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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

HF 563

as introduced - 91st Legislature (2019 - 2020) Posted on 04/01/2019 05:38pm

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.

Bill Text Versions

Engrossments
Introduction Posted on 01/31/2019

Current Version - as introduced

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A bill for an act
relating to child abuse; creating Heaven's Law; directing the commissioner of
human services to report to the legislature on information sharing in interstate
child protection investigations; requiring an investigation into a future interstate
compact on child protection data; requiring that certain information be requested
as part of an assessment or investigation; requiring consideration of past
maltreatment to determine investigations; amending Minnesota Statutes 2018,
section 626.556, subdivisions 10, 10e.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1. new text beginTITLE.
new text end

new text begin This act shall be known as "Heaven's Law."
new text end

Sec. 2.

Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 626.556, subdivision 10, is amended to read:


Subd. 10.

Duties of local welfare agency and local law enforcement agency upon
receipt of report; mandatory notification between police or sheriff and agency.

(a) The
police department or the county sheriff shall immediately notify the local welfare agency
or agency responsible for child protection reports under this section orally and in writing
when a report is received. The local welfare agency or agency responsible for child protection
reports shall immediately notify the local police department or the county sheriff orally and
in writing when a report is received. The county sheriff and the head of every local welfare
agency, agency responsible for child protection reports, and police department shall each
designate a person within their agency, department, or office who is responsible for ensuring
that the notification duties of this paragraph are carried out. When the alleged maltreatment
occurred on tribal land, the local welfare agency or agency responsible for child protection
reports and the local police department or the county sheriff shall immediately notify the
tribe's social services agency and tribal law enforcement orally and in writing when a report
is received.

(b) Upon receipt of a report, the local welfare agency shall determine whether to conduct
a family assessment or an investigation as appropriate to prevent or provide a remedy for
child maltreatment. The local welfare agency:

(1) shall conduct an investigation on reports involving sexual abuse or substantial child
endangerment;

(2) shall begin an immediate investigation if, at any time when it is using a family
assessment response, it determines that there is reason to believe that sexual abuse or
substantial child endangerment or a serious threat to the child's safety exists;

(3) may conduct a family assessment for reports that do not allege sexual abuse or
substantial child endangerment. In determining that a family assessment is appropriate, the
local welfare agency may consider issues of child safety, parental cooperation, and the need
for an immediate response;

(4) may conduct a family assessment on a report that was initially screened and assigned
for an investigation. In determining that a complete investigation is not required, the local
welfare agency must document the reason for terminating the investigation and notify the
local law enforcement agency if the local law enforcement agency is conducting a joint
investigation; and

(5) shall provide immediate notice, according to section 260.761, subdivision 2, to an
Indian child's tribe when the agency has reason to believe the family assessment or
investigation may involve an Indian child. For purposes of this clause, "immediate notice"
means notice provided within 24 hours.

If the report alleges neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, or
individual functioning within the family unit as a person responsible for the child's care, or
sexual abuse by a person with a significant relationship to the child when that person resides
in the child's household or by a sibling, the local welfare agency shall immediately conduct
a family assessment or investigation as identified in clauses (1) to (4). In conducting a family
assessment or investigation, the local welfare agency shall gather information on the existence
of substance abuse and domestic violence and offer services for purposes of preventing
future child maltreatment, safeguarding and enhancing the welfare of the abused or neglected
minor, and supporting and preserving family life whenever possible. If the report alleges a
violation of a criminal statute involving sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect or
endangerment, under section 609.378, the local law enforcement agency and local welfare
agency shall coordinate the planning and execution of their respective investigation and
assessment efforts to avoid a duplication of fact-finding efforts and multiple interviews.
Each agency shall prepare a separate report of the results of its investigation or assessment.
In cases of alleged child maltreatment resulting in death, the local agency may rely on the
fact-finding efforts of a law enforcement investigation to make a determination of whether
or not maltreatment occurred. When necessary the local welfare agency shall seek authority
to remove the child from the custody of a parent, guardian, or adult with whom the child is
living. In performing any of these duties, the local welfare agency shall maintain appropriate
records.

