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2200 Basic Investigation Process

2210 General Provisions

CPS September 2017

Ongoing Child Safety Assessment

The caseworker must assess child safety throughout the investigation.

Staff At Any Time

The caseworker may staff an investigation with the supervisor or program director at any time.

Definition of Parent

As used in policy, the term parent generally refers to a person legally responsible for the child.

Reporter Confidentiality

The caseworker must not reveal the identity of the reporter except to law enforcement or other entities charged with investigating abuse and neglect.

DFPS Rules 40 TAC §700.203

Texas Family Code §261.101(d)

CPS Actions When Danger to a Child is Present

If danger to a child is present at any point during an investigation, the caseworker must staff with the supervisor and take one of the actions described in 3200 CPS Actions When Danger to a Child is Present.

CPS Actions When a Child or Principal Cannot Be Located

If a child or principal cannot be located at any point during an investigation and this prevents the caseworker from gathering enough information or taking action to ensure child safety, the caseworker must staff with the supervisor and follow the actions described in 3100 When a Child Who is With His or Her Family Cannot be Located.

Uncooperative Principal

If a principal is uncooperative at any point during an investigation and this prevents the caseworker from gathering enough information or taking action to ensure child safety, the caseworker must staff with the supervisor and, if necessary, staff with the attorneys representing DFPS as to the appropriate legal intervention.

Texas Family Code §261.3031

Cooperation with Law Enforcement

If law enforcement is conducting a joint or concurrent criminal investigation, the caseworker must cooperate and collaborate with law enforcement.

Transferring Stages Between Counties

If principals in a case are actually or are believed to be located in more than one county, staff in both counties must cooperate to take any immediate action needed to ensure child safety and to determine in which county the family will be best served.

When a case is being transferred between counties, the caseworker in the transferring county remains responsible for the case until the transfer is completed.

Children Under the Jurisdiction of a Court in Another State

If a caseworker discovers during an investigation that an alleged victim is in the legal custody of another state, the caseworker must contact the other state to:

  •   determine why the child is in Texas; and

  •   make the necessary arrangements to:

  •   return the child to the other state; or

  •   begin the ICPC process.

The caseworker must complete the investigation related to abuse and/or neglect that occurred while the alleged victim was residing within Texas.

2220 Documentation

2221 Documentation and Same Day Contact Entry for Alleged Victims and Other Children

CPS May 2017

The caseworker must enter in the Contact Detail window in IMPACT, on the same day of the contact, any face-to-face contact or attempted contact with any child, including alleged victims.

The caseworker must select in the Contact Detail window all alleged victims seen during the contact. If the caseworker saw at least one alleged victim, the caseworker must not select Attempted.

If there were children that the caseworker did not see during the contact, the caseworker must create a separate Contact Detail listing those children and indicating an attempted contact.

If the caseworker has not finished with the contact and the tasks surrounding the contact (such as the safety plan, removal, and interviews) before the end of the day, the worker must enter the contact the following day.

2222 Case Activities Requiring 24 Hour Documentation

CPS May 2017

The caseworker must enter in the narrative full documentation of the interviews and observations of all children, including victim children, within 24 hours of contact.

The caseworker must also enter full documentation of all interviews and case activities within 24 hours of taking any of the following case actions:

  •   establishing a safety plan;

  •   initiating a parental child safety placement (PCSP); or

  •   removing the child

2223 All Other Documentation

CPS May 2017

The caseworker must document all other contacts, attempted contacts, staffings, and case activities, including the full narrative, within seven calendar days.

Documentation Content

Documentation on contacts with individuals must include:

  •   danger to a child;

  •   child vulnerabilities;

  •   any required parental consent;

  •   protective actions; and

  •   services that the family needs or is receiving.

Documentation on staffings must include any case-related decisions and required actions.

2230 Investigation Tasks

CPS March 2018

Advancing Intake to Investigation

When a supervisor or designee receives an intake, they must either close the intake as a Priority None (PN) or advance the intake to the investigation stage as soon as possible but no later than one working day. A program director or an approved supervisor must approve before any intake is closed as a PN.

Initial Investigation Tasks

If child safety concerns and required priority time frames for contacting alleged victims allow, the caseworker must complete these initial tasks before contacting alleged victims:

  •   Review intake and review CPS history on all principals and anyone else living in the home.

  •   If the family had a prior investigation with an overall disposition of Unable to Complete, the caseworker must gather information about those allegations during the current investigation.

  •   If enough information is available, run and review criminal history on:

  •   all adult alleged perpetrators;

  •   all adults living in an alleged victim’s home; and

  •   principals in an alleged victim’s home that are 14 or older and are not alleged victims.

Texas Government Code §411.114

DFPS Rules 40 TAC §700.520

  •   Contact the reporter, if this was not done during the intake stage.

  •   Arrange for joint investigation with law enforcement if Priority 1 (P1) and sexual abuse (SXAB) or physical abuse (PHAB) is alleged, or document why a joint investigation cannot occur.

Texas Family Code §§261.105; 261.301(f)-(h); 261.3011

  •   If the case is reported in a county served by a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), contact the local CAC to schedule a forensic interview for any report that:

  •   Is made by a professional reporter and:

  •   alleges sexual abuse of a child; or

  •   is a type of case handled by a local CAC according to the local CAC’s working protocols; or

  •   Involves a child fatality and there are surviving children in the deceased child’s household or under the supervision of the caregiver involved in the child fatality.

See 2231 When to Notify Children Advocacy Center About Reports of Abuse or Neglect

Texas Family Code §264.4061

  •   If any principal on the investigation is also a principal in an open family preservation, family substitute, or substitute care stage, the caseworker and the supervisor must staff with the family preservation or conservatorship caseworker and the supervisor.

The caseworker must complete all of the initial tasks within 10 calendar days of the date of intake.

2231 When to Notify Children Advocacy Centers About Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS September 2019

The following circumstances require a response by a children’s advocacy center (CAC) multidisciplinary team. DFPS must attempt to contact the local CAC before making initial contact with a child who is the subject of an investigation of either of the following:

  •  A report of abuse or neglect made by a professional reporter and that either:

  •  Alleges sexual abuse of a child.

  •  Is a type of case handled by a local CAC according to the local CAC’s working protocols.

  •  A child fatality in which there are surviving children in the deceased child’s household or under the supervision of a caregiver involved in the child fatality.

Before making any contact with the child, DFPS must attempt to contact the CAC to jointly determine the multidisciplinary team’s response and whether a forensic interview of the child is appropriate.

If DFPS cannot reach the CAC before the timeframe in which DFPS must make contact with the child, DFPS must document all efforts to contact the CAC. After making contact with the child to ensure child safety, DFPS must continue to make efforts to contact the CAC to determine the multidisciplinary team’s response and whether a forensic interview of the child is appropriate based on the child’s age and development, and the CAC’s working protocol.

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

Texas Family Code §264.4061

2232 Making a Referral to the Forensic Assessment Center Network

CPS May 2019

Forensic Assessment Center Network

The Forensic Assessment Center Network (FACN) is comprised of physicians who specialize in child abuse and neglect. They provide case consultation, including medical evaluations, expert witness testimony for court proceedings, and training to DFPS.

The following DFPS staff and their managers have access to the FACN:

  •  Child Protective Investigations (CPI)

  •  Alternative Response (AR)

  •  Conservatorship (CVS)

  •  Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS)

While CPI and AR primarily use the FACN as a resource, all programs have access and can use the FACN under specific circumstances.

When and When Not to Use the FACN

In most instances, staff consult the FACN about an original incident of abuse that was investigated or assessed.

For instance, if FBSS staff is working on a case, identifies additional information about the original incident, and needs clarification from the FACN, it would be appropriate for FBSS staff to consult the FACN.

If any staff needs court testimony, staff may consult the FACN to see if the FACN can provide appropriate support.

It is also appropriate to consult the FACN when staff has general ongoing medical questions pertaining to specific cases.

Staff may not use the FACN for direct examinations of children or for medication services to children in DFPS conservatorship.

When to Make a Referral to the FACN

There are many instances in which caseworkers may consult the FACN to obtain the information they need to make appropriate decisions about a case and protect the child (see the FACN Resource Guide).

Caseworkers must consult the FACN in the following circumstances:

  •  There does not appear to be any reasonable explanation for an injury or the explanation is not consistent with the injury.

  •  Assistance is needed to determine whether abuse or neglect has occurred.

  •  There is a difference of opinion between a medical professional and DFPS regarding whether abuse or neglect occurred, or about the seriousness of an injury or condition, and clarification is needed.

  •  There is evidence of medical child abuse (also known as Munchausen syndrome).

  •  There is bruising on an infant or child who is not mobile.

  •  The caseworker has a lingering question about abuse or neglect that a medical professional may be able to clarify.

Caseworkers generally do not need to consult the FACN if a child has already been seen by a local physician and:

  •  There are no lingering questions or concerns.

  •  The local physician is certified as a child abuse and neglect specialist.

Making the Referral

If there is an emergency situation, the caseworker must immediately contact the FACN by phone (1-888-TX4-FACN).

If the case is not an emergency, once the caseworker and supervisor make a decision to consult the FACN, the caseworker must enter the basic referral information into the FACN system (www.facntx.org) within two working days.

When the FACN Indicates Abuse or Neglect

The FACN physicians’ input must be given serious consideration.

If the FACN indicates that abuse or neglect occurred, the caseworker must immediately meet with the supervisor and program director to ensure the appropriate safety action is taken to keep the child safe.

When there are differing opinions as to whether abuse or neglect occurred, a special investigator must be involved immediately to provide further input and expertise. Staff must discuss the differing opinions with the supervisor, program director, and special investigator.

Documenting Results from FACN Consultation

The caseworker must document in IMPACT all results from the consultation with the FACN physicians.

When the caseworker receives information from the FACN related to a child’s safety, the caseworker must consider whether there is a need for any safety intervention The caseworker must keep the supervisor and program director informed.

Requesting an Extension While Awaiting FACN Response

The caseworker must request an extension if unable to submit the investigation to the supervisor for approval within 45 calendar days from intake. The FACN generally responds quickly enough to allow a case to be submitted within the appropriate time frame. If an extension is needed, staff should use the extension code Medical Records.

 

2240 Interviewing, Examining, Transporting, and Removing a Child

2241 Constitutional Protections Under the Fourth Amendment

CPS October 2020

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. In addition, the Texas courts have determined that the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures exists during a child abuse and neglect investigation. Caseworkers must comply with Fourth Amendment obligations when taking any of the following actions:

  • Entering a home.
  • Interviewing a child not in DFPS conservatorship.
  • Visually examining a child not in DFPS conservatorship.
  • Transporting a child not in DFPS conservatorship.
  • Removing a child from the parent or another person with legal custody.

2242 General Requirements for Consent

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must ensure that the person providing consent:

  •   has the capacity to consent;

  •   has the authority to consent; and

  •   voluntarily provides consent.

2242.1 Capacity to Consent

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must ensure that the person providing consent has the capacity to consent. While the caseworker determines capacity to consent on a case-by-case basis, he or she assesses various elements, including:

  •   age;

  •   mental impairments;

  •   the effect of drugs or alcohol on the individual's mental faculties, if the individual is currently using drugs or alcohol; and

  •   language ability.

The individual's consent is valid only if the individual understands the request for consent.

Caseworkers must not rely on consent if there are questions or concerns about whether the person giving consent understands the request for consent or has the capacity to consent. If the caseworker has questions or concerns about a person's capacity to consent, the caseworker must consult with the attorney representing DFPS.

2242.11 Determining Whether a Child Has the Capacity to Consent

CPS August 2017

If an adult is not present, the caseworker may seek consent from a child if the caseworker determines that the child has the capacity to consent.

There is no definitive age when a child has the capacity to consent. When determining whether a child has the capacity to consent, the caseworker considers a number of factors including, but not limited to:

  •   age—in general the older the child appears, the more likely it is the child has capacity to consent;

  •   maturity—in general, the more mature the child appears the more likely it is the child has capacity to consent; and

  •   intellectual capabilities—in general, if a child is limited in intellectual capability, the child is less likely to have the capacity to consent.

As a general rule, if a child appears old enough to be left home alone or left in charge of other children in the home, the caseworker may reasonably assume that the child has the capacity to provide meaningful consent.

When an adult is not present to provide consent, the caseworker must not rely on the consent of a child if there are questions or concerns about whether the child has the capacity to consent or understands the request for consent. If a caseworker assesses a child and determines that the child either may not or does not have capacity to consent, he or she must consult with the supervisor to determine whether:

  •   there is sufficient basis to show good cause to obtain a court order for the specific action for which the caseworker is seeking consent;

  •   there are exigent circumstances under which the caseworker may remove the child; or

  •   the caseworker could return later and attempt to obtain consent from someone else with capacity without jeopardizing child safety.

2242.2 Authority to Consent

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must ensure that the person providing consent has the authority to consent. Unless there is reason to believe that a parent's rights to a child have been limited by a court order, the parent has authority to consent to the following actions: 

  •   Entering the home.

  •   Interviewing the child.

  •   Visually examining the child.

  •   Transporting the child.

A caseworker must attempt to obtain consent from a parent before obtaining consent from another person. If a parent is not present and has not previously denied consent for any of the above actions during the course of a current investigation, the caseworker may seek consent from another person who has the authority to consent. A person's authority to consent depends on the action the caseworker is taking.

If the caseworker has questions or concerns about a person's authority to consent, the caseworker must consult with the attorney representing DFPS.

See:

2242.11 Who Has the Authority to Give Consent to Enter the Home

2243.3 Consent to Interview a Child

2244.1 Consent for Visual Examination of a Child at Home or in the Presence of a Parent or Other Person Responsible

2244.2 Consent for Visual Examination of a Child at School

2245 Transporting a Child

Appendix 2000-1: Summary of Consent Requirements

2242.3 Voluntary Consent

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must be certain that consent is:

  •   clear, voluntary, and unequivocal; and

  •   not a result of coercion or duress.

The standard is whether a reasonable person in the same circumstances would believe he or she is free to refuse consent.

When requesting consent, the caseworker must never coerce the individual, or threaten the individual with punishment. However, the caseworker can discuss the next steps in the investigation, such as whether the caseworker:

  •   will suggest seeking a court order to enter the home, interview the child, visually examine the child, or transport the child; or

  •   has supervisory approval for an emergency removal of the child.

The caseworker must not discuss next steps in a manner designed to threaten the individual into cooperating.

2242.4 Withdrawing Consent

CPS August 2017

Anyone with the authority to consent can also withdraw it at any time. If the individual who consented, or another individual with authority to consent, gives any indication that he or she is withdrawing consent, the caseworker must immediately stop the action for which consent was obtained.

2242.5 Documenting Consent and Actions Taken Based on Exigent Circumstances

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must document the following information in the IMPACT case narrative upon obtaining the consent:

  •   Who consented.

  •   What action was involved (entry, interview, visual examination, transportation, etc.).

  •   How the caseworker determined the individual had capacity to consent, if there is an issue of capacity or consent was obtained from a child.

The caseworker must document this information:

  •   for each action the caseworker obtains consent; and

  •   each time the caseworker obtains consent.

If the caseworker relied on exigent circumstances for any actions, such as entry into the home or removal of the child, the caseworker must document the facts of the exigent circumstances in the case narrative.

2243 Entering the Home

CPS August 2017

Before entering a home, a caseworker must have:

  •   consent;

  •   exigent circumstances; or

  •   a court order.

2243.1 Consent to Enter the Home

CPS August 2017

In a two-parent household, if one parent gives consent for the caseworker to enter the home but the other parent expressly refuses entry, the caseworker must not enter the home without a court order or exigent circumstances.

Even if law enforcement has consent or a court order to enter the home, the caseworker must obtain explicit consent separately from law enforcement or obtain a court order to enter the home.

The parent or other individual with authority to consent may revoke consent at any time. The caseworker must obtain consent each time he or she seeks to enter the home.

2243.11 Who Has the Authority to Give Consent to Enter the Home

CPS August 2017

A parent has the authority to give consent to enter the home. If the parent is not present, the caseworker may obtain consent from:

  •   a person responsible for the children;

  •   a child, if the caseworker determines that the child has capacity to consent (see 2241.11 Determining Whether a Child Has the Capacity to Consent); or

  •   an adult resident of the home (see 2242.12 Consent Provided by an Adult Resident of the Home).

