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2150 The Role of CPS in Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

State law requires DFPS to maintain a flexible response system. The system requires DFPS to screen all reports of abuse and neglect and assign a lower priority to less serious cases. Prioritizing reports better enables DFPS to investigate the most serious cases of abuse and neglect.

DFPS is authorized to determine, after contacting a professional or other credible source, whether a child’s safety can be assured without further investigation.

A case is considered to be less serious if the circumstances of the case do not indicate an immediate risk of abuse or neglect that could result in the death of or serious harm to the child.

Texas Family Code §261.3015

A CPS supervisor or investigation screener must review:

  •  every Priority 1 report;

  •  every Priority 2 report; and

  •  every Priority None (PN) report that requires CPS review (see the Priority None section of 2144 The Role of SWI in Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect).

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

CPS August 2009

Review the Report

CPS supervisors review the following reports of abuse or neglect:

  •  A Priority 1 (P1) report, as assigned by the DFPS Statewide Intake Division (SWI)

  •  A Priority 2 (P2) report, as assigned by SWI, and the alleged victim is age 5 years old or younger

  •  A new report on an open case.

To complete the review, the supervisor:

  •  approves or changes the initial priority assigned to the report;

  •  approves or changes the action recommended for the report; and

  •  records the changes in the Intake stage in the IMPACT case management system.

Document the Report in IMPACT

After reviewing a report of abuse or neglect referred by the DFPS Statewide Intake Division (SWI), the CPS supervisor enters the following:

  •  The supervisor's contacts with reliable sources; and

  •  The supervisor's reasons for changing the priority assigned or action recommended by SWI, when applicable

When documenting a review in IMPACT, (the supervisor does not use Formal Screening as the Purpose code of Formal Screening on the Contact Detail page).

When Closing the Report Without Investigation

When a CPS supervisor recommends closing a report of abuse or neglect without investigation, the following policies apply:

2154 Notifying the Reporter When a Report Is Closed

2156 Closing Reports of Abuse and Neglect Without Assignment for Investigation

2156.1 Reports of Abuse and Neglect That Require Supervisory Closure

Time Frame for Initiating an Investigation

The timeframes cannot be extended. The supervisor must screen the report quickly enough to allow the worker to respond within the required timeframes.

2152 Contacting Collateral Sources About Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

A CPS supervisor or an investigation screener may need to make additional contacts to determine whether an investigation is needed.

The contact must be with a reliable collateral or a principal source who can provide new and relevant information about the allegations and the safety of the child. A collateral source could be a relative, teacher, neighbor, family doctor. The principal source may not be an alleged victim or perpetrator.

2153 Formally Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect (The Role of the Investigation Screener)

CPS August 2009

The purpose of the formal screening of reports is to ensure that CPS investigates only the cases that appear to meet the guidelines for investigation.

All reports meeting certain criteria must be formally screened by designated CPS staff using the investigation screening protocol.

See:

2153.1 Criteria for Formally Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect 

2153.2 CPS Staff Who Formally Screen Reports of Abuse or Neglect

To document in the Intake stage of the IMPACT case system that a reports has been formally screened, the worker:

  •  navigates to the Formal Screening section of the Priority/Closure page; and

  •  answers Yes to the question Was the Intake Formally Screened?.

If a report is eligible for formal screening but a formal screening is not conducted, the supervisor or screener must take the following actions before progressing the report to the next stage or closing it without assignment for investigation:

  •  Select No to the question Was the Intake Formally Screened in the Formal Screening section of the Priority/Closure page in the intake stage, and

  •  Document the reason the formal screening was not conducted in the Contact Detail page of the Intake stage.

For detailed procedures on the formal screening process, see:

2153.3 Determining a Report's Eligibility for Screening

2153.4 Reports That Clearly Meet Investigation Guidelines

2153.5 Reports That Do Not Clearly Meet Investigation Guidelines

2153.6 Recommending a Formally Screened Report for Investigation

2153.7 Closing a Formally Screened Reports (Not Recommending Investigation

2153.8 Time Frames for Completing the Formal Screening of a Report

2153.9 Documenting the Formal Screening of a Report

2153.1 Criteria for Formally Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

The following reports must be formally screened:

  •  Priority 2 reports when all of the alleged victims are age 6 or older and there is no other open CPS case. The P2 designation must be SWI’s final priority assigned by staff of the DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division. Reports changed to P2 by CPS staff are not eligible to be screened.

