Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes
[*Add Subtitle/link: Office]

Menu

Revisor of Statutes Menu

1997 Minnesota Statutes

This is a historical version of this statute section. Also view the most recent published version.

Resources

Recent History

626.556 Reporting of maltreatment of minors.

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. In furtherance of this public policy, it is the intent of the legislature under this section 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 or neglected children.

In addition, it is the policy of this state to require the reporting of 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.

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 of a child by a person responsible for the child's care, by a person who has a significant relationship to the child, as defined in section 609.341, or by a person in a position of authority, as defined in section 609.341, subdivision 10, to any act which constitutes a violation of section 609.342, 609.343, 609.344, or 609.345. Sexual abuse also includes any act which involves a minor which constitutes a violation of sections 609.321 to 609.324 or 617.246. Sexual abuse includes threatened sexual abuse.

(b) "Person responsible for the child's care" means (1) an individual functioning within the family unit and having responsibilities for the care of the child such as a parent, guardian, or other person having similar care responsibilities, or (2) an individual functioning outside the family unit and having responsibilities for the care of the child such as a 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, babysitting whether paid or unpaid, 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, 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, or failure to take steps to ensure that a child is educated in accordance with state law. Nothing in this section shall be construed to mean that a child is neglected 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; except that a parent, guardian, or caretaker, or a person mandated to report pursuant to subdivision 3, has a duty to report if a lack of medical care may cause serious danger to the child's health. This section does not impose upon persons, not otherwise legally responsible for providing a child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, education, or medical care, a duty to provide that care. Neglect includes prenatal exposure to a controlled substance, as defined in section 253B.02, subdivision 2, used by the mother for a nonmedical purpose, as evidenced by withdrawal symptoms in the child at birth, results of a toxicology test performed on the mother at delivery or the child at birth, or medical effects or developmental delays during the child's first year of life that medically indicate prenatal exposure to a controlled substance. Neglect also means "medical neglect" as defined in section 260.015, subdivision 2a, clause (5).

(d) "Physical abuse" means any physical or mental injury, or threatened injury, inflicted by a person responsible for the child's care on a child other than by accidental means, or any physical or mental injury that cannot reasonably be explained by the child's history of injuries, or any aversive and deprivation procedures that have not been authorized under section 245.825.

(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, sanitarium, or other facility or institution required to be licensed pursuant to sections 144.50 to 144.58, 241.021, or 245A.01 to 245A.16.

(g) "Operator" means an operator or agency as defined in section 245A.02.

(h) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of human services.

(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.

(j) "Practice of social services," for the purposes of subdivision 3, includes but is not limited to employee assistance counseling and the provision of guardian ad litem and visitation expeditor services.

(k) "Mental injury" means an injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of a child as evidenced by an observable or substantial impairment in the child's ability to function within a normal range of performance and behavior with due regard to the child's culture.

(l) "Threatened injury" means a statement, overt act, condition, or status that represents a substantial risk of physical or sexual abuse or mental injury.

Subd. 3. Persons mandated to report. (a) A person who knows or has reason to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused, as defined in subdivision 2, or has been neglected or physically or sexually abused within the preceding three years, shall immediately report the information to the local welfare agency, police department, or the county sheriff if the person is:

(1) a professional or professional's 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; or

(2) employed as a member of the clergy and received the information while engaged in ministerial duties, provided that a member of the clergy is not required by this subdivision to report information that is otherwise privileged under section 595.02, subdivision 1, paragraph (c).

The police department or the county sheriff, upon receiving a report, shall immediately notify the local welfare agency orally and in writing. The local welfare agency, upon receiving a report, shall immediately notify the local police department or the county sheriff orally and in writing. The county sheriff and the head of every local welfare agency 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 and paragraph (b) are carried out. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to require more than one report from any institution, facility, school, or agency.

