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2000 Intake, Investigation, and Assessment

2100 Processing Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

CPS accepts and acts on reports alleging that a child in Texas is being abused or neglected by the:

  •  child's parents (or other legally responsible person);

  •  child's family;

  •  child's household members; or

  •  staff or volunteers at the child's public or private school.

Reports of abuse or neglect are made to the DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division at 1 (800) 252-5400. SWI accepts calls toll-free, 24 hours a day, every day, from anywhere in the nation.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.504

The primary purpose of accepting and acting on reports of abuse or neglect is to protect the child. SWI's specialized intake staff gather information to determine whether a circumstance warrants an investigation by CPS.

CPS investigations are civil in nature.

CPS investigation staff assess the child's:

  •  immediate safety; and

  •  risk of abuse or neglect in the future.

The procedures that CPS uses to respond to a report vary, depending on the safety concerns and level of risk in the family. See Appendix 2000: Flexible Response System of Service Delivery.

CPS staff complete the following tasks during intake, investigation, and assessment:

1.   Receive, assess, and screen reports of child abuse and neglect;

2.   Investigate reports to determine if there is a preponderance of evidence that children have been abused or neglected, and if so, by whom;

3.   Assess how well the child and the family function to determine whether there is a reasonable likelihood that the child will be abused or neglected in the foreseeable future;

4.   Provide immediate or short-term protection to children who need it and determine the need for protective services after the investigation;

5.   Refer the family to needed community services during or after the investigation, including services to meet the child’s educational, physical health, or mental health needs.

2110 Definitions of Abuse and Neglect and Authority

2111 Definitions

2112 Primary Statutory Definitions

CPS September 2002

The principal governing legislation for CPS intake and investigation is Chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code (TFC). This chapter's definitions of abuse, of neglect, and of the person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare describe the areas of primary concern in CPS investigations. The definitions follow below.

2113 Statutory Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect

2113.1 Definitions of Abuse

CPS September 2015

The Texas legislature established the overall definition of abuse. CPS has further divided abuse into five types.

Emotional Abuse (EMAB)

Emotional abuse can be characterized as:

  •  mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning;

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(A)

  •  causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning; or

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(B)

  •  the current use of a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, in a manner or to the extent that the use results in mental or emotional injury to a child.

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(I)

Labor Trafficking (LBTR)

Labor trafficking can be characterized as knowingly causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a child to be trafficked in a manner punishable as an offense under §20A.02(a)(5) or (6) Penal Code, or the failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent a child from being trafficked in a manner punishable as an offense under any of these sections.

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(L)

Physical Abuse (PHAB)

Physical abuse can be characterized as:

  •  physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm;

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(C)

  •  failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child;

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(D)

  •  current use of a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, in a manner or to the extent that the use results in physical injury to a child;

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(I)

  •  causing, expressly permitting, or encouraging a child to use a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code.

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(J)

Sex Trafficking (SXTR)

Sex trafficking can be characterized as:

  •  knowingly causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a child to be trafficked in a manner punishable as an offense under §20A.02(a)(7) or (8), Penal Code, or the failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent a child from being trafficked in a manner punishable as an offense under any of these sections;

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(L)

  •  compelling or encouraging the child in a manner to engage in sexual conduct that constitutes an offense of trafficking of persons under §20A.02(a)(7) or (8), Penal Code, prostitution under §43.02(b), Penal Code, or compelling prostitution under §43.05(a)(2), Penal Code.

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(G)

Sexual Abuse (SXAB)

Sexual abuse can be characterized as:

  •  sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children under §21.02, Penal Code, indecency with a child under §21.11, Penal Code, sexual assault under §22.011, Penal Code, or aggravated sexual assault under §22.021, Penal Code;

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(E)

  •  failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child;

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(F)

  •  compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct as defined by §43.01, Penal Code;

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(G)

  •  causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of the child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene (as defined by the Penal Code) or pornographic;

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(H)

  •  causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a sexual performance by a child, as defined by §43.25, Penal Code.

