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Programs and services
Concerns about child abuse or neglect.
Providing resources to families for basic needs, such as housing or child care, significantly improve the safety of children in their homes and communities.
In Minnesota, approximately 25,000 children are reported for abuse and neglect to the child protection system each year, which counties and tribes assess. The department's fact sheet on Child Safety and Permanency DHS-4735 (PDF) provides current statistical information.
Neglect, physical abuse, mental injury and sexual abuse are all considered child abuse in Minnesota. Each is defined in state law. Neglect is the most common form of maltreatment.
Call the county or tribal social service agency , or the police, where the child lives if you believe that a child is being hurt or neglected.
Some people, whose jobs involve caring for children, such as doctors, teachers and ministers, are required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
Other people, such as neighbors or relatives, are encouraged to report if they think a child is being abused or neglected. Your report is confidential and your name cannot be released to the family except by a court order.
Child protection workers assess reports for child safety, risk factors, and family strengths and needs. Extensive research has found that children are safer and families are healthier when family support services are quickly made available and targeted to specific needs.
Many reported incidents are successfully addressed using either the Parent Support Outreach program or Family Assessment Response. These approaches connect families to counseling, parenting education, services like early childhood or special education, and programs to help them meet basic needs such as housing and food.
- Many reported incidents do not reach the legal standard of abuse or neglect, but there may be factors that put the children at potential risk. The Parent Support Outreach Program helps these children and their families get support to prevent future incidents of child maltreatment.
- Most of the children receive a Family Assessment Response, which secures children's safety while supporting families. Families must participate in working to resolve issues that may be contributing to the risk of child maltreatment.
- Counties and tribes still use Family Investigations for serious reports of child abuse and neglect. This includes cases where children are in imminent risk or harm.
Information about the child protection process, including what happens when a report of child maltreatment is accepted by the county or tribe, is explained in the Families' Guide to Child Protection DHS-3247-ENG (PDF).
This brochure is also available in:
- Hmong - Families' Guide to Child Protection DHS-3247-HMN (PDF)
- Somali - Families' Guide to Child Protection DHS-3247-SOM (PDF)
- Spanish - Families' Guide to Child Protection DHS-3247-SPA (PDF)
Child Safety and Permanency Division
- COVID-19 Emergency Background Studies: Guidance for Permanency for Foster Children (PDF)
- Interim guidance on prioritizing child safety and conducting visits during COVID-19 pandemic (PDF)
- FAQs: CARES Act economic stimulus payments for children in foster care (PDF)
- FAQs: Foster Care in the Time of COVID-19 (PDF)
- Parent-Child Visitation Guidance for COVID-19 Pandemic DHS-7398 (PDF)
- Information on COVID-19 vaccination for children and youth in foster care
Child abuse and neglect prevention
Prevention is the best way to reduce child abuse and neglect. You can take small or big steps to help.
Everyone can help prevent child abuse and neglect.
Learn more about how the department is working to prevent child abuse and neglect, and how you can help, in the Preventing child maltreatment by promoting health and well-being for Minnesota families DHS-3922 (PDF) .
- Small steps • Meet and greet your neighbors to generate a friendly environment. • Get to know other parents in your neighborhood. • Help families under stress by offering to babysit or run errands. • Provide food to families in need. • Volunteer at schools, libraries, community centers or other locations that offer children's activities. • Talk with children one-on-one to develop a sense of connection. • Report any concerns about a child being harmed to local county social services agency or the police.
- Big steps • Learn how to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect . • Voice support for local resources for families in your community. • Join or create a group where children and parents meet regularly, such as scouting, service club, open gym time or sports. • Organize community events, such as a block party, neighborhood-wide movie night or parent support group to bring families together. • Consider becoming a foster parent, providing a home to children who may need temporary care until they can safely return home.
Services for youth who have been sexually exploited
Youth who are victims of sex trafficking can get help with emergency shelter, transitional living and other supportive services. Various community groups provide these services through Minnesota's Safe Harbor for Youth programs.
Options for mothers who cannot keep their babies
Mandated reporter training.
Mandated Reporter Training is a self-paced learning module that is designed for professionals identified by law who are required to make a report if they have reason to believe that a child has been maltreated. This web-based training features videos and short quizzes that can be completed through self-study.
The training has been updated in 2022 and is available through the Minnesota Child Welfare Training Academy (MNCWTA) .