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2140 Screening an Intake for Investigation

2141 Screening and Prioritizing Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

DFPS staff must screen every call and must review every report alleging child abuse and neglect to assure that DFPS provides accurate advice, correct referrals, timely and appropriate investigations, and effective interventions. CPS avoids unwarranted intrusion into a child's life and the lives of the child's family members; however, the need to protect the child remains DFPS's primary concern.

In general, CPS accepts reports for investigation only when:

  •  DFPS appears to be the responsible department under the law, and

  •  the child's apparent need for protection warrants an investigation.

Types of Reports

CPS is authorized by state law to investigate certain situations involving abuse or neglect of children.

When a Report Meets the Criteria for Investigation

If a report received by the DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division meets the statutory definitions under which CPS is authorized to investigate abuse or neglect, the intake worker handles the report as an intake of abuse or neglect.

For guidelines on how to properly assess an intake, see Appendix 2140: Guidelines for Decision Making at Intake.

When a Report Does Not Meet the Criteria for Investigation

If a report received by SWI does not meet the statutory definitions under which CPS is authorized to investigate, the intake worker cannot handle the report as an intake.

Reports that are not considered intakes of abuse or neglect are documented and classified as one of the following:

  •  Special Request (Administrative)

  •  Casework Related Special Request

  •  Information and Referral (I&R)

For an explanation of how SWI handles reports not accepted as intakes, see the SWI Policy and Procedures Handbook, 2320 Special Requests and Information and Referrals (I&Rs).

2142 The Allegations That CPS Accepts for Investigation and Assessment

2142.1 Criteria for Initiating an Investigation

CPS August 2009

To assess a child's need for protection, the worker looks for information indicating that:

  •  the child has been abused or neglected and is in danger of further abuse or neglect; or

  •  there is a reasonable likelihood that the child will be abused or neglected in the foreseeable future.

When to Notify Law Enforcement

If an intake worker receives a report alleging that a child has been abused or neglected but the child is no longer in danger of further abuse or neglect, the worker forwards the report to law enforcement for possible criminal investigation.

2142.2 Applying Statutory Definitions of Abuse or Neglect to Determine if a Report Meets the Criteria for CPS Investigation

CPS August 2009

The terms and definitions in 2110 Definitions and Authority constitute the basis, in law and DFPS rule, for deciding whether to accept a report for investigation or refer it to law enforcement. The SWI worker applies the statutory definitions of abuse or neglect to determine whether a report meets the criteria for investigation by CPS.

DFPS also applies the terms and definitions when staff receive and investigate reports of child abuse and neglect. The following workers must be thoroughly familiar with the terms and definitions in 2110 Definitions and Authority and its subitems:

  •  Statewide Intake (SWI) workers

  •  SWI supervisors

  •  CPS supervisors

  •  CPS investigation screeners

For more detailed information, see:

  •  the statutory definitions of abuse, neglect, and person responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare, in 2112 Primary Statutory Definitions;

  •  the definitions in 2115 Terms Used in Primary Statutory Definitions; and

  •  the definitions of risk and other terms in 2116 Other Definitions.

For guidelines on determining what falls under the statutory definitions of abuse and neglect and within the definition of risk of abuse or neglect, see Appendix 2140: Guidelines for Decision Making at Intake. Staff may use the guidelines to support the decisions they make at intake.

Accept a Report on the Basis of Risk

CPS may accept a report for investigation and assessment on the basis of risk, even when there has not yet been an occurrence of abuse or neglect that meets the statutory definitions. A reasonable likelihood that abuse or neglect will occur in the foreseeable future is sufficient to warrant an investigation.

Accepting a Report on the Basis of Failing to Prevent Harm

CPS may also accept a report for investigation and assessment when individuals who are responsible for the child's care, custody, or welfare have failed to make reasonable efforts to prevent the child from being harmed by another person, even if the other person is not responsible for the child’s care, custody, or welfare.

2142.3 Incomplete or Questionable Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

The intake staff of the DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division forward a report of abuse or neglect to CPS staff when the report appears to meet the statutory definitions of abuse or neglect that falls within CPS’s jurisdiction to investigate.

A report may not be forwarded to CPS for investigation if the report lacks detail or is questionable in some other way.

Reports That Lack Detail

Allegations of abuse or neglect often lack the information CPS needs to determine whether the report meets the statutory definitions of abuse or neglect.

For example, the reporter may not know:

  •  in what way a child was harmed;

  •  who caused the harm; or

  •  whether the person who caused the harm is responsible for the child's care, custody, or welfare.

Reports That Are Questionable

Allegations reported to DFPS may appear to be of questionable accuracy.

