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2390 Investigative Interviews With Adults

2391 Individual and Private Interviews

CPS February 2009

Whenever possible, the worker conducts investigative interviews individually and privately. This practice enables each person interviewed to speak as freely as possible without being influenced by anyone else’s statements.

Private interviews are especially important when the worker knows of or suspects violence in the home.

2392 Interviews With Parents, Alleged Perpetrators, and Other Adults

CPS February 2013

The caseworker must not reveal the identity of the reporter in investigation interviews.

Texas Family Code §261.101(d)(1)-(d)(2)

Obtaining Social Security Numbers

During interviews, the caseworker must ask the parents, primary caretaker, alleged perpetrator, person with primary legal responsibility for the child, and other adults in the home for their Social Security numbers. The caseworker must also ask the parents (or primary caretaker or person with primary legal responsibility for the child) for the Social Security numbers of the children in the home. However, without a court order, providing a Social Security number is voluntary and a person may refuse to provide this information to DFPS.

If Social Security numbers are provided, the caseworker must document this information in IMPACT. For more information, see 2812.3 Personal Identifiers (Social Security Number, Driver License Number).

2393 Interviews With Parents or Primary Caretakers

2393.1 Parents or Primary Caretakers in the Home

CPS February 2013

Unless an investigation is administratively closed, the caseworker must conduct a face-to-face interview with one or more of the parents or primary caretakers living in the home of the alleged victim. The face-to-face interview must take place in accordance with the type of investigation that is being conducted.

During this interview, the caseworker must determine whether the parent or primary caretaker has sufficient protective capacities to protect anychildren in their care from identified safety threats. The caseworker must also ask the parents or primary caretakers for the identity and locating information of any parent who is absent from the home.

The caseworker must make a reasonable effort to interview any parent who is absent from the home. See 2115 Terms Used in Primary Statutory Definition, for the definition of absent parent.

If the parent or primary caretaker refuses to provide identifying or locating information for the absent parent, the caseworker attempts to locate the absent parent through the FINDRS Team or with the assistance of a special investigator.

2393.2 Referral for Domestic Violence Services

CPS February 2013

If at any point in the investigation the caseworker learns that a parent may be a victim of domestic violence, the caseworker must provide them with information about community services available to domestic violence victims. The caseworker must also direct victims of domestic violence to the section on domestic violence in the pamphlet, A Parent’s Guide to a Child Protective Services Investigation. The pamphlet includes a toll-free number the person can call for more information about resources in his or her area.

For more information, see Human Resources Code, §40.0521, Rules Regarding Domestic Violence, and DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.508(c), Interviews with Parents or Other Alleged Perpetrators.

 

2394 Interviews With Alleged Perpetrators

CPS February 2013

Thorough Investigations

Unless a caseworker is conducting abbreviated investigations, he or she must always interview the alleged perpetrators.

A caseworker is excused from interviewing alleged perpetrators under the following circumstances:

  •  The alleged perpetrator or an attorney informs the caseworker that he or she will not participate in an interview.

  •  The parent, person with primary legal responsibility for the child, or attorney of a child who is 10-years-old or older and an alleged perpetrator, informs the caseworker that the child will not participate in an interview.

  •  After making the efforts required in 2364.2 Identifying and Locating Persons (as applied to an alleged perpetrator who is not a parent or guardian), the caseworker is not able to locate the alleged perpetrator

  •  The supervisor approves the caseworker not interviewing the alleged perpetrator because of law enforcement involvement in the case or other good cause. See 2394.3 Police Request that CPS Delay Interviewing Alleged Perpetrator and Alleged Perpetrator in Police Custody.

  •  The caseworker and supervisor accept a substitute interview of the alleged perpetrator. See 2394.1 When a Child Age 10 or Older Is Also Alleged to Be a Victim and 2394.2 Substitute Interview of Alleged Perpetrator. When a substitute interview is accepted, the circumstances in the four bullets above do not apply. The caseworker must inform, or make a reasonable attempt to inform, the alleged perpetrator that the caseworker will interview the alleged perpetrator upon his or her request.