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(K)

2113.2 Definitions of Neglect

CPS September 2015

The Texas legislature established the overall definition of neglect. CPS has further divided neglect into five types. There is also an exclusion to the definition of neglect.

Abandonment (ABAN)

Abandonment refers to the leaving of a child in a situation where the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, without arranging the necessary care for the child, and the demonstration of an intent not to return by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator of the child.

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(A)(i)

Neglectful Supervision (NSUP)

Neglectful supervision is defined as:

  •  placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child;

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(A)(ii)(a)

  •  placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of sexual conduct harmful to the child; or

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(A)(ii)(d)

  •  placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to acts or omissions that constitute abuse under Subdivision (1)(E), (F), (G), or (K) committed against another child.

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(A)(ii)(e)

Medical Neglect (MDNG)

Medical neglect is defined as the failure to seek, obtain, or follow through with medical care for a child, with the failure resulting in or presenting a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury, or with the failure resulting in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child.

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(A)(ii)(b)

Physical Neglect (PHNG)

Physical neglect is defined as the failure to provide a child with the food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of the child, excluding failure caused primarily by financial inability unless relief services had been offered and refused.

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(A)(ii)(c)

Refusal to Assume Parental Responsibility (RAPR)

Refusal to assume parental responsibility refers to a situation in which the person responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare fails to permit the child to return to the child’s home without arranging for the necessary care of the child after the child has been absent from the home for any reason, including having been in residential placement or having run away.

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(A)(iii)

Exclusion to Neglect

If a person responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare refuses to permit the child to remain in or return to the child’s home, it is not neglect if the:

  •  child has a severe emotional disturbance;

  •  person’s refusal is based solely on the person’s inability to obtain mental health services necessary to protect the safety and well-being of the child; and

  •  person has exhausted all reasonable means available to the person to obtain the mental health services necessary to protect the safety and well-being of the child.

2114 Statutory Definition of Person Responsible for Child's Care, Custody, or Welfare

CPS September 2002

Law

(5)  "Person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare" means a person who traditionally is responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare, including:

(A)  a parent, guardian, managing or possessory conservator, or foster parent of the child;

(B)  a member of the child's family or household as defined by Chapter 71 of this (TFC) code;

(C)  a person with whom the child's parent cohabits;

(D)  school personnel or volunteers at the child's school; or

(E)  personnel or a volunteers at a public or private child-care facility that provides services for the child or at a public or private residential institution or facility where the child resides.

Texas Family Code §261.001(5)

2115 Terms Used in Primary Statutory Definitions

CPS 98-1

Rule

Absent parent — a parent [not in the home] who is not primarily responsible for the child's care on an ongoing basis because of a divorce, separation, incarceration, or for some other reason.

Accident — An unforeseen event that causes or threatens physical injury despite prudent efforts to avoid the risk of injury.

Causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing — A condition of the statutory definition of sexual abuse. It is met whether or not the child participates voluntarily.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(1)-(3) (Brackets added.)

Law

Child or Minor — A person under 18 years of age who is not and has not been married or who has not had his disabilities of minority removed for general purposes. In the context of child support, "child" includes a person over 18 years of age for whom a person may be obligated to pay child support.

Texas Family Code §101.003

Rule

Compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct — A condition of the statutory definition of sexual abuse. It is met whether the child actually engages in sexual conduct or simply faces a substantial risk of doing so.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(4)

Law

Family — Individuals related by consanguinity or affinity, individuals who are former spouses of each other, individuals who are the biological parents of the same child, without regard to marriage, and a foster child and foster parent, whether or not those individuals reside together.

