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1984 Minnesota Session Laws

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                         Laws of Minnesota 1984 

                        CHAPTER 577-H.F.No. 1806 
           An act relating to public welfare; amending the 
          reporting of maltreatment of minors act; clarifying 
          the roles of law enforcement and local welfare 
          agencies; clarifying language; amending Minnesota 
          Statutes 1982, section 626.556, subdivisions 3 and 11; 
          amending Minnesota Statutes 1983 Supplement, section 
          626.556, subdivisions 1, 2, 4, and 10.  
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
    Section 1.  Minnesota Statutes 1982, section 626.556, 
subdivision 11, is amended to read:  
    Subd. 11.  [RECORDS.] All records maintained by a local 
welfare agency under this section, including any written reports 
filed under subdivision 7, shall be private data on individuals, 
except insofar as copies of reports are required by subdivision 
7 to be sent to the local police department or the county 
sheriff.  Report records maintained by any police department or 
the county sheriff shall be private data on individuals except 
the reports shall be made available to the investigating, 
petitioning, or prosecuting authority.  The welfare board shall 
make available to the investigating, petitioning, or prosecuting 
authority any records which contain information relating to a 
specific incident of neglect or abuse which is under 
investigation, petition, or prosecution and information relating 
to any prior incidents of neglect or abuse involving any of the 
same persons.  The records shall be collected and maintained in 
accordance with the provisions of chapter 13.  An individual 
subject of a record shall have access to the record in 
accordance with those sections, except that the name of the 
reporter shall be confidential while the report is under 
assessment or investigation.  After the assessment or 
investigation is completed, the name of the reporter shall be 
confidential but shall be accessible to the individual subject 
of the record upon court order.  
    Records maintained by local welfare agencies, the police 
department or county sheriff under this section shall be 
destroyed as described in clauses (a) to (c): 
    (a) If upon assessment or investigation a report is found 
to be unsubstantiated, notice of intent to destroy records of 
the report shall be mailed to the individual subject of the 
report.  At the subject's request the records shall be 
maintained as private data.  If no request from the subject is 
received within 30 days of mailing the notice of intent to 
destroy, the records shall be destroyed. 
    (b) All records relating to reports which, upon assessment 
or investigation, are found to be substantiated shall be 
destroyed seven years after the date of the final entry in the 
case record. 
    (c) All records of reports which, upon initial assessment 
or investigation, cannot be substantiated or disproved to the 
satisfaction of the local welfare agency, local police 
department or county sheriff may be kept for a period of one 
year.  If the local welfare agency, local police department or 
county sheriff is unable to substantiate the report within that 
period, each agency unable to substantiate the report shall 
destroy its records relating to the report in the manner 
provided by clause (a). 
     Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1983 Supplement, section 
626.556, subdivision 1, is amended to read: 
    Subdivision 1.  [PUBLIC POLICY.] The legislature hereby 
declares that the public policy of this state is to protect 
children whose health or welfare may be jeopardized through 
physical abuse, neglect or sexual abuse; to strengthen the 
family and make the home, school, and community safe for 
children by promoting responsible child care in all settings; 
and to provide, when necessary, a safe temporary or permanent 
home environment for physically or sexually abused children. 
    In addition, it is the policy of this state to require the 
reporting of suspected neglect, physical or sexual abuse of 
children in the home, school, and community settings; to provide 
for the voluntary reporting of abuse or neglect of children; to 
require the assessment and investigation of the reports; and to 
provide protective and counseling services in appropriate cases. 
     Sec. 3.  Minnesota Statutes 1983 Supplement, section 
626.556, subdivision 2, is amended to read:  
    Subd. 2.  [DEFINITIONS.] As used in this section, the 
following terms have the meanings given them unless the specific 
content indicates otherwise: 
     (a) "Sexual abuse" means the subjection by a person 
responsible for the child's care, to any act which constitutes a 
violation of sections 609.342, 609.343, 609.344, or 609.345, or 
sections 609.364 to 609.3644.  Sexual abuse also includes any 
act which involves a minor which constitutes a violation of 
sections 609.321 to 609.324 or 617.246.  
     (b) "Person responsible for the child's care" means a 
parent, guardian, teacher, school administrator, or other lawful 
custodian of a child having either full-time or short-term care 
responsibilities including, but not limited to, day care, baby 
sitting, counseling, teaching, and coaching.  
         (c) "Neglect" means failure by a person responsible for a 
child's care to supply a child with necessary food, clothing, 
shelter or medical care when reasonably able to do so or failure 
to protect a child from conditions or actions which imminently 
and seriously endanger the child's physical or mental health 
when reasonably able to do so.  Nothing in this section shall be 
construed to (i) mean that a child is neglected solely because 
the child's parent, guardian or other person responsible for his 
care in good faith selects and depends upon spiritual means or 
prayer for treatment or care of disease or remedial care of the 
child, or (ii) impose upon persons, not otherwise legally 
responsible for providing a child with necessary food, clothing, 
shelter or medical care, a duty to provide that care. 
    (d) "Physical abuse" means: 
    (i) Any physical injury inflicted by a person responsible 
for the child's care on a child other than by accidental means; 
or 
    (ii) Any physical injury that cannot reasonably be 
explained by the child's history of injuries. 
    (e) "Report" means any report received by the local welfare 
agency, police department or county sheriff pursuant to this 
section. 
    (f) "Facility" means a day care facility, residential 
facility, agency, hospital, sanitorium, or other facility or 
institution required to be licensed pursuant to sections 144.50 
to 144.58, 241.021, or 245.781 to 245.812.  
    (g) "Operator" means an operator or agency as defined in 
section 245.782.  
    (h) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of public welfare.
    (i) "Assessment" includes authority to interview the child, 
