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4220 Determining Emotional Abuse in CPS Reports

SWI Policy and Procedures July 2015

Emotional abuse is causing or permitting a 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 functions.

Texas Family Code §261.001(I)(A), (B)

Controlled Substances

Controlled substances are defined in the Health and Safety Code, Chapter 481.

If a child is emotionally or mentally injured as a result of a caregiver using controlled substances, the intake specialist uses the EMAB allegation.

Texas Family Code §261.001(I)

Emotional abuse rarely occurs in isolation. It is usually combined with other allegations.

4230 Determining Sexual Abuse in CPS Reports

SWI Policy and Procedures July 2015

Sexual abuse is characterized as:

  •  sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes:

  •  the offense of indecency with a child under Section 21.11, Penal Code,

  •  sexual assault under Section 22.011, Penal Code, or

  •  aggravated sexual assault under Section 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 Section 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 pornographic or obscene, as defined by Section 43.21, Penal Code; or

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(H)

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

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(K)

4231 Child Age 12 Years Old and Younger is Pregnant or Has an STD

SWI Policy and Procedures February 2017

When SWI receives a report that a child age 12 years old or younger is pregnant or has tested positive for a sexually transmitted disease (STD), and no other information is known regarding the circumstances, the intake specialist generates a sexual abuse (SXAB) priority two (P2) intake with an unknown perpetrator.

4232 Limited Information Regarding the Identification and Location of a SXAB Victim

SWI Policy and Procedures February 2017

Intake Is Not Generated

An intake cannot be generated unless the child or children at risk of sexual abuse can be identified and located.

When there is only general information about possible victims, with no clear allegation on a specific child or children, and no locating information, the intake specialist enters an I&R.


A reporter states that a man fondled a 10-year-old neighbor. The reporter thinks the man has cousins around the same age as this neighbor, but the reporter has no information about who they are, where they live, or their exact ages. The reporter does not have any information that those children have ever been abused.


The fondling incident falls under law enforcement jurisdiction and no CPS intake is needed. While there may be some risk to any children to whom the alleged perpetrator has access, in this situation there is not enough information on specific children to generate a CPS intake.

Intake Is Generated

SWI completes an intake even if the victim’s name and exact address are not known, but there is:

  •  a clearly assignable allegation; and

  •  enough information in the report for SWI to determine that field staff can likely  identify the victim with additional calls.


A person on probation disclosed in therapy that he recently had fondled his 10-year-old cousin, who lives in the area. The therapist did not know the name or address of the cousin, but provided the name and address of the alleged perpetrator and the name and phone number of the alleged perpetrator’s probation officer.


In this case there is a specific victim and a specific allegation. Although the victim’s name and address are unknown to the reporter, the allegation is about a known child who can likely be identified by field staff.

When no other locating information is known, the intake specialist generates a CPS intake and assigns it to the county where the alleged perpetrator lives.

4233 Reports Regarding a Sexually Active Minor

SWI Policy and Procedures February 2017

CPS only investigates child sexual activity when the act involves abuse or neglect as defined by the Texas Family Code. In order to establish neglectful supervision by the caregiver, CPS must consider whether the situation presents a “substantial risk of sexual contact harmful to the child.”

Child Age 13 Years Old or Younger Engaged in Sexual Activity

Caregivers are required to make a reasonable effort to prevent a child age 13 or younger from having a sexual relationship, regardless of whether the relationship is consensual.

When a caregiver has made a reasonable effort to prevent the sexual activity and the child continues to be sexually active, CPS does not consider this to be neglectful supervision under the premise that it is unrealistic to expect constant monitoring of a school-aged child. Placing a child on birth control does not necessarily equate to consenting to the child’s behaviors.

Child Age 14 – 16 Years Old Engaged in Sexual Activity

DFPS investigates situations involving a child with a sexual partner who is more than three years older than the child as “sexual conduct harmful to a child.”

Texas Family Code §261.001(1)(E)

Texas Penal Code §21.11(b)

“More than three years older” means a time frame of three years and one day or greater between the two individuals’ dates of birth(DOBs). Often times, this criteria cannot be established at intake because the reporter does not know both individuals’ dates of birth. When DOBs are not available, but the known ages indicate a possibility of a three year and one day age difference, the intake specialist enters an intake for neglectful supervision (NSUP). This allows CPS the opportunity to obtain the DOBs and either continue with the investigation or close the intake.

