When a child abuse report is made, it goes through a multi-step process:
When Dakota County Social Services receives a report of child abuse or neglect, the county is responsible to determine whether or not the information meets criteria for assessment under Minnesota Statutes 260E. If the information meets criteria, the report will be assigned to a social worker for assessment.
The goals of an assessment are:
- To determine the validity of the report according to community standards and legal definitions, i.e. whether the condition that is being reported actually exists and whether it falls within the parameters of child maltreatment as defined by Minnesota Statute 260E.
- To determine the existence of abuse or neglect other than what is being reported.
- To determine the need for continued social services.
Following the assessment, parents or guardians of the possible child victim receive a letter telling them the assessment is complete and whether continued services are needed. People who made the original report as required under Minnesota law based on their jobs will also receive notice at the end of the assessment.
As part of the assessment, the county determines if child protective services are needed. If they are needed, we work with the family to plan for the continued safety of the child. If protective services are not needed, the county closes the case and provides information on community resources that could help the family.