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6400 Conducting the Investigation

6410 Initiating the Investigation

6411 Time Frames for Face-to-Face Contact with Alleged Victims

CCI January 2021

The investigator must make face-to-face contact with each alleged victim listed in the intake report as soon as possible, but no later than the following:

  • 24 hours after a Priority 1 intake report.
  • 72 hours after a Priority 2 intake report.

If contact is attempted but unsuccessful, the investigator must continue to make attempts within the priority time frame indicated above until the contact is successful.

A forensic interview with a children’s advocacy center satisfies the requirement for face-to-face contact with an alleged victim, provided that the interview occurs within the appropriate time frame above and the investigator attends or observes the interview.

If a forensic interview with a children’s advocacy center is required because of the nature of the allegations but the forensic interview cannot be completed within the appropriate time frame, the investigator must make face-to-face contact with all alleged victims within the appropriate time frame above.

See 6421.12 Contacting a Children’s Advocacy Center About Certain Allegations.

6412 Documenting Face-to-Face Contacts with Alleged Victims

CCI January 2021

The investigator documents face-to-face contact with each alleged victim in both CLASS and IMPACT.

Documentation for each contact must include all of the following information:

  • The date of the contact.
  • The exact time of the contact.
  • The method of contact.
  • The name of the person with whom the contact was made.
  • A summary of the information obtained during the contact.

If contact is attempted but unsuccessful, the investigator documents all of the following:

  • Attempted date of contact.
  • Attempted time of contact.
  • Attempted method of contact.
  • Name of the person with whom contact was attempted.
  • Reason the attempt was unsuccessful.
6412.1 Documenting Contacts with Alleged Victims in CLASS

CCI January 2021

Initiation of Investigation

The investigator documents the first contact with an alleged victim in the Initiation of Investigation section on the Investigation Conclusion page in the CLASS investigation.

Face-to-Face Contact with Victim

Any contact with an alleged victim that occurs after the initiation must be documented separately as a CLASS contact and labeled Face-to-Face Contact with Victim.

6412.2 Documenting Contacts with Alleged Victims in IMPACT

CCI January 2021

Any contact with an alleged victim must be documented in IMPACT on the same day the contact was attempted or occurred.

Purpose Code: Initiation

The investigator documents the first contact with an alleged victim by creating a contact on the Contacts/Summaries page. The investigator selects Initiation as the Purpose.

If the contact is attempted but unsuccessful, the investigator selects Initiation as the Purpose and selects the Attempted checkbox.

Purpose Code: Gather/Obtain Info

Each contact with an alleged victim that occurs after the initiation must be documented separately and coded as Gather/Obtain Info.

 

6420 Conducting Interviews

CCI September 2021

During the investigation, the investigator makes a reasonable effort to locate and interview any person identified as a principal or collateral in the intake or during the investigation.

Principals include all of the following:

  • All alleged victims in the investigation.
  • All alleged perpetrators in the investigation.
  • All household members of a foster home or child care home.

Collaterals include anyone who is not directly involved in the incident but may be able to provide information about any of the following:

  • The incident being investigated.
  • The children and adults who were involved in the incident.
  • The type of care and supervision provided at the operation.

Before any interview, the investigator must do all of the following:

  • Identify himself or herself.
  • Explain the role and responsibilities of CCI.
  • Explain the reason for contact.

Documenting Interviews

The investigator documents interviews with alleged victims according to 6412 Documenting Face-to-Face Contact with Alleged Victims.

The investigator documents interviews with all other principals and collaterals as soon as possible, and no later than the day after the date of the interview or attempted interview.

Each interview is documented as a separate contact in IMPACT.

A summary of all interviews and attempted interviews is documented as a contact on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS.

6421 Observing and Interviewing Children

CCI September 2020

All alleged victims and all children directly involved in the allegations must be observed and interviewed.

The investigator interviews as many other children (collaterals) as necessary, depending on the nature and complexity of the investigation.

HHSC Rules, 1 TAC §351.503(b)(1) and (d)(2)

Whenever possible, the investigator must interview all principal and collateral children in person.

CCI staff may not transport a child who is to be interviewed, unless the child’s parent, guardian, or managing conservator is also present.

A forensic interview with a children’s advocacy center is an appropriate substitute for a face-to-face interview with the child.

6421.1 Observing and Interviewing Alleged Victims

CCI September 2020

During the interview with the alleged victim, the investigator makes a reasonable effort to obtain the following:

  • Full legal name.
  • Date of birth.
  • Ethnicity.
  • Social Security number.
  • Home address.
  • Home phone number.
  • Photographs of the child’s injuries (or lack of injuries).

If the child is unable to provide the above information, the investigator may request the operation’s enrollment records to obtain the information or may request the information from the child’s parent.

If the investigator is unable to photograph a child’s injuries or lack of injuries in a timely manner, the investigator must notify the supervisor and develop and implement a follow-up plan, with the supervisor’s approval. The investigator documents the reason the photographs could not be taken in a timely manner as a contact on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS.

See:

6412 Time Frames for Face-to-Face Contact with Alleged Victims

1422 Photographs and Video of Children

1422.1 Taking Sensitive Photographs

6421.11 Interview Takes Place Before Receipt of Intake Report

CCI November 2020

The investigator must make face-to-face contact with the alleged victim within required time frames, even if an interview has already been completed by another agency.

The investigator determines whether there is an active criminal investigation and coordinates with the investigating law enforcement agency before proceeding with the contact.

If another professional, such as a CPI investigator, a children’s advocacy center specialist, or a law enforcement officer, has already interviewed the alleged victim about the same allegations before CCI receives the intake report, the CCI investigator must do the following:

  • Request a copy of the recording, a transcript, or detailed documentation of the interview.
  • Review the interview recording or documentation to assess whether all of the allegations were addressed in the interview.
  • Document a contact in CLASS, including a summary of the interview and a statement explaining who conducted the interview.
6421.12 Contacting a Children’s Advocacy Center About Certain Allegations

CCI August 2020

The investigator must attempt to contact the local Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) to determine whether a forensic interview is appropriate before making initial contact with a child who is an alleged victim in a report of abuse that meets any of the following criteria:

  • Alleges sexual abuse of a child.
  • Alleges child sexual aggression.
  • Alleges serious physical abuse.
  • Involves a child fatality or near fatality in which there are surviving children under the supervision of a caregiver involved in the child fatality.
  • Is a type of case handled by a local CAC according to the local CAC’s protocols.

If the CAC accepts the referral, the investigator does the following:

  • Works with law enforcement and the local CAC to schedule an interview with the alleged victim within the time frames outlined in 6412 Time Frames for Face-to-Face Contact with Alleged Victims, if possible.
  • Attends and observes the forensic interview (or has a designee attend).
  • Requests a copy of the interview recording or transcript.
  • Documents a contact in CLASS, including a summary of the interview and a statement of who conducted the interview.
  • Documents a contact in IMPACT, including a summary of the interview and a statement of who conducted the interview.

The investigator must also document the following:

  • The referral to the CAC.
  • Whether the CAC accepted or declined the referral.
  • The investigator’s reason for missing the forensic interview, if he or she is unable to attend.

If the forensic interview cannot take place within the time frames for required face-to-face contact with alleged victims, the investigator makes face-to-face contact with all alleged victims within the required time frames and documents in CLASS all efforts to contact the CAC. After making contact with the child to ensure child safety, the investigator must continue to make efforts to contact the CAC to determine whether a forensic interview of the child is appropriate.

If the county is not served by a local CAC, the investigator may refer the case to a CAC in an adjacent county to initiate a response by the CAC’s multidisciplinary team and schedule a forensic interview, if appropriate.

6421.2 Observing and Interviewing a Child Related to a Child Care Provider

LPPH December 2012

Policy

Biological and adopted children include any children for whom providers may hold legal guardianship, temporary managing conservatorship, or permanent managing conservatorship at the time of the investigation.

The investigator may need to obtain written consent before interviewing the biological or adopted children of a provider.

HHSC Rules, 1 TAC §351.503(b)(1) and (d)(2)

Obtaining a Child Care Provider’s Consent Before Interviewing a Child

Procedure

If the child care provider is present during an inspection or investigation, the investigator must obtain written consent to interview any biological or adopted children of the provider who are in care at the operation. The investigator obtains consent using Form 2898 Consent to Interview Children of Providers.

The investigator may interview the children of a provider in a school, neutral location, or a child-care setting other than where the provider works without obtaining consent, unless the provider has previously refused to allow Licensing staff to interview his or her children.

Following the interview, the investigator must notify the parent that the child was interviewed. See:

6421.32 Notifying a Parent of a Child Interviewed as a Collateral Contact During an Investigation of Abuse or Neglect

6421.33 Notifying a Parent of a Child Interviewed During a Non Abuse or Neglect Investigation

If a provider is made aware that his or her child is being interviewed and instructs the investigator to stop the interview, the investigator must comply.

Consent for interviews and inspections may be withdrawn at any time and the investigator must comply with any withdrawn consent.

Determining Whether to Seek a Court Order to Interview a Child of a Child Care Provider

Procedure

The investigator must determine whether to seek a court order to conduct an interview, if:

  •  a provider refuses to allow his or her biological or adopted child to be interviewed; and

  •  the child’s information could be necessary to determine the outcome of an investigation.

The supervisor includes staff from the DFPS Legal Division in the decision-making process when determining whether to obtain a court order to interview a child.

Documenting a Child Care Provider’s Consent or Refusal

Procedure

If the investigator sought consent to interview the child of a child care provider, the investigator must document in the contact in CLASS whether:

  •  consent was granted or refused; and

  •  the completed Form 2898 Consent to Interview Children of Providers is filed in the investigation case file.

Conducting Investigations With Other Entities

Procedure

When conducting an investigation with another entity, such as law enforcement or CPS, Licensing must obtain consent separate from CPS or law enforcement to gain entry to interview a child.

The investigator identifies himself or herself separately by:

  •  presenting a DFPS-issued ID badge; and

  •  stating his or her specific role is in the investigation.

If the parent or provider grants consent to CPS or law enforcement, but does not grant consent to Licensing, the investigator must comply with the refusal and conduct other investigation activities.

6421.3 Notifying Parents, Guardians, or Managing Conservators of Interview With Child

CCI August 2020

The investigator must make a reasonable effort to locate and notify a child’s parents, guardians, or managing conservators that a child was interviewed or observed during an abuse, neglect, or exploitation investigation. The notification must occur within 24 hours of the interview or observation.

The investigator must document the notification or attempted notification of the parent, guardian, or managing conservator as a contact on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS. The notification must be documented as soon as possible, but no later than the day after the date of the notification.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.743

HHSC Rules, 1 TAC §351.503(b)(2)

6421.31 Notifying a Parent of an Alleged Victim

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

An investigator is considered to have made a reasonable effort to contact an alleged victim’s parents, guardian, or managing conservator if the investigator has taken at least one of the following actions:

a.   Provided verbal notification to the parent via phone call or face-to-face contact

b.   Left a message on the parent’s voice mail service

c.   Provided notification via email to the child’s CPS conservatorship (CVS) caseworker, if the child is in DFPS substitute care

If an investigator is unable to make verbal contact with the parent and leaves a message on the parent’s voice mail service, the message must include:

  •  a statement that the child was interviewed because the child was identified as being involved in the incident that is being investigated; and

  •  the investigator’s name and contact information.