The caseworker must not seek consent to enter the home from a non-resident owner unless the non-resident owner is responsible for the premises and children in the parent's absence. This includes landlords, relatives, or other persons who own but do not live in the home.

2243.12 Consent Provided by an Adult Resident of the Home

CPS August 2017

The caseworker may seek consent to enter the home from an adult resident of the home, including a roommate or other household member. The resident can grant access to common areas of the home. Common areas are those portions of a home shared by the residents. This may include the kitchen, living room, or shared bathrooms.

The adult resident may also consent to the caseworker entering:

  •   the resident's own bedroom or personal areas of the home, and

  •   the bedrooms and personal areas of the resident's own children.

However, an adult resident, even if he or she is the owner of the home, does not have the authority or capacity to provide consent to enter bedrooms or other private areas belonging to other persons living in the home.

For example, if a family has a renter with a private room, particularly one that is closed off or locked, the caseworker should only rely on the consent of the renter to go into the private room. A caseworker must obtain consent from the person who has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the room or space to which the caseworker is attempting to enter.

2243.2 Exigent Circumstances

CPS August 2017

Exigent circumstances to enter a home exist only when the caseworker and supervisor determine, based on the totality of the circumstances, that:

  •   there is reasonable cause to believe that a child is in imminent danger of physical or sexual abuse; and

  •   the purpose for entering the home is to protect the child.

If the child would be safe during a delay to gather more information or obtain a court order, exigent circumstances are not present.

A caseworker must contact law enforcement for assistance before entering the home to remove a child based on exigent circumstances if the caseworker believes that his or her safety would be in jeopardy without assistance from law enforcement.

If a caseworker enters the home based on exigent circumstances, the caseworker must document the facts of the exigent circumstances in the case narrative. 

2243.3 Court Order

CPS August 2017

If a parent refuses to give consent for the caseworker to enter, and exigent circumstances do not exist to enter or remove the child, the caseworker may obtain a court order in aid of an investigation. To obtain a court order, the caseworker must show in the supporting affidavit that there is good cause to gain access to the home.

Texas Family Code §§261.303, 261.3031, 261.3032

2244 Interviews With Children

2244.1 Time Frames for Interviewing Children

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must interview each alleged victim face-to-face (as appropriate for the victim's age and development) within the following time frames.

Priority 1 Reports

The caseworker must interview or attempt to interview all alleged victims:

  •   immediately, if circumstances indicate possible substantial bodily harm or death; or

  •   within 24 hours of the intake date and time, for all other cases.

Priority 2 Reports

If the report does not go through the screening process, the caseworker must interview or attempt to interview all alleged victims within 72 hours of intake date and time.

If the report does go through the screening process, the caseworker must interview or attempt to interview all alleged victims within 72 hours of stage progression to investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.301(d)

Delays in Interviewing Children

If the caseworker cannot contact alleged victims within the prescribed time frames, the caseworker must immediately develop and implement a follow up plan, with the supervisor's approval, and document it in IMPACT.

If contact within these time frames would compromise child safety, or law enforcement requests a delay in interviewing the alleged victims or parent, the caseworker must:

  •   get supervisor approval to delay the initial contact; and

  •   document the reason for delay.

2244.2 Interviewing Other Children in the Home

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must gather the names and conditions of all other children in an alleged victim's home as part of the investigation. The caseworker must interview the children if the caseworker believes they have relevant information about the allegations or known danger to a child.

Texas Family Code §261.302(c)

2244.3 Consent to Interview a Child
2244.31 Consent to Interview a Child at Home

CPS August 2017

When at an alleged child victim's home or when a parent or person responsible for the child is present, the caseworker must obtain consent from the parent or person responsible before interviewing the child.

When a parent or person responsible is not present, the caseworker may obtain consent from the child if the caseworker determines that the child has capacity to give consent. See 2241.11 Determining Whether a Child Has the Capacity to Consent. 

If the child has been left in the care of another child, the caseworker must not seek consent from the other child, even if the parent has not previously denied consent.

The caseworker must not seek consent from an adult resident of the home who has not been left responsible for the child.

If Consent is Denied

If a parent or person responsible denies consent, the caseworker must:

  •   seek a court order to interview the child; or

  •   remove the child if exigent circumstances exist and interview the child after removal. 

If a parent has previously denied consent during the current investigation, the caseworker must not request consent from any other person, including the child or another person left responsible for the child. 

Parent Refuses to Allow a Child to be Interviewed

In a two-parent household, if one parent refuses to allow the caseworker to interview a child, the caseworker must not interview the child without a court order or exigent circumstances, regardless of the location. If the parents do not reside together, the caseworker may rely on the consent of either parent unless the caseworker has reason to believe that the parent's rights to the child have been limited by a court order.

If the caseworker cannot gain admission to the home or place where the child is located, the caseworker must:

  •   seek a court order requiring the parent to allow entrance for the interview, examination, and investigation; or

Texas Family Code §§261.303(b),261.3031, 261.3032

  •   remove the child if exigent circumstances exist.

2244.32 Consent to Interview a Child at School

CPS August 2017

A caseworker must not interview a child at school if the parent has denied consent for the child to be interviewed during the current investigation.

The requirements for obtaining consent to interview a child at school differ based on whether the school is or is not under the jurisdiction of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). If the caseworker does not know whether the school is under TEA jurisdiction, the caseworker must check TEA's website before visiting the school.

Conducting Interviews at Schools Under TEA Jurisdiction

If the parent has not denied consent and the child attends a school under TEA jurisdiction, the caseworker must:

  •   on arrival, notify school personnel of the caseworker's intent to interview the child;

  •   obtain parental consent if a parent is present at the school; and

  •   if the parent is not present, interview the child unless the child objects.

Conducting Interviews at Schools Not Under TEA Jurisdiction

A person in a school not under TEA jurisdiction has the same protections as a person in a home. If a school is not under TEA jurisdiction, and the parent has not denied consent during the current investigation, the caseworker may only enter the main office without consent. The caseworker must obtain consent to enter any other portion of the school from appropriate school personnel, as determined by the school.

The caseworker must also obtain:

  •   parental consent to interview the child if the parent is present; or

  •   consent from appropriate school personnel to interview the child if a parent is not present.

If Consent is Denied

If school personnel deny consent to enter the school and interview the child, the caseworker must attempt to contact the parent to obtain consent. If the parent denies consent, the caseworker must consult with the supervisor to determine whether to:

  •   pursue a court order to interview the child; or

  •   remove the child due to exigent circumstances and interview the child after removal.

2244.4 Conducting the Interview

CPS October 2019

The caseworker must attempt to interview a child in private without any third party present, unless the child needs an interpreter or the caseworker determines that having another person present would be appropriate. However, if a parent denies consent for the child to be interviewed alone, the caseworker must do one of the following:

  •  Proceed with the interview in the presence of a parent or a third party agreed to by the parent.

  •  Obtain a court order to interview the child alone.

2244.41 Assessing Communication Needs when Interviewing a Child

CPS October 2019

The investigator must assess communication needs for each child and determine if any accommodations need to be made for the child. If the investigator believes that the child may have a disability that affects his or her ability to communicate, the investigator must make appropriate accommodations during the interviewing process. Disabilities that can interfere with communication include deafness, hearing loss, and autism spectrum disorder, which causes the child to not communicate effectively.

See:

Persons with Disabilities Resource Guide

1251 Clients With Disabilities

2244.5 Notifying a Parent that a Child Has Been Interviewed

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must make reasonable efforts to notify each parent about the contact and nature of the allegations within 24 hours of the contact, unless notification would endanger any child in the home, a reporter, or anyone else who participated in the investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.311

2244.6 Interviews with Children at Specialized Facilities

CPS August 2017

Whenever possible and appropriate, alleged victims of sexual or serious physical abuse must be interviewed at a specialized facility, such as a child advocacy center, when such a facility is available.

2244.7 Accepting Child Interviews Conducted by Others

CPS August 2017

Before the caseworker can accept a substitute interview in place of a face-to-face interview, the caseworker must have supervisor approval and document in IMPACT that:

  •   another authorized person or agency has already conducted an objective and impartial interview on the allegations, or DFPS has a standing agreement to let another agency conduct the interview;

  •   the caseworker verifies that the interviewer is willing to testify in court, if necessary;

  •   the caseworker verifies that the attorney representing DFPS approves of using the substitute interview in any legal proceedings;

  •   the interview is accurate and reliable and will provide all needed information from the child; and

  •   at least one of the following conditions applies:

  •   The caseworker was present at the substitute interview.

  •   The interviewer has provided written documentation of the child's statements during the interview.

  •   The caseworker has viewed video or listened to audio of the interview and has documented the child's statements in a contact narrative in IMPACT.

2244.8 Interviews with a Child Who Is Alleged to Be a Victim and a Perpetrator

CPS June 2021

The caseworker must first get consent from the child’s parent, or the attorney representing the child or parent, to interview the child as an alleged perpetrator.

If the child does not live with a parent, the caseworker must get consent from a person who is authorized to make decisions for the child or that person’s attorney. The caseworker must request documentation or other information showing that the person is authorized to make decisions for the child. The caseworker must consult with the attorney representing DFPS if the caseworker cannot determine whether the person is authorized to make decisions for the child.

See Definition of Parent in 2210 General Provisions.

A child must be age 10 or older to be an alleged perpetrator.

Consent Denied to Interview as Alleged Perpetrator

If a parent (or person authorized to make decisions for the child, if the child does not live with a parent) or attorney denies consent to interview the child as an alleged perpetrator, the caseworker still tries to do one of the following:

The following requirements apply if the caseworker interviews the child as an alleged victim:

  • The interview may only involve questions related to the abuse or neglect that the child may have suffered.
  • It must not involve questions about issues related to the child being an alleged perpetrator.
  • An attorney for the child may attend the interview, as needed, to protect the child’s rights as an alleged perpetrator.

Consent Given to Interview as Alleged Perpetrator

The caseworker works with the following people to find a satisfactory approach to interviewing the child as an alleged perpetrator:

  • Attorney representing DFPS.
  • Child’s attorney, if the child has one.
  • Child’s parents (or person authorized to make decisions for the child, if the child does not live with a parent).
  • If the child is not in DFPS conservatorship, the child’s parents’ attorney (or attorneys), if they have one.
  • Attorney of the person authorized to make decisions for the child, if the child does not live with a parent, and the authorized person has an attorney.
  • Caseworker’s supervisor, as needed.

An attorney for the child may attend the interview, as needed, to protect the child’s rights as an alleged perpetrator.

With Audio Recording

If the parent (or person authorized to make decisions for the child, if the child does not live with a parent) or attorney consents to the interview of the child as an alleged perpetrator, the caseworker makes an audio recording of the interview.

The caseworker takes the following steps:

  1. Starts the recording device.
  2. Says the following information:
    • Name of the person who gave the consent.
    • Relationship of that person to the child.
    • Date and time the person gave consent.
  3. Begins the interview.

The caseworker also documents the following in IMPACT:

  • Name of the person who gave the consent.
  • Relationship of that person to the child.
  • Date and time the person gave consent.

Without Audio Recording

If the parent (or person authorized to make decisions for the child, if the child does not live with a parent) or attorney consents to the interview of the child as an alleged perpetrator but does not allow the caseworker to make an audio recording of the interview, the caseworker still conducts the interview.

The caseworker also documents the following in IMPACT:

  • Name of the person who gave the consent for the interview.
  • Relationship of that person to the child.
  • Date and time the person gave consent for the interview.
  • That the person denied consent for the audio recording.
  • Date and time the person denied consent for the audio recording.

2245 Visual Examinations

2245.1 Consent for Visual Examination of a Child at Home or in the Presence of a Parent or Other Person Responsible

CPS August 2017

Before visually examining any part of an alleged child victim's body that is covered by clothing, the caseworker must obtain consent from:

  •   the child's parent;

  •   another adult responsible for the child (if the parent is not present); or

  •   an alleged child victim with capacity to consent (if a parent or another adult is not present).

See 2241.11 Determining Whether a Child Has the Capacity to Consent.

If the child has been left in the care of another child, the caseworker must not seek consent from the other child, even if the parent has not previously denied consent.

The caseworker must not seek consent from an adult resident of the home unless the adult resident has been left responsible for the child.

Before conducting the examination, the caseworker must announce the need to examine the child and allow the parent, or another adult that appears to have been left responsible for the child, the opportunity to provide or refuse consent.

The caseworker must not proceed with the visual examination if the child objects to the examination.

If Consent was Previously Denied

If a parent has previously denied consent during the current investigation, the caseworker must not request consent from any other person, including the alleged child victim or another adult responsible for the alleged child victim in the parent's absence.

If Consent is Denied

If a parent or other adult denies consent, the caseworker must

  •   seek a court order to conduct the examination; or

  •   remove the child if exigent circumstances exist and perform an examination after removal.

2245.2 Consent for Visual Examination of a Child at School

CPS August 2017

A caseworker must not visually examine a child at school if the parent has denied consent for the child to be examined during the current investigation.

The requirements for obtaining consent to examine a child at school differ based on whether the school is or is not under the jurisdiction of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). If the caseworker does not know whether the school is under the jurisdiction of TEA, the caseworker must check TEA's website before visiting the school.

2245.21 Visual Examination of a Child at a School Under TEA Jurisdiction

CPS August 2017

At a TEA school, when the caseworker seeks to visually examine any part of a child's body that is covered by clothing, the caseworker must:

  •   obtain parental consent if a parent is present; or

  •   if the parent is not present and has not previously denied consent for a visual examination during the current investigation, have a reasonable belief that the child may have physical signs of abuse or neglect before visually examining the child.

Reasonable Belief and Credible Evidence

The caseworker has a reasonable belief if there is credible evidence that the child may have physical signs of abuse or neglect.

In determining if reasonable belief exists, the caseworker must take into consideration:

  •   the degree of detail in the original allegations;

  •   whether the report was anonymous;

  •   whether there is corroborating or contradictory information; and

  •   the totality of the circumstances.  

A caseworker does not have reasonable belief to conduct a visual examination when:

  •   the caseworker has information that casts serious doubt on the validity of the allegations; or

  •   the purpose and scope of the visual examination is not reasonably related to the allegations or information obtained during the course of the investigation.

2245.22 Visual Examinations of a Child at a School Not Under TEA Jurisdiction

CPS August 2017

A person in a school not under TEA jurisdiction has the same protections as a person in a home. If a school is not under TEA jurisdiction, and the parent has not denied consent during the current investigation, the caseworker may only enter the main office without consent. The caseworker must obtain consent to enter any other portion of the school from appropriate school personnel, as determined by the school.

The caseworker must also obtain:

  •   parental consent to visually examine any part of the child's body that is covered by clothing, if a parent is present; or

  •   consent from appropriate school personnel, if a parent is not present.

If school personnel deny consent to visually examine the child, and the caseworker has tried but has been unable to obtain consent from the parent, the caseworker must consult with the supervisor to determine whether to:

  •   pursue a court order to conduct the visual examination; or

  •   remove the child if exigent circumstances exist and perform an examination after the removal.

The caseworker must not proceed with the visual examination if the child objects to the examination.

2245.3 Conducting a Visual Examination

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must not proceed with the visual examination if the child objects to the examination.

Any visual examination must:

  •   be brief, limited to what is essential to assess the child's safety, and only as intrusive as necessary, based on the allegations, available information, and child safety;

  •   consider the age and gender of the child. For example, an older child will likely have a greater expectation of privacy than a younger or pre-pubescent child. Similarly, a male child may be more comfortable with lifting his shirt than a female child; and

  •   consist only of observing the child for any physical sign of abuse or neglect.

A caseworker must not visually examine a child's genitals except in the most limited circumstances. With a parent's consent, the caseworker may visually examine a child's diaper area for extreme diaper rash or injury. Any examination relating to allegations of sexual abuse can only be done by a trained medical professional.

Conducting a Visual Examination at a School

When at a school, the caseworker, when possible, must conduct the visual examination in the presence of a nurse or appropriate school employee.

