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Maltreatment investigations in DHS-licensed programs

To help protect the health, safety and well-being of those who receive services from licensed facilities, the Department of Human Services (DHS) Licensing Division or county staff people investigate reports of alleged maltreatment.

  • County social service agencies investigate allegations in family child care settings and child foster care for children under 18 years old.
  • The DHS Investigations Unit investigates allegations in the programs and facilities directly licensed by DHS (home and community based services, mental health and substance use disorder facilities, child care centers and children’s residential facilities), in adult foster care homes and child foster care for individuals 18-21 who are receiving extended child foster care that are licensed by county social service agencies in partnership with DHS, and juvenile correctional facilities licensed by the Department of Corrections.

Maltreatment investigations in DHS-licensed programs: Frequently asked question about what to expect DHS-7700 (PDF)

Where do I report?

To report suspected abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult:

If you know or suspect that a vulnerable adult is in immediate danger, call 911 or local law enforcement. Otherwise, contact the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center (MAARC) at 844-880-1574, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are a mandated reporter you may make a report online using the MAARC Mandated Reporter Form.

Send call center feedback to the DHS adult protection unit.

To report suspected abuse or neglect of a child:

If you know or suspect that a child is in imminent danger, call 911 or local law enforcement. Otherwise:

  • To report suspected abuse or neglect in a child care center, children’s residential facility or juvenile correctional facility, call DHS Licensing at 651-431-6600.
  • To report suspected abuse or neglect in a family child care or child foster care setting, contact the county child protection unit.

Who is a mandated reporter?
Mandated reporters are professionals or a professional's delegate identified by law who MUST make a report if they have reason to believe that abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult or child has occurred.

If I provide information to the Licensing Division during an investigation, how is my information used and what are my privacy rights?
The privacy of information obtained during an investigation is explained in the Licensing Division's privacy notice DHS-4127 (PDF).

How can I find out the results of an investigation or if there have been any investigations at a specific licensed program?
The Licensing Information Lookup can provide this information.

Resources and training

Maltreatment reports

The  DHS Licensing Investigations Unit staff has made significant progress decreasing the number of open maltreatment cases. Annual reports provide comparison data over the past fiscal years including the number of maltreatment reports received, the number assigned for out-of-office maltreatment investigation and the number of substantiated reports.

Statutory requirements

Maltreatment investigations are guided by the procedures and definitions contained in these statutes:

Maltreatment investigation process

A maltreatment investigation is neutral fact finding process that involves obtaining information from all relevant sources about an alleged incident. An investigation may include:

  • A site visit to the program that may either be announced or unannounced.
  • Interviews with individuals who have information about the allegations or people involved including:
    • Alleged victim(s)
    • Witnesses/staff people
    • Facility management staff people
    • Community people
    • Guardians, parents or family members
    • Case managers
    • Anyone else with information related to the incident/allegation.
  • Documents collected from the facility including facility policies and procedures, the vulnerable adult’s or child’s file and personnel/training files.
  • Documentation from outside sources such as medical or law enforcement records.

Investigations often include working with and coordinating with other investigative agencies such as law enforcement or adult or child protection agencies.

Each investigation must answer several questions, including:

  • What happened?
  • Did the incident meet a statutory definition of maltreatment (abuse, neglect or financial exploitation)?
  • If maltreatment occurred, was an individual and/or the facility responsible?
  • If an individual was responsible, was the maltreatment recurring or serious?
  • If a facility was responsible, was the maltreatment serious?
  • What action is necessary based on the determination?

A written public summary of the information obtained during an investigation is documented in an investigative memorandum that can be found at the Licensing Information Lookup. Investigation memorandums address the initial allegations, what was found during the investigation and determinations, responsibility and any required action by DHS. 

During the course of an investigation, information obtained is confidential. After a determination is made, information about individuals becomes private information. The name of reporter remains confidential. The privacy of information obtained during an investigation is explained in the Licensing Division's privacy notice DHS-4127 (PDF).

The results and determinations of investigations are subject to appeal.

Serious or recurring maltreatment

A staff person who is responsible for maltreatment that is serious or recurring is disqualified from positions that allow direct contact with or access to people who receive services from programs, organizations, and/or agencies that are required to have individuals complete a background study by the Department of Human Services as listed in Minnesota Statutes, section 245C.03.

If a facility is responsible for maltreatment, the license holder is fined $1,000 for each determination of maltreatment or $5,000 if the determination of maltreatment meets the definition of serious maltreatment. Other licensing actions may also be taken such as a conditional license or license revocation.

Licensing violations

During the course of the investigation, the investigator may observe and determine licensing violations related to the services provided and the rules and/or statutes, which govern the facility. Those violations will be documented in the investigation memorandum, correction order or other licensing actions taken.

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