Texas Family Code §71.003

Rule

Note: Consanguinity means related by blood or adoption. Affinity means related by an existing marriage.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502

Genuine threat — A verbal or behavioral expression of intent that appears true, likely, or believable. A substantial risk. Actions including, but not limited to, choking, suffocating, or shaking a child, or hitting a child on the head.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(5)

Management Policy

Note: Consider the following factors to assess a threat (Apply them to determine if a threatened injury would result in substantial harm if it actually occurred.):

1.   the extent and severity of the threatened injury;

2.   the location of the threatened injury on the child's body;

3.   the child's age;

4.   the child's ability to sustain the threatened injury without substantial harm, in light of the child's physical condition, psychological functioning, and level of maturity;

5.   the frequency and duration of similar incidents;

6.   any previous history of abuse or neglect; and

7.   the way the threatened injury would occur.

Rule

Guardian — Anyone named as "guardian of the person of a child" by a probate court order.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(6)

Law

Household — [The Texas Family Code defines household as] a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, whether or not they are related to each other.

Texas Family Code §71.005 (Brackets added.)

Rule

Note: During the receipt and investigation of reports of child abuse and neglect, [DFPS] treats an unrelated person who resides elsewhere or whose place of residence cannot be determined as a member of the household if the person

A.   is at least 10 years old; and

B.   either

i.   has regular free access to the household; or

ii.   when in the household dwelling, takes care of or assumes responsibility for children in the household.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(7)

Management Policy

This clarification regarding unrelated persons applies to boyfriends and girlfriends of household members and to baby sitters, when they are in the home.

Rule

Managing or possessory conservator — A person responsible for a child as the result of a district court order pursuant to §153 of the Texas Family Code.

Necessary to sustain the life or health of the child — A condition of the statutory definition of physical neglect. It is met if the failure to provide food, clothing, or shelter results in an observable and material impairment to the child's growth, development, or functioning, or in a substantial risk of such an observable and material impairment.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(9)-(10)

Texas Family Code Ch. 153

Law

Obscene — Material or a performance that

A.   the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest in sex;

B.   depicts or describes

i.   patently offensive representations or descriptions of ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including sexual intercourse, sodomy, and sexual bestiality; or

ii.   patently offensive representations or descriptions of masturbation, excretory functions, sadism, masochism, lewd exhibition of the genitals, the male or female genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal, covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state or a device designed and marketed as useful primarily for stimulation of the human genital organs; and

C.   taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value.

Texas Penal Code §43.21(a)(1)

Rule

Observable and material impairment — Discernible and substantial damage or deterioration.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(11)

Law

Parent — The mother, a man presumed to be the biological father or who has been adjudicated to be the biological father by a court of competent jurisdiction, or an adoptive mother or father. The term does not include a parent as to whom the parent-child relationship has been terminated.

Texas Family Code §101.024

Management Policy

Note: CPS distinguishes between the terms parent and absent parent. Unless otherwise stated, parent refers to the parent or parents primarily responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare on an ongoing basis.

Parent/caretaker — Synonymous with person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare.

Rule

Pornographic — Containing an image that depicts a child under 18 at the time the image was made, who is involved in, performing, or simulating a sexually oriented act.

Reasonable discipline . . . that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm — Correction of a child's behavior that does not result in or risk substantial harm from physical injury.

Reasonable effort to prevent — Actions that an ordinary and prudent person would take to stop an event from occurring.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(12)-(14)

Management Policy

Sexual conduct — Sexual conduct includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:

Law

  •  Sexual contact — Any touching of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Texas Penal Code §43.01(3)

Management Policy

Note: Sexual contact includes, but is not limited to, touching the clothed or unclothed body directly or with an object.

Law

  •  Sexual intercourse — Any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.

Texas Penal Code §43.01(5)

  ·  Deviate sexual intercourse — Any contact between the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person.

Texas Penal Code §43.01(1)

Rule

Sexual assault — Any sexually oriented act or practice that results in harm or in substantial risk of harm to a child's growth, development, or psychological functioning.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(15)

Sodomy — Anal or oral copulation with another person or an animal.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(16)

Incest — Any sexually oriented practice with a child by a person who knows or should know that he or she and the child are related by consanguinity or affinity.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(8)

Substantial harm — Real and significant physical injury or damage to a child that includes, but is not limited to, bruises, cuts, welts, skull or other bone fractures, brain damage, subdural hematoma, internal injuries, burns, scalds, wounds, poisoning, human bites, concussions, and dislocations and sprains.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(17)

Management Policy

Note: Consider the following factors to determine if an injury is substantial:

1.   the extent and severity of injury (size, number, depth, extent of discoloration, and so forth);

2.   the location of the injury on the child's body;

3.   the child's age;

4.   the child's ability to sustain the injury without substantial harm, in light of the child's physical condition, psychological functioning, and level of maturity;

5.   the frequency and duration of similar incidents;

6.   any previous history of abuse or neglect; and

7.   the way the injury occurred.