If the parent requests information regarding the nature of the investigation, the investigator:

a.   informs the parent of the allegation;

b.   shares any other information with the parent necessary for the parent to make decisions regarding their child’s safety; and

c.   must protect the confidentiality of the investigation, including the names of alleged perpetrators and other alleged victims.

6421.32 Notifying a Parent of a Child Interviewed as a Collateral Source During an Abuse or Neglect Investigation

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

An investigator is considered to have made a reasonable effort to contact the child’s parents, guardian, or managing conservator if the investigator has taken at least one of the following actions:

a.   Mailed notification letter (Form 2867) to the parent’s residential address

b.   Left notification letter (Form 2867) for the parent at the operation, if the operation is a day care operation

c.   Provided verbal notification to the parent via phone call, face-to-face contact, or by leaving a message on a voice mail service

d.   Provided notification via email to the child’s CPS conservatorship (CVS) caseworker, if the child is in DFPS substitute care

If the parent requests information regarding the nature of the investigation, the investigator:

a.   informs the parent about the content of the interview;

b.   shares any other information with the parent necessary for the parent to make decisions regarding their child’s safety; and

c.   protects the confidentiality of the investigation, including the names of alleged perpetrators and other children.

6421.33 Notifying a Parent of a Child Interviewed During a Non Abuse or Neglect Investigation

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

An investigator must notify the child’s parent, guardian, or managing conservator that a child was interviewed during a non abuse or neglect investigation when the investigation is of a day care operation. The investigator notifies the parent by:

a.   mailing a notification letter (Form 2866) to the parent’s residential address;

b.   leaving a notification letter (Form 2866) for the parent at the operation;

c.   providing verbal notification to the parent via phone call, face-to-face contact, or by leaving a message on a voice mail service; or

d.   providing notification via email to the child’s CPS conservatorship (CVS) caseworker, if the child is in DFPS substitute care.

An investigator is not required to notify the parents of a child interviewed during an investigation of violations at a residential operation.

6421.4 Age and Ability Requirements for Observing and Interviewing Children

LPPH December 2012

Observing Children With No Verbal Ability

Policy

Investigators must observe principal children who have no verbal ability because of the child’s:

  •  chronological age; or

  •  level of developmental functioning.

If the investigation involves an allegation of abuse or neglect, an alleged victim who has no verbal ability must be observed within the time frames outlined in 6421.1 Observing and Interviewing Alleged Victims.

Children who are collateral contacts and who have no verbal ability should be observed as necessary to assess the care being provided to other children in care of the operation.

Procedure

Observations of a child must be documented as a contact on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS. The contact must include a brief statement describing the investigator’s observation of the child.

Interviewing Children With Limited Verbal Ability

Policy

Investigators must attempt to interview alleged victims and other identified principal and collateral contacts who are children if the child:

  •  is at least 3 years of age; and

  •  has some verbal ability.

If a child is younger than 3 years of age, but the investigator receives information that the child has some ability to communicate meaningful information, the investigator should attempt to interview the child and gather as much information as possible.

Procedure

The investigator adjusts the interview techniques as needed based on the age and ability of the child being interviewed.

If, after the investigator attempts to build rapport with the child and the child has demonstrated that he or she is unable to communicate meaningful information to the investigator, the investigator may discontinue the interview. The investigator must digitally record the attempted interview and document that an interview was attempted as a contact on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS.

If the investigator is unable to communicate with any child because of language barriers, the investigator follows the procedures in 6425 Interviewing Persons With Limited English Proficiency.

6422 Interviewing Adults

CCI September 2021

During an investigation, the investigator interviews all of the following people, if possible:

  • All alleged perpetrators.
  • All adults directly involved in the allegations.
  • Other adults who may have witnessed the allegations.
  • Other adults who may have knowledge of the allegations.
  • Other adults who may be able to provide information about the type of care and supervision provided at the operation.
  • Other adults who may be able to provide information about the behaviors, level of functioning, and emotional state of any children involved in the investigation.
  • Other adults who may be able to provide information about the child’s previous involvement in abuse or neglect investigations.

See 6422.2 Interviewing Principal and Collateral Sources.

6422.1 Interviewing Alleged Perpetrators

CCI September 2021

The investigator conducts a face-to-face interview with each alleged perpetrator, if possible.

If the alleged perpetrator no longer works at the operation, the investigator obtains locating information on the person, including the person’s last known address or phone number.

6422.11 Before Conducting an Interview with an Alleged Perpetrator

CCI September 2021

Before conducting an interview with an alleged perpetrator, the investigator must inform the alleged perpetrator of all of the following:

  • The complaints or allegations made against the alleged perpetrator. This information is provided at first contact with the alleged perpetrator, regardless of whether the interview occurs at first contact.
  • The alleged perpetrator’s right to make an audio or video recording of the interview for his or her own records.
  • The fact that any recording of the interview may be subject to subpoena under a court order.
  • The fact that the alleged perpetrator may request and receive a copy of CCI’s policy on recording interviews (see 6423 Recording Interviews).
  • The fact that, if CCI finds the allegations to be true, the alleged perpetrator may request an administrative review of the investigation findings.

The investigator provides this notice verbally and in writing to the alleged perpetrator.

The investigator presents two copies of the written notice to the alleged perpetrator and requests that the alleged perpetrator sign both copies. The copies are then kept as follows:

  • The alleged perpetrator may keep one copy of the written notice, whether or not the alleged perpetrator has signed it.
  • The investigator files the second copy in the investigation record. This copy must have either the alleged perpetrator’s signature acknowledging receipt or a note by the investigator indicating that the alleged perpetrator refused to sign the notice.

Texas Family Code §261.3027

6422.12 During an Interview with an Alleged Perpetrator

CCI September 2021

During the interview, the investigator makes a reasonable effort to obtain or verify the following information about the alleged perpetrator:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Ethnicity
  • Social Security number
  • Home address
  • Home phone number

If the alleged perpetrator refuses to provide the above information, the investigator requests employee records from the operation to try to obtain and verify the information.

See 6352.2 Exceptions to Notifying the Operation.

6422.13 Interview of an Alleged Perpetrator by Law Enforcement

CCI September 2021

Interview Takes Place Before Intake

If law enforcement has already interviewed the alleged perpetrator about the allegations by the time DFPS receives the intake report, the investigator does all of the following:

  • Requests a copy of a recording, a transcript, or detailed documentation of the interview.
  • Reviews the recording, transcript, or documentation to assess whether all of the allegations in the intake report were addressed in the interview.
  • Documents the interview as a contact in the investigation record, including a summary of the interview and a statement explaining who conducted the interview.

If the investigator determines that CCI needs additional information from the alleged perpetrator, the investigator does all of the following:

  • Consults with the supervisor to determine whether another interview should be conducted.
  • Determines whether there is an active criminal investigation, if the supervisor agrees that another interview is warranted.
  • Coordinates with the Special Investigations Division and the law enforcement agency, if there is an active criminal investigation, before proceeding with the additional interview.

Interview Is Scheduled to Take Place After Intake

If law enforcement has not yet interviewed the alleged perpetrator but must do so before the investigator interviews the alleged perpetrator, the investigator does the following:

  • Attends and observes the interview, if possible.
  • Requests a copy of a recording or transcript of the interview.
  • Documents the interview as a contact in the investigation record, including a summary of the interview and a statement explaining who conducted the interview.

If the investigator is unable to attend the interview, he or she also documents the reason that the investigator did not attend the interview.

6422.14 Alleged Perpetrator Fails to Cooperate with the Investigation

CCI September 2021

If an alleged perpetrator fails to cooperate with the investigation, such as by refusing to be interviewed or failing to respond to the investigator’s attempts to schedule an interview, the investigator notifies the alleged perpetrator of the following:

  • The allegations being investigated.
  • The fact that the investigator is required to make a determination with or without the alleged perpetrator’s input.
  • The possible outcomes of the investigation.

The investigator contacts an uncooperative alleged perpetrator and does both of the following:

  • Notifies the alleged perpetrator in person or by phone about the need to schedule an interview.
  • Follows up by sending the notification in writing, by regular and certified mail, to the alleged perpetrator’s residential address.

The investigator keeps a copy of the notification in the investigation record.

Alleged Perpetrator Seeks an Attorney

If the alleged perpetrator refuses to be interviewed until after obtaining legal counsel or until an attorney can be present, the investigator allows a reasonable time frame for the alleged perpetrator to make such arrangements.

6422.2 Interviewing Principal and Collateral Sources

CCI September 2021

Principal and collateral sources in an investigation may include, but are not limited to, the following people:

  • Employees of the operation.
  • Household members.
  • The director, administrator, case manager, or other representative of the operation.
  • School personnel, medical personnel, law enforcement, first responders, therapists, or other professionals.
  • Parents, guardians, or managing conservators of the alleged victims or the children interviewed.

The investigator interviews as many collateral sources as necessary, depending on the nature and complexity of the investigation.

6423 Recording Interviews

CCI September 2021

The investigator must digitally record all interviews conducted with either of the following people:

  • A child
  • An alleged perpetrator

The investigator may also digitally record any other face-to-face interviews conducted during the investigation.

At the beginning of the interview, the investigator must inform the person that the interview is being recorded. The recording must be accurate, unaltered, and without interruption.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.713(3)

6423.1 Testing the Recording Equipment

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

Before each interview, the investigator must test the audio recording device and software to ensure that the equipment is working and that all parties can be clearly heard on the recording before beginning the official interview.

6423.2 Authenticating the Recording

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

The investigator must authenticate the recording before beginning the structured interview. To authenticate the recording, the investigator must make the following statements at the beginning of each recorded interview:

a.   The investigator’s first name, last name, and job title

b.   The month, day, year, and time of the interview

c.   The CLASS or IMPACT investigation number

d.   The location of the interview

e.   The first and last name and the role of any other person present during the interview

f.    A statement that the interview is being recorded

The investigator asks the person being interviewed to state his or her:

  •  first and last name;

  •  identifying information, such as age, date of birth, or Social Security number, depending on the age and ability of the person being interviewed.

At the conclusion of the interview, the investigator states the time that the interview ended.

6423.3 Exceptions to Recording the Interview

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

The investigator is exempt from recording the interview when:

  •  the person refuses to allow the interview to be recorded; or

  •  a parent refuses to allow the interview of their child to be recorded.

6423.4 Documenting Whether an Interview Was Recorded

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

If an interview was conducted face-to-face, the investigator must document whether or not the interview was recorded in the contact on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS. If the interview was not recorded, the investigator must document the reason why.

A recorded interview does not replace a written summary of the interview in the investigation contacts.

6423.5 Using an Alternative Recording Device

CCI August 2020

If an investigator has been issued a backup recording device, such as a handheld digital recorder, the investigator must carry the device to all interviews, in case of a malfunction of the tablet or its audio recording software.

6424 Requesting a Courtesy Interview

LPPH March 2015

Policy

If an alleged victim, alleged perpetrator, or any other principal or collateral is located in a region other than where the investigator is located, the investigator makes a request through his or her supervisor for a Licensing investigator in the region where the person is located to conduct the interview. The investigator conducting the interview is considered to be a secondary investigator, and the interview is considered to be a courtesy interview.