(b) Any person may voluntarily report to the local welfare agency, police department, or the county sheriff if the person knows, has reason to believe, or suspects a child is being or has been 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 orally and in writing. The local welfare agency, upon receiving a report, shall immediately notify the local police department or the county sheriff orally and in writing.

(c) A person mandated to report 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.

(d) Any person mandated to report shall receive a summary of the disposition of any report made by that reporter, unless release would be detrimental to the best interests of the child. Any person who is not mandated to report shall, upon request to the local welfare agency, receive a concise summary of the disposition of any report made by that reporter, unless release would be detrimental to the best interests of the child.

(e) For purposes of this subdivision, "immediately" means as soon as possible but in no event longer than 24 hours.

Subd. 3a. Report of deprivation of parental rights or kidnapping. A person mandated to report under subdivision 3, who knows or has reason to know of a violation of section 609.25 or 609.26, shall report the information to the local police department or the county sheriff. Receipt by a local welfare agency of a report or notification of a report of a violation of section 609.25 or 609.26 shall not be construed to invoke the duties of subdivision 10, 10a, or 10b.

Subd. 4. Immunity from liability. (a) The following persons are immune from any civil or criminal liability that otherwise might result from their actions, if they are acting in good faith:

(1) any person making a voluntary or mandated report under subdivision 3 or under section 626.5561 or assisting in an assessment under this section or under section 626.5561;

(2) any person with responsibility for performing duties under this section or supervisor employed by a local welfare agency or the commissioner complying with subdivision 10d; and

(3) 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 an investigation or assessment pursuant to subdivision 10 or under section 626.5561.

(b) A person who is a supervisor or person with responsibility for performing duties under this section employed by a local welfare agency or the commissioner complying with subdivisions 10 and 11 or section 626.5561 or any related rule or provision of law is immune from any civil or criminal liability that might otherwise result from the person's actions, if the person is (1) acting in good faith and exercising due care, or (2) acting in good faith and following the information collection procedures established under subdivision 10, paragraphs (h), (i), and (j).

(c) 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.

(d) If a person who makes a voluntary or mandatory report under subdivision 3 prevails in a civil action from which the person has been granted immunity under this subdivision, the court may award the person attorney fees and costs.

Subd. 4a. Retaliation prohibited. (a) An employer of any person required to make reports under subdivision 3 shall not retaliate against the person for reporting in good faith abuse or neglect pursuant to this section, or against a child with respect to whom a report is made, because of the report.

(b) The employer of any person required to report under subdivision 3 who retaliates against the person because of a report of abuse or neglect is liable to that person for actual damages and, in addition, a penalty up to $10,000.

(c) There shall be a rebuttable presumption that any adverse action within 90 days of a report is retaliatory. For purposes of this paragraph, the term "adverse action" refers to action taken by an employer of a person required to report under subdivision 3 which is involved in a report against the person making the report or the child with respect to whom the report was made because of the report, and includes, but is not limited to:

(1) discharge, suspension, termination, or transfer from the facility, institution, school, or agency;

(2) discharge from or termination of employment;

(3) demotion or reduction in remuneration for services; or

(4) restriction or prohibition of access to the facility, institution, school, agency, or persons affiliated with it.

Subd. 5. Malicious and reckless reports. Any person who knowingly or recklessly makes a false report under the provisions of this section shall be liable in a civil suit for any actual damages suffered by the person or persons so reported and for any punitive damages set by the court or jury, plus costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Subd. 6. Failure to report. A person mandated by this section to report who knows or has reason to believe that a child is neglected or physically or sexually abused, as defined in subdivision 2, or has been neglected or physically or sexually abused within the preceding three years, and fails to report is guilty of a misdemeanor. A parent, guardian, or caretaker who knows or reasonably should know that the child's health is in serious danger and who fails to report as required by subdivision 2, paragraph (c), is guilty of a gross misdemeanor if the child suffers substantial or great bodily harm because of the lack of medical care. If the child dies because of the lack of medical care, the person is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than two years or to payment of a fine of not more than $4,000, or both. The provision in section 609.378, subdivision 1, paragraph (a), clause (1), providing that a parent, guardian, or caretaker may, in good faith, select and depend on spiritual means or prayer for treatment or care of a child, does not exempt a parent, guardian, or caretaker from the duty to report under this subdivision.