Rule

Substantial risk — Real and significant possibility or likelihood.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.501(18)

Management Policy

Note: Consider the following factors to assess substantial risk:

1.   the child's age;

2.   the child's physical condition, psychological functioning, and level of maturity;

3.   any previous history of abuse or neglect;

4.   the frequency and duration of similar incidents;

5.   the physical condition, psychological functioning, and level of maturity of the person putting the child at risk; and

6.   any signs of danger or hazard in the child's environment.

2116 Other Definitions

CPS March 2013

Born addicted

A child is considered born addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance under the following circumstances:

  •   The child is born to a mother who, during the pregnancy, used:

  •   alcohol; or

  •   a controlled substance not legally obtained by prescription, as defined in Chapter 481 Health and Safety Code.

AND

  •   The child, after birth, as a result of the mother’s use of a controlled substance or alcohol during pregnancy:

  •   experiences observable withdrawal from the alcohol or controlled substance;

  •   exhibits observable or harmful effects in the child’s physical appearance or functioning; or

  •   exhibits the demonstrable presence of alcohol or a controlled substance in the child’s bodily fluids.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 481

Texas Family Code §261.001(8)

Case name

The name chosen to identify a case is the name of the parent or guardian who is primarily responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare on an ongoing basis.

If the parents live together, the case name is the name of the mother.

Day

A calendar day, unless otherwise noted.

Primary allegation

The allegation type, at intake, that:

  •   appears to cause the most immediate threat to the child; and

  •   appears to be the first allegation to consider when assessing a child’s safety.

Principal sources

These are also referred to as principals.  A term that includes:

  •   a child alleged or found to be the victim of abuse or neglect by a parent or caregiver and all other children who live in the home;

  •   all parents and caregivers who are part of the household, those who are appointed by the court as sole or joint managing conservators and live with the child;

  •   everyone responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the children in the family or household, even if not a parent or caregiver, including others appointed by the court as managing or possessory;

  •   each alleged or designated perpetrator of child abuse or neglect;

  •   each victim who is also a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect;

  •   noncustodial parents whose location is determined during the investigation, regardless of whether they visit the child, and whose rights have not been terminated; and

  •   all persons age 14 and older who live with the child as the result of a parental child safety placement.

Principal sources, must be added to the Person List page in IMPACT.

Persons included in a case are referred to as principals or collaterals.

Protective capacities

The cognitive, behavioral, and emotional characteristics specifically and directly associated with a caregiver’s ability to protect his or her child.

A caregiver's protective capacity can be observed, understood, and demonstrated in part by the way in which the caregiver thinks about, feels for, and acts toward a particular child in regard to keeping the child safe. A caseworker’s understanding of whether a child is safe is incomplete without an assessment of the protective capacities of the child’s caregivers.

Cognitive protective capacities

These include the knowledge, understanding, and perceptions that contribute to protective behavior, as follows:

  •   The caregiver thinks about and can articulate a plan to protect the child from a given person or situation

  •   The caregiver has adequate knowledge to fulfill caregiving responsibilities and tasks

  •   The caregiver has adequate perceptions of the child’s abilities and needs.

Behavioral protective capacities

These include a caregiver’s actions, activities, and performance that result in protection of a child, as follows:

  •   The caregiver obtains and uses the resources necessary to meet the child’s needs.

  •   The caregiver sets aside his or her needs in favor of the child’s.

  •   The caregiver has demonstrated a history of protecting the child or other children.

