Child Protection Investigation

Child Protection Investigations


As defined by Minnesota State Statute, an investigation is fact-gathering related to the current safety of a child and the risk of subsequent maltreatment that determines whether child maltreatment occurred and whether child protective services are needed. An investigation must be used when reports involve substantial child endangerment and for reports of maltreatment in licensed facilities. An investigation is completed within 45 days of receiving the report.

An investigation is completed through the following steps.

Collect Information


Investigators will collect information to determine:
  • Whether child maltreatment occurred and if harm was caused by something a parent / caretaker did or failed to do
  • Whether child protection services are needed
  • Washington County Social Workers will gather information regarding the allegation of maltreatment through interviews.
  • Interviews are completed with the child, the alleged perpetrator, the parents / caretakers of the child, other children who live with the child or with the alleged perpetrator, and others who may have knowledge of the alleged abuse or neglect. Interviews with the children and parents must be tape-recorded. Interviews resulting from allegations of sexual abuse must be videotaped.
  • Individuals interviewed are provided with an oral and written data privacy notification. The notification includes: Why we request the information
  • How the information will be used
  • That they may refuse to be interviewed / answer questions
  • What can happen if they do not answer questions
  • What other agencies can receive information regarding this report
  • What rights they have to ask for a reconsideration of a determination
Washington County Social Workers will collect information regarding:
  • Prior reports of maltreatment
  • The child / children's ages, genders, and development
  • The relationship of the reporter to the alleged perpetrator of maltreatment and how the reporter came to know about the alleged abuse
  • The alleged perpetrator, including age, prior reports of maltreatment or child protection involvement, and criminal history
  • Other facts that may be relevant and assist in determining if the child or children has / have been maltreated.
Additional information can be collected during the investigation. This may include:
  • A medical examination of the child and/or obtaining medical records regarding the alleged maltreatment
  • Interviews of health professionals
  • Other facts that may be relevant and assist in determining if the child or children has / have been maltreated. Additional interviews may be conducted with witnesses and persons with knowledge of the allegations.

Informing Involved Persons


Involved persons will be informed of what was determined. Within 10 days of completing the investigation, parents / guardians are sent a letter stating:
  • Whether the report of maltreatment has or has not been determined
  • If protective services are needed
  • The reasons for these determinations
  • A statement that the law was followed through the investigation process
  • A client's right to receive certain information about themselves from the social worker's report
A letter is also sent to the alleged perpetrator of maltreatment stating:
  • Whether the report of maltreatment has or has not been determined
  • Reason for this determination
  • A statement that the law was followed through the investigation process
  • A client's right to receive certain information about themselves from the social worker's report

Providing Services


If services are needed, Washington County Child Protective Services will work with the family to plan for the safety of the children. Barriers and problems will be identified as well as family strengths. A formal plan is agreed upon and established with family members.

Child protection services are often provided on a voluntary basis. However, there are cases when the need for child protection services is critical. Court action may be sought to require the family to accept child protection services and to ensure that the family follows through with the necessary social service plan.

If a child is in immediate danger, police can place a child outside of the home to ensure the safety of the child.