Subd. 6a. Failure to notify. If a local welfare agency receives a report under subdivision 3, paragraph (a) or (b) and fails to notify the local police department or county sheriff as required by subdivision 3, paragraph (a) or (b), the person within the agency who is responsible for ensuring that notification is made shall be subject to disciplinary action in keeping with the agency's existing policy or collective bargaining agreement on discipline of employees. If a local police department or a county sheriff receives a report under subdivision 3, paragraph (a) or (b) and fails to notify the local welfare agency as required by subdivision 3, paragraph (a) or (b), the person within the police department or county sheriff's office who is responsible for ensuring that notification is made shall be subject to disciplinary action in keeping with the agency's existing policy or collective bargaining agreement on discipline of employees.

Subd. 7. Report. An oral report shall be made immediately by telephone or otherwise. An oral report made by a person required under subdivision 3 to report shall be followed within 72 hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays, by a report in writing to the appropriate police department, the county sheriff or local welfare agency, unless the appropriate agency has informed the reporter that the oral information does not constitute a report under subdivision 10. Any report shall be of sufficient content to identify the child, any person believed to be responsible for the abuse or neglect of the child if the person is known, the nature and extent of the abuse or neglect and the name and address of the reporter. Written reports received by a police department or the county sheriff shall be forwarded immediately to the local welfare agency. The police department or the county sheriff may keep copies of reports received by them. Copies of written reports received by a local welfare department shall be forwarded immediately to the local police department or the county sheriff.

A written copy of a report maintained by personnel of agencies, other than welfare or law enforcement agencies, which are subject to chapter 13 shall be confidential. An individual subject of the report may obtain access to the original report as provided by subdivision 11.

Subd. 8. Evidence not privileged. No evidence relating to the neglect or abuse of a child or to any prior incidents of neglect or abuse involving any of the same persons accused of neglect or abuse shall be excluded in any proceeding arising out of the alleged neglect or physical or sexual abuse on the grounds of privilege set forth in section 595.02, subdivision 1, paragraph (a), (d), or (g).

Subd. 9. Mandatory reporting to a medical examiner or coroner. When a person required to report under the provisions of subdivision 3 knows or has reason to believe a child has died as a result of neglect or physical or sexual abuse, the person shall report that information to the appropriate medical examiner or coroner instead of the local welfare agency, police department, or county sheriff. Medical examiners or coroners shall notify the local welfare agency or police department or county sheriff in instances in which they believe that the child has died as a result of neglect or physical or sexual abuse. The medical examiner or coroner shall complete an investigation as soon as feasible and report the findings to the police department or county sheriff and the local welfare agency. If the child was receiving services or treatment for mental illness, mental retardation or a related condition, chemical dependency, or emotional disturbance from an agency, facility, or program as defined in section 245.91, the medical examiner or coroner shall also notify and report findings to the ombudsman established under sections 245.91 to 245.97.

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 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. 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. 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.

(b) 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.

(c) Authority of the local welfare agency responsible for assessing the child abuse or neglect 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. 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 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, 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.

(d) When the local welfare or local law enforcement agency 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. Until that time, the local welfare or law enforcement agency 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.

(e) 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.

(f) Before making an order under paragraph (e), 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.

(g) The commissioner, the ombudsman for mental health and mental retardation, 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, 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.

(h) The local welfare agency 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 may make a determination of no maltreatment early in an assessment, and close the case and retain immunity, if the collected information shows no basis for a full assessment or investigation.

Information relevant to the assessment or investigation must be asked for, and may include:

(1) the child's sex and age, prior reports of maltreatment, 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 age, a record check for prior reports of maltreatment, and criminal charges and convictions. The local welfare agency 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 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.