Emotional protective capacities

These include a caregiver’s feelings for, attitudes about, and identification with the child, as well as the caregiver’s motivation for protective vigilance, as follows:

  •   The caregiver is able to meet her or his own emotional needs.

  •   The caregiver expresses love, empathy, and sensitivity toward the child.

  •   The caregiver has the emotional capacity to intervene in order to protect a child.

Risk factors

Elements of individual and family functioning that may place a child at risk of abuse or neglect.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502(5)

Risk of child abuse or neglect

Risk of future abuse or neglect

A reasonable likelihood that child abuse or neglect, as defined in 2112 Primary Statutory Definitions, will occur in the foreseeable future.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502(6)

The risk of future abuse or neglect is not considered abuse or neglect under Texas Family Code §261.001, Definitions; however, the presence of a reasonable likelihood that child abuse or neglect will occur in the foreseeable future qualifies children and families for protective services. See 1240 General Eligibility Criteria for Child Protective Services.

Substantial risk of harm

The definitions of abuse and neglect under Texas Family Code §261.001, contemplate both actual harm and the genuine threat or substantial risk of harm to a child. DFPS treats acts and omissions that place children at substantial risk of harm or that pose a genuine threat of substantial harm as actual occurrences of abuse or neglect, as they are defined in Texas Family Code §261.001. Therefore, a CPS investigation may result in a finding of Reason to Believe for abuse or neglect even if a child victim does not suffer from actual physical or mental harm.

The terms substantial risk of harm and genuine threat of substantial harm as used in the definitions of abuse and neglect refer to acts or omissions that have already occurred and that put a child at risk of harm:

Example: DFPS considers the following to be an occurrence of neglectful supervision – even if the child is not physically harmed:

A parent leaves a two-year-old child in a car while the parent goes inside the post office on a day when the temperature outside is around 80 degrees. The parent is gone for more than 10 minutes and, during that time, the car windows are only slightly cracked and the child is strapped into a car seat.

CPS issues a finding of neglectful supervision (NSUP) against the parent because:

  •   the parent placed the toddler in a situation that the child is not mature enough to handle; and

  •   the parent’s actions exposed the child to a substantial risk of immediate harm from possible kidnapping and heat.

A determination of whether a child was exposed to a genuine threat of substantial harm, a substantial risk of physical or mental harm, or a substantial risk of immediate harm is situational and is highly dependent on the unique set of facts in any given investigation.

Safety – A child’s safety

Protection of a child from abuse or neglect.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502(2)

A safe child

Children are considered safe when:

  •   there are no safety threats within the family; or

  •   the child is not vulnerable to the safety threat; or

  •   a parent or caregiver possesses sufficient protective capacity to manage any safety threats.

An unsafe child

Children are considered unsafe when:

  •   safety threats exist within the family, and

  •   children are vulnerable to such threats, and

  •   parents have insufficient protective capacities to manage or control the safety threats.

Safety threats

Safety threats are dynamics, conditions, or situations in a home that alone, or in combination, could indicate or contribute to an existing or developing danger for children. Fourteen specific safety threats are identified. The danger for children may be classified as Present or Impending.

Present danger

One of two types of danger that may be present in a family situation (the other is Impending danger).

Present danger:

  •   is severe harm or the threat of severe harm that is immediate, significant, and clearly observable; and

  •   is occurring to a child in the present (currently occurring) or has occurred very recently; and

  •   requires an immediate protective response.

Impending danger

One of two types of danger that may be present in a family situation (the other is Present danger). Impending danger refers to threats to the safety of a child that reasonably will result in serious harm if a safety intervention by either the family or DFPS does not occur or does not continue over time.

Impending danger exists when:

  •   a child is living in a state of danger (that is, continual danger); and

  •   the family’s conditions, behaviors, attitudes, motives, emotions, or situations are out of control;

Impending danger may not exist at any one particular moment, but can be anticipated to have serious effects on a child at any time; that is, a state of danger exists and the child may be harmed at any moment. Impending danger is not always obvious or occurring at the onset of CPS intervention or in the present context.