Conducting a Visual Examination at the Home

When at the home, the caseworker must conduct the visual examination in the presence of the parent or other adult authorized to consent to the examination. See 2244.1 Consent for Visual Examination of a Child at Home or in the Presence of a Parent or Other Person Responsible.

2245.4 Audio and Visual Documentation of a Child's Interview and Injuries to the Child

CPS December 2017

The caseworker must make an audio or video record of any interview with an alleged child victim or other child in the alleged victim’s home in which the allegations are discussed, as appropriate for the child’s age and development. The caseworker is not required to make an audio or video record if:

  •   the child is unwilling to have the interview recorded;

  •   the recording equipment unexpectedly malfunctions; or

  •   the individual conducting the interview does not normally conduct interviews and does not have reasonable access to the necessary recording equipment.

The caseworker must attempt to take photographs of each child’s appearance, injuries, lack of injury, and any other relevant evidence. If the parent is present, the caseworker must inform the parent of the intent to take photographs before photographing the child. The caseworker must not photograph the child if the child or parent objects.

The caseworker must never photograph a child’s genitals except in the most limited circumstances. With a parent’s consent, the caseworker may photograph a child’s diaper area to document extreme diaper rash or injury in that area. Any examination or documentation relating to allegations of sexual abuse can only be done by a trained medical professional.

Documentation

If the caseworker is unable to make an audio or video record or take photographs, the caseworker must document the reason.

Texas Family Code §§104.002; 261.302(e)

The caseworker must use the recording software provided with her or his agency equipment. The recording must be uploaded into the agency’s digital repository as soon as possible after completion. The most current upload procedures are located on the DFPS OneCase: Functionality & Usage for CPS page (accessible to DFPS employees only).

2245.5 Examinations by External Entities
2245.51 Sexual Abuse Examinations

CPS August 2017

Medical evidence may be required if sexual abuse is alleged. The caseworker must always obtain parental consent for a sexual abuse examination by a medical professional unless:

  •   DFPS has managing conservatorship of the child; or

  •   DFPS has obtained a court order permitting the examination.

Only the following qualified medical professionals can determine whether a sexual abuse examination is necessary and perform an examination:

  •   Physician

  •   Licensed physician's assistant

  •   S.A.N.E. (sexual assault nurse examiner) Nurse Practitioner 

Caseworkers must never conduct sexual abuse examinations themselves, even if DFPS has managing conservatorship.

2245.52 Medical, Psychological, and Psychiatric Assessments

CPS August 2017

Authority for Obtaining Medical, Psychological, and Psychiatric Assessments

Texas law explicitly permits a medical, psychological, or psychiatric assessment of the child during the course of a DFPS investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.302(a)(2)

However, the U.S. Constitution and court cases place important limitations on when DFPS can take such action. To obtain authority for a medical, psychological, psychiatric, or similar assessment, the caseworker must, in the following order of preference, obtain:

  1. parental consent; or

  2. a court order permitting the assessment, which will only be issued if good cause is shown.

Texas Family Code §261.303(c)

However, if circumstances warrant an exigent removal, the child may be assessed after the removal. If an assessment is conducted after an exigent removal, the caseworker must notify the parent of the assessment.

2246 Transporting a Child

CPS August 2017

Texas law permits DFPS to transport the child for purposes related to an interview, examination, or investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.302(b)(3)

However, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution places important limitations on when DFPS can take such action. Transporting a child who is not in DFPS conservatorship is considered a seizure of the child. Before transporting a child in the course of the investigation, the caseworker must have:

  •   supervisor approval and parental consent;

  •   a court order; or

  •   a reasonable belief (as outlined in 2246.13 Reasonable Belief).

If a parent has not consented, the caseworker must attempt to notify a parent before transporting the child.

Texas Family Code §261.302(b-1)

2246.1 Authority to Transport a Child From School

CPS August 2017

Before transporting a child from school to a child advocacy center or other specialized facility, the caseworker must first attempt to contact the parent and obtain parental consent. If the caseworker is unable to obtain parental consent, the caseworker must have one of the following to transport the child:

  •   A court order.

  •   Reasonable belief that the child has been abused and probably will suffer further abuse if the child returns home.

2246.11 Parental Consent 

CPS August 2017

If the supervisor approves the transport, the caseworker must obtain consent from the:

  •   child's parent; or

  •   other person legally authorized to make decisions for the child.

The caseworker must obtain consent before he or she can transport the child.

The caseworker must obtain an affirmative consent for the transport even if the parent or other person legally authorized to make decisions for the child accompanies the child being transported.

Identifying the Parent or Other Person Authorized to Make Decisions for the Child

The caseworker may rely on school records to verify the child's parent or other person authorized to make decisions for the child. However, if school records do not verify the relationship, the caseworker must request documentation or other information showing a person's relationship to the child or consult with the supervisor or attorney that represents DFPS.

2246.12 Court Order

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must obtain a court order that permits transporting the child if the caseworker and supervisor believe that transport is necessary to ensure the child's protection from abuse or neglect.

DFPS must show good cause for a court to issue such an order.

2246.13 Reasonable Belief

CPS August 2017

The caseworker providing the transport, and the caseworker's supervisor who approved the transport, must have a reasonable belief, based on information independently corroborated by the caseworker, that the child:

  •   has been abused or neglected; and

  •   probably will suffer further abuse upon returning home at the end of the school day.

Independent Corroboration

A reasonable belief exists only when the caseworker gathers information, either first-hand or independently from other DFPS personnel, that corroborates the allegations in the investigation. Independent corroboration may include, but is not limited to:

  •   a preliminary interview of a child's teacher or teachers or other pertinent school personnel;

  •   a preliminary interview of a child's peers or siblings;

  •   consultation with law enforcement concerning information they may already have obtained about the child;

  •   a preliminary contact with other credible and relevant collateral sources (such as neighbors, doctors, or teachers); or

  •   a visual examination of any injuries or physical harm that can be seen without removal of the child's clothing (provided that the caseworker also determines that the injuries or physical harm are unlikely to have a cause other than abuse).

If the Allegations Cannot Be Corroborated

If there is no other way to corroborate the allegations, the caseworker must conduct a preliminary interview of the child.

To the degree possible without jeopardizing the child's safety, the caseworker must avoid multiple interviews when an interview at a child advocacy center is planned.

2246.2 Transporting a Child in Other Circumstances

CPS August 2017

During an investigation, the caseworker may need to transport a child for examinations or other reasons related to the investigation. For instance, the caseworker may need to take the child to a medical, psychological, or dental facility for an examination or treatment, or may need to help the parents voluntarily place the child.

In these instances, the caseworker must have consent from the parent or a court order. If the caseworker obtains a court order, the caseworker must notify or attempt to notify the parent about the planned transport.

2246.3 Notifying the Parents Before Transporting a Child

CPS August 2017

If the caseworker and supervisor determine that an appropriate basis of authority supports transporting the child, the caseworker must attempt to inform the parent about the planned transport so the parent knows the child's whereabouts.

If the parent agrees to allow the caseworker to transport the child, the caseworker has given notice of the transport in the course of obtaining the consent.

If the parent does not grant consent, the caseworker may still transport the child if:

  •   the authority to transport is based on reasonable belief; or

  •   there is a court order for transporting the child.

In this instance, the caseworker:

  •   explains to the parent the basis of authority for transporting the child;

  •   documents the basis and explanation in the narrative; and

  •   transports the child.

2247 Removing a Child from the Child’s Home

CPS October 2020

The caseworker must make reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need to remove the child from the home. The caseworker must not place the child in a parental child safety placement, even if one is available, if the caseworker determined that a removal is necessary and more appropriate based on case-specific factors, including but not limited to danger to the child if returned to the parent, history, and risk. The caseworker removes the child from the home if the situation meets all the following criteria:

  • There is danger to the child.
  • The caseworker has made reasonable efforts, consistent with the circumstances of each case, to secure the child’s safety.
  • There is no other reasonable way to ensure safety except for removal.

If the caseworker determines that removal is necessary, the caseworker has three options for obtaining a court order for removal depending on the circumstances of the case:

  • Order before removal
  • Order after removal
  • Nonemergency removal

Texas Family Code §262.101

Texas Family Code §262.104

Texas Family Code §262.113

See:

5411 Obtaining a Court Order Before Conducting an Emergency Removal

5412 Conducting an Emergency Removal Before Obtaining a Court Order

2248 Interviews and Contact with Parents, Alleged Perpetrators, Other Adults, and Principals

2248.1 Interviewing Parents and Alleged Perpetrators

CPS September 2021

The caseworker must make reasonable efforts to locate both parents of each alleged victim.

At the first contact with a parent or alleged perpetrator, the caseworker must complete the following:

  • Identify himself or herself.
  • Explain the role and responsibilities of DFPS.
  • Explain the reason for contact.
  • Inform the person of the general nature of the report and each allegation and obtain the person’s response. However, if the child has not been interviewed at the time of the first contact, the caseworker must not disclose any information or details of the case that are likely to do any of the following:
    • Cause harm to the child.
    • Influence the child’s interview.
    • Compromise the integrity of the investigation.
2248.11 Assessing Communication Needs when Interviewing an Adult

CPS September 2021

The caseworker must assess communication needs for each adult and determine if any accommodations need to be made for the adult. If the caseworker believes that the adult may have a disability that affects his or her ability to communicate, the caseworker must make appropriate accommodations during the interviewing process. Disabilities that can interfere with communication include deafness, hearing loss, and autism spectrum disorder, which causes the person to not communicate effectively.

See:

Working with Persons with Disabilities Resource Guide

1251 Clients With Disabilities

2248.2 Notice of Right to Record an Alleged Perpetrator’s Interview

CPS September 2021

Before conducting an interview with an alleged perpetrator, the caseworker must complete the following:

  • Provides the alleged perpetrator with a copy of Form 2617 Alleged Perpetrator’s Rights Prior to Interview.
  • Verbally reviews Form 2617 with the alleged perpetrator and informs the alleged perpetrator about the following:
    • The alleged perpetrator may create an audio or video recording of the interview but may not record the interview in any other manner.
    • Any audio or video recording made by the alleged perpetrator may be subject to subpoena under a court order.
    • Any audio or video recording made by the alleged perpetrator may not be posted on a website in a manner that could identify someone involved in the interview.
    • The alleged perpetrator may request and receive a copy of DFPS’s current policy on recording interviews.
    • The alleged perpetrator may request an Administrative Review of Investigation Findings (ARIF) if the finding is Reason to Believe for abuse or neglect of a child. 
  • The caseworker must have the alleged perpetrator sign two copies of Form 2617. If the alleged perpetrator refuses to sign the forms, the caseworker must mark the box on the form that reflects the alleged perpetrator’s refusal to sign and document the refusal in IMPACT.
  • The caseworker must provide one copy of the signed Form 2617 to the alleged perpetrator.
  • The caseworker must upload the other Form 2617 into One Case and document the following in the IMPACT contact narrative:
    • The caseworker verbally and in writing informed the alleged perpetrator of the right to create an audio or video recording.
    • Whether the alleged perpetrator made an audio or video recording of the interview, and whether the caseworker also made an audio or video recording of the interview.
    • The caseworker verbally and in writing informed the alleged perpetrator that an audio or video recording may be subject to subpoena.
    • The caseworker verbally and in writing informed the alleged perpetrator that he or she may request and receive a copy of DFPS’s current policy on recording interviews.  
    • Form 2617 was provided to the alleged perpetrator.

Alleged Perpetrator is a Minor

If the alleged perpetrator is a minor, the caseworker must first receive consent from the child’s parent, or the attorney representing the child or parent, to interview the child as an alleged perpetrator. The person who gave consent signs Form 2617. See 2244.8 Interviews with a Child Who Is Alleged to Be a Victim and a Perpetrator.

After consent is given, the caseworker does the following:

  • Notifies the minor alleged perpetrator of the right to record the interview.
  • Follows the steps the caseworker must complete before conducting the interview with the alleged perpetrator (see list above).

The child’s parent or the attorney representing the child or parent must be present.   

Alleged Perpetrator is Unknown

If the alleged perpetrator is unknown, the caseworker must follow the steps (see above) for providing notice of the right to record the interview for anyone the caseworker will interview about the allegations who may become an alleged perpetrator.

Whenever possible, the caseworker must conduct interviews face-to-face and in private.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.491

2248.3 Recording Interviews of an Adult

CPS September 2021

It may be necessary to record an interview of an adult in specific circumstances such as the following:

  • The adult is recording the interview for his or her records.
  • The nature of the investigation makes recording advisable.

The decision to record an interview of an adult is based upon a reasonable need to have the information recorded. The caseworker must do all of the following:

  • Receive supervisory approval to record the interview, when circumstances permit.
  • Document the reason for recording the interview.
  • Notify the adult before the interview that the caseworker will record the interview.

The caseworker must use the recording software provided with her or his agency equipment and upload the recording into OneCase as soon as possible after completion. The most current upload procedures are on the DFPS OneCase: Functionality & Usage page (accessible to DFPS employees only).

See 2244.4 Audio and Visual Documentation of a Child's Interview and Injuries to the Child.

2248.4 Obtaining Demographic Information from Principals

CPS September 2021

The caseworker must do both of the following:

  • Gather identifying and demographic information from all principals, and document it on the Person Detail page in IMPACT.
  • Work with each principal to determine the principal’s race or ethnicity and the language in which the principal communicates.
2248.5 Required Documents to Provide to Parents

CPS September 2021

The caseworker must provide a copy of A Parent’s Guide to Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Investigations to parents as soon as possible, in a language they can understand, or read it to them if they are illiterate.

2248.6 Complaints or Requests for Clarification from Alleged Perpetrators or Principal Adults

CPS September 2021

The supervisor must immediately review a complaint or request for clarification from the alleged perpetrator or principal adult.

A response must be provided to the alleged perpetrator or principal adult within 30 days of the complaint being made. See 1244 Administrative Reviews of Client Complaints.

Texas Family Code §261.309(b)

2248.7 Determining Alleged Perpetrator’s Military Status

CPS September 2021

In an investigation, the caseworker must ask each adult alleged perpetrator if he or she is an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces or is the spouse of a member on active duty. If the person states he or she meets one of those descriptions, the caseworker must notify the U.S. Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program at the closest active duty military installation to the investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.301(k)

See the Military Installations website to find the nearest Family Advocacy Program.

Timing of Providing Notice to the Family Advocacy Program

The caseworker must notify the Family Advocacy Program of the investigation involving the active duty alleged perpetrator within three days of the start of the Investigation stage.

If the status is not known at the start of the investigation, the caseworker must provide notice within three days of having learned of the alleged perpetrator’s military status. If the caseworker is in an area covered by a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a military base, and the MOU specifies a shorter notification time frame, the caseworker must use the MOU’s time frame.

Documentation

The caseworker must make the appropriate selection from the individual’s Person Characteristics section on the Person Detail page in IMPACT.

.

Alleged Perpetrator’s Military Status

Person Characteristics

Active duty member of the armed forces

Military member on active duty in U.S. Armed Services

A spouse of a member on active duty

Military Dependent-legal dependent of individual on active duty in U.S. Armed Services

The caseworker must document in the contact narrative having notified the U.S. Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program that an alleged perpetrator is an active duty member of the armed forces or a spouse of a member on active duty.

2250 Home Visits

CPS October 2020

The caseworker must conduct a home visit and take photographs of the condition of the home in any of the following situations:

  • There is a principal child in the home who is 5 years old or younger.
  • The allegations involve the condition of the home.
  • Other circumstances in the case make a home visit necessary to ensure child safety.

2251 Safe Sleep

CPS October 2020

DFPS must educate parents and caregivers about safe sleep issues, including the dangers associated with bed-sharing. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has indicated that an infant (under 12 months of age) should sleep in the same room as the parents but not on the same sleep surface. However, many physicians do not agree with the AAP recommendations on bed-sharing.

Shared sleeping arrangements by themselves do not rise to the level of abuse or neglect unless there are other factors such as drug use. See 2281 Reaching Dispositions for the Allegations.

