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626.5551 Alternative response programs for child protection assessments or investigations.

Subdivision 1. Programs authorized. (a) A county may establish a program that uses alternative responses to reports of child maltreatment under section 626.556, as provided in this section.

(b) The alternative response program is a voluntary program on the part of the family, which may include a family assessment and services approach under which the local welfare agency assesses the risk of abuse and neglect and the service needs of the family and arranges for appropriate services, diversions, referral for services, or other response identified in the plan under subdivision 4.

(c) This section may not be used for reports of maltreatment in facilities required to be licensed under sections 144.50 to 144.58; 241.021; 245A.01 to 245A.16; or chapter 245B, or in a school as defined in sections 120A.05, subdivisions 9, 11, and 13; and 124D.10, or in a nonlicensed personal care provider association as defined in sections 256B.04, subdivision 16, and 256B.0625, subdivision 19a.

Subd. 2. Use of alternative response or investigation. (a) Upon receipt of a report under section 626.556, the local welfare agency in a county that has established an alternative response program under this section shall determine whether to conduct an investigation using the traditional investigative model under section 626.556 or to use an alternative response as appropriate to prevent or provide a remedy for child maltreatment.

(b) The local welfare agency may conduct an investigation of any report using the traditional investigative model under section 626.556. However, the local welfare agency must use the traditional investigative model under section 626.556 to investigate reports involving substantial child endangerment. For purposes of this subdivision, substantial child endangerment includes when a person responsible for a child's care, by act or omission, commits or attempts to commit an act against a child under their care that constitutes any of the following:

(1) egregious harm as defined in section 260C.007, subdivision 14;

(2) sexual abuse as defined in section 626.556, subdivision 2, paragraph (a);

(3) abandonment under section 260C.301, subdivision 2;

(4) neglect as defined in section 626.556, subdivision 2, paragraph (c), that substantially endangers the child's physical or mental health, including a growth delay, which may be referred to as failure to thrive, that has been diagnosed by a physician and is due to parental neglect;

(5) murder in the first, second, or third degree under section 609.185; 609.19; or 609.195;

(6) manslaughter in the first or second degree under section 609.20 or 609.205;

(7) assault in the first, second, or third degree under section 609.221; 609.222; or 609.223;

(8) solicitation, inducement, and promotion of prostitution under section 609.322;

(9) criminal sexual conduct under sections 609.342 to 609.3451;

(10) solicitation of children to engage in sexual conduct under section 609.352;

(11) malicious punishment or neglect or endangerment of a child under section 609.377 or 609.378; or

(12) use of minor in sexual performance under section 617.246.

(c) Nothing in this section gives a county any broader authority to intervene, assess, or investigate a family other than under section 626.556.

(d) In addition, in all cases the local welfare agency shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency as provided in section 626.556, subdivision 3.

(e) The local welfare agency shall begin an immediate investigation under section 626.556 if at any time when it is using an alternative response it determines that an investigation is required under paragraph (b) or would otherwise be appropriate. The local welfare agency may use an alternative response to a report that was initially referred for an investigation if the agency determines that a complete investigation is not required. In determining that a complete investigation is not required, the local welfare agency must document the reason for terminating the investigation and consult with:

(1) the local law enforcement agency, if the local law enforcement is involved, and notify the county attorney of the decision to terminate the investigation; or

(2) the county attorney, if the local law enforcement is not involved.

Subd. 3. Documentation. When a case in which an alternative response was used is closed, the local welfare agency shall document the outcome of the approach, including a description of the response and services provided and the removal or reduction of risk to the child, if it existed. Records maintained under this section must contain the documentation and must be retained for at least four years.

Subd. 4. Plan. The county community social service plan required under section 256E.09 must address the extent that the county will use the alternative response program authorized under this section, based on the availability of new federal funding that is earned and other available revenue sources to fund the additional cost to the county of using the program. To the extent the county uses the program, the county must include the program in the community social service plan and in the program evaluation under section 256E.10. The plan must address alternative responses and services that will be used for the program and protocols for determining the appropriate response to reports under section 626.556 and address how the protocols comply with the guidelines of the commissioner under subdivision 5.

Subd. 5. Commissioner of human services to develop guidelines. The commissioner of human services, in consultation with county representatives, may develop guidelines defining alternative responses and setting out procedures for family assessment and service delivery under this section. The commissioner may also develop guidelines for counties regarding the provisions of section 626.556 that continue to apply when using an alternative response under this section. The commissioner may also develop forms, best practice guidelines, and training to assist counties in implementing alternative responses under this section.

HIST: 1999 c 139 art 4 s 2; 1999 c 245 art 8 s 65; 2001 c 178 art 1 s 44