Identifying and understanding safety threats is possible only after fully evaluating the individuals or family’s conditions and functioning.

Safety threshold

The safety threshold is the point at which a family’s condition, behavior, or situation leads to a child being unsafe; that is, when risk factors become safety threats. It is the point along the continuum at which a child is considered unsafe rather than safe.

The safety threshold is crossed when a family’s behaviors, conditions, or situations:

  •   become directly threatening to child safety; AND

  •   protective capacities are not sufficient.

Five criteria are essential to determining the Safety Threshold for a particular child:

  •   Out-of-control: Refers to family conditions that can affect a child and are unrestrained, unmanaged, or without limits or effective monitoring; that is, conditions that a family does not seem able to influence, manipulate, or control without intervention from an outside source.

  •   Severity: The degree to which harm could result in significant pain, serious injury, disability, grave or debilitating health or physical conditions, acute or grievous suffering, terror, impairment, or death.

  •   Child vulnerability: The degree to which a child depends on others for protection or can verbalize a need for protection from a specific safety threat to those who are able to intervene in order to keep the child safe.

  •   Specific time frame: The degree to which the threat to a child’s safety is likely to become a present danger without delay and the degree of certainty that an event may occur either immediately or in the near future and may have severe effects on a child.

  •   Observable and specific: The degree to which a danger is real, can be observed, can be reported, and is explicit and unambiguous.

Sensitive case

A case to which limited access is granted in IMPACT for various reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:

  •   A DFPS employee is alleged or found to be involved in a case of abuse or neglect.

  •   A person who provides ancillary services for CPS, such as a county judge, an attorney ad litem, a law enforcement officer, or a volunteer with Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), is alleged or found to be involved in a case of abuse or neglect.

  •   A situation attracts excessive media coverage or other undue interest because of a circumstance such as the death of a child or the actions of a DFPS employee.

  •   A minor seeks or has had an abortion without informing her family.

  •   A member of a child’s household is a participant in the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Address Confidentiality Program (see Chapter 56, Subchapter C, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure).

Serious physical abuse

Injuries that:

  •   require or required prompt medical attention;

  •   may require hospitalization; and

  •   may endanger the child’s life or cause permanent functional impairment, death, or disfigurement if untreated.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502(7)

Serious sexual abuse

Serious sexual abuse is:

  •   oral, anal, or genital intercourse; or

  •   sexual acts performed with a child that involve:

  •   the genitals or anus of either party, whether or not intercourse or contact occurred; or

  •   touching or fondling of the genitals, breasts, or anus of either party.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502(8)

Special handling

The special or extra duties or procedures required by a caseworker when a member of a child’s household:

  •   participates in the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Address Confidentiality Program (see Chapter 56, Subchapter C, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and 2230 Requirements to Protect Locating Information of Family Violence Victims);

  •   serves with a military branch, either active or retired;

  •   works in law enforcement;

  •   lives on an American Indian reservation (see 1225 Indian Child Welfare Act; or

  •   is listed on the Child Safety Check Alert List as the result of a court order.

Strengths

The elements of an individual’s or a family’s functioning that enhance the ability of the individual or family to protect a child from abuse or neglect. See DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502(9).Within protective capacities, strengths specifically relate to the ability of a caregiver to use his or her protective capacities to ensure the child’s safety.

Vulnerable child

Children are considered vulnerable when they lack the ability to protect themselves, or seek help from other protective persons when faced with a safety threat.

A caseworker determines whether a child is vulnerable by evaluating the following, as appropriate:

  •   Age of the child

  •   Physical disability

  •   Mental disability

  •   Medical illness

  •   Intellectual disability

  •   Behavior

  •   Self concept, or the degree to which the child may be subject to intimidation, fear, and emotional manipulation

  •   Assertiveness, or the child’s ability to make his or her basic needs known and seek help or protection from others

  •   Defensive capacity, or the ability of the child to perceive danger and act accordingly

  •   Isolation, or the degree to which the child is seen by others in the community, including by extended family members

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502

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