Examples of questionable reports include:

  •  previous reports of abuse and neglect that have been determined to have fabricated allegations; or

  •  allegations made in a current report are inconsistent with the known circumstances found in a recently closed case.

Second Screening by CPS

If a report meets the statutory definitions of abuse or neglect that falls within CPS’s jurisdiction to investigate, CPS staff perform a secondary screening of the report following the guidelines in 2150 The Role of CPS in Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect.

2142.4 When Abuse or Neglect Occurs in a Foster or Adoptive Home

CPS August 2009

Acceptable for CPS Investigation

CPS investigates reports of abuse or neglect only when:

  •  the victim is a child who is not a foster or pre-consummated adoptive child; and

  •  the child is abused by a member of the child's family or household.

If the two criteria above are met, CPS retains responsibility for investigating, even if:

  •  the victim is a child in kinship care;

  •  the alleged perpetrator is a foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent, or

  •  the alleged perpetrator is a foster or pre-consummated adoptive child, 10 years old or older.

Not Acceptable for CPS Investigation

CPS does not investigate a report of abuse or neglect when the victim:

  •  is a foster or pre-consummated adoptive child; or

  •  the child is abused by someone who is not a member of the child's family or household.

See the Licensing Policy and Procedures Handbook 6530 Investigations in Child-Placing Agency (CPA) Homes and Child Protective Services (CPS) Homes:

Scenario

Example

A foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent living in the foster or adoption home abuses a minor who is a relative and is not a foster or pre-consummated adoptive child.

A foster or pre-consummated adoptive father abuses his birth daughter.

An adult who is living in the home of a foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent, but is not the foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent:

  •  abuses a child who is not a foster or pre-consummated adoptive child; and

  •  commits the abuse in the home.

A brother of the foster or pre-consummated adoptive father abuses the foster or pre-consummated adoptive father's birth daughter.

An adult who is living in the home of a foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent, but is not the foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent:

  •  abuses a child who is related to the adult (the alleged perpetrator), and who is not a foster or pre-consummated adopted child; and

  •  commits the abuse outside the home.

A brother of the foster or pre-consummated adoptive father abuses the foster or pre-consummated adoptive parents’ birth daughter and the abuse occurs during an outing at the park.

A foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent who is related to a foster or pre-consummated adopted child abuses that foster or pre-consummated adoptive child.

An adult becomes the foster or pre-consummated adoptive parent of his or her niece and abuses the niece.

See the Licensing Policy and Procedures Handbook 6530 Investigations in Child-Placing Agency (CPA) Homes and Child Protective Services (CPS) Homes.

2142.5 Reports of Abuse or Neglect That Relate to Child-Care Facilities

CPS August 2009

Allegation

Does CPS Investigate?

The caretaker of a day care facility has abused or neglected his or her own children in the facility or in the family home.

Yes

While investigating a report of abuse or neglect at a child-care facility, Licensing uncovers evidence that the abuse or neglect may have occurred in the child's home.

Yes.

Licensing staff continue to be responsible for investigating the child care facility.

CPS staff:

  •  determine whether there is a need to conduct an investigation in the child's home; and

  •  conduct the investigation, if an investigation is needed.

While investigating a report of abuse or neglect at a child-care facility, Licensing staff determine:

  •  that the parent or managing conservator of a child who is an alleged victim is unable or unwilling to protect the child from further harm, or

  •  that other children in the facility may be at risk of harm,

Yes.

CPS staff do as follows:

  •  If the CPS worker and supervisor determine that the risk of harm or danger remains despite the planned actions, staff immediately notify the regional director for families and children.

  •  If CPS determines that all children in the facility are sufficiently in danger and that emergency removal ex parte orders are needed, the regional director must immediately notify the director of protective services for families and children.

See the Licensing Policy and Procedures Handbook, 6530 Investigations in Child-Placing Agency (CPA) Homes and Child Protective Services (CPS) Homes.

2143 Assigning Priority to Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2014

The DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division suggests the appropriate priority for reports of abuse or neglect, based on the information available at the time that the report is accepted.

The final priority is assigned by CPS, based on CPS's assessment of:

  •  the immediacy of the risk; and

  •  the severity of the possible harm to the child.

See DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.505

2143.1 Assigning a Report as Priority 1 (P1)

CPS August 2014

The following reports qualify for assignment as P1:

  •  A report that a child appears to face an immediate threat to his or her safety or is in immediate risk of abuse or neglect that could result in death or serious harm.

  •  Any report alleging abuse or neglect that is received within 12 months after a previous investigation was closed as Unable to Complete. In such a case, the report is not downgraded. The report must remain a Priority 1 and must be investigated.