the person or persons responsible for the child's care, the 
alleged perpetrator, and any other person with knowledge of the 
abuse or neglect for the purpose of gathering the facts, 
assessing the risk to the child, and formulating a plan.  
    Sec. 4.  Minnesota Statutes 1982, section 626.556, 
subdivision 3, is amended to read:  
    Subd. 3.  [PERSONS MANDATED TO REPORT.] A professional or 
his delegate who is engaged in the practice of the healing arts, 
social services, hospital administration, psychological or 
psychiatric treatment, child care, education, or law enforcement 
who has knowledge of or reasonable cause to believe a child is 
being neglected or physically or sexually abused shall 
immediately report the information to the local welfare agency, 
police department or the county sheriff.  The police department 
or the county sheriff, upon receiving a report, shall 
immediately notify the local welfare agency.  The local welfare 
agency, upon receiving a report, shall immediately notify the 
local police department or the county sheriff.  Nothing in this 
subdivision shall be construed to require more than one report 
from any institution, facility, school or agency. 
    Any person not required to report under the provisions of 
this subdivision may voluntarily report to the local welfare 
agency, police department or the county sheriff if he has 
knowledge of or reasonable cause to believe a child is being 
neglected or subjected to physical or sexual abuse.  The police 
department or the county sheriff, upon receiving a report, shall 
immediately notify the local welfare agency. 
    A person mandated to report suspected physical or sexual 
child abuse or neglect occurring within a licensed facility 
shall report the information to the agency responsible for 
licensing the facility.  A health or corrections agency 
receiving a report may request the local welfare agency to 
provide assistance pursuant to subdivisions 10, 10a, and 10b.  
    Any person who makes a report shall, upon request to the 
local welfare agency, receive a concise summary of the 
disposition of the report, unless release would be detrimental 
to the best interests of the child. 
    Sec. 5.  Minnesota Statutes 1983 Supplement, section 
626.556, subdivision 4, is amended to read: 
    Subd. 4.  [IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY.] (a) Any person, 
including those voluntarily making reports and those required to 
make reports under subdivision 3, participating in good faith 
and exercising due care in the making of a report or assisting 
in an assessment pursuant to this section has immunity from any 
liability, civil or criminal, that otherwise might result by 
reason of his action. 
    (b) A supervisor or social worker employed by a local 
welfare agency, who in good faith exercises due care when 
complying with subdivisions 10 and 11 or any related rule or 
provision of law, shall have immunity from any civil liability 
that otherwise might result by reason of his action.  
    Any public or private school, facility as defined in 
subdivision 2, or the employee of any public or private school 
or facility who permits access by a local welfare agency or 
local law enforcement agency and assists in good faith in an 
investigation or assessment pursuant to subdivision 10 has 
immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that otherwise 
might result by reason of that action.  
    This subdivision does not provide immunity to any person 
for failure to make a required report or for committing neglect, 
physical abuse, or sexual abuse of a child.  
    Sec. 6.  Minnesota Statutes 1983 Supplement, section 
626.556, subdivision 10, is amended to read:  
    Subd. 10.  [DUTIES OF LOCAL WELFARE AGENCY AND LOCAL LAW 
ENFORCEMENT AGENCY UPON RECEIPT OF A REPORT.] (a) 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, the local welfare 
agency shall immediately investigate conduct an assessment and 
offer protective social services for purposes of preventing 
further abuses, safeguarding and enhancing the welfare of the 
abused or neglected minor, and preserving family life whenever 
possible.  When necessary the local welfare agency shall seek 
authority to remove the child from the custody of his parent, 
guardian or adult with whom he is living.  In performing any of 
these duties, the local welfare agency shall maintain 
appropriate records.  
    (b) Authority of the local welfare agency responsible for 
investigating assessing the child abuse report and of the local 
law enforcement agency 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 perpetrator.  The interview may 
take place at school or any facility or other place where the 
alleged victim or other minors might be found and may take place 
outside the presence of the perpetrator or parent, legal 
custodian, or guardian, or school official.  Except as provided 
in this clause, the parent, legal custodian, or guardian shall 
be notified, no later than the conclusion of the investigation 
or assessment, that this interview has occurred.  
Notwithstanding rule 49.02 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, notification of this interview be 
withheld from the parent, legal custodian, or guardian.  
    (c) When the local welfare or local law enforcement agency 
determines that an interview should take place on school 
property, written notification 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 chairman of the county welfare board or his 
designee.  The time, and place, and manner of the interview on 
school premises shall be within the discretion of school 
officials, but the local welfare agency, or the local 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 deemed necessary by 
agreement between the school officials and the local welfare 
agency or local law enforcement agency.  Where the school fails 
to comply with the provisions of this section, the juvenile 
court may order the school to comply with this provision.  
School officials shall not disclose to the parent, legal 
custodian, guardian, or perpetrator that a request to interview 
the child has been made until after the abuse investigation or 
assessment has been concluded.  Every effort shall 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.  
    (d) Where the perpetrator 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 perpetrator or any person responsible for 
the child's care at reasonable places and times as specified by 
court order.  
    (e) Before making an order under paragraph (d), 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 a guardian ad litem is appointed, he shall be 
present at the hearing on the order to show cause.  
    (f) The commissioner and, the local welfare agencies 
responsible for investigating reports, 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 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. 
    Sec. 7.  [EFFECTIVE DATE.] 
    This act is effective the day following final enactment. 
    Approved April 26, 1984

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