When making first face-to-face contact with a family with an infant (under 12 months of age), the caseworker must observe the area where the infant sleeps for any unsafe sleep practices. The caseworker must immediately and specifically address any concerns with the parent or caregiver and discuss safe sleep issues. The assessment and discussion of the sleep environment must involve:

  • Assessing where the infant is sleeping and ensuring it is free of blankets, pillows, stuffed animals, bumper pads, or other material.
  • Discussing the importance of infants sleeping on their back.
  • Discussing the dangers of exposing an infant to smoke.
  • Discussing the need for a firm sleep surface (not on cushions, sofas, waterbeds, and so on).
  • Discussing the dangers of infants sleeping on the same sleep surface with adults or other children, such as roll-over deaths, asphyxiation, and suffocation.

The caseworker must consult with his or her supervisor if any of the following conditions apply:

  • The caseworker becomes aware of unsafe sleep practices that a parent or caregiver is not able or willing to remedy.
  • A parent or caregiver states that he or she will not follow the safe sleep recommendations, and there are other factors that would create an unsafe sleeping arrangement such as drug or alcohol use while bed-sharing or medical conditions or medications that impair the parent or caregiver.

The supervisor must determine whether the situation requires further DFPS intervention.

The caseworker must provide a copy of the Keeping Children Safe Wherever You Go! handout to the parent or caregiver and review it with them, unless another worker has already documented doing so in the course of the current case.

The caseworker must document safe sleep discussions in a case contact. This includes parent or caregiver responses, observation of the sleeping arrangements, and related supervisor consultations.

If DFPS is involved in determining an appropriate caregiver, the caseworker must discuss safe sleep with that caregiver at initial contact. For safe sleep requirements for children in DFPS conservatorship, see 6411.22 Conducting the Monthly Visit.

If a family cannot ensure a safe sleep environment due to lack of resources, the caseworker must check with the Rainbow Room or local community resources to help address this need. However, staff must not consider bed-sharing, without any other issues, a form of abuse or neglect.

The caseworker must continue to view the infant’s sleeping arrangements during every home visit and assess safe sleep practices.

2260 Adding to or Merging an Investigation

CPS April 2015

Do Not Merge Investigations for Separate Households

Merge New Intakes Into Existing Investigations

If at any point in the investigation the caseworker identifies additional allegations, principals, alleged victims or alleged perpetrators, the caseworker must add them to IMPACT. The caseworker must generate and review the additional principal’s or alleged perpetrator’s criminal and CPS history.

The caseworker cannot designate a child 9 or under as an alleged perpetrator.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.512(a)(1)

Do Not Merge Investigations for Separate Households

The caseworker must treat each household in which there is an allegation of abuse or neglect as a separate investigation. The caseworker must not merge one household’s investigation with another household’s investigation, even if an individual in the household is a principal in both investigations.

Merge New Intakes into Existing Investigation

If the caseworker receives a new intake on a household during an investigation, the caseworker must stage-progress to the Investigation stage, then merge the new investigation into the current investigation. The caseworker must do this unless the supervisor directs otherwise.

If an intake with new allegations or incidents of alleged abuse or neglect occurs, the caseworker must respond to the new intake within the priority time frames of the new intake.

2270 Assessing Safety and Risk

CPS September 2019

See the Safety and Risk Assessment Resource Guide.

2271 Safety Assessments

CPS September 2019

The caseworker assesses child safety during every contact with the family. At a minimum, the caseworker must do the following:

  •  Interview all children who are victims or alleged victims of abuse or neglect.

  •  Interview all caregivers in the household.

The caseworker can also get critical information from collaterals, such as professionals and relatives who have direct knowledge of or interaction with the family.

The caseworker completes a Safety Assessment tool at specific points during the case. This tool helps do the following:

  •  Document the information obtained during the investigation.

  •  Guide decision-making about child safety.

2271.1 Completing an Initial Safety Assessment

CPS September 2019

Time Frames

The time frame for entering the Initial Safety Assessment tool in IMPACT depends on the following factors:

  •  Whether the case requires a safety intervention, which is an action to make sure a child is safe (see 3200 DFPS Actions When Danger to a Child is Present).

  •  Whether the caseworker interviewed or observed at least one alleged victim face-to-face within the priority response time frame (the response time required by the priority of the report). Whether this contact is an interview or an observation depends on the alleged victim’s age and development.

The caseworker uses the table below to determine the time frame for completing the Initial Safety Assessment tool.

Is a safety intervention required?

Are interviews completed within the priority response time frame?

Time frame for completing the Initial Safety Assessment tool in IMPACT

No, the case does not require a safety intervention.

Yes, the caseworker interviewed or observed at least one alleged victim within the priority response time frame.

No more than 24 hours after the priority response time frame expires

No, the case does not require a safety intervention.

No, the caseworker was not able to interview or observe any of the alleged victims within the priority response time frame.

No more than 24 hours after the caseworker interviews or observes at least one alleged victim face-to-face

Yes, the case requires a safety intervention.

Yes or No

No more than 24 hours after the caseworker does the safety intervention

2271.2 Completing a Safety Reassessment

CPS September 2019

The caseworker completes the Safety Reassessment tool at the following times:

  •  Before a child returns home from a parental child safety placement.

  •  Within 24 hours of learning of any situation that may put the child’s safety in jeopardy, including any situation that would change any of the following elements related to the Safety Assessment:

  •  Danger Indicators

  •  Safety Interventions

  •  Safety Plan

  •  Safety Decision

  •  Before transferring an investigation to Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS), if the last Safety Assessment tool was completed more than 45 days ago, unless all of the following apply:

  •  The FBSS caseworker has already been working with the family and knows that the child is safe.

  •  There have been no changes that might affect child safety.

  •  All participants in the safety plan agree that the safety plan is working.

2271.3 Completing a Closure Safety Assessment

CPS September 2019

The caseworker completes the Closure Safety Assessment tool before closing an investigation if both of the following apply:

  •  The family will not receive ongoing services from FBSS or the Conservatorship program.

  •  One of the following applies:

  •  The most recent safety finding was Safe, but more than 45 days have passed since the last Safety Assessment was completed.

  •  The most recent safety finding was Unsafe or Safe With a Plan.

However, a Closure Safety Assessment tool is not required if either of the following applies:

  •  Child Protective Investigations (CPI) cannot locate the family.

  •  The family is uncooperative, and legal intervention is not possible.

2272 Risk Assessment

CPS September 2019

At the Beginning of the Case

The caseworker begins the Risk Assessment tool as soon as possible after meeting with the family. This helps CPI:

  •  Identify any concerns of risk.

  •  Provide the family with services or referrals to address the concerns.

At the End of the Case

The caseworker must recommend transfer of the case to FBSS if both of the following apply:

  •  The Risk Assessment tool has a final risk level of High or Very High at the time of case closure.

  •  CPI has not removed the child from the home.

Exceptions

The caseworker is not required to recommend transfer of the case to FBSS if an exception applies. The Exception Rationales for Risk-Based Case Opening/Case Closing Decisions document on the DFPS intranet explains the exceptions, which fall into the following general categories:

  •  The family has an active support network, is receiving community services that directly address their needs, or a combination of these. (This may also apply if CPI has connected the family to services.)

  •  The family declined FBSS services, and no legal intervention is possible.

  •  The family is already receiving FBSS services.

See 2291.5 Need for Ongoing Services.

2273 Supervisor Review of Case Actions and Safety Decisions

CPS September 2019

Fifteen Days from Intake

No later than 15 calendar days from the date of the intake, the supervisor reviews case documentation to ensure that the caseworker has done the following:

  •  Had quality face-to-face contact with all alleged victims (or, if not, is making appropriate efforts to make face-to-face contact). This does not apply to cases that are approved for administrative closure that do not require contact with alleged victims.

  •  Added any new allegations, alleged victims, or alleged perpetrators to IMPACT.

  •  Completed all initial investigation tasks (see 2230 Investigation Tasks), unless the supervisor approves the case for a type of administrative closure that does not involve completing these tasks.

  •  Completed any required Safety Assessment tools (see 2271 Safety Assessments).

  •  Taken any action needed to ensure child safety.

Documentation of Supervisor Review

After completing this 15-day review, the supervisor documents the following in IMPACT:

  •  The completion of the review.

  •  Any actions necessary to address child safety.

This requirement applies to all cases open on the 15th day from the date of the intake, including cases for which the plan is to abbreviate the investigation or administratively close it.

See 2310 Administrative Closure for more information about administratively closed investigations that do not involve contact with alleged victims.

Investigations Open More Than 60 Days from Intake

Texas Family Code §261.3017(b) requires the supervisor to review each investigation that remains open more than 60 calendar days from the date of the intake.

The supervisor does as follows with each of these investigations:

  •  Administratively closes the investigation if it meets the criteria in 2315 Investigation Is Open for More Than 60 Days.

  •  Follows the procedures in 2291 Submitting an Investigation for Closure if the investigation does not meet the criteria in 2315 Investigation Is Open for More Than 60 Days.

2274 Assessment of Ongoing Child Safety

CPS September 2019

The caseworker’s primary responsibility during each investigation is to determine whether or not the child is safe from abuse or neglect. The caseworker must continually assess safety during the investigation to determine if any child is in danger. If the caseworker is concerned about the child’s safety for any reason (such as due to the family’s current situation, history, or ability to keep the child safe from danger), the caseworker must immediately take the following actions:

  •  Reassess safety in the home.

  •  Take steps to ensure the child is protected from harm.

Additional Criminal and Child Abuse and Neglect History BackgroundChecks

To determine if additional criminal and child abuse and neglect history background checks are needed when reassessing safety, the caseworker must identify any changes in the composition of the household.

See 2115 Terms Used in Primary Statutory Definitions for the definition of household.

The caseworker must complete a background check (including criminal history and child abuse and neglect history) for anyone age 14 or older who lives in the home. This includes anyone who moves into the home during the investigation.

The caseworker consults with his or her supervisor to determine if frequent visitors to the home need a criminal and child abuse and neglect history check to make sure the child is safe.

The caseworker and supervisor consider the following factors when determining whether to complete a background check on a frequent visitor:

  •  Frequency of contact with the child.

  •  Current safety concerns in the case.

  •  Vulnerability of the child.

  •  Parent’s history of choosing appropriate household members.

  •  Information obtained from the child about time spent with the frequent visitor.

  •  Information obtained from collaterals about the frequent visitor.

  •  Disclosure of criminal and child abuse and neglect history by the frequent visitor.

If a background check determines that a person has a criminal or child abuse and neglect history, the caseworker must discuss the results with his or her supervisor to identify any actions necessary to make sure the child is safe. The caseworker must document this discussion in IMPACT.

See:

2230 Investigation Tasks

2271 Safety Assessments

3200 DFPS Actions When Danger to a Child is Present

2275 Ongoing Contacts

CPS July 2021

The caseworker must make a face-to-face contact with all alleged victim children and any other children as required by policy, at least every 45 days, until the case is submitted for closure (2244.2 Interviewing Other Children in the Home).

Caseworker should follow policy regarding notification to parents after making contact with any children (2244.5 Notifying a Parent that a Child Has Been Interviewed).

A home visit must be completed every 45 days if the case meets policy requiring a home visit. (2250 Home Visits)

If a child is not able to be located for the 45-day contact, the caseworker notifies his or her supervisor to discuss a plan for making contact with the child as soon as possible.

The caseworker continuously addresses any danger indicators throughout the life of the case and must immediately consult with his or her supervisor if child safety concerns arise.

2276 Referral to Services

CPS July 2021

The caseworker refers a family to community resources or services whenever the caseworker determines that such resources or services will do any of the following:

  • Reduce danger to a child.
  • Reduce a child’s vulnerability.
  • Support actions to protect a child.

When DFPS pays for a service for the child or family, the caseworker documents how the service is related to investigating the allegations or keeping the child safe. This documentation goes in the Comments field on Form 2054 Service Authorization.

2280 Disposition

2281 Reaching Dispositions for the Allegations

CPS September 2019

The caseworker assigns a disposition to each allegation after gathering enough information. Sections 2281.1-2281.5, below, describe the dispositions.

Disposition Guidelines

Child Protective Investigations (CPI) provides disposition guidelines for the following subjects:

Disposition Guidelines for Domestic Violence Resource Guide

CPI Disposition Guidelines for Firearm Deaths

Forced or Coerced Marriage Resource Guide

CPI Disposition Guidelines for Children Dying while left Unattended in a Vehicle

CPI Disposition Guidelines for Deaths Involving Co-Sleeping

CPI Disposition Guidelines for Drowning Deaths

CPI Disposition Guidelines for Suicide Deaths

Child Fatality Protocol Handbook

Appendix 2472.1-A Determining Overall Disposition and Overall Role provides information about the following:

  •  The way that the dispositions of individual allegations determine the overall disposition of the investigation.

  •  The final investigation roles for people whose initial roles were alleged victim or alleged perpetrator.

Dispositions for Certain Types of Cases

Bed-Sharing Cases

Bed-sharing without any other issues is not abuse or neglect.

See CPI Disposition Guidelines for Deaths Involving Co-Sleeping.

Forced or Coerced Marriage Abuse (FMAB) Cases

CPI is required by law to investigate allegations of forced or coerced marriage abuse (FMAB). However, the IMPACT case management system has not been updated to include the FMAB allegation type.

If there are allegations that a child is being forced or coerced to get married or to marry a specific person against his or her will, it is likely that the behavior of the parents, other family members, or other caregivers meets the definition of other types of abuse or neglect. These other allegation types are available in IMPACT.

In order to make a Reason to Believe finding under one of the other types of abuse or neglect, the elements of that allegation type must be present in the case.

The default allegation for an FMAB case in which no other factors are present is Neglectful Supervision.

If the caseworker makes a Reason to Believe finding for one of the other types of abuse or neglect, the caseworker also makes a Reason to Believe finding for Neglectful Supervision.

If the caseworker determines that the child is being forced or coerced into a marriage, the caseworker documents the reasons why the case meets the definition of FMAB. This documentation goes in the Narrative and in the Allegation Detail section of the allegation that the caseworker is using.

A caseworker who is investigating an allegation of FMAB contacts the program specialist for investigations and alternative response at CPI state office. The purpose of this contact is to report the case for tracking purposes.

See Disposition Guidelines in the Forced or Coerced Marriage Abuse Resource Guide for more guidance on conducting this type of investigation.

2281.1 Administrative Closure

CPS September 2019

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

Individual Allegation

The caseworker assigns the Administrative Closure disposition to an individual allegation when the investigation reveals that there are no grounds for CPI intervention to continue for that allegation.

Examples of this situation include the following:

  •  A person was included in the intake mistakenly.

  •  A child under age 10 was named as an alleged perpetrator.

  •  CPI does not have the authority to investigate the individual allegation.

All Allegations

The caseworker assigns the Administrative Closure disposition to all the allegations when both of the following apply:

  •  CPI gathers new information, or information in addition to that in the intake.

  •  This information reveals that there are no grounds for CPI intervention to continue.

In this situation, the caseworker follows the procedures in 2310 Administrative Closure.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.507(c)

2281.2 Reason to Believe

CPS September 2019

The caseworker assigns the Reason to Believe disposition to an allegation if, based on the preponderance of evidence gathered during the investigation, the caseworker concludes that both of the following are true:

  •  The alleged abuse or neglect occurred.

  •  The alleged perpetrator is responsible for it.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.511(b)(1)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.512(b)(2)

If the caseworker concludes that the alleged abuse or neglect occurred but there is not a preponderance of evidence to conclude who is responsible, the caseworker does as follows:

  •  Assigns the Unable to Determine disposition. See 2281.5 Unable to Determine.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.512(b)(4)

  •  Enters a new allegation of abuse or neglect with the disposition of Reason to Believe.

  •  Does not name a perpetrator in the new allegation.

Near Fatal or Fatal Severity

If the caseworker assigns the Reason to Believe disposition to an allegation, the caseworker uses the information below to determine whether the severity type Near Fatal or Fatal applies. In some situations, neither Near Fatal nor Fatal applies.

Near Fatal Severity

The caseworker chooses the severity type Near Fatal if both of the following apply:

  •  A physician states that a child is in critical or serious condition.

  •  The caseworker determines that abuse or neglect caused the child’s condition.

Near Fatal abuse or neglect is abuse or neglect from which the child would likely have died without medical intervention. For the purpose of this subsection, medical intervention is treatment that involves one or more the following:

  •  Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), such as chest compressions, rescue breathing, removal of something blocking the airway, or insertion of a tube for breathing.