In addition to the age difference criteria, the intake specialist must establish that:

  •  the caregiver is aware of the relationship; and

  •  has failed to make a reasonable effort to prevent it.

When entering an intake, the child’s caregiver is documented as the alleged perpetrator. The child’s partner is documented as a collateral (COL) with a role of NO.

When it is unknown whether or not the caregiver is aware of the relationship or has made efforts to prevent the relationship, the intake specialist processes an I&R Non-FPS Criminal Matter Referred to Law. Additional I&Rs may also be necessary.


A family member reports that a 14 yo and a 17 yo are having sex with the knowledge and consent of the 14 yo’s parents. The caller does not know the date of birth of the 17 yo and therefore the intake specialist cannot determine if there is a three year and one day age difference between them.


The intake specialist recommends an investigation based on the ages, which indicate the possibility of more than a three year age gap between the two partners.

Child Age 14 – 16 Years Old Living with a Non-Related Partner

When a child age 14 – 16 is living with a non-related partner, the intake specialist assesses the information using the same criteria as those outlined in Child Aged 14 – 16 Years Old Engaged in Sexual Activity, above. This applies whether the child has moved in with the partner, or the the partner has moved into the child’s home.

Whether to also document the child’s sexual partner as an alleged perpetrator for sexual abuse depends on when the sexual relationship began.


Then the child’s sexual partner is considered:

the sexual relationship began after the person started living with the child …

… an alleged perpetrator of sexual abuse.

the sexual relationship existed before the person started living with the child, or it is unknown when the sexual relationship began …

… a boyfriend or girlfriend, who is documented as a principal (PRN) with an unknown (UK) role.

While it is helpful to know, it is not necessary for the reporter to have direct knowledge of sexual activity. When a child lives with an unrelated person and demonstrates behaviors that indicate an intimate relationship with the person, it is reasonable for the intake specialist to assess as if a sexual relationship exists. The intake specialist enters an intake for NSUP based on the facts available and the likelihood of sexual activity.

An intake is not appropriate if the sexual partner whom the child is living with is not more than three years apart in age.

Children 17 Years Old Engaged in Sexual Activity

In most cases, CPS does not investigate consensual sexual activity of children 17 years old unless the partner is known to be a caregiver, relative, or household member that is not the child’s paramour.

Child with a Developmental Delay Engaged in Sexual Activity

When the child is developmentally delayed to the point of functioning at a lower age level, the age of consideration would be the developmental age of the child.


An intake would be generated for a 16-year-old who is developmentally delayed and functions like a 12-year-old, if the caregiver is aware that the child is having a sexual relationship and makes no attempt to prevent it.

Texas Penal Code Chapter 21 Sexual Offenses

4233.1 Limited Information Regarding a Sexually Active Minor

SWI Policy and Procedures February 2017

SWI frequently receives reports from DSHS contractors and providers who are mandated to report sexual activity involving minors. See the DSHS website for further details about this mandate. These reports are referred to as both:

  •  WIC reports (for Women, Infants, and Children); and

  •  Rider 14 reports (though the rider number changes each legislative session – previously they have been called Rider 19, 23, 33, 11, 18, 14, and 27 reports).

These reports typically lack specific information, making them difficult to assess. Each report is assessed on a case-by-case basis with careful consideration to the information that is available. The intake specialist:

  •  performs a history search for each person listed in the report;

  •  uses standard guidelines to assess for abuse or neglect; and

  •  completes an intake or the appropriate I&R type.


4240 Determining Physical Neglect in CPS Reports

SWI Policy and Procedures July 2015

Physical neglect (PHNG) is characterized as the failure to provide a child with the food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of a child.

Physical neglect is not alleged if the failure to provide is caused primarily by financial inability, unless relief services have been offered and refused.

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(B)(iii)

4250 Determining Medical Neglect in CPS Reports

SWI Policy and Procedures July 2015

Medical neglect is characterized as failing to seek, obtain, or follow through with medical care for a child, with the failure resulting in:

  •  a substantial risk of death, disfigurement, or bodily injury; or

  •  an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child.

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(B)(ii)

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