  •  Priority None (PN) reports that meet the criteria for SWI to forward the report to the appropriate DFPS field office. (See 2144 The Role of SWI in Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect.)

2153.2 CPS Staff Who Formally Screen Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

Caseworkers

CPS caseworkers who serve as investigation screeners may formally screen intake reports.

Supervisors

CPS supervisors may formally screen reports when all of the following circumstances exist:

  •  A designated screener is not available to perform the function

  •  The report is received on a weekend or holiday

  •  The report meets the criteria for formal screening (see 2153.1 Criteria for Formally Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect)

  •  The supervisor follows the standardized screening protocol.

The supervisor screens the report from his or her own workload within the IMPACT case management system, not from the screener’s workload.

2153.3 Determining a Report's Eligibility for Screening

CPS August 2009

The CPS worker assigned to formally screen a report of abuse or neglect:

  •  navigates to the Priority/Closure page in the Intake stage of the IMPACT case management system; and

  •  views the Formal Screening section.

Depending on the determination made there (identified in the Eligible? field), the worker takes the actions shown in the table below:

Eligibility for Formal Screening:

CPS Action:

Not Eligible

The worker routes the report to the unit supervisor for screening, following regional protocols.

Eligible

The screener proceeds with the:

  •  Person search for prior DFPS history on the family; 

  •  Determine eligibility for a formal screening; and

  •  Document the reason for the screener's or supervisor's actions.

Eligibility Unknown

The screener proceeds with the:

  •  Person search for prior DFPS history on the family;

  •  Search for an open case in a certain stage on the family (and documents yes or no in response to the question on the Priority/Closure page about whether the case is open; 

  •  Determine eligibility for a formal screening; and

  •  Document the reason for the screener's or supervisor's actions.

Conducting a Person Search

Searching for Prior DFPS History

The worker performing the formal screening must conduct a person search of the principals in the case to determine whether the family has prior history with DFPS. If history is found, the screener reviews, summarizes, and considers the history when determining whether the case warrants a formal screening. See the table below.

Searching for an Open Case on the Family

The person performing the search must determine if there is an open case on the family in one of the following stages:

  •  investigation (INV);

  •  family based safety services (FBSS);

  •  family substitute care (FSU); or

  •  family reunification (FRE) stage.

Depending on the findings of the search, the screener proceeds as indicated in this table:

Determine whether a prior case is open in the INV, FBSS, or FSU stage.

Document the case as open, based on the open stage of the prior case.

Note the automatic change in the eligibility (Eligible?), based on the open stage of the prior case.

Do as follows, depending on the change in eligibility.

Yes, open in INV, FBSS, or FSU stage.

Yes, open

Not Eligible

Stop the formal screening and send the report to the unit supervisor for further screening.

No, not open inINV, FBSS, or FSU stage.

No, not open

Eligible

Determine whether the report:

  •  clearly meets guidelines (see 2153.4 Reports That Clearly Meet Investigation Guidelines); or

  •  does not clearly meet guidelines (see 2153.5 Reports That Do Not Clearly Meet Investigation Guidelines)

2153.4 Reports That Clearly Meet Investigation Guidelines

CPS August 2009

When a report that is eligible for screening clearly meets the guidelines for investigation and no clarification of information is needed, the person performing the formal screening:

  •  performs the steps under 2153 Formally Screening Reports of Abuse or Neglect (The Role of the Investigation Screener);

  •  immediately progresses the report to the next stage; and

  •  forwards the report for investigation, following regional protocols. See 2153.6 Recommending a Formally Screened Report for Investigation.

2153.5 Reports That Do Not Clearly Meet Investigation Guidelines

CPS September 13, 2010

If a report that is eligible for screening contains information that needs clarification or does not clearly meet the guidelines for investigation, the screener performing the formal screening takes the following steps:

1.   Contact collateral sources, such as the child’s neighbors, teacher, or family doctor to clarify and develop information for the report (see 2152 Contacting Collateral Sources About Reports of Abuse or Neglect; also see To Close a Report, below) and, if appropriate, contact the child’s parents, as described below. (The reporter is not considered a collateral source.)

