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2200 Case Initiation

APS IH / September 2015

APS initiates a prompt and thorough investigation of the case, regardless of assigned priority, within 24-hours of Statewide Intake receiving allegations of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Case initiation is defined as contact with a person who has current and reliable information about the alleged victim’s situation.

The purpose of a case initiation is to find out if the alleged victim’s basic needs are met and whether he or she will be safe until the APS specialist can make face-to-face contact with the alleged victim. During the case initiation the APS specialist begins the process of investigating the allegations and assessing the need for protective services.

A successful case initiation involves:

  •  asking preliminary questions regarding the allegations; and

  •  gathering enough information to determine if the priority assigned at intake is appropriate, and whether:

  •  emergency protective services are needed to protect the alleged victim; or

  •  the alleged victim’s basic needs are met and he or she will be safe until the face-to-face contact is made as required by policy.

Texas Human Resources Code §48.151

Only trained APS personnel of the specialist classification or higher are permitted to initiate APS cases.

See also:

2220 Changing Allegation Priorities

2540 Additional Allegations Discovered and New Reports Received During the Investigation Stage

2210 Determining Appropriate Contacts for Case Initiation

APS IH / September 2011

The APS specialist:

  •   initiates cases by contacting appropriate persons who are able to provide objective, current, and reliable information about alleged victims’ situations;

  •   does not initiate cases by contacting alleged perpetrators of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation because these persons may have motive to conceal or minimize alleged victim’ situations; and

  •   generally does not initiate cases by:

  •   requesting welfare checks by law enforcement. When making such checks, law enforcement officers sometimes do not gather the information required about the alleged victim’s overall situation to meet the requirements for case initiation,

  •   calling alleged victims of abuse on the phone when it is possible the alleged perpetrator could be in the home. Alleged victims of abuse may not be able to give reliable information if the alleged perpetrator can overhear the conversation. This may also put alleged victims at risk for further abuse, or

  •   calling persons who are identified, at the point of intake, as having suicidal thoughts, mental illness, intellectual disabilities, or other forms of mental impairment. Mental impairment can hamper the ability to give reliable information about alleged victims’ situations.

The APS specialist considers the following before initiating a case with a person suspected to have a mental impairment:

  •   previous acquaintance with the person;

  •   specific information about the nature and severity of the mental impairment;

  •   nature and severity of the allegations; and

  •   safety concerns regarding the alleged victim.

If the APS specialist has any concerns about whether it is appropriate to use a non-preferred method described above (for example, requesting welfare checks by law enforcement or calling an abuse victim), the APS specialist consults with the supervisor before making the initiation contact.

If an APS specialist initiates a case using any of the non-preferred methods above, then the APS specialist clearly documents the reasons in the case initiation contact narrative.

Factors to Consider in Determining Appropriate Contacts for Case Initiation

When deciding whom to contact to initiate the case, the APS specialist considers the:

  •   length of time since the person last had contact with the alleged victim; and

  •   characteristics of the person being contacted, which include:

  •   mental ability to provide reliable information,

  •   motivation for providing false or misleading information,

  •   source of knowledge regarding the alleged victim (for example, first-hand knowledge or through a third party), and

  •   scope of knowledge about the alleged victim’s overall situation.

2211 Procedure for Case Initiation

APS IH September 2014

The APS specialist:

  •   contacts the alleged victim or a collateral (for example, the reporter, family, or other individuals identified at intake) who has current and reliable information to gather necessary information as outlined in 2200 Case Initiation; and

  •   completes Section 1 of the Safety Assessment.

The APS specialist takes the following actions if unable to gather the necessary information from a collateral by phone:

  •   Researches prior case history for additional collateral information

  •   Contacts other agencies for additional information if the intake narrative or other discussions uncover involvement with other agencies

  •   Attempts to make face-to-face contact with the alleged victim

  •   Contacts neighbors, if appropriate and within close proximity

If the case initiation is conducted by phone and the APS specialist identifies a situation that poses a threat to life or safety that needs to be resolved before the initial face-to-face through the use of purchased client services (PCS) funds, the APS specialist:

  •   authorizes PCS as appropriate even if unable to assess the alleged victim’s financial situation or determining whether alternate resources exist, and

  •   obtains the alleged victim’s income and budget information during the initial face-to-face to determine availability of alternate resources to meet the alleged victim’s needs.

If the case initiation is completed at the same time as the initial face-to-face, the APS specialist obtains income and budget information at that time.

See:

2231 Procedure for Situations That Involve Current Danger Factors

3631 Client’s Budget and Financial Resources

2212 Procedure When Initiation Cannot Be Completed in 24 Hours

APS IH / September 2011

When APS specialists are unable to complete a successful case initiation within 24-hours, they must consult with their supervisor before the 24-hour initiation time frame expires. The supervisor determines if the APS specialist has met all of the requirements listed in 2211 Procedure for Case Initiation.

When the 24-hour case initiation is unsuccessful, an APS specialist must attempt, within the next two calendar days, at least one additional phone contact with all known collaterals who may have current and reliable information and who have not already been contacted.