  •  A report involves a child's death that has never been investigated and there is a clear allegation that the child's death was the result of alleged abuse or neglect, even if there are no other children in the home. (In the SWI Policy and Procedures Handbook, see 4420 Child Death Reports Under CPS Jurisdiction.)

2143.11 Examples of Priority 1 (P1) Reports

CPS August 2014

Examples of priority 1 reports are as follows (the list is not exhaustive):

  •  A child dies, allegedly from abuse or neglect. In this case, the report is a priority 1 whether or not other children remain in the family or household.

  •  A child in CPS conservatorship dies. In this case, the report is a priority 1, even when the death is clearly not attributable to abuse or neglect.

  •  A child has sustained a serious physical injury from alleged abuse or neglect.

  •  A preschool child is injured, the explanation is inconsistent with the injury, and the family’s history makes the explanation less credible.

  •  A child appears to have failure-to-thrive syndrome or is severely malnourished from alleged neglect.

  •  A child is alleged to have been sexually abused and is in immediate danger of further abuse.

  •  A preschool-aged child is left alone.

  •  A child is abandoned or totally without parental supervision, family resources, personal resources, or community support. No responsible adult is close by to offer limited supervision, and the child is in immediate danger of serious physical harm.

  •  A child is in immediate danger of death or serious physical harm because the child lacks basic physical necessities or medical attention as a result of alleged neglect.

  •  A child's caretaker behaves in a bizarre, psychotic, or extremely intoxicated or drugged manner and abuse or neglect is alleged.

  •  A child is in serious distress or danger as a result of being chained, tied, confined, or left unattended.

  •  A child who is six years old or younger sustains a serious head injury, and the alleged perpetrator maintains access to the child.

2143.12 When a Priority 1 (P1) Report Is Received After-Hours

CPS August 2014

When a Priority 1 (P1) report is received outside normal work hours, SWI staff must forward the report to the appropriate on-call CPS staff. (SWI staff do not forward after-hours reports to CPS offices.)

2143.2 Assigning a Report as Priority II (P2)

CPS August 2014

If a report of abuse or neglect is accepted for investigation but does not meet the criteria for being assigned as a Priority I, then it is assigned as a Priority II.

2143.3 Assigning a Report as Priority None (PN)

CPS August 2014

There are three situations in which a report may be classified as Priority None (PN).

Scenario I: Review by SWI

A report may be classified as a PN when Statewide Intake determines that the report meets one of the following two criteria.

1.   There is a history of abuse or neglect, but no current or foreseeable risk.

      An incident of abuse or neglect may have met legal definitions at the time that the past incident occurred, but at the time of the new intake report, there are no current safety concerns and there is no known risk of recurrence in the foreseeable future.

      For example, a child reports that she was sexually abused by an uncle six years ago. The parents are protective. The uncle lives in a nursing home and has no access to the child.

OR

2.   Essential information is needed from a specific collateral or principal source to determine whether an assignable allegation of abuse or neglect exists.

      In this situation, the CPS screener must attempt to contact the source to obtain additional information.

Scenario 2: Review by a CPS Screener

A report may be classified as a PN when the CPS screener determines that the intake report:

  •  does not meet the criteria for an investigation; and

  •  intervention by DFPS is not needed.

See 2156 Closing Reports of Abuse or Neglect Without Assignment for Investigation.

Scenario 3: Review by a CPS Supervisor

A report may be classified as a PN when a CPS supervisor determines that an investigation is not needed and therefore downgrades the report to a PN.

See:

2151 The CPS Supervisor's Role in Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect

2156.1 Reports of Abuse or Neglect That Require Supervisory Approval for Closure.

 

2144 The Role of SWI in Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

The role of the DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division in handling reports of abuse or neglect is to:

  •  screen each report of abuse and neglect that is received;

  •  assign each report an initial priority, based on whether the report meets the criteria to be forwarded to CPS for review or investigation or should be closed without being forwarded (see 2143 Assigning Priority to Reports of Abuse or Neglect);

  •  notify law enforcement, when appropriate (see 2136 When to Notify Law Enforcement About Reports of Abuse or Neglect);

  •  notify the person making the report, when the report does not meet the criteria to be forwarded to CPS; and

  •  route to the appropriate CPS offices the reports that meet the criteria for being forwarded.

Priority None (PN) Reports That Require Review by Field Staff

In certain circumstances, SWI staff refer PN reports to CPS to be considered for investigation. The circumstances include:

  •  the report contains limited locating information;

  •  the investigation history is pertinent to the current risk;

  •  a child age 5 or younger lives in the home;

  •  additional calls are needed to determine whether an investigation is needed;

  •  the report was made by CPS staff;

  •  the case is sensitive or high profile;

  •  an open case on a family; or

  •  the criteria for the case makes it borderline (potentially classifiable as a priority 2).

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