Pope County embraces child protection changes
Reacting to Star Tribune stories about a Pope County child who died as a child abuse victim, the Minnesota Department of Human Services will now conduct random screenings of decisions made by all county child protection workers. Thatís one of two immediate changes to the state child protection system ordered by Gov. Mark Dayton last week.
The second change was the creation of a new team of child protection experts that will advise county workers. Daytonís executive order was prompted after the Star Tribune reported that county workers didnít follow up on abuse complaints about Eric Dean, who was later murdered by his stepmother.
Dayton also created a task force that will spend the next few months reviewing the stateís child protection system and determining if more changes are needed.
These changes are necessary and appropriate, and Pope County officials have taken steps to work with state officials and other counties as child protection services policies and procedures are reviewed statewide. Pope County Commissioners last week adopted a resolution stating that cooperation.
In recent reports, Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter, who will co-chair the task force with Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, said the counties welcome the additional oversight. She also stated that the new task force will also consider if more funding is needed to help counties investigate child protection complaints. According to her report, the state cut about $36 million in child services over the past 10 years.
On the local level, Pope County Board Chair Cody Rogahn said last week the county commissioners conducted an overview of Human Services programs. Pope County Human Services Director Nicole Names and Social Services Supervisor Phyllis Reller jointly presented a comprehensive overview of child protection system requirements in Minnesota as well as a review of agency practices and procedures.
It is too bad that it took such a tragedy like the loss of a Pope County child to child abuse before triggering oversight on the state and local level, but thatís the way it usually works. We are hopeful that the changes and the statewide awareness of this nationwide problem can do more to save vulnerable children.
Losing one child to child abuse is one too many, and we, as a community, county, state and nation have to do all we can to protect every single child.