The caseworker must interview the alleged perpetrator face-to-face, unless the caseworker documents that the supervisor waived this requirement for good cause. The caseworker must also always document the interview with the alleged perpetrator, the efforts made to obtain the interview, or the supervisor’s approval not to conduct the interview.

If the alleged perpetrator is also a parent or primary caretaker, the caseworker must follow the policy in 2393 Interviews with Parents or Primary Caretakers.

Allegations Against a Child Age Nine or Younger

CPS may not label children age nine or younger as alleged perpetrators. If a caseworker is conducting an investigation into allegations that a child who is nine-years-old or younger is an alleged perpetrator, the allegations against the child must be Ruled Out in IMPACT.

For more information, see 2333 Investigating Alleged Perpetrators.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.512, Conclusions about Roles.

2394.1 When a Child Age 10 or Older Is Also Alleged to Be a Victim

CPS February 2013

When a child is an alleged victim, a perpetrator and his or her attorney or parent refuses to allow CPS to interview the child as an alleged perpetrator, CPS must still either interview the child as an alleged victim, as authorized by Texas Family Code §261.302, Conduct of Investigation, or obtain a substitute interview as described in 2361 Interviews With Alleged Victims. The interview may only involve questions related to the abuse or neglect that the child may have suffered. It must not involve questions about issues related to the child being an alleged perpetrator.

The caseworker, with supervisory consultation as needed, must work with the regional attorney and the child’s parents or attorney to find a satisfactory approach to completing this task. As needed, the attorney for the child may attend the interview to protect the child’s rights as an alleged perpetrator. When necessary, staff may seek a court order for the interview of the child as an alleged victim under Texas Family Code §261.303, Interference With Investigation; Court Order.

2394.2 Substitute Interview of Alleged Perpetrator

CPS February 2013

The caseworker and supervisor may accept a substitute interview of the alleged perpetrator if the interview meets all of the following criteria:

  •  Another person or agency has already conducted an objective and impartial interview or CPS has a standing agreement to let another agency conduct the interview. For example, CPS may use a law enforcement agency’s interview of the alleged perpetrator during the course of its investigation.

  •  The caseworker:

  •  was present at the substitute interview; or

  •  has received written documentation of the alleged perpetrator’s statement from the substitute interviewer; or

  •  has viewed a videotape and documented the alleged perpetrator’s statement in the case record; and

  •  The caseworker and supervisor believe the substitute interview is accurate and reliable and need no further information from the alleged perpetrator.

2394.3 Police Request That CPS Delay Interviewing Alleged Perpetrator

CPS February 2013

If the police request that the caseworker delay interviewing an alleged perpetrator who is not in police custody, the caseworker must explain to the police CPS’s need to interview the alleged perpetrator in order to provide for the child’s safety, determine whether the person abused or neglected the child, and assess the risk of future abuse or neglect.

Unless the caseworker is conducting an abbreviated investigation or has good cause to excuse him or her from doing so, he or she must immediately advise the supervisor of the police request. If necessary, the caseworker, supervisor, or program director must work with the police to find a way for CPS to interview the alleged perpetrator in a time frame that is consistent with protection of the child.

2394.4 Alleged Perpetrator in Police Custody

CPS February 2013

If the alleged perpetrator is in police custody, the caseworker must obtain authorization from the investigating police officer to conduct the interview. This helps ensure that the alleged perpetrator’s rights under criminal law are protected. See DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.507, Investigation Interviews. 

If the officer does not allow the interview and the caseworker is not conducting an abbreviated investigation, the caseworker must immediately advise the supervisor of law enforcement’s refusal to allow a CPS interview.

2394.5 Abbreviated, Unable to Complete, and Preliminary Investigations

CPS February 2013

The caseworker is permitted, but not required, to interview an alleged perpetrator when:

  •  The alleged perpetrator is not a parent or primary caretaker that the caseworker is otherwise required to interview; and

  •  The investigation is concluded as an abbreviated, unable to complete, or preliminary investigation.

For more information, see 2410 Types of Investigations, Case Actions, Services, and Conclusions.

