Increase in child maltreatment reports
With increasing child maltreatment reports — up 48 percent between 2014 and 2018 — the demands on county and tribal child protection workers have increased as well. They must screen every allegation to determine which ones merit further assessment and investigation. Although every case is different, almost all maltreatment allegations can be divided broadly between those “screened in” for further assessment or investigation, and those “screened out.” Reports containing allegations related to parental drug abuse have shown an especially large increase, rising 110 percent over the same time period.
To improve and expedite workers’ initial decisions, the Minnesota Department of Human Services developed the Rapid Child Welfare Consultation and Support System, which allows county workers to discuss difficult child safety and maltreatment decisions with experienced child protection experts promptly. The department has also clarified and issued additional guidance, and is providing technical assistance through monthly webinars regarding the decisions related to screening, assessment of safety and risk, and assignment of reports to an investigative or family assessment response path to further support the workforce. Department staff also support local agency staff at regional Communities of Practice meetings; in 2018 there were three rounds of meetings.
The department is also working to strengthen Minnesota’s child safety framework in consultation with the Capacity Building Center for States. Efforts to review current practices and exploration of data have been ongoing. Regional members from the Minnesota Association of County Social Services Administrators have been advising the department as a part of this projec