2.   Contact the reporter to clarify information in the report, if possible and appropriate.

3.   Determine whether to:

  •  assign the report for investigation (see 2153.6 Recommending a Formally Screened Report for Investigation); or

  •  close the report without assignment for investigation. See 2153.7 Closing a Formally Screened Report (Not Recommending Investigation).

When It Is Beneficial to Contact a Parent

To ensure thorough screening, it may sometimes be beneficial for a screener to contact the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian of an alleged victim.

However, before making contact, the screener must complete the following steps:

1.   To prevent initiating the investigation while screening an intake, the screener must first confirm that the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian is not listed as an alleged perpetrator (AP) in the open intake.

2.   If the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian is not an AP, the screener confirms that the person is aware of the report by answering yes to at least one of the following questions:

  •  Is the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian aware that the report was made?

  •  Is the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian the reporter?

  •  Is the report being made on behalf of the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian (that is, was the report made with his or her knowledge)?

3.   If the screener answers yes to at least one of the questions noted in step two, above, and has confirmed that the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian is not an AP, the screener then holds a staffing meeting with a screener supervisor or designee to:

  •  obtain confirmation that the screener may contact the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian that the screener has identified; and

  •  obtain guidance on the extent to which the screener may question the parent, managing conservator, or legal guardian.

Closing a Report

To close a report, the screener must make contact, not just attempt contact, and must obtain meaningful information:

  •  that was not contained in the original report; and

  •  that either refutes the allegations or otherwise indicates that the child’s safety is assured.

2153.6 Recommending a Formally Screened Report for Investigation

CPS August 2009

When the screener recommends the report for investigation, the screener stage progresses the report to the investigation stage and forwards it for investigation, following regional protocols.

If the screened report that is recommended for investigation is a report that has been assigned as Priority None (PN), the screener must upgrade the priority of the report before progressing the report to the next stage.

2153.7 Closing a Formally Screened Report (Not Recommending Investigation)

CPS September 2011

When a report of abuse or neglect can be closed after a formal screening, the screener:

  •  changes the priority of the report to PN (Priority None), if needed (see 2143 Assigning Priority to Reports of Abuse or Neglect);

  •  documents on the Priority/Closure page of the IMPACT case management system the reasons for changing the priority;

  •  considers carefully whether the issues identified during the screening process could be addressed by a community resource that would benefit the family and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect in the future;

  •  contacts the parent or legal guardian with information about the resource, if an appropriate resource is available (this action applies, regardless of whether the parent or legal guardian is the regular caregiver);

  •  documents in the case narrative the discussion held with the parent or legal guardian about the resource; and

  •  notifies the reporter of abuse or neglect that the report has been closed (see 2154 Notifying the Reporter When a Report Is Closed).

Cases closed without being assigned for investigation as a result of the formal screening must have a minimum of one completed contact documented in the Intake stage of the case. The contact must have the Purpose code of Formal Screening.

2153.8 Time Frames for Completing the Formal Screening of a Report

CPS August 2009

Screen Within 72 Hours

Reports of abuse or neglect that meet the criteria for formal screening must be screened within 72 hours of the date and time the intake report was received.

Progress Immediately for Investigation

As soon as a screener recommends a report for investigation, the screener:

  •  documents the actions taken to make the recommendation; and

  •  progresses the case to the next stage.

2153.9 Documenting the Formal Screening of a Report

CPS August 2009

Before stage progressing or closing a report that is eligible for formal screening, the screener must take the following actions in the IMPACT case management system:

  •  Document the following in the Intake stage, in the Contact Detail narrative, using Formal Screening as the Purpose code:

  •  The results of the person search, including a summary of any prior DFPS history

  •  The contacts made

  •  The rationale for the decision to close the case or progress it to the next stage

  •  Document in the Priority/Closure page, whether the intake was formally screened

Document Within 24-Hours

Workers who formally screen a report must document all of the actions taken and the contacts made within 24 hours of taking the action or making the contact.

If a report is recommended for investigation, the screener must document his or her actions and contacts quickly enough to progress the case to investigations in a timely manner.

2154 Notifying the Reporter When a Report Is Closed

CPS August 2009

When an intake report is closed following review by either a CPS supervisor or an investigation screener, the supervisor or screener notifies the reporter about the closing by generating a letter in the IMPACT case management system.

