing

Stay in this lawsuit. You will be bound by the outcome of the Court’s decision whether to approve the settlement.

Comment or object

Write to the Court about why you do or do not like the settlement by October 14, 2019.

Go to a hearing

Ask to speak in Court about the fairness of the settlement. The fairness hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on December 19, 2019.

For more information, please reference the documents linked below.

Supporting documents

Parent Support Outreach Program

Hennepin County can connect you with help so you can be the parent you want to be.

Connections to resources

The Parent Support Outreach program can help you find support and provide assistance handling many types of issues, including:

Your family’s health

  • Medical needs
  • Mental health and crisis counseling
  • Resources to stay clean and sober
  • Parenting help

Basic needs

  • Food and clothing
  • Housing resources
  • Safety from violence at home
  • Academic success

Financial needs

  • Financial assistance
  • Job training and search
  • Money management

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.

How the program works

To qualify, you need to:

  • Live in Hennepin County
  • Be pregnant or have at least one child 10 years old or younger
  • Need help with issues that make it hard to be a parent, such as money problems, addiction, domestic violence, homelessness, abuse, neglect or behavioral health concerns

Sign up today

Follow up from the program

You will likely receive a call back within 10 days. However, if the program is experiencing long wait times, your response will coincide with these wait times and will take longer to receive.

For more information:

Hennepin County child protection reform

In 2014, the Hennepin County Board engaged the Casey Family Foundation to analyze its policies and practices around Child Protection. Since 2015, those findings, recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children and the county’s own Child Protection Oversight Committee have led to dramatic changes in direction for the county’s work to help keep children safe and to help them and families thrive.

With guidance from the Child Well-Being Advisory Committee, Hennepin County is beginning to turn the trend in several important areas even as it manages increasing numbers of calls to child protection, stretched staff and extreme challenges to families.

Read the report, Child Protective Services: reform and child well-being (August 2018) (PDF)

See the committee’s presentation to the County Board (September 6, 2018) (PDF)

Read the Child Well-Being Advisory Committee: Chair’s report to the Hennepin County Board (September 2018) (PDF)

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