If the family assessment or investigation indicates there is a potential for abuse of alcohol
or other drugs by the parent, guardian, or person responsible for the child's care, the local
welfare agency shall conduct a chemical use assessment pursuant to Minnesota Rules, part
9530.6615.

(c) When a local agency receives a report or otherwise has information indicating that
a child who is a client, as defined in section 245.91, has been the subject of physical abuse,
sexual abuse, or neglect at an agency, facility, or program as defined in section 245.91, it
shall, in addition to its other duties under this section, immediately inform the ombudsman
established under sections 245.91 to 245.97. The commissioner of education shall inform
the ombudsman established under sections 245.91 to 245.97 of reports regarding a child
defined as a client in section 245.91 that maltreatment occurred at a school as defined in
section 120A.05, subdivisions 9, 11, and 13, and chapter 124E.

(d) Authority of the local welfare agency responsible for assessing or investigating the
child abuse or neglect report, the agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report,
and of the local law enforcement agency for investigating the alleged abuse or neglect
includes, but is not limited to, authority to interview, without parental consent, the alleged
victim and any other minors who currently reside with or who have resided with the alleged
offender. The interview may take place at school or at any facility or other place where the
alleged victim or other minors might be found or the child may be transported to, and the
interview conducted at, a place appropriate for the interview of a child designated by the
local welfare agency or law enforcement agency. The interview may take place outside the
presence of the alleged offender or parent, legal custodian, guardian, or school official. For
family assessments, it is the preferred practice to request a parent or guardian's permission
to interview the child prior to conducting the child interview, unless doing so would
compromise the safety assessment. Except as provided in this paragraph, the parent, legal
custodian, or guardian shall be notified by the responsible local welfare or law enforcement
agency no later than the conclusion of the investigation or assessment that this interview
has occurred. Notwithstanding rule 32 of the Minnesota Rules of Procedure for Juvenile
Courts, the juvenile court may, after hearing on an ex parte motion by the local welfare
agency, order that, where reasonable cause exists, the agency withhold notification of this
interview from the parent, legal custodian, or guardian. If the interview took place or is to
take place on school property, the order shall specify that school officials may not disclose
to the parent, legal custodian, or guardian the contents of the notification of intent to interview
the child on school property, as provided under this paragraph, and any other related
information regarding the interview that may be a part of the child's school record. A copy
of the order shall be sent by the local welfare or law enforcement agency to the appropriate
school official.

(e) When the local welfare, local law enforcement agency, or the agency responsible
for assessing or investigating a report of maltreatment determines that an interview should
take place on school property, written notification of intent to interview the child on school
property must be received by school officials prior to the interview. The notification shall
include the name of the child to be interviewed, the purpose of the interview, and a reference
to the statutory authority to conduct an interview on school property. For interviews
conducted by the local welfare agency, the notification shall be signed by the chair of the
local social services agency or the chair's designee. The notification shall be private data
on individuals subject to the provisions of this paragraph. School officials may not disclose
to the parent, legal custodian, or guardian the contents of the notification or any other related
information regarding the interview until notified in writing by the local welfare or law
enforcement agency that the investigation or assessment has been concluded, unless a school
employee or agent is alleged to have maltreated the child. Until that time, the local welfare
or law enforcement agency or the agency responsible for assessing or investigating a report
of maltreatment shall be solely responsible for any disclosures regarding the nature of the
assessment or investigation.

Except where the alleged offender is believed to be a school official or employee, the
time and place, and manner of the interview on school premises shall be within the discretion
of school officials, but the local welfare or law enforcement agency shall have the exclusive
authority to determine who may attend the interview. The conditions as to time, place, and
manner of the interview set by the school officials shall be reasonable and the interview
shall be conducted not more than 24 hours after the receipt of the notification unless another
time is considered necessary by agreement between the school officials and the local welfare
or law enforcement agency. Where the school fails to comply with the provisions of this
paragraph, the juvenile court may order the school to comply. Every effort must be made
to reduce the disruption of the educational program of the child, other students, or school
staff when an interview is conducted on school premises.

