The first of many anticipated reforms to the state’s child protection system is headed to Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk for signature after it unanimously passed in the Senate Thursday.

The two-pronged measure sponsored by Sen. Kathy Sheran, DFL-Mankato, passed 60-0. The legislation places child health and safety over keeping the family intact when social workers make decisions on how to intervene. It also reverses a law passed last year that barred social workers from taking previously screened-out reports into consideration during investigations of suspected abuse.

The legislation stemmed from the work of a bipartisan task force of lawmakers who unveiled an 11-point plan in January to reform the child protection system. The legislation stems from preliminary recommendations by the Governor’s Task Force on the Protection of Children, launched after Star Tribune reports on the death of 4-year-old Eric Dean, who was beaten to death by his stepmother despite 15 reports to Pope County child protection.

The bill, which unanimously cleared the House last month, is expected to be the first of many recommendations by Task Force members. Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday that he plans to sign the measure.

“This new law will restore an important layer of protection that will help identify abuse and enhance the safety of our children,” Dayton said in a statement. “I thank the Legislature for acting quickly and unanimously on this important legislation.”

Dayton’s budget pushes for another $50 million to implement the recommendations of the Child Protection Task Force. More child protection recommendations are expected to be unveiled by the end of next week.

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