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State Considers Change Of Child Protection System

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - A Minnesota task force is pushing for changes in the way the state handles child abuse cases.

After a three hour meeting at the State Office building, all 26 members of the task force approved a draft of recommended changes to the state's Child Protection System.

"We have work to do, just admitting," task force co-chair and Department of Human Services commissioner Lucinda Jesson said. "We are failing some children."

The task force argued the system has relied too much on the use of "family assessment," where social workers don't investigate if child abuse actually happened. Instead they hope the family will be willing to work with them without the fear of punishment and try to get them help through things like counseling and classes.

"We need to shift the way we look at child protective services," Jesson said. "We need to think first and foremost what is best for that child."

The task force also wants to repeal a state law that prevents county officials from considering old and rejected abuse reports when reviewing current cases.

"Not only should you be able to look at past reports, but it makes sense to look at past reports," Jesson said.

Ultimately the task force said there needs to be more discussion to make sure the primary focus is on the safety of the child--even if that means breaking up the family.

"In our attempts to save families, we are losing too many children, and our children need to be protected," former Minnesota Supreme Court chief justice Kathleen Blatz said.

The task force's final recommendations are due March 31, 2015.

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