  •  Medications to stabilize cardiac (heart) or respiratory (breathing) status, blood pressure, or critical electrolytes.

  •  Surgery to preserve brain function, to prevent blood loss, or to prevent infection (for example, as the result of abdominal trauma).

A child who has experienced Near Fatal abuse or neglect is typically admitted to an intensive care unit, which includes the following:

  •  Neonatal intensive care units.

  •  Pediatric intensive care units.

  •  Trauma units.

See the Forensic Assessment Center Network (FACN) Resource Guide, Appendix A.

Fatal Severity

The caseworker chooses the severity type Fatal if both of the following apply:

  •  CPI is investigating a child fatality.

  •  CPI finds that abuse or neglect caused the child’s death.

2281.3 Ruled Out

CPS September 2019

The caseworker assigns the Ruled Out disposition to an allegation if the information gathered during the investigation supports a reasonable conclusion that one of the following applies:

  •  The alleged abuse or neglect did not occur.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.511(b)(2)

  •  The alleged abuse or neglect occurred, but the alleged perpetrator is not responsible for it. In this situation, the caseworker does one of the following:

  •  Assigns the Reason to Believe disposition to the allegation for the correct alleged perpetrator.

  •  Enters a new allegation of abuse or neglect with the disposition of Reason to Believe, and does not name a perpetrator in the new allegation because the perpetrator is unknown. In this situation, the caseworker assigns the Ruled Out disposition to the original allegation.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.512(b)(6)(A-B)

2281.4 Unable to Complete

CPS September 2019

The caseworker assigns the Unable to Complete (UTC) disposition to an individual allegation, or to all allegations in an investigation, in specific circumstances. The caseworker must not assign the UTC disposition unless the caseworker has made reasonable efforts to locate the principals and gather information from them.

When to Assign the UTC Disposition

The caseworker assigns the UTC disposition for the allegation only if one of the scenarios below applies.

A principal, also called a principal source, is a person closely connected with the case.

Scenario One

The caseworker has made reasonable efforts to locate the principals, but these efforts have been unsuccessful. The caseworker cannot reach a disposition for the allegations.

The caseworker does the following:

  •  Assigns the UTC disposition to all allegations.

  •  Chooses the Recommended Action of Close – Fam moved/cannot locate.

  •  Places the family on the Child Safety Check Alert List (CSCAL).

Scenario Two

The caseworker has located some (or all) principals and may have gathered enough information to reach a disposition for the allegations. However, CPI can no longer locate the family, and one of the following applies:

  •  The caseworker is not sure whether the child is safe.

  •  There are immediate, ongoing concerns for child safety that CPI must address.

The caseworker does the following:

  •  Assigns the UTC disposition to all allegations.

  •  Chooses the Recommended Action of Close – Fam moved/cannot locate.

  •  Places the family on the Child Safety Check Alert List (CSCAL).

  •  Documentsin a contact narrative before submitting the case for approval, according to these directions:

  •  The caseworker does this if he or she could have reached a disposition at the time of closure but chose the UTC disposition because of concerns for child safety.

  •  The documentation includes the following:

  •  The disposition that the caseworker would have assigned to each allegation if UTC had not been required.

  •  The supporting rationale for each of those dispositions.

Scenario Three

The caseworker has located all the principals in the case. The caseworker has made reasonable efforts to contact the principals and gather information from them, but these efforts have been unsuccessful with all the principals, and legal intervention is not possible. The caseworker may have gathered enough information from other sources to reach a disposition for some of the allegations. The caseworker cannot reach a disposition for the remaining allegations.

The caseworker does the following:

  •  Assigns the UTC disposition to only the allegations that do not have a disposition because of factors in Scenario Three.

  •  Assigns a disposition other than UTC to each of the other allegations, as appropriate.

  •  Chooses the Recommended Action of Close – Fam uncooperative.

Scenario Four

The caseworker has located all the principals in the case. The caseworker has interviewed some of the principals and may have gathered enough information to reach a disposition for some of the allegations. The caseworker has made reasonable efforts to contact the remaining principals and gather information from them, but these efforts have been unsuccessful, and legal intervention is not possible. The caseworker cannot reach a disposition for the remaining allegations.

The caseworker does the following:

  •  Assigns the UTC disposition to only the allegations that do not have a disposition because of factors in Scenario Four.

  •  Assigns a disposition other than UTC to each of the other allegations, as appropriate.

  •  Chooses the Recommended Action of Close – Fam uncooperative.

When Not to Assign the UTC Disposition

The caseworker does not assign the UTC disposition if any of the following occur:

  •  The caseworker has not made reasonable efforts to locate the principals and gather information from them.

  •  The caseworker cannot gather enough information to determine whether the alleged abuse or neglect occurred, who is responsible for it, or both. However, the reason the caseworker cannot gather enough information is something other than the caseworker being unable to locate a principal or a principal being uncooperative.

  •  All of the following apply in the case:

  •  The caseworker has gathered information from principals.

  •  The caseworker has enough information to determine whether the abuse or neglect occurred and who is responsible for it (for all allegations).

  •  CPI believes the child is safe at the time of closure, even though CPI can no longer locate the family.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.511(b)(3)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.512(b)(5)

When to Change a UTC Disposition Because the Family Is Located

CPI addresses all allegations when all of the following apply:

  •  The caseworker in the family’s previous case assigned a UTC disposition and chose the Recommended Action of Close – Fam moved/cannot locate.

  •  CPI or another entity locates the family.

  •  The family has a new (current) CPI case.

The caseworker in the family’s current case does the following:

  •  Gathers information and addresses the allegations from the previous case, during the current case.

  •  Assigns dispositions (other than UTC) to these allegations.

If the family’s previous case fell under Scenario Two, above, the caseworker in the current case does the following:

  •  Reviews the disposition and supporting rationale for the disposition that the caseworker, in the previous case, provided in the contact narrative.

  •  Determines whether that disposition still applies to those allegations.

  •  Assigns a disposition (other than UTC) to the allegations that previously had a UTC disposition. The caseworker does this based on both of the following:

  •  Information gathered in the previous case.

  •  Current information that the principals have provided.

See:

3110 Conducting a Diligent Search and Placing the Family on the Child Safety Check Alert List (CSCAL)

Finding Families Resource Guide

2281.5 Unable to Determine

CPS September 2019

The caseworker assigns the Unable to Determine disposition to an allegation if the allegation does not meet the criteria for Administrative Closure, Reason to Believe, Ruled Out, or Unable to Complete, and one of the following applies:

  •  There is not enough information to determine whether the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.

  •  There is enough information to determine that the abuse or neglect occurred, but not enough to determine whether the alleged perpetrator is responsible for it.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.511(b)(4)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.512(b)(4)

The caseworker does not assign this disposition unless the caseworker has made reasonable efforts to gather all available information.

2282 Referral to Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)

CPS February 15, 2015

If a case containing a child under age 3 receives a disposition of Reason to Believe but is not being sent for services (Family Preservation or Conservatorship), a caseworker does not need to make a referral, as it will be generated by the system.

In all other cases containing a child under age 3, where services will be provided, the worker must refer to ECI when appropriate.

2290 Submitting Investigations

2291 Submitting an Investigation for Closure

CPS October 2020

The caseworker completes all required tasks and documentation, then consults with the supervisor before submitting an investigation for closure.

2291.1 Abbreviated Ruled Out

CPS October 2020

The caseworker can recommend closing the case as an abbreviated investigation with the disposition of Ruled Out. The Abbreviated Ruled-Out recommendation is used only if all the following apply:

  • The investigation does not include an alleged victim age 5 or younger.
  • The investigation does not involve a child fatality.
  • No previous investigations or alternative response cases involve any principal in the investigation.
  • DFPS has not received, during the current investigation, more reports of abuse or neglect of any alleged victim in the investigation. A new report does not count, for the purpose of this bullet point, if it involves only incidents and allegations that are already under investigation.
  • The reporter is not anonymous. If the reporter is anonymous, see 2310 Administrative Closure.

The caseworker does the following if submitting the investigation as an Abbreviated Ruled Out:

  • Does not complete the Risk Assessment tool.
  • Submits the investigation for closure no later than 45 calendar days from the date of the intake.

The caseworker must complete the following minimum tasks before submitting the investigation as an Abbreviated Ruled Out:

  • Interviews and examine all alleged victims.
  • Completes all initial tasks. See 2230 Investigation Tasks.
  • Completes the Safety Assessment tool.
  • Interviews at least one parent of each alleged victim, though the caseworker shall attempt to notify both parents, following policy 2244.5 Notifying a Parent That a Child Has Been Interviewed.
  • Conducts any required home visit.
  • Documents all contacts, case actions, and meetings with the supervisor. See 2220 Documentation.
  • Determines that both of the following apply:
    • There is enough information to rule out all allegations.
    • The child will be safe without further investigation, response, services, or help.

A family whose case is submitted for an abbreviated rule out is not eligible to receive family-based safety services or substitute care services.

Texas Family Code §261.3017

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(c)

2291.2 Administrative Closure

CPS October 2020

The caseworker may submit an investigation for closure with a recommended action of administrative closure if the information gathered and information in the intake indicate that there are no longer grounds for a CPI investigation. See 2310 Administrative Closure.

When submitting a case for administrative closure:

  • The caseworker documents all contacts, case actions, and determinations, and all meetings with the supervisor. See 2220 Documentation.
  • The program director reads the investigation and approves or denies the request for closing the case
  • If approved for administrative closure, the program director documents his or her approval in a contact narrative.
  • The supervisor submits the case for closure to the program director.
  • The program director reviews the documentation and closes the investigation stage in IMPACT

See 2293 Notifying Clients of Investigation Findings for the time frames for providing notification of findings when an investigation is administratively closed.

2291.3 Unable to Complete, Family Moved/Cannot Locate

CPS October 2020

If the overall disposition for the investigation is Unable to Complete and the recommended action is Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate, the caseworker does the following:

  • Completes as many of the tasks listed in 2291.1 Abbreviated Ruled Out as possible.
  • Conducts a diligent search for the family.
  • Places the family on the Child Safety Check Alert List (CSCAL) if he or she cannot locate the family.
  • Submits the case for closure with the recommended action of Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate.

See:

2281.4 Unable to Complete.

3100 When a Child Who is With His or Her Family Cannot Be Located.

3110 Conducting a Diligent Search and Placing the Family on the Child Safety Check Alert List (CSCAL).

2291.4 All Other Recommended Actions

CPS October 2020

If the caseworker submits an investigation for closure with a recommended action other than Administrative Closure, Abbreviated Ruled Out, or Unable to Complete with Family Moved/Cannot Locate, the caseworker first completes the following tasks:

  • Interviews and examines all alleged victims.
  • Completes the Initial Safety Assessment tool.
  • Completes all initial tasks. See 2230 Investigation Tasks.
  • Interviews all parents of each alleged victim, except parents whom DFPS has not located.
  • Interviews all alleged perpetrators.
  • Conducts any required home visit.
  • Gathers any other information or documentation from collaterals necessary to determine case dispositions and ensure child safety.
  • Completes the Risk Assessment tool, unless all allegations have the Unable to Complete disposition.
  • Documents all contacts and case actions and all meetings with the supervisor.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(d)

The caseworker does not submit an investigation for closure unless he or she has addressed all known dangers to the child.

The caseworker does the following as soon as possible, but no later than 45 calendar days from the date of the intake:

  • Completes all investigation tasks and documentation.
  • Submits the investigation to the supervisor.
2291.5 Need for Ongoing Services

CPS October 2020

The caseworker discusses with the supervisor the family’s need for ongoing services before or during the meeting required in 2291 Submitting an Investigation for Closure if either of the following apply:

  • The Risk Assessment score is High or Very High.
  • The Risk Assessment score is Low or Moderate, but the final safety decision is Safe with a Plan or Unsafe, because unresolved danger indicators remain in the household.

The caseworker makes a recommendation to the supervisor in either of the above situations. The possible recommendations are as follows:

  • Remove at least one child from the home and transfer the case to conservatorship if legal requirements for removing a child are met. See Texas Family Code Chapter 262.
  • Transfer the case to family-based safety services, if no child has been removed, unless any of the following apply:
    • The family has an active network of people who are aware of the dangers and willing to take action to prevent harm.
    • The family is receiving community services to address needs or contributing factors that lead to risk of abuse or neglect, or DFPS has connected the family with such services.
    • The family refuses services, and legal intervention is not possible.
    • DFPS has made reasonable efforts to locate the child and has been unsuccessful. See 3100 When a Child Who is With His or Her Family Cannot be Located.
2291.6 Extension Request

CPS October 2020

The caseworker requests an extension if he or she is not able to submit the case to the supervisor within 45 calendar days from the date of the intake.

The supervisor can grant an extension on a case-by-case basis with good cause.

Any extension beyond 90 calendar days from the date of the intake requires the program director’s written approval.

See 2232 Making a Referral to the Forensic Assessment Center Network for information about extensions relating to the Forensic Assessment Center Network.

2292 Action on a Submitted Investigation

CPS September 2019

Once the caseworker has submitted an investigation for closure, the supervisor reviews the submission and responds as soon as possible. The supervisor is required to respond within five calendar days of submission, by either approving or returning the submission.

If the supervisor returns the submission, the supervisor communicates to the caseworker any outstanding issues that need to be resolved.

The caseworker tries to resolve outstanding issues within the original investigation time frame or requests an extension, regardless of whether the supervisor has approved or returned the submission.

Roles of the Child Safety Specialist (CSS) and Program Director (PD)

The supervisor assigns a child safety specialist (CSS) as secondary approver on any investigation that meets established criteria, to make sure that CPI has addressed all known dangers to the child.

If the CSS returns an investigation because additional actions are required to ensure child safety, the CSS documents the specific required actions in a contact.

When the actions are completed and the supervisor approves the investigation for closure, the supervisor submits the investigation to the program director (PD) for final approval.

The PD reviews the CSS’s recommendations and verifies that staff members have satisfactorily completed all required actions and documented them in the case record. If any action that the CSS recommended has not been completed and the PD determines it is not needed to ensure child safety, the PD documents in a contact the reasons for not requiring the action.

Requirements for Approval

CPI approves an investigation for closure only if both of the following apply:

  •  All allegations have an appropriate disposition.

  •  CPI has addressed all known dangers to the child.

2293 Notifying Clients of Investigation Findings

CPS September 2019

The caseworker provides written notification of findings within the following time frames (unless one of the exceptions below applies):

  •  Within 24 hours of an administrative closure.

  •  Within 15 calendar days of all other types of investigation closure.

In any closure, the caseworker provides written notification of findings to each of the following people (except as stated in 2293.1 Exceptions to Notifying Clients of Investigation Findings):

  •  Parent (or other person with primary or legal responsibility) for each alleged victim or alleged perpetrator who is a minor.

  •  Alleged perpetrator. For an alleged perpetrator who is a minor, the caseworker may send the notification to the minor’s parent or other person with primary or legal responsibility for the minor.

  •  Reporter, if CPI knows this person’s identity and address.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513

2293.1 Exceptions to Notifying Clients of Investigation Findings

CPS September 2019

When Not to Notify Clients of Findings

The caseworker is not required to notify a person of findings if the caseworker could not reasonably locate that person during the investigation.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513(d)(1)

The caseworker does not notify a person of findings if either of the following apply:

  •  The investigation is being administratively closed because CPI is referring it for investigation to another authorized entity, such as law enforcement or another state agency.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513(d)(4)

  •  The caseworker determines that notifying that person is likely to endanger any child in the home, a reporter, or anyone else who participated in the investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.311(c)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513(d)(2)

When to Delay Notification of Findings

The caseworker delays notification of findings if law enforcement requests the delay to avoid interfering with an ongoing criminal investigation. The caseworker notifies people of findings once law enforcement tells DFPS that it no longer needs the delay.

Texas Family Code §261.311(d)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513(d)(3)

2300 Special Circumstances for Investigations

2310 Administrative Closure

CPS October 2020

Sections 2311-2315 describe criteria that Child Protective Investigations (CPI) considers when deciding whether to administratively close an investigation.

