ST. PAUL, MN—Assistant Majority Leader Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, chaired today's first meeting of the Legislative Task Force on Child Protection Tuesday, one of eight lawmakers on the newly-created panel.
Rep. Kresha is joined on the Task Force by the other three members of the Governor's Task Force on the Protection of Children: Rep. Joe Mullery, DFL-Minneapolis, Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Vernon Center. Four additional members were appointed to the panel by House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, last month; Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, and Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis.
The committee was created in 2015 as a part of the Health and Human Services omnibus bill and is tasked with reviewing the reforms passed last session which stemmed from recommendations from the Governor's Task Force on the Protection of Children, looking at ways to expand efforts into related areas of the child protection system, working with the commissioner of human services and other partners to establish and evaluate a grant program aimed at addressing disparities in child welfare, and identifying additional reforms to be considered next session. The Task Force will issue a report on their findings early next year.
At the meeting, the Task Force was given an overview of legislation passed in 2015 by Senate Counsel Joan White, and were briefed on the role of the Department of Human Services (DHS) in the child protection system by Assistant DHS Commissioner Jim Koppel. Many legislators shared their goals for the task force, and heard from three testifiers during the public comment period.
Representative Kresha issued the following statement regarding the first Task Force meeting:
"It has been an honor to work on such an important issue with my colleagues all of whom are deeply committed to ensuring that our child protection laws are working the way they should be. This is something we have to get right; we need a strong child protection system not only to prevent tragedies like we've been seeing in the news, but to reach every child and ensure that they are able to achieve their full potential. That includes partnering with our schools and developing strategies that further engage them in child protection efforts. I believe preventing and intervening to stop abuse and neglect is a small but important piece of our efforts to close the achievement gap. I am looking forward to the work ahead of us of reviewing our recently passed reforms and exploring additional tools and strategies we can implement to make the system even stronger."
A full recording of the meeting is available on the House of Representatives website here