Example: An intake is received at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. In spite of exhaustive efforts, the APS specialist cannot reach any collaterals by phone, and is not able to see the alleged victim in the first 24 hours. On Friday or Saturday, the APS specialist must attempt to contact all known collaterals by phone one additional time in order to meet all requirements associated with the case initiation phase of the investigation.

2213 Documentation of Case Initiation

APS IH / April 2015

The APS specialist:

  •  enters the date and time of the successful case initiation in section 1 of the Safety Assessment;

  •  enters narrative documentation regarding the case initiation on the Safety Assessment, including:

  •  a contact header with the name of the person contacted and his or her relationship to the alleged victim; and

  •  information obtained from a collateral with current and reliable information or from the alleged victim.

If multiple contacts are made before the successful case initiation contact, those contacts can be stacked in a single generic Contact Detail page.

For an unsuccessful case initiation, the APS specialist:

  •  enters the date and time that the APS specialist and supervisor discuss the APS specialist’s attempts to complete a successful case initiation in section 1 of the Safety Assessment;

  •  enters narrative documentation for the supervisor staffing.

If the case initiation and initial face-to-face contacts are completed at the same time, the APS specialist may leave the narrative portion of Section 1 blank and enter the narrative information for both contacts in Section 3 of the Safety Assessment.

See:

2242 Documentation of Initial Face to Face Contact With the Alleged Victim and its subitems

2333 Documentation of Investigation Contacts

2214 Examples of Case Initiation Narrative Documentation

APS IH / January 2010

July 14, 8:15 AM. TCT neighbor Joyce Escalante (555-5551). Ms. Escalante said she visits the alleged victim’s house almost every day. The last time Ms. Escalante saw the alleged victim was late yesterday afternoon. The alleged victim’s house is neat and clean. The alleged victim performs all her activities of daily living (ADLs) without any problem. The alleged victim is able to meet her basic needs, including paying her bills and shopping for food. The alleged victim takes medications for her asthma, and has plenty on hand. She just seems to get confused and sometimes wanders at night. Ms. Escalante’s husband found the alleged victim two blocks away and helped the alleged victim get home. He said she didn’t seem to know where she was or where she was going. The police have also helped the alleged victim home on two other occasions. Ms. Escalante informed the alleged victim’s daughter of the problem this morning, and the daughter is now staying with the alleged victim until other arrangements can be made.

July 14, 9:45 AM. TCT alleged victim’s home (555-6569). Elsa Frost, alleged victim’s daughter, answered. Ms. Frost said she intends to stay with her mother until other arrangements can be made. She has made an appointment for her mother to see her primary care provider this afternoon. The case will remain a Priority 2. No immediate action necessary.

October 8, 1:35 PM. TCT alleged victim (555-7423). Ms. Robinson says she has received a cutoff notice from the gas company. Service will be terminated on Friday if payment of $94 is not received. She will be okay if it is cut off for a day or two, but says there’s a cold snap coming next week and she did not want be without heat. I asked if she needed assistance with anything else. She hesitated, but said she was out of her blood pressure medication and almost out of food. Her nephew stole half her money at the beginning of the month, but she didn’t call the police. She hasn’t told anyone about needing medication and food because she didn’t want to complain about too much at one time. She was afraid she might not get help with her gas bill. Priority upgraded from P2 to P1. Will call supervisor to request permission to get food and medicine for her today. Will visit this afternoon.

2220 Changing Allegation Priorities

APS IH / January 2010

SWI assigns initial case priorities based on information gathered during intake. The APS specialist may change the assigned priority based on information that:

  •  is current, credible, and reliable;

  •  was obtained within the first 24 hours of receipt of the report; and

  •  was obtained before a successful initial face-to-face contact with the alleged victim.

For example, during the first 24 hours, if only an attempted face-to-face was made and then the APS specialist obtained by phone sufficient information to determine the alleged victim would be safe until the actual face-to-face, it would be appropriate to downgrade.

If there is doubt concerning which priority is appropriate, the APS specialist chooses the higher priority to ensure the alleged victim's safety.

See also:

1600 Allegation Priorities

2200 Case Initiation

2221 Procedure for Changing Allegation Priorities

APS IH September 2014

The APS specialist:

  •   makes appropriate priority changes within the first 24 hours of receipt of the report and before the initial face-to-face contact with the alleged victim;

  •   bases decisions to change an allegation priority on information gathered from case initiation with an appropriate person who has current and reliable information;

  •   assigns a higher priority when additional information indicates a greater safety concern regarding the alleged victim or when there is doubt that the lower priority would ensure the alleged victim’s safety;

  •   assigns a lower priority when it is determined that the allegations fit the lower priority and the alleged victim will be safe until face-to-face is made;

  •   assigns a lower priority based on an immediate intervention provided by APS or another person, when appropriate;

  •   ensures intervention has occurred and meets the immediate need of the alleged victim before downgrading the priority, if the decision to downgrade is based on immediate intervention; and

  •   conducts the face-to-face visit with the alleged victim within the timeframe required for the new priority.

2222 Documentation for Changing Allegation Priorities

APS IH September 2014

The APS specialist uses Section 1 of the Safety Assessment to document the following:

  •   Why the priority is upgraded or downgraded, if applicable

  •   The final priority after the case initiation

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