Entire child protection system under review, Jesson says

The killing of a western Minnesota boy by his stepmother is leading some state legislators to reconsider a child protection law they passed just four months ago.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune found that Pope County received 15 abuse reports about 4-year-old Eric Dean before his death last year. Nine of those reports were closed without investigation.

The law, passed in May, prohibits child protection workers from considering previously rejected abuse reports when deciding whether to investigate a new allegation.

State Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson says the law simply codified existing practices. But she says the entire system is now under review.

"One of the things we're looking at is how these screening decisions are made," Jesson told MPR News' Tom Crann. "So we're going to be, as part of this review, doing a random review of those screening decisions to see if we need more training or more support for those county workers."

Eric's stepmother, 32-year-old Amanda Peltier, is serving life in prison with the possibility of parole for first degree murder.

"I know the face of that 4-year-old haunts me, as I think it does so many Minnesotans," Jesson said. "So we really are looking at our overall child protection system: what works well, because we know a lot does, but what needs improvement. And one of the things we're looking at is how these screening decisions are made."

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