(f) Where the alleged offender or a person responsible for the care of the alleged victim
or other minor prevents access to the victim or other minor by the local welfare agency, the
juvenile court may order the parents, legal custodian, or guardian to produce the alleged
victim or other minor for questioning by the local welfare agency or the local law
enforcement agency outside the presence of the alleged offender or any person responsible
for the child's care at reasonable places and times as specified by court order.

(g) Before making an order under paragraph (f), the court shall issue an order to show
cause, either upon its own motion or upon a verified petition, specifying the basis for the
requested interviews and fixing the time and place of the hearing. The order to show cause
shall be served personally and shall be heard in the same manner as provided in other cases
in the juvenile court. The court shall consider the need for appointment of a guardian ad
litem to protect the best interests of the child. If appointed, the guardian ad litem shall be
present at the hearing on the order to show cause.

(h) The commissioner of human services, the ombudsman for mental health and
developmental disabilities, the local welfare agencies responsible for investigating reports,
the commissioner of education, and the local law enforcement agencies have the right to
enter facilities as defined in subdivision 2 and to inspect and copy the facility's records,
including medical records, as part of the investigation. Notwithstanding the provisions of
chapter 13, they also have the right to inform the facility under investigation that they are
conducting an investigation, to disclose to the facility the names of the individuals under
investigation for abusing or neglecting a child, and to provide the facility with a copy of
the report and the investigative findings.

(i) The local welfare agency responsible for conducting a family assessment or
investigation shall collect available and relevant information to determine child safety, risk
of subsequent child maltreatment, and family strengths and needs and share not public
information with an Indian's tribal social services agency without violating any law of the
state that may otherwise impose duties of confidentiality on the local welfare agency in
order to implement the tribal state agreement. The local welfare agency or the agency
responsible for investigating the report shall collect available and relevant information to
ascertain whether maltreatment occurred and whether protective services are needed.
Information collected includes, when relevant, information with regard to the person reporting
the alleged maltreatment, including the nature of the reporter's relationship to the child and
to the alleged offender, and the basis of the reporter's knowledge for the report; the child
allegedly being maltreated; the alleged offender; the child's caretaker; and other collateral
sources having relevant information related to the alleged maltreatment. The local welfare
agency or the agency responsible for investigating the report may make a determination of
no maltreatment early in an investigation, and close the case and retain immunity, if the
collected information shows no basis for a full investigation.

new text begin The local welfare agency or the agency responsible for conducting the assessment or
investigation must ask for
new text endinformation relevant to the assessment or investigation deleted text beginmust be
asked for, and
deleted text endnew text begin, including a search of the central child abuse and neglect registry or equivalent
registry maintained by each state where the alleged offender has resided in the preceding
five years, to the extent information is available. This information
new text end may include:

(1) the child's sex and age; prior reports of maltreatment, including any maltreatment
reports that were screened out and not accepted for assessment or investigation; information
relating to developmental functioning; credibility of the child's statement; and whether the
information provided under this clause is consistent with other information collected during
the course of the assessment or investigation;

(2) the alleged offender's agedeleted text begin,deleted text endnew text begin andnew text end a record check for prior deleted text beginreports of maltreatment, anddeleted text end
criminal charges and convictions. The local welfare agency or the agency responsible for
assessing or investigating the report must provide the alleged offender with an opportunity
to make a statement. The alleged offender may submit supporting documentation relevant
to the assessment or investigation;

(3) collateral source information regarding the alleged maltreatment and care of the
child. Collateral information includes, when relevant: (i) a medical examination of the child;
(ii) prior medical records relating to the alleged maltreatment or the care of the child
maintained by any facility, clinic, or health care professional and an interview with the
treating professionals; and (iii) interviews with the child's caretakers, including the child's
parent, guardian, foster parent, child care provider, teachers, counselors, family members,
relatives, and other persons who may have knowledge regarding the alleged maltreatment
and the care of the child; and

(4) information on the existence of domestic abuse and violence in the home of the child,
and substance abuse.

