By Gabby Landsverk, Staff Writer
The Minnesota House of Representatives recently passed House File 0008, chiefly authored by Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, to update child protection provisions. In calling on fellow representatives to vote in favor of the bill, Kresha described the “knock on the door” experienced by the 25,297 Minnesota families who were visited by child protection services in 2013.
“I ask you to answer that knock on the door,” Kresha said.
The bill amends Minnesota Statutes regarding public policy in child protection cases, adding language which emphasizes that “the health and safety of children shall be of paramount concern” to ensure that actions in potential cases of child abuse prioritize the safety of the children involved.
“Child safety is first and foremost when allegations occur,” Kresha said.
An additional change included in the bill is the removal of language which prevented the reexamination or use of reports that have been “screened-out,” or judged to not require invention.
Under the new provisions, social workers can re-visit previously screened-out reports to investigate cases and/or help make a determination on current allegations.
Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis, spoke in favor of the bill, saying that it had encountered no opposition at any of the hearings at which it was presented, and that it had been presented at more hearings than any bill he had ever seen in his years as a member of the House. Mullery added that it was also unanimously supported by representatives from the Governor’s Task Force for the Protection of Children.
Rep. Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley expressed a concern that the bill was too small in scope and therefore in danger of turning into a mere talking point, distracting from work toward more challenging or expensive changes.
Kresha responded that he intended House File 0008 to be a small step in the larger, long-term process of reformed child protection in Minnesota.
“I will admit that there is a lot of work to do,” Kresha said. “We need to push everywhere we can to get some of this stuff done.”
The final vote was 130–0 in favor of passing the bill. Four members of the House were absent and did not vote.