When submitting a case for administrative closure, the following steps occur:

  • The caseworker documents all contacts, case actions, determinations, and meetings with the supervisor in an investigation submitted for administrative closure. See 2220 Documentation.
  • The program director reads the investigation and approves or denies the request for closing the case.
  • If approved for administrative closure, the program director documents their approval in a contact narrative.
  • The supervisor submits the case for closure to the program director.
  • The program director reviews the documentation and closes the investigation stage in IMPACT.

See 2293 Notifying Clients of Investigation Findings.

2311 Reporter Is Anonymous

CPS October 2020

The caseworker may submit the investigation for administrative closure at any point without completing the Risk Assessment tool if the investigation is based on an anonymous report.

In this situation, the caseworker completes the following tasks:

  • Interviews and examines all alleged victims.
  • Completes all initial tasks. See 2230 Investigation Tasks.
  • Completes the initial safety assessment.
  • Interviews at least one parent of each alleged victim. Although only one parent is required to be interviewed about the allegations, the caseworker follows policy 2244.5 Notifying a Parent that a Child Has Been Interviewed.
  • Conducts any required home visit.
  • Reviews all other gathered information.
  • Determines that both of the following apply:
    • No evidence supports the allegations.
    • A parent is willing and able to protect the alleged victim from future dangers.

Texas Family Code §261.304

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(b)(1)(D)

2312 Allegations Are Refuted

CPS October 2020

The caseworker submits the investigation for administrative closure no later than 15 days from intake if the allegations have been refuted.

All the following criteria must be met for this type of administrative closure:

  • No previous reports of abuse or neglect involve any principal in the investigation.
  • DFPS has not received any more reports of abuse or neglect of any alleged victim in the investigation. (A new report does not count, for the purpose of this bullet point, if it involves the same incidents and allegations as the original report.)
  • The caseworker has not made contact with any alleged victim or alleged perpetrator.
  • The caseworker determines that no abuse or neglect occurred.
  • The caseworker determines that the child will be safe without further assessment, response, services, or help. He or she determines this by contacting a professional or another credible source with direct knowledge of the child’s condition within the time frame determined by the priority of the report. The following criteria apply:
    • The information from the credible source is required to be new or in addition to the intake information.
    • Texas Family Code §261.3018(e) defines “professional” as a person who is licensed or certified by the state, or who is an employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state, and who has direct contact with children in the normal course of the person’s duties. This includes the following people:
      • Teachers.
      • Nurses.
      • Doctors.
      • Day care employees.
      • Employees of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services.
      • Juvenile probation officers.
      • Juvenile detention or correctional officers.

If all the above criteria apply, the following occurs:

  • The caseworker does not complete the Safety Assessment or Risk Assessment tools.
  • The caseworker submits the investigation for administrative closure.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(b)(1)(B)

2313 CPI Lacks Authority to Investigate

CPS October 2020

The caseworker submits an investigation for administrative closure if, at any point in the investigation, the caseworker determines that any of the following apply:

  • DFPS does not have jurisdiction to investigate because another authorized entity, such as law enforcement, another state agency, or another DFPS program, has jurisdiction to investigate. See 2293.1 Exceptions to Notifying Clients of Investigation Findings.
  • The abuse or neglect, danger, or risk of abuse or neglect is not occurring in Texas and did not occur in Texas. See 2372 Abuse Out of State.
  • The alleged perpetrator is younger than 10.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(b)(1)(C)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.497(a)(1)

The caseworker submits the investigation for administrative closure as soon as possible, but no later than seven calendar days, after making the determination.

2314 Allegations Were Already Investigated

CPS October 2020

The caseworker submits an investigation for administrative closure if, at any point in the investigation, the caseworker determines that both of the following apply:

  • CPI has already investigated or addressed the same incidents and allegations in a previous case that was closed prior to the date of the new intake.
  • There are no new incidents or new allegations in the current case.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(b)(1)(a)

The caseworker does the following:

  • Documents the case number of the closed case and explains how information in the new report was addressed in the closed investigation.
  • Submits the investigation for administrative closure as soon as possible, but no later than seven calendar days, after making the determination.
  • Merges the case with the previous case.

2315 Investigation Is Open for More Than 60 Days

CPS October 2020

If an investigation has been open for more than 60 days from the date of the intake, the supervisor administratively closes the investigation if all the following criteria are met:

  • No previous reports of abuse or neglect involve any principal in the investigation.
  • DFPS has not received any more reports of abuse or neglect of any alleged victim in the investigation. (A new report does not count, for the purpose of this bullet point, if it involves the same incidents and allegations already under investigation.)
  • The supervisor determines, after contacting a professional or another credible source, that the child will be safe without further investigation, response, services, or help.
  • CPI determines that no abuse or neglect occurred.
  • Closing the case would not put the child at risk of harm.
  • All the following apply:
    • The caseworker has interviewed and examined all alleged victims.
    • The final Safety Assessment decision is Safe.
    • The Risk Assessment score is Low or Moderate.

The program director reviews the case and documents the approval through the secondary approval process in IMPACT.

2316 Types of Closure: Comparison Table

CPS September 2019

The table below helps staff members determine which type of closure is appropriate, depending on the situation. This table is only a guide; all staff members are required to follow the appropriate policy, which may contain additional requirements.

Policy

Type of Closure

Time Frame

Can use if have previous history?

Can use if subsequent reports?

Safety Assessment required?

Risk Assessment required?

Notes

2311

Reporter Is Anonymous

At any point during the Investigation (INV) stage

Yes

Yes, as long as reporter is still anonymous

Yes

No

 

2313

CPI Lacks Authority to Investigate

At any point during the INV stage

Yes

Yes

No

No

Close within seven days of making determination

2314

Allegations Were Already Investigated

At any point during the INV stage

Yes

Yes

No

No

 

2312

Allegations Are Refuted

(Not applicable to Alternative Response cases)

Within 15 days of intake

No

No

No

No

CPI staff is not allowed to make contact with any alleged perpetrator or alleged victim.

Close within 15 days of intake, or CPI staff follows policy on Abbreviated Rule Out in 2291 Submitting an Investigation for Closure.

2315

Investigation Is Open for More Than 60 Days

(Not applicable to Alternative Response cases)

61 days after intake

No

No

Yes

Yes

Law directs CPI to close all investigations open 61 days or more, if all of the following apply:

  •  Allegations would be Ruled Out.

  •  No previous history.

  •  No subsequent reports.

2291

Abbreviated Rule Out

(Not applicable to Alternative Response cases)

16-60 days after intake

No

No

Yes

No

Close within 60 days, or staff follows policy 2315 Investigation Is Open for More Than 60 Days.

 

Thorough Investigation (Close)

Within 60 days of intake

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Staff follows policy 2315 Investigation Is Open for More Than 60 Days if all of the following apply:

  •  Investigation is open 61 days or more.

  •  Allegations would be Ruled Out.

  •  No previous history.

  •  No subsequent reports.

2320 School Investigations

2321 Criteria for a School Investigation

CPS September 2021

DFPS’s special investigators conduct investigations of school personnel alleged to have committed abuse or neglect of a student. To qualify as a school investigation, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • The alleged perpetrator must be a person who meets the definition of school personnel or volunteer at the child's school per the jurisdiction of the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
  • The alleged victim must be a child or must have been a child at the time that the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.
  • The alleged abuse or neglect must have happened in a school setting and there must be a likelihood that enough evidence can be collected to establish whether abuse or neglect occurred.
  • The same allegations involving the school setting must not have already been investigated by DFPS.

The case may be administratively closed if at any point in the investigation it becomes apparent that the allegations in the report do not meet one or more of the criteria for a school investigation.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §§707.609

The reported incident is accepted for investigation if the above criteria are met, even if the alleged victim reached age 18 before the report was made. This is due to concerns about the alleged perpetrator's possible continued access to children in a school setting and the potential for other children to be abused or neglected.

In a school investigation, the following are not considered to be abuse or neglect within a school setting:

  • Use of restraints or seclusion that does not meet the statutory definitions of child abuse or neglect.
  • Actions that school personnel or volunteers at the child's school reasonably believe to be immediately necessary to avoid imminent harm to self or other people, if the actions are limited only to those actions reasonably believed to be necessary under the existing circumstances. The actions do not include acts of unnecessary force or the inappropriate use of restraints or seclusion, such as use of restraints or seclusion as a substitute for lack of staff.
  • Actions by a peace officer in the performance of official law enforcement duties as described in Texas Penal Code Chapter 9, unless the actions otherwise meet the definitions of abuse or neglect.
  • Reasonable physical discipline that is all of the following:
    • Appropriate for the child's age and development.
    • Appropriate for the reason for which the discipline is being administered.
    • Does not result in physical injuries substantially harmful to the child or contain genuine threats of substantial physical injury to the child.

2322 Actions Required before Starting a School Investigation

CPS September 2021

Before starting a school investigation, the special investigator must:

  • Verbally notify the school's principal (or the principal's supervisor if the principal is an alleged perpetrator) of the report, the nature of the allegations, and the date and time the special investigator will arrive to begin the investigation. The special investigator must request that the principal not inform the alleged perpetrator before the special investigator interviews him or her.
  • Verbally notify the superintendent of the school district (or the president of the school board, if the superintendent is an alleged perpetrator) of the investigation.
  • If the alleged perpetrator is an employee of a charter school, the special investigator must verbally notify the director of the charter school (or head of the local governing body, if the director is an alleged perpetrator).
  • If the alleged perpetrator is an employee of a private school, the special investigator must verbally notify the chief executive officer of the private school (or head of the local governing body, if the chief executive officer is an alleged perpetrator) of the investigation.
  • The special investigator must request that the school personnel not inform the alleged perpetrator before the special investigator interviews him or her.
  • Notify law enforcement of the report and request a joint investigation.
  • Conduct abuse and neglect background checks on the alleged perpetrator and alleged victim, and a criminal history check on the alleged perpetrator.
  • The special investigator cannot screen or close out the report (Priority None) when a child identified as an alleged victim is a child in DFPS conservatorship. The special investigator must ensure the case is fully investigated and proper notifications are made.

See:

2156.2 Closing Reports without Assignment That Involve Children in Care

2230 Investigation Tasks

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.615

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.617(b)

2323 Actions Required during a School Investigation

CPS September 2021

In a school investigation, the special investigator must complete the following tasks:

Texas Government Code §552.114(c)(3)

At the first contact with alleged perpetrators, the special investigator must do the following:

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

Prior to beginning an interview with an alleged perpetrator, the special investigator does the following:

  • Provides the alleged perpetrator two copies of Form 2617 Alleged Perpetrator’s Rights Prior to Interview to sign.
  • Verbally informs the alleged perpetrator that he or she has the following rights:
    • The right to make an audio or video recording of the interview. The special investigator also tells the alleged perpetrator that the recording may be subject to a subpoena under a court order.
    • The right to request a copy of CPI’s recording policy.
    • The right to request an Administrative Review of Investigation Findings (ARIF) if CPI makes a finding of Reason to Believe against a person for abuse or neglect of a child.

After the alleged perpetrator signs both copies of the form, the special investigator must leave one copy with the client and place the second copy in the case file. If the alleged perpetrator refuses to sign the forms, the special investigator must mark the box on the form that reflects the alleged perpetrator’s refusal to sign and document the refusal in IMPACT.

Whenever possible, the special investigator must conduct interviews face-to-face and in private.

After the interview, the special investigator may request the following assessments to further assist the investigation:

  • Requests that a parent of the alleged victim get a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of the child and provide the records to the special investigator.
  • Requests that an alleged perpetrator submit to a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination and provide the records to the special investigator.

The special investigator completes the investigation within 30 calendar days, unless the supervisor grants an extension.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.617(c)

The special investigations program director must close or return the case to the special investigator within 10 calendar days of submission.

The special investigator may submit a case for closure if appropriate tasks have been completed to reach a disposition of Ruled Out

2324 Schools Not Under the Jurisdiction of the Texas Education Agency (TEA)

CPS September 2021

If the school is not under TEA jurisdiction, the special investigator must obtain separate consent from appropriate school personnel, as determined by the child's school, to:

  • Enter school grounds beyond the main office.
  • Interview the child.
  • Conduct a visual examination of the child.

See:

2244.32 Consent to Interview a Child at School

2245.22 Visual Examinations of a Child at a School Not Under TEA Jurisdiction

If school personnel deny consent for any of the above actions, or a parent has refused consent for any of the above actions during the current investigation, the special investigator must do one of the following:

  • Obtain a court order before performing that action.
  • Remove the child if exigent circumstances exist.

See 5412 Conducting an Emergency Removal before Obtaining a Court Order.

If the special investigator does not know whether the school is under TEA jurisdiction, the special investigator must check TEA's website before visiting the school.

2325 Danger to a Child during a School Investigation

CPS September 2021

If, in consultation with regional management, the special investigator determines there is an immediate danger of harm to a child, the special investigator must contact the following, as appropriate, to inform them of the danger to a child and pending investigation:

  • The principal.
  • Director of a public or charter school.
  • Chief executive officer of a private school.
  • Superintendent.

2326 Completion and Closure of a School Investigation

CPS September 2021

Although the special investigator does not complete a safety or risk assessment in a school investigation, all other investigation actions must be followed, including sending notification of findings letters. Notification letter requirements for school investigations are the same as for a standard investigation.

The special investigations program director must approve final case closure.

2327 Release of the School Investigation Report

CPS September 2021

DFPS Records Management Group (RMG) provides a redacted copy of the completed investigation report to the Texas Education Agency for an investigation concerning:

  • An employee of a public or charter school.
  • The school’s chief executive officer for an investigation concerning an employee of a private school, unless the chief executive officer is the alleged perpetrator.

If requested, DFPS also provides a copy to the following:

  • State Board for Educator Certification.
  • President of the local school board or local governing body for the school.
  • Superintendent of the school district.
  • School principal, unless the principal is the alleged perpetrator.

DFPS Rule, 40 TAC 707.623

Texas Family Code §261.406

RMG is responsible for redacting the school investigation report and releasing it to the school personnel listed above. The redaction and release process is initiated automatically, and no additional actions are needed by program staff.

See:

3372 Dissemination of Redacted CPS School Investigative Case Records

3372.1 Responsibilities Surrounding the Dissemination of Findings of Closed CPS School Investigations

If the alleged or designated perpetrator is school personnel and this person submits a general request for records, DFPS provides the person a redacted copy of the investigation report.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.203(c)

2330 Child Fatality

2331 When a Child Dies

CPS October 2020

When a child dies, and the death is suspected to be related to abuse or neglect, CPI conducts an investigation. Any time a CPI regional director becomes aware of a child death that could be related to abuse or neglect and has not been reported, he or she must ensure that a report is made to SWI. The CPI Investigation program administrators assume this responsibility if a regional director is unavailable. This does not preclude other CPI staff from reporting such an incident to SWI if they are aware of a child’s death and suspect it to be the result of abuse or neglect. In addition to the policies that apply to all investigations, 2330 Child Fatality documents policies that apply specifically to child fatality investigations.

See:

2156.1 Closing Child Fatality Reports without Assignment.

2230 Investigation Tasks.

3000 Ensuring Child Safety.

6490 If a Child Dies While in Substitute Care.

See the Child Fatality Protocol Handbook for more information, including specific requirements for investigating a child fatality.

2332 Sending Notifications When a Child Dies

CPS February 15, 2015

Notifying the Medical Examiner or Justice of the Peace When a Child Dies

The investigation caseworker reports the death of a child younger than 6 years old 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 was alleged to be the result of abuse or neglect.

Exceptions

The caseworker is not required to report the death of a child to the medical examiner in the county where the death occurred, if:

  •  the death is a result of a motor vehicle accident, unless abuse or neglect is suspected (for example, if the parent or legal caregiver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs);

  •  the county does not have a medical examiner, or the death is outside the medical examiner’s district, in which case the caseworker reports the death to a justice of the peace in the county where the death occurred; or

  •  the death is already being investigated by the medical examiner when the caseworker initiates the investigation.

Texas Family Code §264.513

2333 Releasing Information About an Investigation Into the Death of a Child

CPS February 15, 2015

Information Required to be Released Before the Investigation Is Complete

Time Frame for Releasing Information If the Death Resulted From Abuse or Neglect

Information Released If the Death Resulted From Abuse or Neglect

Summary Report

Description of Services Provided

Report on the Duration of Conservatorship

Legal Review of Information to be Released

When CPS is investigating a death alleged to be the result of abuse or neglect, the public may request information concerning the child’s death.