Nothing in this paragraph precludes the local welfare agency from collecting other relevant information necessary to conduct the assessment or investigation. Notwithstanding the data's classification in the possession of any other agency, data acquired by the local welfare agency during the course of the assessment or investigation are private data on individuals and must be maintained in accordance with subdivision 11.

(i) In the initial stages of an assessment or investigation, the local welfare agency shall conduct a face-to-face observation of the child reported to be maltreated and a face-to-face interview of the alleged offender. The interview with the alleged offender may be postponed if it would jeopardize an active law enforcement investigation.

(j) The local welfare agency shall use a question and answer interviewing format with questioning as nondirective as possible to elicit spontaneous responses. 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.

Subd. 10a. Abuse outside the family unit. If the report alleges neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse by a person responsible for the child's care functioning outside the family unit in a setting other than a facility as defined in subdivision 2, the local welfare agency shall immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement agency, which shall conduct an investigation of the alleged abuse or neglect. The local welfare agency shall offer appropriate social services for the purpose of safeguarding and enhancing the welfare of the abused or neglected minor.

Subd. 10b. Duties of commissioner; neglect or abuse in a facility. (a) The commissioner shall immediately investigate if the report alleges that:

(1) a child who is in the care of a facility as defined in subdivision 2 is neglected, physically abused, or sexually abused by an individual in that facility, or has been so neglected or abused by an individual in that facility within the three years preceding the report; or

(2) a child was neglected, physically abused, or sexually abused by an individual in a facility defined in subdivision 2, while in the care of that facility within the three years preceding the report.

The commissioner shall arrange for the transmittal to the commissioner of reports received by local agencies and may delegate to a local welfare agency the duty to investigate reports. In conducting an investigation under this section, the commissioner has the powers and duties specified for local welfare agencies under this section. The commissioner or local welfare agency may interview any children who are or have been in the care of a facility under investigation and their parents, guardians, or legal custodians.

(b) Prior to any interview, the commissioner or local welfare agency shall notify the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a child who will be interviewed in the manner provided for in subdivision 10d, paragraph (a). If reasonable efforts to reach the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a child in an out-of-home placement have failed, the child may be interviewed if there is reason to believe the interview is necessary to protect the child or other children in the facility. The commissioner or local agency must provide the information required in this subdivision to the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a child interviewed without parental notification as soon as possible after the interview. When the investigation is completed, any parent, guardian, or legal custodian notified under this subdivision shall receive the written memorandum provided for in subdivision 10d, paragraph (c).

(c) In conducting investigations under this subdivision the commissioner or local welfare agency shall obtain access to information consistent with subdivision 10, paragraphs (h), (i), and (j).

(d) Except for foster care and family child care, the commissioner has the primary responsibility for the investigations and notifications required under subdivisions 10d and 10f for reports that allege maltreatment related to the care provided by or in facilities licensed by the commissioner. The commissioner may request assistance from the local social service agency.

Subd. 10c. Duties of the local social service agency upon receipt of a report of medical neglect. If the report alleges medical neglect as defined in section 260.015, subdivision 2a, clause (5), the local welfare agency shall, in addition to its other duties under this section, immediately consult with designated hospital staff and with the parents of the infant to verify that appropriate nutrition, hydration, and medication are being provided; and shall immediately secure an independent medical review of the infant's medical charts and records and, if necessary, seek a court order for an independent medical examination of the infant. If the review or examination leads to a conclusion of medical neglect, the agency shall intervene on behalf of the infant by initiating legal proceedings under section 260.131 and by filing an expedited motion to prevent the withholding of medically indicated treatment.

Subd. 10d. Notification of neglect or abuse in a facility. (a) When a report is received that alleges neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse of a child while in the care of a facility required to be licensed pursuant to chapter 245A, the commissioner or local welfare agency investigating the report shall provide the following information to the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a child alleged to have been neglected, physically abused, or sexually abused: the name of the facility; the fact that a report alleging neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse of a child in the facility has been received; the nature of the alleged neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse; that the agency is conducting an investigation; any protective or corrective measures being taken pending the outcome of the investigation; and that a written memorandum will be provided when the investigation is completed.

