The Texas Department of [Family and Protective Services (DFPS)] retains Child Protective Services case information after case closure in order to document services provided to clients, and to meet state and federal accountability requirements. When the retention period has elapsed, [DFPS] permanently removes the case information from the Child and Adult Protective Services System (CAPS) database and destroys the paper case record in a manner that does not jeopardize confidentiality. Case information to be destroyed does not include that given to the criminal justice system for its use in investigation and prosecution, such as a videotape of a child's outcry. Such information given to the criminal justice system is subject to destruction according to that system's guidelines.
Information in CAPS on persons who are principals or collaterals is retained until the last case in which the person is a member is removed from CAPS and then all the information on the person is also removed.
The CAPS system classifies cases for retention and destruction purposes according to the criteria in this section at the time the cases are closed. If a closed case on a family is reopened for subsequent action by [DFPS], such as another intake, investigation, services, or a casework-related special request, staff merge the open and closed cases into one. Staff may also merge cases while both are closed or open. When the merged case is closed it is reclassified and retained for the length of the reclassified retention period. Reclassification is based on the contents of the entire merged case or related cases and the case(s) is given the retention classification highest in the hierarchy.
[Extensions before destruction.] [DFPS] may extend the retention period for a case for any of the following purposes:
• If an activity such as a fiscal or program audit, release notice or hearing, fair hearing, lawsuit or appeal involving the case is in process, staff may extend the retention. The case information is retained as long as required by the auditor, administrative law judge, or attorney representing [DFPS].
• If a person is in more than one case, but the cases are not merged, the CAPS system relates the cases to the person. When the related cases are closed, staff may extend the retention of each of the related cases when necessary to assess risk of abuse/neglect of children and when it is necessary to retain the case information on-line. When it is not necessary to retain the information on-line, staff include the information in the paper case record.
• The regional director or the director of [DFPS's Child Protective] Services or either's designee must approve the extension of the retention period for a case. The retention period may be extended as long as needed. The reason for the longer retention and the approval must be documented on the records retention window in CAPS.
DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.106
When the case is closed, it is not necessary for staff to print out the case information maintained in CAPS to file in the paper case record. However, staff must ensure that case information, forms, and documents in an electronic file (including e-mail) other than CAPS have been printed and filed in the paper case record by the time the case is closed and then is deleted from the CAPS electronic file. The closed paper case record consists of documents filed in it during the life of the open or closed case and any associated memorabilia.
Staff also must file in the closed paper case record any case control or cross reference cards completed on the case, which are to be kept for the life of the case. Note: These cards will be very important to indexing these cases until the records are destroyed. Also, cards on conservatorship cases are the only alpha index to the microfilmed record.
Two windows in CAPS assist staff in managing closed paper case records. Staff who are responsible for entering information into these windows must have a specific security attribute to access and enter data into them.
The Case File Management window is used to document the location of the closed case record. When the case is closed, this window indicates that the record is in the office of the former primary worker. If it is not, the DFPS person receiving the closed paper case record updates the location information on this window. If the record is sent to the Records Center or other non-DFPS location, staff who send the record to the new location are responsible for updating the location information on this window to indicate its intended destination.
The Case File Management window may also be used to record records storage dates and access codes and microfilm roll and frame numbers and memorabilia information, when needed by staff to manage these kinds of storage of paper records.
The Records Retention window is used to extend the retention period for client or foster/adoptive home cases when the extension is approved as indicated in the above rule or in Item 1475.1 (for foster/adoptive home cases).
The method of destruction of the paper record must not jeopardize the confidentiality of client information. Acceptable methods of destruction include:
• burning, and
Staff must not retain personal files or records relating to the destroyed material.
Cross-reference: For more information about DFPS's policies for destroying records, see the Management Services Handbook, Section 4, Records and Information.
Items 1471 through 1477 establish a hierarchy of and describe retention requirements for different types of closed CPS case records. Items 1471 through 1473 involve abuse/neglect case information. Also, see Appendix 1470 for the CPS records retention schedule for case records in paper or microfilm format.
The Texas Department of [Family and Protective Services (DFPS)] must retain permanently the case information of a child, including the case information about the child's family, who has been in DFPS's managing conservatorship or DFPS's foster care program under any statutory authority, including when the child's adoption has been consummated (including the home study for the adoptive family, case information about the supervision of the placement and foster care, and adoption assistance information).
DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.107
"Conservatorship (CVS)" is the retention classification for conservatorship or foster care paper records. In CAPS, the retention case type for these cases is "Temp Subcare, Family Reunification, Long Term Subcare (CVS)." See Item 1475 and Item 1476 for retention classifications of "Adoption Home-Consummated" that are to be used once an adoption has been consummated.
Foster care eligibility financial records and related materials (ledgers, vouchers, trust fund documents, etc.) must be consolidated into the CVS paper case record when it is closed and maintained permanently.
The paper portion of each CVS record is retained in the region for three years after closure. After three years, the record is microfilmed by the region. Regional or microfilming staff must check the microfilm copy for quality and completeness. The microfilm copy then becomes the permanent record, and staff may destroy the paper copy of the record. Note: Staff must save original material that is not suitable for microfilming, such as photographs, original birth certificates, memorabilia, and letters to the child. Staff identify the material by case name and retain it with the microfilm copy of the paper record.
Family preservation case information is the documentation of a case in which the Texas Department of [Family and Protective Services (DFPS)] provided ongoing protective services in the child's home, but [DFPS] was not the managing conservator of the child and the child was never in foster care under any legal basis.
[DFPS] must retain ongoing services case information for at least five years after the case is closed or until the 18th birthday of the youngest child living in the home when services were provided, whichever is longer. The case information must then be destroyed.
DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.108
"Ongoing Protective Services (OPS)" is the retention case type for closed family preservation cases in CAPS, and staff use this retention classification for the paper portion of these type records.
Three years after closure, regional staff may send the paper portion of the case record to the DFPS Records Center.