Designated staff in each region respond to the requests, as required by statute and rule.

Texas Family Code §261.203

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC Chapter 702, Subchapter D

Information Required to be Released Before the Investigation Is Complete

No later than the fifth day following the receipt of a request for information regarding the death of the child, the designated CPS staff person:

  •  generates IMPACT Form 2059a Child Fatality Report – Release of Information to the Public; and

  •  sends the form to the requestor.

The information provided on Form 2059a includes:

  •  the person identification number;

  •  the age and sex of the deceased child;

  •  the date of the child’s death;

  •  whether the deceased child was in DFPS conservatorship at the time of the child’s death;

  •  whether, at the time of death, the child was living with:

  •  the child’s parent, managing conservator, a legal guardian, or other person entitled to possession of the child,

  •  an agency foster home, agency foster group home, independent foster home, independent foster group home, or general residential operation, or

  •  another living arrangement.

Time Frame for Releasing Information If the Death Resulted From Abuse or Neglect

If the child’s death is determined to be the result of abuse or neglect, and if information is requested about the case, the designated CPS staff person must provide the information described below in Information Released If the Death Resulted From Abuse or Neglect.

The requested information must be released within 10 days of either the date that the investigation is completed or the date that details about the child’s death are requested, whichever occurs later.

Information Released If the Death Resulted From Abuse or Neglect

Summary Report

The designated CPS staff person must provide a summary report for each investigation in which the deceased child was an alleged victim or was a child living in the same home as another alleged victim. This summary includes:

   •  the deceased child’s name;

   •  the date that the investigation began;

   •  a brief description of the nature of the allegations of abuse or neglect, the disposition of those allegations, and a description of the role of the subjects for each allegation, using descriptors such as deceased child, sibling, parent, alleged perpetrator, step-parent, paramour, and so on; and

   •  any risk or safety factors noted in the risk or safety assessment and actions taken by CPS to mitigate the risks, including any actions CPS has taken to mitigate the risk of harm to any other children in the home following the child’s death.

Description of Services Provided

The designated CPS staff person must provide a brief description of any services provided to the child and the child’s family.

Report on the Duration of Conservatorship

The designated CPS staff person must provide information on the length of time that the child was in DFPS conservatorship and the date that the child was returned to the home, if one or more children were previously removed from the home.

Legal Review of Information to be Released

The designated CPS staff person compiles the information described in Information Released If the Death Resulted From Abuse or Neglect.

After reviewing the information, the designated CPS staff person sends it to the Open Government attorney for review and redaction.

After the Open Government attorney approves the information for release, the attorney sends a copy of the form to the attorney ad litem, if one is appointed.

See 2059 Procedures Manual on the DFPS intranet.

2340 Situations Requiring Confidentiality

2341 Abortion

CPS February 15, 2015

Texas Family Code, Chapter 33

When an alleged victim wants or had an abortion, without telling persons in her family whom the caseworker needs to involve in the investigation, the caseworker must keep the abortion-related information confidential from persons or entities external to DFPS.

Texas Family Code §33.003

The caseworker may waive confidentiality, with supervisor approval, in these circumstances:

  •  The person already knows.

  •  The child provided written consent to disclose the information to a specific person or entity.

  •  If serious sexual abuse is alleged, then DFPS can disclose to:

  •  law enforcement investigating the serious sexual abuse;

  •  parents, principals, and collaterals, when necessary to ensure the safety of the child and any other children;

  •  the criminal justice system, when prosecuting the serious sexual abuse;

  •  an administrative law judge, when necessary to prove serious sexual abuse occurred; or

  •  civil court officials, when necessary to remove the child and any other children to protect them from serious sexual abuse.

  •  The child is in DFPS Conservatorship. The investigator must coordinate with the conservatorship worker as to whether to inform a parent. When a pregnant youth is in DFPS Conservatorship, the caseworker must provide, at the child's request:

  •  the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) pamphlet So you're pregnant, what now? and

  •  an application for judicial bypass.

  •  Disclosure is necessary for the safety of the child or other children in the home.

  •  The court has ordered disclosure to specific individuals or entities.

Texas Family Code §33.010

2341.1 Referral to Prosecution of Suspected Physical or Sexual Abuse

CPS February 2016

A caseworker may be called upon to investigate a report of suspected physical or sexual abuse made by:

  •  a physician performing an abortion; or

  •  a judge or justice of the peace presiding over a hearing in which a minor is seeking approval to obtain an abortion without notifying her parent, guardian, or conservator.

If the caseworker finds there is reason to believe the alleged abuse did occur, the caseworker must consult with law enforcement to determine if the matter should be referred for prosecution. If the caseworker determines the matter needs to be referred for prosecution and law enforcement will not be making a referral, the caseworker must refer the matter to the appropriate prosecuting authorities.

Texas Family Code §§33.008; 33.0085

See 5750 Judicial Bypass Alternative to Notifying a Parent About Abortion.

2342 OAG Address Confidentiality

CPS February 15, 2015

A case involving a participant in the Office of Attorney General (OAG) Address Confidentiality Program is a sensitive case and the caseworker must not disclose the address to anyone or any other entity, including other DFPS programs. The OAG-issued P.O. Box address must be the participant’s recorded address in CPS records. Any legal or written communication must be sent to that address, not the participant's physical address. The caseworker must request the address only to investigate abuse or neglect. The caseworker requests the address through the OAG’s Public Information Coordinator or Crime Victims Services Division.

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, §56.82

DFPS Rules, 1 TAC §§61.1005; 61.1025; 61.1050

2350 Abandoned or Missing Child

2351 Baby Moses

CPS February 15, 2015

Baby Moses Criteria

No Attempt to Identify Family

Confidentiality

Claims of Parenthood or Kinship

Naming the Child

Disposition

Actions Required of Caseworkers

Texas Family Code §§262.301-303; 262.308-309; 263.407

Baby Moses Criteria

An abandoned child meets criteria for a Baby Moses case when the child:

  •  is known to be or appears to be 60 days old or younger;

  •  has not been harmed;

  •  has been voluntarily delivered to a Designated Emergency Infant Care Provider (DEIC) Provider; and

  •  has been delivered by a person (presumed to be a parent) who does not express intent to return for the infant.

If any of the above are not met, the situation does not meet the requirements for a Baby Moses case. The caseworker must conduct a standard investigation accordingly.

For Baby Moses cases, DFPS presumes that the person who delivers an infant to a DEIC provider:

  •  is the infant’s biological parent;

  •  intends to relinquish parental rights and consents to termination of parental rights for the infant; and

  •  intends to waive the right to notice of the suit terminating the parent-child relationship.

Texas Family Code §263.407(a)

No Attempt to Identify Family

The caseworker must not attempt to identify or locate the parent of an infant left under the Baby Moses law, unless a court order requires it. This is to protect the confidentiality of the parent. This includes not listing any identifying information about known parents in the legal affidavit.

Similarly, the caseworker does not conduct a search for the relatives of the infant, as this would violate the confidentiality protection provided to the parent.

Texas Family Code §262.308-309

Confidentiality

When the caseworker files a petition for a Baby Moses case, the caseworker must request a closed hearing.

Any pleading or other document filed with the court is confidential, is not a public record, and must not be released other than to a party in a suit affecting the child, the party’s attorney, an attorney ad litem, or guardian ad litem.

All identifying information about a person who delivers the infant to the DEIC provider is confidential and must not be released other than to a party in a suit affecting the child, the party’s attorney, an attorney ad litem, or guardian ad litem.

Texas Family Code §262.308

Claims of Parenthood or Kinship

If DFPS knows the presumed father, or the father files an acknowledgment of paternity, the caseworker must contact the parent to determine his intent to parent the child. The caseworker must then staff with the supervisor and attorneys representing DFPS to determine whether the case can continue as a Baby Moses case.

If a parent comes forward before the final order terminating parental rights, the caseworker must inform the court.

Texas Family Code §263.407(b)

If a person claiming to be a relative of the child comes forward before the final order terminating parental rights, the caseworker must not share any details of the case outside of the case number of the legal case, and inform the person that it is his or her responsibility to intervene with the court.

Naming the Child

Upon verifying that the case meets criteria for Baby Moses, the caseworker must inform hospital staff of the intention to name the infant within five calendar days. This ensures the hospital can file the infant’s birth certificate with the infant’s name on it. Either CPS staff or the infant’s first foster parents can name the infant (first, middle, and last names).

Disposition

The caseworker must submit a Ruled Out disposition for all allegations in a Baby Moses case.

Actions Required of Caseworker

As in all cases, the safety of the child in a Baby Moses case is paramount. Once the child is determined to be safe, the caseworker must do the following:

  •  Determine the facts surrounding the delivery of the infant to the facility, to ensure the delivery complies with the Baby Moses criteria.

  •  Determine the specific location where the infant was found. If the location is outside the designated emergency infant care (DEIC) provider or in an out of the way location, take a photograph of the location.

  •  Determine whether the biological parents’ names are known.

  •  Ensure that the parents’ names are not listed on the Intake. If they are, contact the State Office Baby Moses Specialist for further instruction before progressing to an Investigation stage.

  •  Collect any available description of the person who left the baby, and any written or verbal information the person left.

  •  Assess the health, age, and general well-being of the infant. This information may be necessary to determine whether the case should be handled as a Baby Moses case.

  •  Interview any persons at the DEIC provider who have information about the infant, and get any form for voluntary disclosure of medical facts and history that was offered to and completed by the parent.

  •  Notify the state office program specialist responsible for Baby Moses cases within 24 hours of identifying a Baby Moses investigation (excluding weekends and holidays). The state office program specialist consults with a state office attorney to verify the case meets criteria to be handled as a Baby Moses investigation.

  •  Notify state and local law enforcement that an infant has been abandoned under the Baby Moses law, as soon as the determination is made.

  •  Ask that law enforcement complete local and state law enforcement checks as well as National Crime Information Center (NCIC) checks to ensure that the abandoned infant has not been previously reported as a missing child. If local law enforcement cannot check NCIC, contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to request that DPS run the NCIC check.

  •  Search the paternity registry no earlier than the 30th day after the infant’s estimated date of birth, but as soon as possible after that date.

Texas Family Code §263.407(c)

2352 When a Child is Abandoned at a DADS Facility

CPS February 15, 2015

If CPS receives an Intake regarding a child abandoned at a Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) facility, CPS routes it to a screener supervisor who attempts to locate the parent. If this is unsuccessful, the intake becomes an Investigation and the caseworker must:

  •  locate a parent to care for the child; or

  •  petition for conservatorship if unable to locate a parent; or

  •  petition for conservatorship if conservatorship is required for the safety of the child.

Texas Government Code §531.165(b)

2353 Taking Possession of a Missing Child

CPS February 15, 2015

If a law enforcement officer discovers a missing child during the course of a criminal investigation, the officer may deliver the child to DFPS if:

  •  a person entitled to possession of the child is not immediately available; or

  •  the officer believes that the person may flee or conceal the child.

DFPS may retain possession of the child for up to five calendar days. If the person presently entitled to possession of the child does not take possession of the child within five calendar days, the caseworker must file a lawsuit as if it had conducted an emergency removal before getting a court order.

Texas Family Code §262.007

2354 Referrals from TJJD About Non-CPS Youth

CPS June 2018

In certain circumstances, when a youth not in the legal custody of DFPS (a non-CPS youth) is ready for release from the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), TJJD will contact DFPS Statewide Intake before the planned release to request assistance from DFPS. When the caseworker receives the casework related special request (CRSR) involving the youth who is ready for release from TJJD, the situation may include:

  •   The TJJD youth is not able to return home or to the situation she or he was in before entering TJJD custody.

  •   The person with parental or legal responsibility cannot be reached or refuses to cooperate.

The CRSR is created approximately 90 days before the planned release of the youth from TJJD and requests services the youth may need. 

The caseworker must contact the regional CPS juvenile justice liaison and work with TJJD to locate parents, relatives, or an alternate placement for the youth before his or her discharge from TJJD.

The caseworker consults with legal staff for a removal if:

  •   the caseworker is unable to locate the legally responsible person, and there are no other placements for the child; or

  •   the legally responsible person refuses to provide care or arrange for an alternative placement for the child, and there are no other placements for the child.

If a removal is necessary, the caseworker closes the CRSR and requests a new intake based on refusal to assume parental responsibility.

 

2360 Medical Vulnerability

2361 Child Under the Age of 11 With a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)

CPS February 15, 2015

Determining Whether Removal is Necessary

STD Resulting from Abuse

STD Not Resulting from Abuse

If in an investigation there is a child under the age of 11 who has a sexually transmitted disease (STD), regardless of allegations, the caseworker must:

  •  Ensure that a special investigator (SI) is assigned to assist in the investigation.

  •  File for a petition for an emergency removal of the child, unless the caseworker determines that an emergency order is not necessary for the safety of the child.

Determining Whether Removal Is Necessary

To determine whether an emergency order to remove the child is necessary for the safety of the child, the caseworker must take the following steps:

  •  Review all the medical evidence in the case to determine whether the medical evidence supports a finding that abuse likely occurred.

  •  Interview the child and other people residing in the child’s home, and any other necessary people to gain enough information.

  •  Staff the case with local law enforcement and conduct a joint investigation whenever possible.

  •  Determine whether any other child in the home has a sexually transmitted disease and, if so, refer the child for a sexual abuse examination. If the parent does not consent to the examination, the caseworker must seek a court order for this purpose, or the caseworker and supervisor must determine that there are exigent circumstances. In this case, the caseworker removes the child and the examination can be conducted following the removal.

  •  Ensure that each alleged victim undergoes a forensic interview at a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), unless:

  •  the caseworker determines that the interview would not yield a successful interview because of the child’s age or developmental level; or

  •  no CAC is available in the county in which the child resides. In this instance, a caseworker or other professional with training in forensic interviews must conduct the interview.

  •  Consult with a DFPS nurse or other medical expert to discuss the ways in which the STD may have been transmitted and whether it is likely that abuse occurred.

  •  Contact any additional witness who may have information relevant to the investigation, including other individuals who had access to the child.

Texas Family Code §262.010

STD Resulting From Abuse

If at any point during the investigation the caseworker determines that the STD is the result of abuse, the caseworker must staff with the supervisor and with attorneys representing DFPS to determine if an emergency or non-emergency removal is necessary for the protection of the child.

Texas Family Code §§262.101; 262.102; 262.113

If the caseworker determines that there is a preponderance of evidence that abuse occurred, the caseworker may seek an opinion from the Forensic Assessment Center Network (FACN) to get additional, expert perspective.

Texas Family Code §262.010

The caseworker must request that the alleged perpetrator submit to a test for the STD and provide the results to CPS. If the alleged perpetrator refuses to submit to a test, the caseworker must work with law enforcement to get a search warrant requiring the alleged perpetrator to undergo testing for the STD.

Texas Family Code §262.010(b)

STD Not Resulting from Abuse

If the caseworker determines there is not a preponderance of evidence that abuse led to the STD, the caseworker must get an opinion from the FACN as to whether the evidence in the case supports a finding that abuse did likely occur.

Texas Family Code §262.010(a)(2)(H)

2362 Religion

CPS March 2019

If there are allegations of medical neglect due to a lack of medical care because of legitimate religious beliefs, DFPS does not consider the parents or guardian negligent. However, the caseworker may request temporary managing conservatorship to obtain medical services, if the caseworker determines they are necessary for the child's health.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.517

Interviewing Parents and Medical Personnel

During the investigation, the caseworker must interview the parents and involved medical personnel to determine the nature and severity of the child’s condition and possible alternatives to the recommended medical treatment. If more than one physician is available at the hospital providing medical care to the child, the caseworker must get a second medical opinion. If a second physician is not available at the hospital providing medical care, the caseworker must contact the FACN for the additional medical opinion. The caseworker must ask each physician for a written statement describing the severity of the child’s condition.

Order of Temporary Conservatorship

The caseworker must seek an order naming DFPS as the child’s temporary managing conservator, for the purpose of consenting to the recommended treatment, if:

  •   the parents (or the child) continue to refuse medical treatment; and

  •   the physician’s statement indicates that failure to seek, obtain, or follow through with the recommended medical treatment would:

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

  •   result in an observable and material impairment to the child’s growth, development, or functioning; or

  •   result in an immediate danger to the child’s health or safety.