(b) The commissioner or local welfare agency may also provide the information in paragraph (a) to the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of any other child in the facility if the investigative agency knows or has reason to believe the alleged neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse has occurred. In determining whether to exercise this authority, the commissioner or local welfare agency shall consider the seriousness of the alleged neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse; the number of children allegedly neglected, physically abused, or sexually abused; the number of alleged perpetrators; and the length of the investigation. The facility shall be notified whenever this discretion is exercised.

(c) When the commissioner or local welfare agency has completed its investigation, every parent, guardian, or legal custodian notified of the investigation by the commissioner or local welfare agency shall be provided with the following information in a written memorandum: the name of the facility investigated; the nature of the alleged neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse; the investigator's name; a summary of the investigation findings; a statement whether maltreatment was found; and the protective or corrective measures that are being or will be taken. The memorandum shall be written in a manner that protects the identity of the reporter and the child and shall not contain the name, or to the extent possible, reveal the identity of the alleged perpetrator or of those interviewed during the investigation. The commissioner or local welfare agency shall also provide the written memorandum to the parent, guardian, or legal custodian of each child in the facility if maltreatment is determined to exist.

Subd. 10e. Determinations. Upon the conclusion of every assessment or investigation it conducts, the local welfare agency shall make two determinations: first, whether maltreatment has occurred; and second, whether child protective services are needed. When maltreatment is determined in an investigation involving a facility, the investigating agency shall also determine whether the facility or individual was responsible for the maltreatment using the mitigating factors in paragraph (d). Determinations under this subdivision must be made based on a preponderance of the evidence.

(a) For the purposes of this subdivision, "maltreatment" means any of the following acts or omissions committed by a person responsible for the child's care:

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

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

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

(4) mental injury as defined in subdivision 2, paragraph (k).

(b) 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 maltreatment.

(c) 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.

(d) When determining whether the facility or individual is the responsible party 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.

Subd. 10f. Notice of determinations. Within ten working days of the conclusion of an assessment, the local welfare agency shall notify the parent or guardian of the child, the person determined to be maltreating the child, and if applicable, the director of the facility, of the determination and a summary of the specific reasons for the determination. The notice must also include a certification that the information collection procedures under subdivision 10, paragraphs (h), (i), and (j), were followed and a notice of the right of a data subject to obtain access to other private data on the subject collected, created, or maintained under this section. In addition, the notice shall include the length of time that the records will be kept under subdivision 11c. When there is no determination of either maltreatment or a need for services, the notice shall also include the alleged perpetrator's right to have the records destroyed. The investigating agency shall notify the parent or guardian of the child who is the subject of the report, and any person or facility determined to have maltreated a child, of their appeal rights under this section.

Subd. 10g. Interstate data exchange. All reports and records created, collected, or maintained under this section by a local social service agency or law enforcement agency may be disclosed to a local social service or other child welfare agency of another state when the agency certifies that:

(1) the reports and records are necessary in order to conduct an investigation of actions that would qualify as sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect under this section; and

(2) the reports and records will be used only for purposes of a child protection assessment or investigation and will not be further disclosed to any other person or agency.

The local social service agency or law enforcement agency in this state shall keep a record of all records or reports disclosed pursuant to this subdivision and of any agency to which the records or reports are disclosed. If in any case records or reports are disclosed before a determination is made under subdivision 10e, or a disposition of any criminal proceedings is reached, the local social service agency or law enforcement agency in this state shall forward the determination or disposition to any agency that has received any report or record under this subdivision.

Subd. 10h. Child abuse data; release to family court services. The responsible authority or its designee of a local welfare agency may release private or confidential data on an active case involving assessment or investigation of actions that are defined as sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect under this section to a court services agency if:

(1) the court services agency has an active case involving a common client or clients who are the subject of the data; and

(2) the data are necessary for the court services agency to effectively process the court services' case, including investigating or performing other duties relating to the case required by law.