Procedure

If a secondary investigator conducts a courtesy interview, the investigator:

a.   advises the secondary investigator of what information and questions to address in the courtesy interview;

b.   requests detailed information about the interview, including any recordings or interview notes after the courtesy interview has taken place;

c.   maintains contact with the secondary investigator until all information regarding the courtesy interview is received; and

d.   documents a summary of the interview as a contact in CLASS, including a statement of who conducted the interview.

The secondary investigator:

  •   documents the interview in the investigation contacts in CLASS or in an email to the primary investigator who made the request; and

  •   adheres to all required time frames for conducting the interview.

6425 Interviewing Persons With Limited English Proficiency

LPPH December 2012

Policy

Individuals are identified as having limited English proficiency (LEP) when the person cannot read, write, speak, or understand English without assistive language services because he or she:

  •  does not speak English as their primary language; or

  •  has a speech or hearing impairment.

During an investigation, the investigator must accommodate any person with LEP by making reasonable efforts to provide information and services in a language or medium that the person can understand through the use of interpreters, translators, readers, or other methods.

Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI

Procedure

In order to ensure that a person with LEP is able to communicate with the investigator in his or her primary language or medium, district management must develop procedures for identifying the primary language needs within the district and for providing readily available access to interpreter services. The procedures must ensure that a person with LEP:

  •  is able to communicate his or her knowledge of or role in the incident being investigated;

  •  is given information about, and be able to understand, the investigation process, the outcome, and due process rights, if applicable.

6425.1 Using an Interpreter to Conduct an Interview

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

If the investigator is unable to communicate with a person with limited English proficiency (LEP), the investigator must:

  •  make arrangements for an interpreter to be present during the scheduled interview; or

  •  contact one of the agency approved interpreter services listed on the DFPS Language Services Web page.

If the investigator arranges for an interpreter to be present during the interview, the investigator must choose an interpreter who does not have a conflict of interest with the investigation and who is:

  •  professionally trained as an interpreter; or

  •  a DFPS staff person who is fluent in the person’s primary language.

The investigator must explain to the interpreter that the investigation information must be kept confidential.

6425.2 Documenting the Use of Interpretation Services

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

If an interview was conducted with a person with LEP, the investigator must document any interpreter services that were offered and provided. The contact must include:

a.   any offer made by the investigator to provide an interpreter;

b.   the acceptance or refusal of interpreter services by person with LEP;

c.   the use of an interpreter;

d.   the interpreter’s name;

e.   the interpreter’s relationship (if any) to the person;

f.    the interpreter’s professional affiliation;

g.   the use of communication aids (such as a communication board and pictures.); and

h.   the investigator’s ability to communicate in the person’s primary language.

If an interpreter was not used, the reason must be documented.

6430 Conducting Inspections

LPPH December 2015

Policy

The investigator is required to conduct an unannounced inspection for all investigations assigned a Priority 1, 2, or 3.

When conducting an inspection, the investigator must always assess the safety of children and evaluate minimum standards and law.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §§745.8401; 745.8403; 745.8407

6431 Requirements for Conducting Unannounced Inspections

6431.1 Inspection Time Frame Priority 1 or Priority 2 Investigations

LPPH June 2014

Policy

For all investigations assigned a Priority 1 or Priority 2, the investigator must conduct an unannounced inspection at the operation that is the subject of the investigation as soon as possible and no later than 15 days following the date the intake report was received. Shorter time frames may be required in order to assess risk.

If subsequent inspections are necessary, the inspections may be announced or unannounced.

6431.2 Inspection Time Frame for Priority 3 Investigations

LPPH December 2015

Policy

For investigations assigned a Priority 3, the investigator must conduct an unannounced inspection at the operation that is the subject of the investigation as soon as possible and no later than 30 days following the date the intake report was received.

If subsequent inspections are necessary, the inspections may be announced or unannounced.

6431.3 Inspection Time Frame for Priority 4 Investigations

LPPH June 2014

Policy

CPA Internal Investigations Reassigned to a Priority 4

For all investigations involving an agency home that are re-assigned to a Priority 4, the investigator must conduct an unannounced inspection at the operation that is the subject of the investigation as soon as possible and no later than 45 days following the date the initial intake report was received.

Illegal Operations and Desk Review Investigations Reassigned to a Priority 4

For all other investigations that are re-assigned to a Priority 4, the investigator must conduct an unannounced inspection as soon as possible and no later than 30 days following the date the initial intake report was received.

If subsequent inspections are necessary, the inspections may be announced or unannounced.

6431.4 Inspection Not Required for Priority 5 Investigations

LPPH June 2014

Policy

For all investigations assigned a Priority 5, the investigator does not conduct an inspection at the operation that is the subject of the investigation.

If the investigator determines that an inspection is required, the investigator changes the priority to a Priority 4 as soon as possible during the investigation.

If subsequent inspections are necessary, the inspections may be announced or unannounced.

See:

6542.4 Reclassifying an Investigation of an Agency Home as Priority 4

6562.1 Day Care Operations Providing Care Illegally With No Other Allegations

6432 Documenting the Observations Made During the Inspection

LPPH October 2017

For requirements related to documenting the observations made during the inspection, see 6722 Observation Made During Inspection Field.

6440 Collecting Evidence

LPPH December 2012

Policy

During the investigation, the investigator must collect evidence to support or refute the allegations of abuse or neglect and allegations of minimum standard violations.

The collection of evidence includes:

a.   interviews with principal and collateral sources;

b.   digital audio or video recordings of interviews;

c.   written statements;

d.   original and computer generated notes;

e.   photographs;

f.    documentation of a physical exam or medical treatment of a child;

g.   drawings, diagrams, and timelines;

h.   digital copy of video surveillance; and

i.    any other physical evidence or document relevant to the allegation.

HHSC Rules, 1 TAC §351.503(d)(1)-(8)

6441 Collecting Evidence Related to Interviews

6441.1 Conducting and Recording Interviews

LPPH December 2012

Policy

All persons who have knowledge of the allegations must be observed or interviewed during the course of the investigation. Investigators of an abuse or neglect investigation must digitally record all interviews with children and alleged perpetrators and maintain the recordings in the confidential abuse or neglect file.

See:

6410 Conducting Interviews

6413 Recording Interviews

6441.2 Obtaining Written Statements

LPPH December 2012

Policy

If a principal source in an abuse or neglect investigation refuses to allow the investigator to record the interview, the investigator requests that the person provide a written statement.

For non abuse or neglect investigations, the investigator and supervisor may choose to obtain a written statement.

Procedure

The investigator uses Form 7275 Child Care Facility Investigations Statement to obtain a written statement. If a written statement has already been prepared by a person with knowledge of the incident before being contacted by the investigator, that statement may be accepted in the form in which it was written. The investigator then:

  •  compares the written statement to the information provided during the interview for consistency; and

  •  asks additional questions or conducts a follow-up interview to address any inconsistencies that are found.

The investigator files the written statement in the external case file, and:

a.   documents that a written statement was obtained in the contact narrative in CLASS

b.   includes a summary of the written statement in the narrative; and

c.   enters the written statement on the External Documentation List page in IMPACT.

6441.3 Maintaining Investigation Notes

LPPH December 2012

Policy

All notes taken during an abuse or neglect investigation are considered part of the investigation documentation and must be filed in the confidential abuse or neglect file for at least one year.

Investigation notes, whether handwritten or notes that were originally recorded on paper or computer-generated, include:

a.   interview notes;

b.   drawings, diagrams, or timelines;

c.   notes written on any document related to the investigation, such as a staffing form or intake report.

Notes for a non abuse or neglect investigation may be destroyed, except when a subpoena regarding the notes is received before the notes are destroyed.

Procedure

Diagrams, drawings, and timelines may be made by the investigator to aid in determining the finding. A diagram, hand-drawn or computer-generated is a drawing that shows arrangement and relation. For example, the drawing may be of the area where the incident occurred with placement of furnishings, equipment, children, and staff. Drawings may also be done to show the location of a bruise, or other injury on a child’s body. Timelines may be made to show who the child was with during the time when the incident or injury occurred.

Computer-generated notes taken either in CLASSMate or in another program located on the tablet PC, must be placed in the confidential abuse or neglect file. The investigator:

a.   prints the notes or copies the notes to a compact disc (CD) after the completion of the investigation;

b.   files the notes in the confidential abuse or neglect file; and

c.   deletes the notes from the computer’s hard drive.

6442 Taking Photographs as Evidence

LPPH December 2012

Policy

The investigator must always carry a digital camera to the inspection and interviews. Investigators must take, document, and store photographs of a child’s injury, the incident scene, and any other photographs of the operation according to the policies and procedures outlined in 1400 State-Issued Equipment, Photographs, and Video.

6443 Obtaining Written Documents as Evidence

LPPH December 2012

Policy

The investigator must review or obtain the following types of written documentation, as applicable to the investigation:

a.   Medical records

b.   Law enforcement reports

c.   CPS records

d.   Records from the operation

e.   Correspondence

6443.1 Obtaining Medical Records

LPPH March 2016

Procedure

The investigator requests that the parent provide a medical release and requests the medical records during an investigation of child abuse or neglect when the allegations being investigated include:

a.   injuries requiring medical treatment;

b.   serious physical abuse;

c.   medical neglect;

d.   physical neglect;

e.   sexual abuse, if the child received an exam by a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE);

f.   a fatality; or

g.   a near fatality.

If a child in DFPS conservatorship receives medical treatment or dies, the CPS caseworker obtains the records and provides a copy to the investigator.

If the child is not seen by a medical professional, the investigator must consult with a medical professional to obtain a professional opinion of the child’s medical condition.

The investigator may need to obtain the following types of medical records, depending on the allegations being investigated:

a.   Records from emergency medical services (EMS)

b.   Emergency room and other hospital records

c.   Records from the child’s primary care physician

d.   Records from a specialist who provides care or treatment to a child

e.   Records from a SANE

f.   Autopsy report and other related records from the medical examiner, if the child is deceased

g.   Star Health records

The medical release and all medical records obtained in an abuse or neglect investigation are filed in the confidential abuse or neglect file, and a summary of the information is documented in a contact narrative on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS.

If an investigation does not involve an allegation of abuse or neglect, an investigator may still request medical records if it is necessary to make a decision regarding the outcome of the investigation.

6443.2 Obtaining Reports From Law Enforcement

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

The investigator must request documentation from law enforcement during any investigation in which law enforcement is conducting a criminal investigation of the allegations, regardless of the allegation type.

The investigator may need to request copies of the following types of law enforcement records, depending on the allegations being investigated:

a.   Police report

b.   Photographs taken by law enforcement

c.   Recording or transcript of interview

d.   911 call

e.   Any other document related to a criminal investigation

If law enforcement is unable to release copies of documents pertaining to the criminal investigation, the investigator requests an opportunity to review the documents. After reviewing the records, the investigator documents a summary of the records in the investigation contacts.

Law enforcement may conduct a polygraph as a part of the criminal investigation. Licensing may review the results of the polygraph and summarize how the results pertain to the criminal finding. However, Licensing may not use the results of the polygraph in making a determination of preponderance.

6443.3 Reviewing Documents From CPS

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

The investigator may need to review documentation located in a CPS record in IMPACT if:

  •  the investigation involves a child in conservatorship of CPS; or

  •  a joint or concurrent investigation with CPS is being conducted.