Nothing in this paragraph precludes the local welfare agency, the local law enforcement
agency, or the agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report from collecting
other relevant information necessary to conduct the assessment or investigation.
Notwithstanding sections 13.384 or 144.291 to 144.298, the local welfare agency has access
to medical data and records for purposes of clause (3). Notwithstanding the data's
classification in the possession of any other agency, data acquired by the local welfare
agency or the agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report during the course
of the assessment or investigation are private data on individuals and must be maintained
in accordance with subdivision 11. Data of the commissioner of education collected or
maintained during and for the purpose of an investigation of alleged maltreatment in a school
are governed by this section, notwithstanding the data's classification as educational,
licensing, or personnel data under chapter 13.

In conducting an assessment or investigation involving a school facility as defined in
subdivision 2, paragraph (c), the commissioner of education shall collect investigative
reports and data that are relevant to a report of maltreatment and are from local law
enforcement and the school facility.

(j) Upon receipt of a report, the local welfare agency shall conduct a face-to-face contact
with the child reported to be maltreated and with the child's primary caregiver sufficient to
complete a safety assessment and ensure the immediate safety of the child. The face-to-face
contact with the child and primary caregiver shall occur immediately if sexual abuse or
substantial child endangerment is alleged and within five calendar days for all other reports.
If the alleged offender was not already interviewed as the primary caregiver, the local welfare
agency shall also conduct a face-to-face interview with the alleged offender in the early
stages of the assessment or investigation. At the initial contact, the local child welfare agency
or the agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report must inform the alleged
offender of the complaints or allegations made against the individual in a manner consistent
with laws protecting the rights of the person who made the report. The interview with the
alleged offender may be postponed if it would jeopardize an active law enforcement
investigation.

(k) When conducting an investigation, the local welfare agency shall use a question and
answer interviewing format with questioning as nondirective as possible to elicit spontaneous
responses. For investigations only, the following interviewing methods and procedures must
be used whenever possible when collecting information:

(1) audio recordings of all interviews with witnesses and collateral sources; and

(2) in cases of alleged sexual abuse, audio-video recordings of each interview with the
alleged victim and child witnesses.

(l) In conducting an assessment or investigation involving a school facility as defined
in subdivision 2, paragraph (c), the commissioner of education shall collect available and
relevant information and use the procedures in paragraphs (j) and (k), and subdivision 3d,
except that the requirement for face-to-face observation of the child and face-to-face interview
of the alleged offender is to occur in the initial stages of the assessment or investigation
provided that the commissioner may also base the assessment or investigation on investigative
reports and data received from the school facility and local law enforcement, to the extent
those investigations satisfy the requirements of paragraphs (j) and (k), and subdivision 3d.

Sec. 3.

Minnesota Statutes 2018, section 626.556, subdivision 10e, is amended to read:


Subd. 10e.

Determinations.

(a) The local welfare agency shall conclude the family
assessment or the investigation within 45 days of the receipt of a report. The conclusion of
the assessment or investigation may be extended to permit the completion of a criminal
investigation or the receipt of expert information requested within 45 days of the receipt of
the report.

(b) After conducting a family assessment, the local welfare agency shall determine
whether services are needed to address the safety of the child and other family members
and the risk of subsequent maltreatment.

(c) After conducting an investigation, the local welfare agency shall make two
determinations: first, whether maltreatment has occurred; and second, whether child
protective services are needed. No determination of maltreatment shall be made when the
alleged perpetrator is a child under the age of ten.

(d) If the commissioner of education conducts an assessment or investigation, the
commissioner shall determine whether maltreatment occurred and what corrective or
protective action was taken by the school facility. If a determination is made that
maltreatment has occurred, the commissioner shall report to the employer, the school board,
and any appropriate licensing entity the determination that maltreatment occurred and what
corrective or protective action was taken by the school facility. In all other cases, the
commissioner shall inform the school board or employer that a report was received, the
subject of the report, the date of the initial report, the category of maltreatment alleged as
defined in paragraph (f), the fact that maltreatment was not determined, and a summary of
the specific reasons for the determination.