The data disclosed under this subdivision may be used only for purposes of the active court services case described in clause (1) and may not be further disclosed to any other person or agency, except as authorized by law.

Subd. 10i. Administrative reconsideration of the final determination of maltreatment. (a) An individual or facility that the commissioner or a local social service agency determines has maltreated a child, or the child's designee, regardless of the determination, who contests the investigating agency's final determination regarding maltreatment, may request the investigating agency to reconsider its final determination regarding maltreatment. The request for reconsideration must be submitted in writing to the investigating agency within 15 calendar days after receipt of notice of the final determination regarding maltreatment.

(b) If the investigating agency denies the request or fails to act upon the request within 15 calendar days after receiving the request for reconsideration, the person or facility entitled to a fair hearing under section 256.045 may submit to the commissioner of human services a written request for a hearing under that section.

(c) If, as a result of the reconsideration, the investigating agency changes the final determination of maltreatment, that agency shall notify the parties specified in subdivisions 10b, 10d, and 10f.

Subd. 11. Records. (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) and subdivisions 10b, 10d, 10g, and 11b, all records concerning individuals 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. Reports 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, including county medical examiners or county coroners. Section 13.82, subdivisions 5, 5a, and 5b, apply to law enforcement data other than the reports. The local social services agency shall make available to the investigating, petitioning, or prosecuting authority, including county medical examiners or county coroners or their professional delegates, 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. In conducting investigations and assessments pursuant to this section, the notice required by section 13.04, subdivision 2, need not be provided to a minor under the age of ten who is the alleged victim of abuse or neglect. 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 except as otherwise permitted by this subdivision. Any person conducting an investigation or assessment under this section who intentionally discloses the identity of a reporter prior to the completion of the investigation or assessment is guilty of a misdemeanor. After the assessment or investigation is completed, the name of the reporter shall be confidential. The subject of the report may compel disclosure of the name of the reporter only with the consent of the reporter or upon a written finding by the court that the report was false and that there is evidence that the report was made in bad faith. This subdivision does not alter disclosure responsibilities or obligations under the rules of criminal procedure.

(b) Upon request of the legislative auditor, data on individuals maintained under this section must be released to the legislative auditor in order for the auditor to fulfill the auditor's duties under section 3.971. The auditor shall maintain the data in accordance with chapter 13.

Subd. 11a. Disclosure of information not required in certain cases. When interviewing a minor under subdivision 10, an individual does not include the parent or guardian of the minor for purposes of section 13.04, subdivision 2, when the parent or guardian is the alleged perpetrator of the abuse or neglect.

Subd. 11b. Data received from law enforcement. Active law enforcement investigative data received by a local welfare agency under this section are confidential data on individuals. When this data become inactive in the law enforcement agency, the data are private data on individuals.

Subd. 11c. Welfare, court services agency, and school records maintained. Notwithstanding sections 138.163 and 138.17, records maintained or records derived from reports of abuse by local welfare agencies, court services agencies, or schools under this section shall be destroyed as provided in paragraphs (a) to (d) by the responsible authority.

(a) If upon assessment or investigation there is no determination of maltreatment or the need for child protective services, the records may be maintained for a period of four years. After the individual alleged to have maltreated a child is notified under subdivision 10f of the determinations at the conclusion of the assessment or investigation, upon that individual's request, records shall be destroyed within 30 days or after the appeal rights under subdivision 10i have been concluded, whichever is later.

(b) All records relating to reports which, upon assessment or investigation, indicate either maltreatment or a need for child protective services shall be maintained for at least ten years after the date of the final entry in the case record.

(c) All records regarding a report of maltreatment, including any notification of intent to interview which was received by a school under subdivision 10, paragraph (d), shall be destroyed by the school when ordered to do so by the agency conducting the assessment or investigation. The agency shall order the destruction of the notification when other records relating to the report under investigation or assessment are destroyed under this subdivision.