The investigator may need to review the following types of CPS documentation located in IMPACT related to the investigation (INV), substitute care (SUB), or adoption (ADO) stages of service:

a.   Person Detail information

b.   Contact narratives

c.   Legal Actions

d.   Child’s Service Plan

e.   Placement information

f.    Common Application

g.   Family Tree

If a CPS case is marked Sensitive, the investigator requests assistance from the assigned CPS caseworker to obtain access to the information.

6443.4 Obtaining Documents From the Operation

LPPH March 2013

Procedure

Licensing has the authority to review and obtain copies of any documentation found at the operation. This documentation includes, but is not limited to:

a.   a child’s record, including the service plan;

b.   an employee’s record;

c.   a foster home’s record, including the home study;

d.   training curriculum;

e.   operational policy; and

f.    incident reports.

The investigator reviews all necessary records and documentation and obtains copies of all documentation that is relevant to refuting or supporting the allegations. Documentation obtained is summarized in a contact narrative on the Investigation Conclusion page and filed in the external investigation file.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §745.8419

6444 Maintaining Records of Correspondence

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

In the process of conducting an investigation, the investigator may receive or create correspondence through email, written correspondence, or the telephone.

6444.1 Documenting and Maintaining Email Correspondence:

LPPH December 2012

The investigator summarizes the contents of the email in a contact narrative on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS, using professional and objective language.

If the email exchange is between the investigator and an external resource, the investigator prints a copy and files the copy in the external investigation file.

Licensing must follow any legal directive requiring that emails be held and not delete any emails that are covered by the directive. Otherwise, if there is no relevant directive, the investigator may delete the email exchange after documenting a summary of it and printing a copy.

6444.2 Documenting and Maintaining Written Correspondence

LPPH December 2012

Written correspondence may be generated in CLASS or in the DFPS automated forms system. The investigator may also receive written correspondence during the course of an investigation.

The investigator handles written correspondence in the following manner:

  •  The investigator does not print any written correspondence that is generated or stored in CLASS and does not need to file the correspondence in the external record.

  •  For all written correspondence located outside of CLASS, the investigator:

1.   documents a summary of the correspondence in a contact narrative on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS;

2.   files a copy of the correspondence in the external investigation file; and

3.   enters the correspondence under the External Documentation tab in IMPACT for an abuse or neglect investigation.

6444.3 Documenting and Maintaining Voicemails and Texts

LPPH December 2012

The investigator may receive voicemails and texts during the course of an investigation. When a voicemail or text message is received, the investigator must capture the following information in a contact narrative on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS:

a.   originator and receiver;

b.   date and time of the communication;

c.   type of message (text or voicemail); and

d.   a brief summary of the message to document the transaction.

Records Management Group Handbook, 2510 Instant Messages, Text Messages, and Voice Mails

6450 Conducting Surveillance (Day Care Only)

Policy

An investigator or supervisor may determine that surveillance is necessary to determine whether:

a.   a program or caregiver is subject to regulation;

b.   an operation is complying with a safety plan that requires the operation to cease operating;

c.   can operation is providing care to more children than the permit allows; or

d.   allegations of abuse or neglect or violations of minimum standards have a factual basis

Procedure

An investigator must receive supervisory approval to conduct surveillance. All decisions regarding conducting surveillance must be documented as a contact on the Investigation Conclusion page in CLASS.

Upon receiving the necessary approval, the investigator may conduct surveillance at the location of the operation or at other locations where children in care are transported by the operation. The investigator should take photographs or video recordings as necessary during the course of the surveillance to support violations or a lack of violations.

See 1400 State-Issued Equipment, Photographs, and Video.

6460 Interim Staffing With Supervisor

CCI June 2021

The investigator must conduct an interim staffing no later than one of the following time frames:

  • The 10th day from the date of the intake report.
  • The 5th day from the date of the intake report, if the intake report is regarding a child fatality.

The interim staffing must include a discussion of both of the following:

  • The information and evidence obtained up to that time.
  • Identifying any additional tasks to be completed before a disposition can be made.

Interim staffings are conducted with the supervisor and the special investigator, if one is assisting in the investigation. A consultation with a complex investigation analyst (CIA) may be used as the interim staffing with the supervisor only if the supervisor is present during the consultation. Additional interim staffings may be conducted throughout the investigation as many times as deemed necessary by the investigator and supervisor. After the interim staffing, the supervisor or designee documents the information discussed in the staffing in a contact labeled Staffed Case in IMPACT.

6470 Handling Obstruction of an Investigation

6471 Obstruction by the Operation

LPPH March 2017

Procedure

If operation staff refuse, delay, or obstruct investigation attempts after being told the purpose of the investigation, Licensing staff inform the person in charge that Licensing staff have authority to investigate under applicable laws.

The operation must allow the investigator access to all children in care, staff, records, the physical plant, and any other information needed to conduct the investigation.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §§745.8401; 745.8415 ; 745.8417

Human Resources Code §42.04412

Enforcement action may be taken against the operation if the person in charge of the operation refuses, prevents, or delays the inspection or investigation.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §745.8425

6472 Alleged Perpetrator Requests Investigation Status

LPPH March 2013

During the investigation, an alleged perpetrator may request clarification about the status of the investigation or file a complaint about the conduct of the investigation. If this occurs, the supervisor must conduct an informal review within 15 days after receiving the request or complaint. The review may not be used to delay or obstruct the investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.309(b)

6473 Obstruction by Regulated Operations

LPPH March 2013

If a regulated operation obstructs the investigation, the investigator leaves an Inspection Form (Form 2936) citing HRC §42.04412(a) for obstruction of an investigation, violation of Licensing rules allowing inspection, and the possible consequences of the violation.

6474 Obstruction by Unregulated Operations

LPPH March 2013

In an unregulated operation, the investigator notifies the person in charge of Licensing’s authority to investigate under the law. If the person remains uncooperative, the investigator leaves the operation. If possible, the investigator documents:

a.   any evidence of violation of the Human Resources Code or Texas Administrative Code;

b.   any observed hazards to children or situations that would be a violation of standards if the operations were registered or licensed; and

c.   any child care practice that puts children at risk.

See 6560 Investigations of Illegal Operations With No Allegations of Abuse or Neglect.

6480 Worker Safety

LPPH October 2013

Policy

Staff safety is one of the most important factors in any investigation or inspection. CCL staff must immediately leave any situation they feel is unsafe.

If a provider or another person shows any signs of physical or verbal hostility or aggression, staff should immediately leave the operation and not return unless and until circumstances indicate that returning to the operation would not pose a safety threat. Attempting to continue an investigation or inspection in these situations can escalate an unsafe situation.

A co-worker or supervisor should accompany staff on a return attempt to inspect or investigate the operation. If verbal or physical signs of hostility or aggressive behavior continue to be present, staff consult with their supervisor. If staff must return to complete necessary interviews or inspections, staff may contact law enforcement in order to ensure safety during the completion of the inspection or investigation. They may also contact DFPS Legal Services about getting a court order to assist the investigation. See Human Resources Code §42.04412.

No law, policy, or local procedure requires CCL staff to enter or remain in a dangerous situation.

See SAFETY central on the DFPS Safety Net.

Procedure

The following best practices are steps that can be taken to help ensure worker safety in the field when conducting inspections and investigations:

a.   Conduct team inspections if the operation is located in an area with a high rate of crime or if the inspection is conducted at night.

b.   Upon arriving to the operation, ask the provider who else is in the operation at the time of the inspection.

c.   Upon arriving to the operation, ask the provider to describe or show you the layout of the operation.

d.   Ask the provider to lead the way during an inspection.

e.   Update your Outlook calendar before each inspection or investigation activity with the operation name, operation number and your location (e.g. operation, school, or off-site meeting location).

f.    Take your DFPS-issued phone with you to all inspections and investigation activities.

g.   Enter you supervisor’s phone number on speed dial.

h.   Identify an agreed upon strategy with your supervisor for emergencies.

i.    During the course of the inspection or investigation, if the provider or any other person displays inappropriate behavior or comments leave the operation or interview, report the incident to your supervisor, and return at another time with a coworker.

6500 Special Considerations for Certain Types of Reports

6510 Investigation of DFPS Employees

LPPH December 2012

Policy

When DFPS has statutory responsibility to investigate a report of abuse, neglect, or exploitation made against a DFPS employee and the alleged victim is a child in care in an operation that is regulated by Child Care Licensing (CCL), DFPS expedites both the investigation and disposition of the case.

DFPS Human Resources Operating Policy HR-3101 Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation Allegations Against DFPS Employees

Procedure

When a report in which allegations are made against a DFPS employee is received, the supervisor must notify the residential manager and residential child care Licensing director.

The investigator then:

a.   ensures the investigation is marked Sensitive in the IMPACT and CLASS systems;

b.   ensures the strictest level of confidentiality and refrains from discussing the case with other DFPS staff other than the supervisor;

c.   completes and documents the case within 10 days;

d.   submits the case for supervisory approval within 10 days; and

e.   keeps the supervisor apprised of all investigative activities and consults about each action of the case.

If allegations against an employee are validated, and the employee fails to request an administrative review within two business days after being notified of the conclusions, the employee may still request an administrative review within 45 days, the time period allowed under ordinary administrative review procedures. However, if the employee chooses this option, the administrative review is not expedited and a change in the investigative conclusions does not alter any personnel action that has been taken. The supervisor must consult with the residential manager and residential child care Licensing director before approving a finding.

See 6266.1 Processing Sensitive Intake Reports.

6520 Investigation of a Child’s Death

CCI June 2021

If a child dies while in the care of an operation subject to regulation by Child Care Regulation, CCI investigates to determine whether abuse or neglect was a factor in the child’s death.

The investigator must coordinate the investigation with the following parties, as applicable:

  • The law enforcement agency investigating the child’s death.
  • The district attorney or other prosecuting attorney, if an arrest occurs or charges are taken to a grand jury.
  • The medical examiner, if an autopsy was or is performed.
  • The justice of the peace, if an inquest was held.
  • The child’s primary caseworker.
  • CPI special investigators.

If the death occurred in an alleged illegal operation, the investigator first determines whether the operation is subject to regulation. If the operation is subject to regulation, the investigator investigates the death. If the operation is not subject to regulation, the investigator follows the requirements explained in 6567 Determining Whether an Unregulated Operation Is Subject to Regulation.

If the death occurred in a residential child care operation, the investigator adds the facility’s administrator as an alleged perpetrator of neglectful supervision. During the investigation, the investigator determines if there is a preponderance of evidence that the administrator engaged in a negligent act or omission that contributed to the death.

6521 Actions in the First 24 Hours

CCI June 2021

Within 24 hours of receiving an intake report indicating that a child in care has died, the investigator does all of the following:

  • Ensures that the victim’s details are entered in IMPACT.
  • Ensures that the Fatality Information section of the victim’s Person Detail page is completed in IMPACT with preliminary information.
  • Ensures an appropriate allegation is indicated to be a Child Fatality Allegation on the Allegation Detail page in IMPACT.
  • Requests a joint investigation with the CPI Special Investigations division prior to initiating the investigation.
  • Notifies law enforcement.
  • Notifies the medical examiner, as applicable.
  • Notifies the Complex Investigations Division.
  • Initiates the investigation.
  • Evaluates the safety of any other children in care.

After notification from the investigator, the Complex Investigations Division assesses the operation’s history and completes the preliminary Child Death Report (Form 2899e) in CLASS.

