Northlanders Work To Improve MN Child Protective Services |

Northlanders Work To Improve MN Child Protective Services

Laurie Stribling

October 22, 2014 10:43 PM

After a Minnesota boy died despite 15 reports of child abuse, Governor Mark Dayton organized a task force to improve the system and protect our kids. The group visited Duluth Wednesday for input from people in northeastern Minnesota.

Social workers said more hands and more resources are key to helping more kids. They also said streamlining the process will help keep workers in the field instead of buried in paperwork.

Lisa Edmundson, with Carlton County Health and Human Services, said workers are already working overtime.

"You're going in early in the morning to get things to a courthouse so it can get on the docket," Edmundson said. "You're also working until eight or nine at night so you can get your information to make good decisions."

Mandated reporters also shared opinions on how to improve the system. One Duluth teacher said educational neglect should be given higher priority.

"I believe instances like excessive, unexcused absence from school should be seen as the tip of the iceberg," Stacey Achterhoff said. "Missing school should be treated as an opportunity to work with families before mental health, addiction or other barriers become so great that services offered aren't adequate."

She gave an example of a student who missed more than 40 days of school. She said it was reported, but it took a police incident the following fall for action to be taken.

"If being a mandated reporter is my obligation then treating my report as a valid cause for concern and action is a Child Protective Services obligation," Achterhoff said.

Achterhoff added that her criticism did not reflect the performance of any one social worker, but a system that is failing.

The public also had a chance to weigh in. Verne Wagner, who was sexually abused by a priest as a child, called on the Governor to bring more cases to light. A daycare provider who lost her license said Child Protective Services needs to be more transparent. She said her license was unjustly taken.

Most speakers emphasized the need for more people to help more kids because one death is one too many.

The task force will present a recommendation to the Governor by December. A proposed solution will be finalized in March.


Laurie Stribling

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