(d) Private or confidential data released to a court services agency under subdivision 10h must be destroyed by the court services agency when ordered to do so by the local welfare agency that released the data. The local welfare agency shall order destruction of the data when other records relating to the assessment or investigation are destroyed under this subdivision.

Subd. 12. Duties of facility operators. Any operator, employee, or volunteer worker at any facility who intentionally neglects, physically abuses, or sexually abuses any child in the care of that facility may be charged with a violation of section 609.255, 609.377, or 609.378. Any operator of a facility who knowingly permits conditions to exist which result in neglect, physical abuse, or sexual abuse of a child in the care of that facility may be charged with a violation of section 609.378.

Subd. 13. Repealed, 1988 c 625 s 9

Subd. 14. Conflict of interest. (a) A potential conflict of interest related to assisting in an assessment under this section resulting in a direct or shared financial interest with a child abuse and neglect treatment provider or resulting from a personal or family relationship with a party in the investigation must be considered by the local welfare agency in an effort to prevent unethical relationships.

(b) A person who conducts an assessment under this section or section 626.5561 may not have:

(1) any direct or shared financial interest or referral relationship resulting in a direct shared financial gain with a child abuse and neglect treatment provider; or

(2) a personal or family relationship with a party in the investigation.

If an independent assessor is not available, the person responsible for making the determination under this section may use the services of an assessor with a financial interest, referral, or personal or family relationship.

HIST: 1975 c 221 s 1; 1977 c 130 s 9; 1977 c 212 s 2,3; 1978 c 755 s 1-9; 1979 c 143 s 1; 1979 c 255 s 7; 1980 c 509 s 50,181; 1981 c 240 s 2; 1981 c 273 s 12; 1981 c 311 s 39; 1Sp1981 c 4 art 1 s 15; 1982 c 393 s 1,2; 1982 c 545 s 24; 1982 c 636 s 1-4; 1983 c 217 s 8; 1983 c 229 s 1,2; 1983 c 345 s 13-19; 1984 c 484 s 3; 1984 c 573 s 10; 1984 c 577 s 1-6; 1984 c 588 s 12; 1984 c 654 art 5 s 58; 1984 c 655 art 2 s 14 subd 1; 1985 c 266 s 5-15; 1985 c 283 s 2-4; 1985 c 286 s 19,20; 1985 c 293 s 3-5; 1986 c 351 s 19,20; 1986 c 380 s 3; 1986 c 444; 1986 c 469 s 2; 1Sp1986 c 3 art 1 s 77; 1987 c 91 s 1-3; 1987 c 110 s 2; 1987 c 135 s 1-3; 1987 c 211 s 1; 1987 c 333 s 22; 1987 c 352 s 9,10; 1988 c 543 s 11,12; 1988 c 625 s 2-8; 1988 c 662 s 4; 1989 c 177 s 2,3; 1989 c 209 art 2 s 1; 1989 c 282 art 2 s 200,201; 1989 c 290 art 5 s 4; 1990 c 426 art 1 s 55; 1990 c 542 s 20-26; 1991 c 181 s 1; 1991 c 319 s 24,25; 1993 c 13 art 1 s 50; 1993 c 296 s 3; 1993 c 306 s 18,19; 1993 c 326 art 6 s 23; 1993 c 351 s 37,38; 1994 c 434 s 8-10; 1994 c 631 s 31; 1994 c 636 art 2 s 57-59; art 4 s 30; 1995 c 187 s 1-7; 1995 c 229 art 4 s 20; 1997 c 203 art 5 s 25-30; 1997 c 245 art 2 s 8; 1Sp1997 c 3 s 44; 3Sp1997 c 3 s 10

700 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155 ♦ Phone: (651) 296-2868 ♦ TTY: 1-800-627-3529 ♦ Fax: (651) 296-0569