  •  The screener changes the name in the notification letter from that of the intake worker in the DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division who generated the report to that of the CPS worker who makes the decision to close the report.

  •  The screener then sends the letter to the reporter who reported the abuse or neglect.

2155 Changing the Priority of a Report About Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

A supervisor or investigation screener can change the priority of a report of abuse or neglect. To change the priority, the screener selects one of the following options listed in the IMPACT case management system:

Changing the Priority Assigned to a Report

IMPACT Option:

Reason for Change:

Due to Additional Calls Made

Calls made to collaterals after the initial intake call provided additional information that warrants a priority change.

Due to Local Records

Information contained in local records revealed information that warrants a priority change.

Inconsistent With Documented Risk

The level of risk documented in the intake report does not support the priority originally assigned.

P1 Response Increases Vulnerability

Responding within 24 hours could leave a child more vulnerable

Example

To avoid escalating a situation, the worker delays the response until an unprotected child is in a more protective environment, such as at school or day care.

Closed and Reclassified

The allegations warrant follow-up by a different DFPS program area than the one originally identified. To qualify as Closed and Reclassified, the report must be re-entered as a report for another DFPS division.

Example

A CPS report alleges that the victim is a 16-year-old with an intellectual disability, but records indicate that the victim is actually a 19-year-old adult. The CPS report is closed and reclassified as APS.

When Closing the Report

When Closed and Reclassified is the reason entered into IMPACT for changing a report's priority, Closed and Reclassified  must also be the reason for closing the report.

Other Agency/Out of State

The priority is changed to close the intake because the intake and investigation are outside the jurisdiction of CPS and must be handled by another authorized entity such as law enforcement, another state agency such as DADS or DSHS, or by another state's CPS staff.

When Closing the Report

When Other Agency/Out of State is the reason entered into IMPACT for changing the priority, Other Agency/Out of State must be the reason for closing the report. After reviewing a report, the supervisor must assign it for investigation, if it meets the criteria outlined in 2142 The Allegations That CPS Accepts for Investigation and Assessment.

2156 Closing Reports of Abuse or Neglect Without Assignment for Investigation

CPS August 2009

The supervisor or investigation screener may close a report of abuse or neglect without assigning it for investigation for the following reasons:

  •  The situation does not appear to involve a reasonable likelihood that a child will be abused or neglected in the foreseeable future.

      Exception: This does not apply when the report is related to deaths from abuse or neglect when there are no surviving children in the home.

  •  The allegations are too vague or general to determine whether a child has been abused or neglected or is likely to be abused or neglected.

  •  The report does not give enough information to locate the child or the child's family or household. Before closing the report, staff must search:

local records,

  •  SAVERR (the State’s Medicaid eligibility system),

  •  IMPACT records (IMPACT is DFPS's automated case management system), and

  •  the telephone directory, to explore all possible resources to locate the necessary information.

  •  The report has been reclassified and referred to the DFPS Adult Protective Services or Child Care Licensing divisions. If the reclassification and referral requires a priority change, the priority of the intake must be changed in IMPACT to Priority N, and the reason for the change must be documented as Closed and Reclassified.

  •  Handling the report is not the responsibility of CPS and will be investigated by another state agency in Texas, another state’s protective services program; or a law enforcement agency.

      If closing the report without assigning it for investigation requires a priority change:

  •  the priority of the intake must be changed in IMPACT to Priority N, and

  •  the reason for the change must be documented in Other Agency/Out of State.

  •  The reported information has already been investigated.

Notifying the Reporter

When the supervisor closes a report without assigning it for investigation, staff:

  •  notify the reporter;

  •  provide assistance, as needed, related to information and referral (I&R); and 

  •  advises the reporter about signs of abuse and neglect that may raise future concerns to help the reporter determine whether to report again.

See 2154 Notifying the Reporter When a Report Is Closed.

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

CPS August 2009

The supervisor must obtain approval from a program director before closing without assignment any intake report that was:

  •  prioritized by the DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division as a P1 or P2; or

  •  formally screened and recommended for investigation.

2157 Receiving a New Report During an Open Investigation of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

If a new report is received about a case while the case is being investigated, the worker progresses the new report from the Intake stage to the Investigation stage in IMPACT case management system before merging the two reports.

Progressing the new report to the Investigation stage before merging the reports ensures that the details about the reporter, the victim, and the allegations are carried forward correctly.

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