See:

6143 CPI Special Investigators

6331 Evaluating the Need for a Safety Plan

6340 Risk Assessment of Regulatory History

6350 Notifications Made at Beginning of Investigation

6410 Initiating the Investigation

6521.6 Completing the Preliminary Child Death Report (Form 2899e) in CLASS

6521.1 Entering Person Details in IMPACT

CCI June 2021

The investigator enters all of the following information about the deceased child on the Person Detail page, if the information is not already entered in the intake report:

  • The child’s name.
  • The child’s gender.
  • The child’s date of birth (or the child’s approximate age, if the date of birth is unknown).
  • The date of the child’s death (must be entered to activate the Fatality Information section).
6521.2 Answering the Question About the Child Fatality Allegation in IMPACT

CCI June 2021

The investigator reviews each allegation on the Allegation Detail page that involves the deceased child as an alleged victim and answers the question about the child fatality allegation as follows:

  • If the allegation is not related to the child’s death, the investigator selects No.
  • If the allegation possibly caused or contributed to the child’s death, the investigator selects Yes.
6521.3 Assessing the Safety of Other Children in Care

CCI June 2021

During the investigation of a fatality, the investigator must assess the safety of any other children in care. The investigator determines whether there is immediate danger to those children.

The investigator must document in the investigation record a completed safety assessment within 24 hours and determine if a safety plan or other safety intervention is necessary to protect the other children in care.

See 6330 Assessing the Immediate Safety of Children.

6521.4 Notifications of a Child’s Death
6521.41 Notifying Law Enforcement About a Child's Death

LPPH August 2014

The investigator contacts law enforcement to request a joint investigation.

See 6144 Law Enforcement.

6521.42 Notification Regarding the Death of a Child Younger Than Age 6

LPPH August 2014

If a child younger than age 6 dies, the investigation caseworker reports the death to the medical examiner of the county in which the death occurred. The death must be reported to the medical examiner whether or not the death is alleged to be the result of abuse or neglect.

Exceptions:

  •  If the child dies as the result of a motor vehicle accident, the caseworker is not required to report the death.

  •  If the county does not have a medical examiner, the caseworker must report the death to a justice of the peace in the county in which the death occurred.

Texas Family Code §264.513

6521.43 Notifications Within DFPS

CCI June 2021

Within 24 hours of being notified about a child’s death, the investigator notifies the Complex Investigations Division (CID) by email.

CID does the following:

  • Reviews the investigation information currently available.
  • Completes and sends the Child Death Report (Form 2899e) in CLASS, noting the preliminary cause and manner of death.
  • Notifies other DFPS programs and departments, as needed.

See 6521.6 Completing the Preliminary Child Death Report (Form 2899e) in CLASS.

6521.5 Entering Preliminary Findings Related to a Child's Death

CCI June 2021

The investigator enters into IMPACT the information that is known within the first 24 hours after being notified of the child’s death. The investigator may update the information as the investigation progresses and upon completion of the investigation.

The investigator makes the following selections in the Fatality section on the Person Detail page in IMPACT, as explained in the table below:

 

From the drop-down-menu titled …

the investigator chooses the following …

Manner of Death

Pending investigation, unless the manner of death is known at the beginning of the investigation. In that case, the investigator chooses either natural causes or unnatural causes, whichever best describes the cause of death.

Cause of Death

The specific disease, illness, or injury that best describes the cause of death.

Reason for Death (CPS)

Not A/N Related.

Reason for Death (Non-CPS)

Left blank until the investigation can be disposed.

Findings

Preliminary.

Death Certificate/Autopsy

Pending.

6521.6 Completing the Preliminary Child Death Report (Form 2899e) in CLASS

CCI June 2021

Within five calendar days of the date of an intake report regarding a child’s death, Complex Investigations Division (CID) staff does both of the following:

  • Completes a preliminary version of the Child Death Report in CLASS.
  • Sends a copy of the report to appropriate DFPS staff.

The child fatality information entered in IMPACT automatically transfers to the Preliminary Child Death Report in CLASS. The investigator may update the information in IMPACT as the investigation progresses.

To complete the Child Death Report in CLASS, CID staff does all of the following:

  • Selects the Preliminary radio button.
  • Enters the case name of the IMPACT investigation.
  • Enters a summary of the allegations in the narrative box Brief Incident Summary.

The summary of the allegations includes the information that is known, up to that point, about the circumstances surrounding the child’s death, including all of the following:

  • Where the incident occurred.
  • Who was present.
  • The events leading up to the child’s death.
  • The suspected cause of the child’s death, if known.

6522 Staffing an Investigation of a Child's Death

CCI June 2021

During the course of an investigation involving the death of a child, the investigator keeps the supervisor apprised of all investigation-related activities.

The investigator must conduct a minimum of one interim staffing with the supervisor and the special investigator no later than the 5th day after the intake report is received. See 6460 Interim Staffing With Supervisor.

Upon completion of the investigation, a final staffing includes all of the following individuals:

  • The investigator.
  • The supervisor.
  • The program administrator.
  • The DFPS attorney, as needed.

6523 Documenting the Investigation of a Child’s Death

CCI June 2021

The investigator documents the investigation according to the requirements for abuse and neglect investigations.

See:

6700 Documenting the Investigation

6750 Maintaining an Investigation File

6524 Completing the Investigation of a Child's Death

CCI June 2021

When the investigator has completed all investigation activities, and sufficient evidence has been gathered to reach a disposition, the investigator consults with the supervisor. The investigator and supervisor determine the disposition. The Complex Investigations Division (CID) conducts a secondary review and approves the investigation.

The investigator updates documentation about the child’s death in both IMPACT and CLASS.

If the final autopsy report or death certificate has not been received when the investigation is completed, the investigator enters the preliminary autopsy findings. The investigator requests, on agency letterhead and by email or mail, that the final autopsy report or death certificate be sent when it is available. The investigator documents this request in a contact in IMPACT and CLASS and uploads a copy of the request to the OneCase application within IMPACT.

If the final autopsy report or death certificate is received after the investigation has been closed, it is uploaded to OneCase and documented in the investigation as a closed stage addendum.

6524.1 Reason for a Child's Death

CCI June 2021

At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator updates the reason for a child’s death under the Non-CPS Reason for Death drop-down menu on the Person Detail page in IMPACT.

The table below explains the Reason for Death codes used under the Non-CPS Reason for Death drop-down menu.

The investigator chooses a Reason for Death code for abuse or neglect, if all of the following apply:

  • The disposition is Reason to Believe.
  • The severity is Fatal.
  • The answer is Yes to the IMPACT question Is this a child fatality allegation?

The reason for death entered in IMPACT automatically transfers to the Investigation Victim and Parent Details page in CLASS.

The Reason for Death Code

Applicable Dispositions

Circumstances Surrounding the Child's Death

Involvement With DFPS

NAB

Not Abuse/Neglect Related

Any disposition, as long as the severity is not Fatal (that is, as long as the abuse or neglect was not the cause of death).

Either of the following:

  • A cause other than abuse or neglect.
  • There is not enough evidence to confirm abuse or neglect.

 

The child or perpetrator was or is involved with a DFPS investigation.

ABN

Abuse/Neglect In Open Case

RTB - Fatal

The child died due to abuse or neglect.

An unrelated investigation involving the child was open when a report of the child's death was received.

ABO

Abuse/Neglect In Closed Case

RTB - Fatal

The child died due to abuse or neglect.

Both of the following are true:

  • The deceased child was a victim in a prior investigation or the person responsible for the death (the designated perpetrator) was an alleged or confirmed perpetrator in a closed investigation conducted by CCI.
  • There was no open investigation involving the child when the report of the child’s death was received.

ABP

Abuse/Neglect and No Prior Case

RTB - Fatal

The child died due to abuse or neglect.

Both of the following are true:

  • The child and designated perpetrator have not been involved with a DFPS investigation.
  • There was no open investigation involving the child when the report of the child’s death was received.
6524.2 Assigning the Severity of Allegations When a Child Dies

CCI June 2021

If the investigator concludes that abuse or neglect caused or contributed to a child’s death, the investigator does as follows in IMPACT on the Allegation page:

  • Assigns the disposition as Reason to Believe.
  • Assigns the severity as Fatal.

If the investigator concludes that abuse or neglect has occurred but did not cause or contribute to the child’s death, the investigator does as follows in IMPACT on the Allegation page:

  • Assigns the disposition as Reason to Believe.
  • Assigns the severity as Mild, Moderate, or Serious (the investigator does not assign the severity as Fatal).
6524.3 Final Medical Examiner's Findings

CCI June 2021

After the death certificate or autopsy is received, the investigator updates the manner and cause of death, if needed, and does the following on the Fatality Information section on the Person Detail page in IMPACT:

  • Selects Final from the Findings drop-down menu.
  • Selects Received from the Death Certificate/Autopsy drop down menu.

The investigator enters a summary of the medical examiner’s findings in the text box Medical Examiner Findings in the Fatality Information section on the Person Detail page in IMPACT.

If the death certificate or autopsy is received after the investigation has been closed, the investigator documents the receipt in a closed stage addendum contact.

6524.4 Death Related to Restraints

CCI June 2021

If the child’s death was related to the use of restraints, the investigator chooses one of the following types of restraints located on the Types of Restraints section of the CCL Investigation Conclusion page in IMPACT:

  • Chemical Restraint
  • Emergency Medication
  • Mechanical Restraint
  • Personal Restraint
  • Seclusion

If the death was not related to restraints, the investigator checks No Restraints.

6524.5 When an Extension Is Needed for Autopsy Results or Criminal Investigation

CCI January 2021

If pending autopsy results or information pending from an active criminal investigation are necessary to reach a disposition for the allegations, the investigator requests an extension from the supervisor. The supervisor does the following:

  • Approves the extension request in IMPACT on the Approval Status – Approve Contacts/Summaries page.
  • Documents the reason for the extension in the Supervisor Extension Approval field in CLASS.

See 6611.1 Criteria for Requesting Additional Time to Complete the Investigation.

If the investigator and supervisor are able to reach a disposition while this information is pending, an extension is not needed. The finalized autopsy results or criminal investigation report are added to IMPACT in a closed stage addendum and uploaded to OneCase.

6525 Supervisory Approval of the Investigation of a Child's Death

CCI January 2021

When the investigator is ready to submit the case for approval in IMPACT, the investigator also does the following:

If CPI and CCI are both investigating the death of a child, the investigator must ensure that the information entered in in the Fatality Information section in IMPACT matches the information that is in CLASS by coordinating the following:

  • The handling of the investigation with the CPI worker.
  • The closure of the investigation in IMPACT with CPI staff.

Once the supervisor has approved the investigation in IMPACT, the supervisor must do both of the following:

  • Add an investigation review specialist as a secondary approver.
  • Send the secondary approver a copy of the Child Death Documentation Checklist.

The secondary approver then has five days to review and either approve or reject the investigation in IMPACT.

6525.1 Completing the Confirmed Child Death Report (Form 2899e) in CLASS

CCI June 2021

Upon receipt of a final autopsy report or a death certificate, the investigator does both of the following:

  • Updates the information about the child’s death on the Person Detail page in IMPACT.
  • Notifies the Complex Investigations Division (CID) by email.

CID staff complete the confirmed Child Death Report (Form 2899e) by doing the following:

  • Selects the Confirmed radio button.
  • Enters the case name of the IMPACT investigation.
  • Enters a summary of results of the investigation in the Brief Incident Summary narrative box.

