House passes first part of child abuse law changes
ST. PAUL -- The state House passed the first step of a child abuse prevention effort that began when a west-central Minnesota boy died after 15 reports that he was being mistreated.
ST. PAUL - The state House passed the first step of a child abuse prevention effort that began when a west-central Minnesota boy died after 15 reports that he was being mistreated.
On a 130-0 Monday vote, the House approved legislation that would put into law the provision that a child’s health and safety are paramount concerns when making child protection decisions. It also reverses a law passed last year that bars consideration of some child abuse reports.
Current law puts emphasis on keeping a child in his or her family, often with health and safety concerns secondary.
“The is bill is a first step in making sure Minnesota’s child protection system is accomplishing its goal of keeping children out of harm’s way,” bill sponsor Rep. Kresha, R-Little Falls, said.
Kresha said his bill is just a first step and “it does not go far enough.”
The lawmaker said he expects more bills once a child maltreatment task force produces more recommendations on March 31.
The task force formed after the death of Eric Dean and media accounts indicated there had been 15 reports that he was maltreated.
The 4-year-old died Feb. 28, 2013. Amanda Peltier of Starbuck was convicted of murder last year and sentenced to life in prison. The boy’s father, David Dean, was Peltier’s live-in fiance at the time.
Rep. Paul Anderson, R-Starbuck, said most abuse reports in the Dean case had not reached the point where they required investigation under current law.
Monday’s bill will help make sure “no other child slips through the cracks,” Rep. Jeff Backer, R-Browns Valley, said.
Added Rep. Joe Mullery, D-Minneapolis: “We must resolve to overcome the system’s resistance to changing procedures which allowed serious abuse, and must overcome the reluctance to fund necessary protections.”
The Senate is expected to take up similar legislation in the next few days.