(e) When maltreatment is determined in an investigation involving a facility, the
investigating agency shall also determine whether the facility or individual was responsible,
or whether both the facility and the individual were responsible for the maltreatment using
the mitigating factors in paragraph (i). Determinations under this subdivision must be made
based on a preponderance of the evidence and are private data on individuals or nonpublic
data as maintained by the commissioner of education.

(f) For the purposes of this subdivision, "maltreatment" means any of the following acts
or omissions:

(1) physical abuse as defined in subdivision 2, paragraph (k);

(2) neglect as defined in subdivision 2, paragraph (g);

(3) sexual abuse as defined in subdivision 2, paragraph (n);

(4) mental injury as defined in subdivision 2, paragraph (f); or

(5) maltreatment of a child in a facility as defined in subdivision 2, paragraph (c).

(g) For the purposes of this subdivision, a determination that child protective services
are needed means that the local welfare agency has documented conditions during the
assessment or investigation sufficient to cause a child protection worker, as defined in
section 626.559, subdivision 1, to conclude that a child is at significant risk of maltreatment
if protective intervention is not provided and that the individuals responsible for the child's
care have not taken or are not likely to take actions to protect the child from maltreatment
or risk of maltreatmentnew text begin, including careful consideration of past maltreatment and information
obtained from any central child abuse and neglect registry, regardless of where the past
events occurred
new text end.

(h) This subdivision does not mean that maltreatment has occurred solely because the
child's parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child's care in good faith selects
and depends upon spiritual means or prayer for treatment or care of disease or remedial care
of the child, in lieu of medical care. However, if lack of medical care may result in serious
danger to the child's health, the local welfare agency may ensure that necessary medical
services are provided to the child.

(i) When determining whether the facility or individual is the responsible party, or
whether both the facility and the individual are responsible for determined maltreatment in
a facility, the investigating agency shall consider at least the following mitigating factors:

(1) whether the actions of the facility or the individual caregivers were according to,
and followed the terms of, an erroneous physician order, prescription, individual care plan,
or directive; however, this is not a mitigating factor when the facility or caregiver was
responsible for the issuance of the erroneous order, prescription, individual care plan, or
directive or knew or should have known of the errors and took no reasonable measures to
correct the defect before administering care;

(2) comparative responsibility between the facility, other caregivers, and requirements
placed upon an employee, including the facility's compliance with related regulatory standards
and the adequacy of facility policies and procedures, facility training, an individual's
participation in the training, the caregiver's supervision, and facility staffing levels and the
scope of the individual employee's authority and discretion; and

(3) whether the facility or individual followed professional standards in exercising
professional judgment.

The evaluation of the facility's responsibility under clause (2) must not be based on the
completeness of the risk assessment or risk reduction plan required under section 245A.66,
but must be based on the facility's compliance with the regulatory standards for policies
and procedures, training, and supervision as cited in Minnesota Statutes and Minnesota
Rules.

(j) Notwithstanding paragraph (i), when maltreatment is determined to have been
committed by an individual who is also the facility license or certification holder, both the
individual and the facility must be determined responsible for the maltreatment, and both
the background study disqualification standards under section 245C.15, subdivision 4, and
the licensing or certification actions under section 245A.06, 245A.07, 245H.06, or 245H.07
apply.

Sec. 4. new text beginINTERSTATE TRANSFER OF CHILD PROTECTION DATA.
new text end

new text begin The commissioner of human services is directed to investigate and report to the legislature
on potential improvements and advancements in the sharing of child maltreatment data
between states, including consideration for interstate compacts or interstate agreements to
improve access to child maltreatment investigative and determination data to protect the
welfare of children in Minnesota and throughout the country. The commissioner shall report
to the legislature on challenges and solutions to the sharing of data on child maltreatment
between states no later than February 1, 2020.
new text end