- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota will evaluate its child protection system following the death of a 4-year-old boy who was the subject of repeated maltreatment reports.

Gov. Mark Dayton has called Eric Dean’s death a “colossal failure” by Pope County whose child protection agency should have notified law enforcement about the maltreatment reports.

“That’s just inexcusably and immorally negligent,” he said.

Pope County coordinator Jim Thoreen said the child protection department continually assesses its efforts to protect children.

“We recognize policymakers at all levels share in our sadness over this case,” Thoreen said. “We would welcome open dialogue with them as they seek to balance the absolute need to protect children while still respecting the right of parents to raise their children within their own value systems.”

The state review follows the Star Tribune’s reports (https://strib.mn/1wiYs60 ) that day care workers and others told Pope County’s child protection agency that they suspected the boy was being abused. The child was killed last year by his stepmother.

Nine of the 15 maltreatment reports about the boy were ‘screened out,’ meaning they were closed by the county’s child protection agency without investigation or assessment. Statewide, agencies did not follow up on 71 percent of suspected maltreatment reports last year, one of the highest rates in the country.

State Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson says she has reached out to national experts to help evaluate Minnesota’s child protection system, including Casey Family Programs. Jesson says she wants to see if additional training and resources are needed for social workers.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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