The summary of the investigation includes the following:

  • The events leading up to the child’s death.
  • The cause of the child’s death.
  • The finding of the investigation.

6526 Release of Information for a Child Death or Near Fatality at a Residential Care Operation

CCI June 2021

Federal and state law includes specific information and instructions for DFPS about releasing to the public certain summary information about a child fatality. CCI must respond to the request according to the requirements of statute and rule.

Texas Family Code §261.203

6530 Investigation of a Child’s Near Fatality

CCI June 2021

Any time a child suffers a near fatality while in care, CCI investigates to determine whether abuse or neglect was a factor in the child’s near fatality.

When the investigation of a child’s near fatality occurs in a residential child care facility, the investigator must do the following:

  • Add the facility’s administrator as an alleged perpetrator of neglectful supervision.
  • Determine if there is a preponderance of evidence that the administrator engaged in a negligent act or omission that contributed to the near fatality.

If the treating physician is not a child abuse pediatrician, the investigator may request consultation with a Forensic Assessment Center Network (FACN) physician in order to do the following:

  • Assign a severity level of Near Fatal.
  • Determine whether the injury or medical condition was a result of abuse or neglect.

6531 Actions in the First 24 Hours

CCI June 2021

Within 24 hours of receiving an intake report indicating that a child suffered a near fatality while in care, the investigator does all of the following:

  • Ensures that the victim details are entered in IMPACT.
  • Notifies law enforcement.
  • Notifies the Complex Investigations Division.
  • Requests a joint investigation with the CPI Special Investigations division prior to initiating the investigation.
  • Evaluates the safety of the other children in care.

After notification from the investigator, the Complex Investigations Division conducts an assessment of the operation history.

See:

6143 CPI Special Investigators

6331 Evaluating the Need for a Safety Plan

6340 Risk Assessment of Regulatory History

6350 Notifications Made at Beginning of Investigation

6410 Initiating the Investigation

6532 Supervisory Approval of the Investigation of a Near Fatality

CCI June 2021

When the investigator is ready to submit the case for approval in IMPACT, the investigator also does the following:

If CPI and CCI are both investigating the death of a child, the investigator must ensure that the information entered in in the Fatality Information section in IMPACT matches the information that is in CLASS by coordinating the following:

  • The handling of the investigation with the CPI worker.
  • The closure of the investigation in IMPACT with CPI staff.

Once the supervisor has approved the investigation in IMPACT, the supervisor must do both of the following:

  • Add an investigation review specialist as a secondary approver.
  • Send the secondary approver a copy of the Child Death Documentation Checklist.

The secondary approver then has five days to review and either approve or reject the investigation in IMPACT.

6540 Investigations Involving Homes Regulated by a Private Child-Placing Agency (CPA)

6541 Investigations of Abuse or Neglect and Minimum Standards Violations in CPA and CPS Homes Conducted by Licensing

LPPH December 2012

Policy

Licensing investigates all allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation and all child deaths in agency homes verified or approved by child-placing agencies (CPAs), which includes homes regulated by private CPAs and CPS.

The investigation must include an inspection at the home where the alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation occurred.

Texas Family Code §261.401(b)

6541.1 Allegations and Incidents That Must Be Investigated by Licensing

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

Licensing staff investigate the following in CPA and CPS homes:

a.   Allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation as defined by the Texas Family Code

b.   The death of a child

c.   A verified foster home with a known history of response by law enforcement to a family violence call at the home

d.   Allegations involving the CPA staff

e.   Any reportable serious incident or any reported violation of a minimum standard involving a child under the age of 6, including:

  •  a minimum standard that is weighted as high, or that presents a high degree of risk; and

  •  any minimum standard regarding discipline, restraints, children’s rights, or supervision, or any combination of these deficiencies.

Texas Human Resources Code §42.044(2), (3)

6541.2 Allegations and Incidents That May Be Investigated by Licensing

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

Licensing staff may investigate the following in CPA and CPS homes:

a.   Incidents of restraint in which a child receives an injury that requires medical attention

b.   A pattern of repeated deficiencies in a home or number of homes that the CPA has not been able to correct

c.   Discipline that is considered cruel, harsh, or unusual, even if it does not meet the statutory definition for abuse

d.   Child-to-child behavior that results in harm to a child when one or all of the following occur:

1.   The foster or adoptive parents did not take steps to prevent the harm or they encouraged it.

2.   There is a significant difference in the sizes or developmental levels of the children.

3.   Force or coercion is used.

6541.3 History of Family Violence Calls

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

When Licensing staff receive a report regarding a verified foster home with a known history of response by law enforcement to a family violence call at the home, in addition to a review of the foster home record and background checks, the investigator reviews the forms below, if the incident occurred before the home’s verification:

  •  Form 2954 Disclosure of Any Family Violence Calls to a Prospective Foster Home Applicant’s Place of Residence

  •  Form 2946 Local Law Enforcement Background Check Results for Prospective Foster Parents

Texas Human Resources Code §42.0448

6542 Investigations of Minimum Standards Violations Conducted by CPAs or CPS

LPPH December 2012

Policy

At Licensing’s request, the child-placing agency (CPA) investigates reports of violations of minimum standards in the CPA’s homes.

While the allegations of the report reflect possible violations of minimum standards by the home, the report also reflects possible violations of minimum standards by the CPA; therefore, the CPA investigates the allegations concerning the home, and Licensing staff conduct the investigation regarding allegations involving the CPA.

The investigation by the CPA must be completed, approved, and submitted by the CPA’s child placement management staff (CPMS) within 30 days of being assigned the investigation. The CPA must submit the report of the CPA’s investigation activities and findings to Licensing for review, follow-up (if appropriate), and closure.

  •  Private CPAs send the report to the inspector.

  •  CPS documents the report in the IMPACT system and places an approval task in the To-Do list in the inspector’s workload. The inspector reviews and approves the report in IMPACT and enters the information into the CLASS system.

Any false information concerning the investigation may be reason for imposing corrective or adverse action on the CPA.

6542.1 Receiving and Assigning the Report

LPPH June 2014

Procedure

Within five days of receiving an intake report that is to be assigned to a CPA for an internal investigation, the inspector initiates the investigation by contacting the CPA to notify the CPA of the assignment. The inspector may suggest the use of Form 2906 CPA Internal Investigation Report, also available on the forms page in the Child Care Licensing section of the DFPS Internet.

6542.2 CPA Responsibilities

LPPH December 2012

Procedure

The investigation is the responsibility of the child-placing agency.

The CPA’s child placement management staff (CPMS) must:

  •  conduct or review and sign-off on investigations completed by the CPA; and

  •  submit an investigation report to the inspector within 30 days of being notified of the investigation.

DFPS Rules, TAC 26 §749.101

6542.3 Licensing Responsibilities

LPPH March 2017

Procedure

The inspector reviews the report for compliance with minimum standards and makes one of the following decisions:

a.  Accepts the report as complete

b.  Returns the investigation to the CPA if the inspector determines that the investigation is not thorough and includes specific instructions and timelines for the CPA to complete the documentation and return the report

c.  Seeks supervisory approval to reclassify the investigation as a Priority 4 (see 6542.4 Reclassifying an Investigation of an Agency Home as a Priority 4)

If the report is accepted, the inspector also:

a.  cites the CPA if the CPA overlooked a deficiency, failed to address a complaint in the investigation, or identifies patterns of violations in the home.

b.  documents the investigation in CLASS according to the policies outlined in 6542.5 Documentation of Investigations by Child-Placing Agencies;

c.  notifies the CPA about the results of the investigation using the CLASS Investigation Letter (see 6700 Documenting the Investigation); and

d.  recommends to his or her supervisor if enforcement action should be taken against the CPA.

6542.4 Reclassifying an Investigation of an Agency Home as a Priority 4

LPPH June 2014

Licensing staff may seek supervisory approval to change a Priority 5 – CPA Internal Investigation to a Priority 4 – CPA Internal Investigation to complete the investigation and conduct an inspection under the following circumstances:

a.   Licensing staff determines that the report received is incomplete or unsatisfactory

b.   The information in the report indicates there is elevated risk

c.   The CPA fails to provide the report within 30 days of being notified of the investigation

Before changing the priority from a Priority 5 to a Priority 4, staff must complete the fields in the Report/Response Action section on the Investigation Conclusion page as described in 6542.5 Documentation of Investigations Conducted by Child-Placing Agencies.

Licensing staff completes an investigation assigned a Priority 4 according to the policy and procedures outlined elsewhere in policy.

See:

6222.3 Selecting the Priority of an Investigation in CLASS

6431.3 Inspection Time Frame for Priority 4 Investigations

6542.5 Documentation of Investigations by Child-Placing Agencies

LPPH June 2014

The investigator documents the following information in CLASS for an investigation assigned to a child-placing agency (CPA) to complete, whether the investigation is completed by the CPA or is completed by Licensing staff as a Priority 4 investigation:

a.   Initiation information is documented in the Initiation of Investigation section on the Investigation Conclusion page as follows:

  •  The date the CPA was notified of the investigation is documented in the Date Initiated field.

  •  The 30-day due date the CPA has to send the completed investigation report is documented in the narrative box.

b.   All communication with the CPA or other persons involved in the investigation are documented on the Contact List.

c.   After receiving the CPA’s report, a summary of the CPA’s investigation, including any deficiencies the CPA cited on the home, is documented as a contact on the Contact List

d.   Information about the CPA’s report is documented in the Report/Response Action section on the Investigation Conclusion page as follows:

1.   The date the report is received is documented in the Report/Response Received field.

2.   Accepted or Rejected is selected from the Final Action dropdown menu.

  •  A response is Accepted if the CPA's documentation is satisfactory and an inspection is not necessary.

  •  A response is Rejected if the CPA's documentation is unsatisfactory and an inspection by Licensing is necessary. If the response is Rejected, the investigation must be changed from a Priority 5 to a Priority 4 before conducting an investigation inspection.

3.   The date the action is taken is documented in the Action Date field.

e.   Information about the conclusion of the investigation, including the following information, is documented in the Investigation Findings section:

1.   Explanation of the Disposition Based on Preponderance

2.   Recommended Action

3.   Notifications dates

4.   Completion and closure dates

The Explanation of the Disposition Based on Preponderance statement includes information about:

a.   the timeliness of the investigation conducted by the CPA;

b.   the thoroughness of the investigation conducted by the CPA;

c.   the risk to children found as a result of the CPA’s investigation; and

d.   any citations issued as a result of the investigation.

For investigation procedures, see 6540 Investigations Involving Homes Regulated by CPS or a Private Child-Placing Agency (CPA).

6543 Agencies Responsible for Investigations in CPA and CPS Homes

LPPH March 2017

Policy

Reports alleging abuse, neglect, or exploitation in child placing agencies or agency homes are handled according to the chart below.

Procedure

Regardless of who conducts this investigation, residential licensing staff must obtain a copy of the investigation report and determine what, if any, violations should be cited and what, if any, enforcement action should be taken against the child placing agency.

The following chart shows which investigating agency to refer a report of abuse or neglect of a child depending on whether or not the child is in the care of a CPA or CPS home and the relationship of the alleged perpetrator to the child. A child living in the verified foster home of a relative or fictive kin is considered "in the care of an operation."

In the chart below, the term adoptive refers to an adoption that is not consummated.