DFPS Rule 40 TAC §700.507, Investigation Interviews.

2394.6 Complaints

CPS February 2013

If an alleged perpetrator complains about an investigation, the caseworker’s supervisor must review the complaint in accordance with 2480 Informal Review of Complaints During Investigations.

If a person who is under investigation for allegedly abusing or neglecting a child asks for clarification of the status of the investigation or files a complaint about the conduct of the investigation before it is completed, the investigation supervisor must conduct an informal review to clarify the status of the investigation or resolve the complaint. The supervisor must complete the review within 14 days after DFPS receives the alleged perpetrator’s request or complaint.

Texas Family Code §261.309(b)

2395 Interviewing Parents or Alleged Perpetrators

CPS February 2013

Visits to interview the parents of an alleged victim or an alleged perpetrator may be announced or unannounced. The caseworker bases whether to announce the visit on the nature of the allegations and the need to protect the child.

Required Content of First Contact With Alleged Perpetrator

During the first telephone or face-to-face contact with the alleged perpetrator, the caseworker must advise the individual of the nature of the complaints or allegations made against him or her. If the first meeting with the alleged perpetrator is face-to-face, the caseworker should conduct a thorough, detailed interview during this first contact. If the first contact is by telephone, the caseworker should only advise the alleged perpetrator of the nature of the allegations and arrange to meet for a face-to-face interview. Telephone interviews should only be conducted when there is not an option of meeting face-to-face.

For example, a caseworker explains to the alleged perpetrator as follows:

“We are looking into allegations of …” (Choose applicable allegations, listed below):

  •  physical abuse of a child;

  •  sexual abuse of a child;

  •  failure to supervise a child adequately on one or more occasions that placed a child at risk of harm; or

  •  any other mistreatment of a child.

2395.1 Coordinating With Law Enforcement

CPS February 2013

If the investigation is being conducted by both CPS and law enforcement, the caseworker should consult with law enforcement before his or her first contact with the alleged perpetrator to avoid compromising the criminal investigation or increasing the risk to the child.

For more information see 2344 Arranging Joint Investigations with Law Enforcement.

2395.2 Required Content of Initial Interview With Parents or Alleged Perpetrators

CPS February 2013

The caseworker must cover the items listed below in the first face-to-face interview with the parents or with the alleged perpetrators.

The caseworker must:

  •  identify himself or herself and have DFPS identification available for inspection;

  •  explain the nature of the report or the reason for the contact;

  •  explain CPS’s role and legal responsibilities in the investigation;

  •  discuss each allegation in the report;

  •  ask for a response to the allegations or an explanation of the alleged victim’s situation in light of the report;

  •  attempt to engage the family in ensuring the child’s safety during the investigation and complete a safety plan, when necessary;

  •  provide a copy of the pamphlet A Parent’s Guide to a Child Protective Services Investigation;

  •  provide the Family Information Form 2626 to families in a priority one (P1) investigation; and

  •  document the parents’ and the alleged perpetrators’ answers and actions.

2395.3 Use of Polygraphs With Parents or Alleged Perpetrators

CPS February 2013

Caseworkers may not request that a parent or alleged perpetrator participate in a polygraph examination as a part of a CPS investigation. If, however, a polygraph is conducted by law enforcement, the caseworker may use the information obtained from the examination, along with any other evidence, to reach a disposition.

Recording Adults

Caseworkers may not record interviews with adults during the course of a CPS investigation, even if law enforcement requests that they do so. However, if an adult being interviewed is recording the interview himself or herself, the caseworker must also record the interview in order to ensure that CPS possesses an accurate recording of the conversation. The caseworker must not rely on the adult to provide an accurate copy of his or her recording to CPS.

Additionally, if an adult intends to record an interview, caseworkers should proceed with the interview to avoid unnecessary delays in completing the investigation and to ensure that the interview is conducted at the time that the adult makes himself or herself available to CPS.

The caseworker must document that the adult recorded the interview on his or her own device, that he or she also recorded the interview, and describe the particular kind of devices used by each person to record the conversation.

