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Gov. Dayton names members of new state task force examining child protection system

Gov. Mark Dayton today named a 26-member Task Force on the Protection of Children in an effort to improve the state’s child protection system following the death of a four-year-old in Pope County.

Co-chairs of the task force will be state Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson and  Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter.

The Star Tribune recently looked at failures in the child protection system and chronicled how on 15 occasions, day-care workers and others told authorities that they suspected young Eric Dean was being hurt. But no action was taken and he died in 2013.

The paper said 54 Minnesota children have died of maltreatment since 2005.

Last month, in response to the reports, Dayton took executive action to make immediate changes in the system. He directed officials to set up:

  1. Rapid Consultation System staffed by state and county specialists  for county workers who need expert advice as they do their work. This new support system will be operated by counties and the Department of Human Services.
  2. Monthly Random Screenings to review county decisions about whether or not to investigate allegations of child abuse.

And today he named the task force that will make make recommendations to the Legislature for improvements to the system.

In addition to co-chairs Jesson and Carter, the task force members are:

  1.  Sheriff Terese Amazi, Mower County
  2.  Chief Blair Anderson, St. Cloud Police
  3.  Kathleen Blatz, Former Chief Justice, MN Supreme Court
  4. Judith Brumfield, Director, Scott County Health & Human Services
  5.  Michelle Zehnder Fischer, Nicollet County Attorney
  6.  Peggy Flanagan, Executive Director Children’s Defense Fund
  7.  Rich Gehrman, Executive Director Safe Passage for Children of Minnesota
  8.  Kraig Gratke, Early Head Start Manager Tri-County Community Action Program, Inc.
  9.  MayKao Y. Hang, President and CEO Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
  10.  Stacy Hennen, Director, Grant County Social Services
  11. Dr. Lisa Hollensteiner, Physician, Emergency Physicians Professional Association
  12.  Dr. Mark Hudson, Certified Child Abuse Pediatrician, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of MN
  13.  Kathy Johnson, Director, Kittson County Social Services
  14.  Carri Jones, Chairwoman, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  15. Molly Kenney, Director of Family Services, Crisis Nurseries
  16. Robert O’Connor, Associate Professor, Metropolitan State University
  17.  Commissioner Todd Patzer, Lac Qui Parle County Board
  18.  Larene Randle Parent Consultant, Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota
  19.  Edward Toussaint, Professor, William Mitchell College of Law, and Former Chief Judge, Minnesota Court of Appeals
  20.  Jean K. Quam, Dean, College of Education and Human Development
  21. State Rep. Ron Kresha, House Appointee
  22.  State Rep. Joe Mullery, House Appointee
  23.  State Sen. Julie Rosen, Senate Appointee
  24.  State Sen. Kathy Sheran, Senate Appointee

Said Dayton in announcing the task force members. 

“No child should have to suffer from the violence or neglect of a family member or other adult. I look forward to the recommendations of this new Task Force, and I urge the Legislature to act on them in January.” 

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