 

If the alleged victim is:

And the alleged perpetrator is:

Refer to:

A child who is not in care

A foster or adoptive parent living in the foster or adoptive home

  •   CPS, if the alleged victim is a minor who is a relative;

  •   law enforcement, if the alleged victim is another adult; or

  •   APS, if the alleged victim is an adult age 65 or older or an adult with a disability.
Licensing investigates possible standards violations and assesses the risk to children in care.

A child in care

A foster or adoptive parent

Licensing

A child in care

Someone living outside the foster or adoptive home (such as a neighbor)

Law enforcement

A child in care

An adult living in the foster or adoptive home other than the foster or adoptive parent

Licensing

A child who is not in care

An adult living in the foster or adoptive home other than the foster or adoptive parent

  •   CPS investigates the allegations and law enforcement is notified.

  •   Licensing investigates possible standards violations and assesses the risk to the children in care.

A child in care

A foster or adoptive parent who is related to that foster or adoptive child

Licensing

See 6270 Referring a Report of Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation for Investigation When New Allegations Are Received During an Investigation.

6550 Investigations of Matches to the Database of Sex Offenders

LPPH June 2016

Policy

Each director develops a plan to ensure that the sex offender batch report (located under the CLASS Tools tab) that runs every Tuesday and Thursday is checked at least weekly to determine if there are sex offenders identified as a Match Level 1 in his or her region.

A Match Level 1 is considered an exact match; that is, the sex offender’s address matches the address of a regulated operation.

The exception to these procedures is when a child in care is a registered sex offender. No investigation is conducted under these circumstances.

6551 Investigating the Match When the Sex Offender’s Offense is Against a Child

LPPH June 2016

Procedures

When the batch report review reveals that a person on the report has an address that matches the address of an operation or home, and the victim was a child, Licensing staff must investigate the information as Priority 2 (P2) abuse or neglect and:

a.  call the worker line for SWI support staff;

b.  request that SWI enter the information in the IMPACT case management system as an intake report for abuse or neglect; and

c.  request that SWI enter the report as neglectful supervision by the caregiver (alleged perpetrator).

The intake will automatically transfer from the intake report in IMPACT to the intake report in CLASS. In CLASS, the investigator:

  •  selects the Endangering Person allegation type; and

  •  follows procedures for a P2 abuse or neglect investigation.

6552 Investigating the Match When the Sex Offender’s Offense is Against an Adult

LPPH June 2016

Procedures

When the batch report review reveals that a person on the report has an address that matches the address of an operation or home, and their victim was an adult, Licensing staff must investigate the information as Priority 2 (P2) non-abuse or neglect and:

a.  create an intake report in CLASS;

b.  select the Reporter Anonymous checkbox on the Reporter Information page (no other reporter information may be entered for reports based on the sex offender batch report);

c.  prioritize the intake report as a Priority 2 – Serious safety or health hazard;

d.  select the Endangering Person allegation type; and

e.  follow procedures for a Priority 2 non-abuse or neglect investigation.

If through the course of an investigation it is confirmed that a listed sex offender resides in the operation, has a relationship with the provider, and has contact with children in care, then the permit holder must have the sex offender relocate to a new address and ensure the sex offender has no contact with the operation while children are in care. If the permit holder is unable or unwilling to remove the sex offender from the operation, the permit of the operation must be revoked or denied.

See also:

6222.2 Classifying an Intake Report as a Priority 2 Investigation

6400 Conducting the Investigation

6560 Investigations of Illegal Operations

6561 Conducting Searches

LPPH June 2014

Upon receiving information of a possible illegal operation, and before assigning a priority (including a report received through SWI regarding an alleged illegal operation), the investigator searches the following databases in the order listed using a variety of parameters, including name, address, and telephone number:

a.   CLASS, to determine whether the operation has a permit or has previously been reported to be operating illegally, or if anyone associated with the operation has a background check

b.   IMPACT, to determine whether any person associated with the operation is a designated or sustained perpetrator

c.   The DPS sex offender registry, to determine whether the operation’s address is an exact match to an address listed on the registry or whether any person associated with the operation is listed in the registry

If only a phone number is known, staff should first conduct a reverse telephone number search on a free, publicly available website to obtain further identifying information.

For illegal day care operations, the investigator initiates an Accurint search in accordance with district procedures if no information is available through use of the search methods listed above. Additionally, with approval by the director or manager, the Family Inquiry Network / Database Search System (FINDRS) may be accessed to obtain additional information on a limited basis.

Staff are not required to complete all searches before assigning a priority if it would interfere with initiation time frame requirements.

6562 Prioritizing Investigations of Illegal Operations

6562.1 Day Care Operations Providing Care Illegally With No Other Allegations

LPPH June 2014

Licensing staff must classify reports of day care operations as a Priority 5 when it is reported that:

a.   a day care program that does not have a permit is providing care to a child;

b.   the operation may be subject to regulation; and

c.   there are no allegations that children are unsafe or at risk of being harmed.

If the provider fails to contact Licensing in response to Licensing’s attempts to contact them, and Licensing staff has enough information to be able to conduct an inspection, the staff changes the priority to a Priority 4 and conducts an inspection.

See 6431.3 Inspection Time Frame for Priority 4 Investigations.

6562.2 Residential Operations Providing Care Illegally With No Other Allegations

LPPH June 2014

Licensing staff must classify reports of residential care operations as a Priority 3 when it’s reported that:

a.   care is being provided to children by a residential operation that does not have a permit;

b.   the operation may be subject to regulation; and

c.   there are no allegations that children are unsafe or at risk of being harmed.

6562.3 When to Prioritize a Report of an Illegal Operation as a Priority 1 or Priority 2 (Day Care and Residential)

LPPH June 2014

Licensing staff must classify reports (including self-reports) of illegal operations as Priority 2 using the most appropriate priority description outlined in 6222.3 Selecting the Priority of an Intake Report in CLASS when there is:

a.   an allegation that children are unsafe or at risk of being harmed;

b.   a criminal history result on a household member that requires a risk assessment or for that household member to be barred from the operation;

c.   a household member is a designated or sustained perpetrator of abuse or neglect of a child;

d.   a search of the sex offender registry indicates an exact match;

e.   a home that has a previous history of operating illegally;

f.    a home that was previously listed, licensed, or registered and closed voluntarily or by adverse action; or

g.   a home that is caring for more than 12 unrelated and related children.

Licensing staff must classify reports (including self-reports) of illegal operations as Priority 1 using the most appropriate priority description outlined in 6222.3 Selecting the Priority of an Intake Report in CLASS if the report concerns an immediate threat to the health or safety of a child in care.

A non-abuse or neglect intake report that is classified as a P1 includes, but is not limited to, reports concerning:

  •  structural damage to the home or operation that makes the home or operation uninhabitable; or

  •  the presence of unsafe or hazardous equipment or materials.

If there are allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, or if a child dies, see 6222 Assessing an Intake Report for Priority.

6563 Initiating the Investigation of an Illegal Operation

LPPH June 2014

Procedure

For all investigations of alleged illegal operations assigned a Priority 1, 2, or 3, the investigator must initiate the investigation according the policies outlined in 6410 Initiating the Investigation.

Within five days of the receipt of the intake report, the investigator initiates an investigation assigned a Priority 5 by notifying the alleged provider that the operation may be subject to regulation in one of the following ways:

a.   Calling the provider

b.   Sending CLASS Form 2826 Illegal Operations Notification Letter via regular mail or email (if only the email address is known)

6564 Conducting the Investigation of an Illegal Operation

LPPH June 2014

Policy

The purpose of the investigation is to obtain information to determine whether the operation is subject to regulation and determines whether any obvious hazards are present.

If the investigator determines that the operation is subject to regulation, the investigator:

a.   assesses the safety of children in care. If any child appears to be at immediate risk of harm at any point in the investigation, the investigator consults with the supervisor to determine the appropriate course of action to ensure the safety of the children. This may include closure of the operation;

b.   provides the appropriate application to the operation if the operation wishes to continue operating; and

c.   conducts an inspection to ensure closure of the operation if the provider fails to submit the application within the required time frame. Staff must obtain supervisory approval if no inspection is conducted.

If the investigator believes that the operation may be exempt from regulation, the investigator may ask the operation to complete an Exemption Request Form. This form should be submitted to Licensing no later than five days after the investigation inspection.

6564.1 Conducting the Investigation of an Illegal Operation When An Address Is Known (Priority 5 Investigations)

LPPH June 2014

Procedure

If the address of the operation is known, the investigator initiates the investigation based upon the priority as outlined in 6563 Initiating the Investigation of an Illegal Operation.

If the investigation is prioritized as a Priority 5, the investigator may initiate the investigation by mailing CLASS Form 2826 Illegal Operations Notification Letter to the operation requesting that the provider contact the investigator by the date listed on the letter (eight days from the date the letter is generated).

Provider Fails to Contact Investigator Within the Required Time Frame (Priority 5 Investigations)

If the investigation is prioritized as Priority 5, and the provider fails to contact the investigator by the date listed on the notification letter, the investigator:

a.   changes the priority to a Priority 4;

b.   conducts an inspection of the operation as soon as possible but no later than 30 days after receipt of intake to determine whether the operation is subject to regulation;

c.   provides the appropriate application to the operation if the operation is subject to regulation and wishes to continue operating;

d.   requests that the provider submit the appropriate application or exemption request form within five days of the date of inspection; and

e.   follows up within 15 days of the date the application was provided if the application has not been submitted and ensure that the operation is either closed or an application is obtained.

Provider Contacts the Investigator Within the Required Time Frame (Priority 5 Investigations)

If the operation contacts the investigator within the required time frame, as requested, the investigator advises the operation of the legal requirements for licensing and determines if the operation is subject to regulation.

If the investigator determines that the operation is not subject to regulation, the investigator closes the investigation and the illegal operation with a finding of compliance for the allegation.

If the investigator determines that the operation is subject to regulation, the investigator:

a.   mails the operation Form 2865 Illegal Operation Application Cover Letter with the application attached, or provides the link for electronic submission of an application;

b.   advises the operation that the application or exemption request form must be submitted within five days of receipt of the application or submitted electronically within five days from the date of contact;

c    changes the priority to a Priority 4 and inspects the operation as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days after the date of the intake if there is no response to the letter,

d.   obtains the application or ensures the operation has ceased operating.

The investigator documents all contacts according the policies listed under 6723 Contact List.

If the investigator determines that an inspection is required, the investigator changes the priority to a Priority 4 as soon as possible during the investigation.

6564.2 Conducting Investigations of an Illegal Operation When Only a Phone Number Is Known (Priority 5 Investigations)

LPPH June 2014

Procedure

When a search conducted under 6561 Conducting Searches reveals only a telephone number for an alleged illegal operation, the investigator initiates the investigation by attempting to contact the provider by phone within five days of receipt of the intake and conducts the investigation in the following manner:

a.   If the investigator is unable to make contact with the provider, the investigator must attempt at least two more phone contacts during varying times and days within the first 15 days of receipt of the intake. If the investigator is unable to make contact after three attempts, the investigator consults with the supervisor for further instructions.

b.   If the phone number is not in service, the investigation should be closed.

c.   When phone contact is successful, the investigator takes the following actions:

1.   If possible, the investigator obtains the address and name of the provider.

2.   The investigator staffs with the supervisor if the provider is not cooperative in providing information.

3.   The investigator makes a determination, based upon information from the provider, whether the operation is subject to regulation.