Communications With DFPS Staff and Reporters

This policy does not apply to contacts or interviews between staff in the statewide intake program and persons who call that program to make reports or convey information.

2395.4 Family Cannot Be Located or Refuses an Interview

CPS February 2013

If the caseworker is unable to locate the parents of the alleged victim or to arrange an interview, the caseworker must follow the policy outline in 2413 Unable to Complete Investigations and its sub items. See:

2413.1 When a Family Has Moved or Cannot Be Located

2413.2 When a Family Is Uncooperative

2413.3 Documentation in an Unable to Complete/Cannot Locate Investigation

2413.4 Locating a Family That Moved During an Investigation

2413.5 Transferring a Case to a Family’s New Location

2413.6 When a Subsequent Intake Is Received for a Family With a Previous Unable to Complete Investigation (Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate)

2413.7 Interference With an Investigation

2413.8 Child Safety Check Alert List

2395.5 Interviews With the Person Who Has Primary Legal Responsibility for the Child

CPS February 2013

If the parents (or one of the parents) do not have primary legal responsibility for their child, the caseworker must:

  •  interview the person with primary legal responsibility, when they can be located, to ensure the child’s safety; and

  •  notify him or her of the interview and examination of the child, as outlined in 2364 Giving Notice When Interviewing or Examining a Child for an Investigation.

2396 Interviews With Other Adults in the Home or Family

CPS February 2013

The caseworker may interview other adults in the child’s home or family to gain information about whether:

  •  abuse or neglect occurred;

  •  the child is safe in the home; or

  •  it is likely that children will be abused or neglected in the future.

Interviewing Collateral Sources

If the person who is a witness or may have pertinent information about the child’s safety or risk of future abuse or neglect is not a family or household member, see 2397 Interviews With Collateral Sources, for instruction on how to proceed.

2397 Interviews With Collateral Sources

CPS February 2013

A collateral source is a person who assists CPS during the course of an investigation by providing information about alleged victims of abuse or neglect or the family or caregivers of alleged victims. A collateral source that assists CPS by providing information in good faith is immune from civil or criminal liability.

Texas Family Code §261.106

Purpose of Collateral Contacts

CPS staff must contact collateral sources whenever necessary to obtain information about the current allegations of abuse or neglect; to obtain information about past incidents of child abuse or neglect; and to assess the protective capacities of the caregiver and the safety of the child.

Who May Make the Contacts

Collateral contacts may be made by the caseworker, other CPS staff, or by a volunteer or administrative support staff under the caseworker’s direction. CPS staff must document the information given by collateral sources with affidavits, written records, or narratives in the case record.

Collateral Sources

Collateral sources who should be contacted during investigation are persons who can provide information pertaining to the child’s safety or the potential risk of abuse or neglect to the child.

These sources may include, but are not limited to, the reporter, relatives, neighbors, school personnel, the family doctor, regional nurse, Forensic Assessment Center Network, law enforcement, or references given by the parents or alleged perpetrator. Information contained in Information and Referral (I&R) reports from Statewide Intake (see 2790 Other Investigation Requests) would also be considered a collateral source.

Documentation of Collateral Contacts in IMPACT

Parents who do not reside in the home but whose identity is known may provide collateral information, but should be added to the Person List as Principals in the investigation stage in IMPACT.

Other household members who reside in the home with the alleged child victims are sources of information, but should be added to the Person List as Principals in the investigation stage in IMPACT.

Caseworkers add persons to IMPACT as collaterals under the following circumstances:

  •  when it is necessary to retrieve the person’s address or telephone number through the system (such as the family physician);

  •  when the person is important to the family (such as a relative who may be able to contribute to the child’s permanency);

  •  when the person is important to the investigation (such as the law enforcement officer participating in a joint investigation);

Caseworkers should not add the following persons to the Person List in the investigation stage in IMPACT as collaterals:

  •  Agency employees used as collaterals

  •  Forensic Assessment Center Network staff

  •  Any collateral source that contracts with or is directly employed by CPS or DFPS

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