4.   If the operation is not subject to regulation, the investigator closes the investigation and operation in CLASS.

5.   If the operation is subject to regulation, the investigator sends the operation Form 2865 Illegal Operation Application Cover Letter, with the application attached, and advises the provider to return the application within five days.

6.   If the application or written notification of closure is not submitted and the address is known, the investigator changes the priority to a Priority 4 and inspects the operation as soon as possible but no later than 30 days after the date of intake. During the inspection the investigator either obtains the application or exemption request form or ensures closure of the operation.

The investigator documents all contacts and attempted contacts in the investigation chronology according the policies listed under 6723 Contact List.

See 6567 Procedures When an Illegal Operation Is Determined to Be Not Subject to Regulation.

6564.3 Conducting Investigations When Only an Email Address Is Known (Priority 5 Investigations)

LPPH June 2014

When a search conducted under 6561 Conducting Searches reveals only an e-mail address for an alleged illegal operation, the investigator initiates the investigation by emailing the provider within five days of receipt of the intake and conducts the investigation in the following manner:

a.   The investigator copies and Form 2826 Illegal Operation Notification Letter into the body of an email and sends it to the operation.

b.   If the email is returned as undeliverable then the investigation is closed.

c.   The investigator attempts to contact the operation three times within 15 days of the intake. If there is no response after that time, the investigator consults with the supervisor for further instructions.

d.   When email contact is successful, the investigator takes the following actions:

1.   If possible, the investigator obtains the address and name of the provider.

2.   The investigator staffs with the supervisor if the provider is not cooperative in providing information.

3.   The investigator makes a determination, based upon information from the provider, whether the operation is subject to regulation.

4.   If the operation is not subject to regulation, the investigator closes the investigation and operation in CLASS.

5.   If the operation is subject to regulation, the investigator sends the operation Form 2865 Illegal Operation Application Cover Letter, with the application attached, and advises the provider to return the application within five days.

6.   If the operation does not submit the exemption request form or written notification of closure, and the address is known, the investigator changes the priority to a Priority 4 and inspects the operation as soon as possible but no later than 30 days after the date of intake. During the inspection the investigator either obtains the application or ensures closure of the operation.

The investigator documents all contacts according the policies listed under 6723 Contact List.

See 6567 Procedures When an Illegal Operation Is Determined to Be Not Subject to Regulation.

6565 Obtaining Consent to Enter an Illegal Operation

LPPH December 2013

Policy

Licensing staff must receive consent to enter from a person legally authorized to grant it before entering an establishment to investigate allegations of:

  •  the existence of an illegal operation; or

  •  abuse or neglect in an illegal setting.

Procedure

The investigator must obtain consent to enter the operation in writing using Form 2895 Request to Enter.

If a provider refuses to allow an inspection or investigation of an operation that is subject to regulation, the investigator reminds the provider that a citation may be issued for failure to follow statute or administrative rules.

If the provider refuses to allow the investigator to enter, the investigator continues with other investigation activities to gain as much information as possible to determine the status of the illegal operation. This includes:

a.   observing the outside environment of the establishment;

b.   conducting surveillance of the establishment;

c.   talking to parents who may be dropping off or picking up children;

d.   interviewing neighbors; and

e.   interviewing other collateral contacts that may have information, such as law enforcement.

6565.1 Obtaining a Court Order to Gain Access

LPPH October 2013

Seeking a court order may be necessary to gain physical access to the operation.

Licensing may need to seek a court order to gain entry if other information discovered indicates that children are at risk for harm.

Licensing staff work with the Licensing attorney in DFPS Legal Services when a court order is necessary to interview a child or to gain access to an operation. Licensing staff also include the local district attorney’s office in this process.

See 6421.2 Observing and Interviewing a Child Related to a Child Care Provider.

6566 Requesting an Illegal Operation to Cease Operating

LPPH December 2013

Policy

If the investigator determines that the illegal operation poses an immediate risk to the health or safety of children, the investigator must ask the operation to cease operating immediately until the operation can obtain the appropriate permit. If the operation agrees to cease operating, the investigator contacts the parents or has the provider contact the parents to pick up the children immediately.

Circumstances that may require an illegal operation to cease operating include, but are not limited to, the following:

a.   The number and ages of children in care exceeds the abilities of the provider to provide appropriate care and supervision

b.   The physical environment poses a risk to the health or safety of children

c.   The provider or household member has a criminal, central registry, or sex offender match

d.   There are allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation

e.   The operation has indicated it is unwilling to submit an application for a childcare permit

Procedure

If the determination is made that an illegal operation should cease operating, the investigator follows the procedure outlined in 6332.4 Requesting That an Operation Cease Operating (Day Care Only).

6567 Determining Whether an Unregulated Operation Is Subject to Regulation

CCI August 2020

If a report is received regarding an alleged unregulated operation, the investigator first determines whether the operation is subject to regulation.

The investigator may review the Child Care Licensing Policy and Procedure Handbook, consult with the local Child Care Licensing office, or both, to determine whether an operation is subject to regulation. In the Child Care Licensing Policy and Procedure Handbook, see:

1140 Operations and Activities Regulated by Licensing

Child Care Regulation Handbook

If the Operation Is Subject to Regulation

The investigator transfers the unregulated operation in CLASS to the CCL inspector within one business day. CCL will determine any necessary citation or other regulation action while the abuse, neglect, or exploitation investigation is ongoing.

The investigator continues conducting the investigation as usual. The investigator does not transfer the investigation to the CCL inspector until the investigation’s closure in IMPACT. See 6400 Conducting the Investigation.

If the Operation Is Not Subject to Regulation

The investigator notifies law enforcement, CPI, or another agency with regulatory responsibility and administratively closes the investigation in IMPACT and CLASS.

If an abuse, neglect, or exploitation intake report is received for an operation that is exempt from regulation by CCL because it is subject to regulation by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), the intake or investigation is administratively closed. CCI staff must send the Intake Report and the Notification to Law Enforcement Report generated in IMPACT to the DSHS general counsel’s office by email.

In IMPACT, the investigator does the following:

  • Enters Administrative Closure for each allegation.
  • Submits the investigation to the supervisor for closure.

In CLASS, the investigator does the following:

  • Documents the reason for closure in the Explanation of the Disposition field on the Investigation Conclusion page.
  • Documents all contacts.
  • Documents the recommended action as No action.
  • Closes the investigation.

6568 Risk Based Follow-Up Actions for Illegal Operations

LPPH October 2017

Policy

After Licensing staff or a DFPS investigator completes the investigation, but before Licensing staff closes the operation in CLASS, Licensing staff must complete the risk-factor survey to determine whether to take any follow-up actions based on risk factors found during the investigation.

For more information on Risk-Based Follow-Up Actions for Illegal Operations, see FAQs for Risk Based Follow-Up Actions for Illegal Operations.

6568.1 Completing the Risk Factor Survey

LPPH October 2017

Procedures

Licensing staff completes the risk-factor survey five days after completing the investigation to allow time for the operation to submit an application. In the risk-factor survey Licensing staff indicates whether any of the following risk factors were identified during the investigation:

a.   Licensing staff had previously cited the operation for operating without a permit.

b.   The DFPS investigator determined that the operation abused, neglected, or exploited a child in the current or a previous investigation.

c.   Licensing staff or the DFPS investigator identified safe-sleep concerns.

d.   The operation was caring for more children than allowed by the type of permit the operation applied for, including any restrictions related to capacity that Licensing placed on the permit.

e.   The operation did not submit an application or follow through with obtaining a permit.

f.    The operation was providing care, but not long enough to be considered subject to regulation.

If Licensing staff determines one or more risk factors are present in an illegal operation, Licensing staff leaves the operation open in CLASS until he or she conducts an appropriate follow-up action.

If the Licensing staff does not identify any risk factors in the survey, the Licensing staff may close the operation in CLASS.

6568.2 Follow-Up Actions

LPPH October 2017

Risk Factors That Require a Follow-Up Inspection

If Licensing staff identified any risk factor during the investigation, he or she creates a manual To-Do in CLASS to conduct a follow-up inspection within three months after the date the investigation was completed.

If Licensing staff determines that Licensing has previously cited the operation for operating illegally, he or she also creates a manual To-Do to conduct a second follow-up inspection within six months after the date the investigation was completed.

6568.3 Action to Take After the Follow-Up

LPPH October 2017

Licensing staff takes appropriate action, based on what he or she finds during the follow-up inspection:

If Licensing staff …

Then Licensing staff …

Determines that the operation is no longer providing care that is subject to regulation or advertising child care services

Closes the operation in CLASS

Determines that the operation is providing care that is subject to regulation

Opens a new investigation with an assigned Priority 2: Serious safety or health hazard and cites the operation for operating illegally in the new investigation

Cannot determine if the operation is providing care that is subject to regulation

Opens a new investigation with an assigned Priority 2: Serious safety or health hazard and determines whether to cite the operation for operating illegally in the new investigation

Determines that the operation is exceeding the capacity allowed on the permit

Cites the operation for exceeding capacity and discusses further follow-up actions with a supervisor

6570 Allegations That Merit Administrative Closure

CCI October 2020

An investigator may assign the Administrative Closure disposition to an individual allegation or to all allegations in an investigation.

Individual Allegation

The investigator assigns the Administrative Closure disposition to an individual allegation when the investigation reveals that there are no grounds for CCI to continue investigating that allegation.

Examples of this situation include the following:

  • A person was included in the intake mistakenly.
  • A person was named as an alleged perpetrator but does not meet the definition for a person considered responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare in a child care operation.
  • CCI does not have the authority to investigate the individual allegation.

Texas Family Code §261.001(5)(F)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.783

All Allegations

The investigator assigns the Administrative Closure disposition to all the allegations when any of the following criteria are met:

  • The information gathered by the investigator reveals that another DFPS division, another state agency, or law enforcement has investigative jurisdiction.
  • The information gathered by the investigator reveals that all the allegations have already been investigated in a closed CCI investigation, and there are no new allegations.
  • There is insufficient information available to identify the alleged victims, the alleged perpetrators, and the child care operation, and there is no principal or collateral who can provide this information.

When all allegations are assigned a disposition of Administrative Closure, the investigator follows procedures for submitting the investigation for administrative closure (see 6571 Investigator Responsibilities When Recommending an Administrative Closure).

6571 Investigator Responsibilities When Recommending an Administrative Closure

CCI October 2020

Before submitting the investigation to a supervisor, the investigator must document all contacts, case actions, and supervisor consultations as required in 6700 Documenting the Investigation and 6810 Submitting an Investigation.

The documentation must include the reason an Administrative Closure disposition is appropriate, including all supporting information gathered.

On the Allegation Detail page for each allegation, the investigator selects Admin Closure from the Disposition drop-down menu.

6572 Supervisor and Program Administrator Responsibilities When Approving an Administrative Closure

CCI October 2020

If the supervisor agrees that the investigation merits administrative closure, the supervisor reviews the investigation documentation for completion, as described in 6820 Reviewing an Investigation (this also applies to exploitation investigations). On the Licensing Investigation Conclusion page in IMPACT, the supervisor ensures the selected Overall Disposition is Admin Closure.

The supervisor consults with the program administrator for approval to administratively close the investigation. If approved, the program administrator documents the approval in a contact narrative before the supervisor closes the Investigation stage in IMPACT.

See also 6840 After an Investigation Is Approved (also applies to exploitation investigations).

 

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