The caseworker must draft an affidavit laying out the applicable facts about the individuals refusing treatment and the possible consequences of refusing treatment. The caseworker must petition the court and request the court appoint DFPS temporary managing conservator so that the caseworker may consent to the recommended treatment.

The caseworker cannot consent to the recommended treatment without a signed order naming DFPS as the child’s temporary managing conservator for this purpose.

If there is not enough time for the caseworker to request temporary managing conservatorship, the hospital providing the child medical care will decide whether to administer the recommended treatment.

Disposition

If the caseworker determines that the child lacks needed medical attention because of legitimate religious beliefs, the caseworker must take the following actions:

  •   Assign a disposition of Ruled Out to allegations of medical neglect related to the recommended medical treatment.

  •   Determine dispositions for all other allegations, as in a traditional investigation.

2363 Dispositions Involving Drug or Alcohol Pre-Natal Exposure

CPS February 15, 2015

Disposition for Physical Abuse

Disposition for Neglectful Supervision

Criteria for Pre-Natal Exposure

Disposition for Physical Abuse

When an allegation is based solely on pre-natal exposure to alcohol or controlled substances, the caseworker must only reach a disposition of Reason to Believe for physical abuse (PHAB) of an infant under the age of one based on pre-natal exposure if:

  •  the mother's use of alcohol or a controlled substance meets the criteria for pre-natal exposure, AND

  •  a physician provides one of the following:

  •  a written diagnosis of physical manifestations of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effect, which includes Alcohol-Related Birth Defects and Alcohol Related Neurodevelopmental Disorder;

  •  a written opinion that the newborn was harmed from in utero exposure to alcohol or a controlled substance; OR

  •  a written diagnosis of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

Disposition for Neglectful Supervision

When an allegation is based solely on pre-natal exposure to alcohol or controlled substances, the caseworker must only reach a disposition of Reason to Believe for neglectful supervision (NSUP) based on pre-natal exposure if:

  •  the mother’s use of alcohol or a controlled substance meets the criteria for pre-natal exposure, AND

  •  the mother’s alcohol or controlled substance use exposed the infant to injury or loss of life, or jeopardized the infant’s health, even if the infant did not suffer actual injury. This determination must be based on factors that include:

  •  evidence the mother extensively used alcohol, or regularly or extensively used a controlled substance, throughout the pregnancy or close to the child's birth date,

  •  evidence that the mother has an alcohol or drug addiction, OR

  •  other evidence that the infant was at substantial risk of immediate harm from the mother's use of alcohol or a controlled substance.

Criteria for Pre-Natal Exposure

The mother’s use of alcohol or a controlled substance meets the criteria for pre-natal exposure when there is a preponderance of evidence that the mother knew or reasonably should have known she was pregnant yet used alcohol or a controlled substance that:

  •  was not lawfully prescribed by a medical practitioner;

  •  was lawfully prescribed because the mother sought out multiple health care providers to exceed ordinary dosages; or

  •  was not being used in accordance with a lawfully issued prescription.

2364 Dispositions Involving Emotional Abuse

CPS June 2016

When conducting an investigation with a possible disposition of emotional abuse, the caseworker may determine that the child suffers from a mental or emotional injury, even if the child has not experienced physical injury or been diagnosed by a medical or mental health professional.

However, before reaching a disposition on emotional abuse, the caseworker must consult with professional collaterals outside of CPS who have witnessed and will verify observable and material impairment to the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.453(b)(1)(A)

When assessing a child for mental or emotional injury from exposure to domestic violence, the caseworker must, whenever possible, consult with professional collaterals that have documented expertise or training in the dynamics of domestic violence.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.453(b)(1)(A)

See 2113.1 Definitions of Abuse.

2370 Other Jurisdictions

2371 Military Bases

CPS February 15, 2015

If a military base commander denies staff access to a base and refuses to indicate that his or her staff will provide all necessary child protective services, including investigative services, the caseworker's supervisor must advise the district attorney and district judge in writing about the base commander's position.

When on a military base, CPS staff must:

  •  coordinate their activities with the staff designated by the base commander; and

  •  comply with all other investigation requirements, including the Fourth Amendment guidelines for entering a home and examining, transporting, and removing children.

2372 Abuse Out of State

CPS February 15, 2015

If a caseworker receives a report alleging abuse or neglect of a child visiting, traveling through, or living in Texas, but the alleged abuse or neglect occurred in another state, the caseworker, as appropriate, investigates the allegations and requests information and courtesy interviews from the other state.

If a child lives out of state, but the alleged perpetrator or other principals live in Texas, the caseworker must conduct courtesy interviews when requested by an out-of-state agency.

The caseworker administratively closes the report if the investigation results in no allegations that abuse or neglect occurred in Texas and no further investigation is warranted because the child is currently safe.

2373 Custody Order or Abduction Suit Involving a Foreign Country

CPS February 15, 2015

Notification of or Placement With Child's Relatives

Allegations of Abuse or Neglect

A federal or state district court may order a child into temporary DFPS custody if:

  •  the child is the subject of a custody order issued by a foreign country and the order is being disputed, or the child was abducted and is the subject of a suit seeking to return the child to the country of origin under the Hague Abduction Convention;

  •  the court finds that the child is imminently likely to suffer serious physical harm or be removed from the state; and

  •  the child’s parents or family members have no significant ties to the court’s jurisdiction (for example, they do not live, work, or go to school there).

Texas Family Code §§152.105; 152.311

When there are no allegations of abuse or neglect, the caseworker:

  •  handles the case as a casework-related special request, and

  •  takes the child into temporary DFPS custody.

Texas Family Code §262.007

If the state or federal court in Texas that is hearing the case does not resolve the custody issue before the fifth business day that the child is in temporary DFPS custody, the caseworker must:

  •  consult with the DFPS regional attorney about whether to file an affidavit for removal and a petition requesting conservatorship; and

  •  file the affidavit and petition on that fifth business day, if appropriate.

The case is resolved when the foreign court that originally issued the custody order issues a final order regarding the custody of the child.

Notification of or Placement With Child’s Relatives

When a court grants DFPS temporary custody of a child, the caseworker must identify the child’s relatives or kin and notify them about the court’s decision.

The caseworker places the child with the child’s relatives or kin:

  •  only if authorized to do so by the court that ordered DFPS to take temporary custody; and

  •  only after conferring with the DFPS regional attorney who facilitates contact with that original court.

The caseworker must not disclose the location of the child’s placement to the relatives or kin without receiving specific authority from the court that ordered DFPS to take temporary custody.

If a case involving the Hague Abduction Convention or a foreign custody order does not involve allegations of abuse or neglect, the caseworker does not investigate other than to:

  •  confirm the existence of the court order placing a child into temporary DFPS custody; and

  •  confirm that the child is healthy and safe.

Allegations of Abuse or Neglect

If, while interviewing a child or parent about the child’s health and safety, the caseworker uncovers allegations that abuse or neglect occurred in the child’s country of origin or that a parent abducted the child, the caseworker must notify the DFPS regional attorney, so that the foreign court that originally handled the custody case can address the issues.

The caseworker must only investigate allegations of abuse or neglect in a case involving the Hague convention or foreign custody when the allegations concern events that occurred in Texas.

Given the safety issues that lead a court to grant DFPS conservatorship of a child, all visits must be supervised by DFPS staff and conducted at a DFPS office, unless otherwise ordered by the court that placed the child under DFPS conservatorship.

2380 Child Trafficking (Sex and Labor Trafficking) Investigations

CPS September 2020

Child trafficking includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking as defined in 2113 Statutory Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect.

CPI and Special Investigations jointly investigate allegations of trafficking, only of children, and only when persons traditionally responsible for the children’s care, custody, and welfare do either of the following:

  • Knowingly cause, permit, encourage, engage in, or allow a child to be trafficked.
  • Fail to make a reasonable effort to prevent a child from being trafficked.

Texas Family Code §261.001(L)

For the purposes of a CPI investigation, only the following may be investigated and designated as an alleged perpetrator of sex or labor trafficking:

  • A parent or relative.
  • A guardian or managing or possessory conservator of the child.
  • A person who is not related to or legally responsible for the child who is either of the following:
    • A person who lives in the child’s family’s household.
    • A person with whom the child has been placed by a parent or legally responsible person or entity, such as DFPS or a court.
  • A child who is at least 10 years old or an adult who resides elsewhere (or whose place of residence cannot be determined) and who, when in the household, assumes responsibility for children in the household.
  • A person with whom the child’s parent cohabits.
  • School personnel or volunteers at the child’s school.

Texas Family Code §261.001(5)

Texas Administrative Code §707.451(a)(7),(8),(10),(11)

Caseworkers in Bexar County, Dallas County, Harris County, Tarrant County, and Travis County refer to the DFPS Human Trafficking Response Protocol.

Caseworkers for all other counties refer to the DFPS Protocol for Care Coordination (CCT).

2381 Informing Special Investigations of Child Sex or Labor Trafficking

CPS September 2020

After receiving a report of child sex or labor trafficking the caseworker must immediately do the following:

  • Send an email to the regional special investigator mailbox or notify special investigator program director.
  • Assign the SI secondary on the case to work a joint investigation.
  • Contact the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) to jointly determine whether a multidisciplinary team (MDT) response is needed based on local protocol, and whether a forensic interview of the child is appropriate. See 2231 When to Notify Children Advocacy Centers about Reports of Abuse or Neglectregarding sex trafficking cases.

2382 Informing Law Enforcement of Child Sex or Labor Trafficking

CPS April 2021

When the Allegations Can Be Investigated by CPI

The caseworker must notify local law enforcement immediately, but no later than 8 hours after initiating an investigation of child sex or labor trafficking, to do the following:

  • Determine whether a joint investigation is warranted or coordinate the CPI investigation with a new or ongoing criminal investigation.
  • Ensure worker and victim safety, as necessary.

During an investigation, if sex or labor trafficking is suspected, the caseworker must notify law enforcement immediately, but no later than 8 hours after determining an incident of child sex or labor trafficking may have occurred.

The caseworker must also report to Statewide Intake immediately, but no later than 8 hours upon becoming aware of this information.

When the Allegations Cannot Be Investigated by CPI

The caseworker must inform law enforcement immediately upon, but no later than 8 hours from, determining there are indications that a child may be a victim of sex or labor trafficking.

If, while working an Information & Referral, case related special request, or intake that is sent to the field, CPI staff learns that human trafficking of a child is suspected or has occurred, CPI staff must immediately, but no later than 8 hours, do the following:

2383 Confirmed and Suspected Victims of Child Sex or Labor Trafficking

CPS April 2021

When a child in an open investigation is identified as a confirmed victim or suspected-unconfirmed victim of trafficking, the CPI caseworker must do the following:

  • Document a child’s status in regard to trafficking victimization.
  • Refer to appropriate services as needed. Refer Confirmed and Suspected -Unconfirmed victims of trafficking to the local Care Coordination Team (CCT), where local CCT is in operation.

The CPI caseworker must complete this documentation and assessment for services regardless of the type of trafficking, including situations in which a non-family member may be trafficking a child.

Services and resources can be found on the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation page of the DFPS intranet.

Determining if a Trafficking Event Is Suspected-Unconfirmed or Confirmed

A trafficking event is Suspected-Unconfirmed when specific information regarding the child and the surrounding circumstances creates a reasonable belief the child has been trafficked.

A trafficking event is Confirmed when evidence supports the conclusion the child has been trafficked. Note: The supporting evidence must be more than just an allegation or suspicion and does not have to be a direct outcry from the child.

Documenting a Trafficking Event in IMPACT

When a child is Suspected-Unconfirmed or Confirmed to be a victim of sex or labor trafficking, the caseworker must enter a trafficking event in IMPACT on the Trafficking Detail page within 48 hours of suspecting or confirming the child’s victim status.

Each Suspected-Unconfirmed or Confirmed sex or labor trafficking event must be added into IMPACT as a trafficking event on the Trafficking Detail page.

Each trafficking event should only have one entry on the Trafficking Detail page, unless a Suspected-Unconfirmed event is later confirmed. In that case, both a Suspected-Unconfirmed and a Confirmed event are listed.

Corresponding Dispositions with Suspected-Unconfirmed or Confirmed Victims of Trafficking

Each investigation with sex or labor trafficking allegations that results in a disposition of Reason to Believe or Unable to Determine must have a corresponding trafficking event entered into IMPACT on the Trafficking Detail page. The caseworker will not be able to close the case in IMPACT unless this record is entered.

Referral to Services for Child Sex or Labor Trafficking

When a child in an open investigation (INV) case has been identified as a Confirmed or Suspected-Unconfirmed victim of trafficking, the caseworker must refer the child to appropriate services. Confirmed and Suspected-Unconfirmed victims of trafficking must be referred to the local Care Coordination Team (CCT), where local CCT is in operation. The caseworker documents the CCT referral in the case narratives and in the Trafficking Service Referral Survey.

Trafficking Services Referral Survey, services and resources can be found on the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation page of the DFPS intranet.

2390 Families Who Are Unable to Obtain Mental Health Services for Children with Severe Emotional Disturbance

CPS December 2015

For additional information, see the Investigation and Referral to DSHS Residential Treatment Center Bed Resource Guide.

A caseworker must complete additional tasks and actions, beyond the typical investigation tasks, when the caseworker is assigned to an investigation in which:

  •  a child with severe emotional disturbance is alleged to be abused or neglected; and

  •  the family is refusing to allow the child to remain in or return home due to the parent’s inability to obtain mental health services for the child.

The purpose of these actions is to determine whether the parent’s refusal to allow the child to remain in or return to the home is based solely on the parent’s inability to obtain mental health services for the child. If the determination shows the parents’ actions meet this criterion, the caseworker must:

      determine whether DFPS can avoid removing the child, which includes determining if the parent can place the child in a Residential Treatment Center (RTC) bed funded by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS); and

      in the event of removal, discuss with the parent the possibility of DFPS and the parent being joint temporary managing conservators of the child, unless it is not in the best interests of the child to do so.

      notify the state office mental health specialist at SOMH@dfps.texas.gov if they receive such a case, for assistance with the process.

Obtaining the Child’s Mental Health History

The caseworker must obtain the child’s mental health history.

For a list of items needed as part of this history, see the Investigation and Referral to DSHS Residential Treatment Center Bed Resource Guide.

Psychological Evaluation Within Last Six Months

If the child has had a psychological evaluation within the past six months, the caseworker must ask the parent for a copy of the evaluation and attach the copy to Form 2037 Referral for DSHS Funded RTC Bed (Child Not in DFPS Conservatorship).

DFPS is not responsible for obtaining, arranging or paying for the actual evaluation of the child.

See the Investigation and Referral to DSHS Residential Treatment Center Bed Resource Guide.

2391 Assessing the Basis for the Parent’s Refusal to Allow the Child to Remain in or Return to the Child’s Home

CPS December 2015

When a parent is refusing to allow a child with severe emotional disturbance to remain in or return to the home, the caseworker must determine whether this refusal is based solely on the parent’s inability to obtain mental health services needed for the child’s safety and well-being, and whether the parent exhausted all reasonable means available to obtain mental health services.

Determining the basis for this refusal is necessary to:

  •  evaluate the child’s eligibility for referral to a DSHS funded RTC bed;

  •  determine whether it is not in the child’s best interest for the parent to be appointed joint temporary managing conservators with DFPS, if DFPS seeks to remove the child; and

  •  appropriately provide dispositions for the allegations of abuse or neglect.

Assessment Criteria

The caseworker must assess the specific conditions of the case when determining the basis for refusal. However, the caseworker must always assess the following criteria:

  •  Is the family unable to access appropriate mental health treatment to meet the child’s needs due to the family’s financial resources, the lack of appropriate services available in the community, or other reasons?

  •  Has the parent followed the recommendations of the mental health professionals who have treated the child, including complying with recommendations about actions the parent, child, or family need to take? If the parent disagrees with a professional’s recommendations, has the parent discussed their concerns with the professional or sought other mental health professionals for assistance or treatment, if possible?

  •  Has the current investigation ruled out abuse or neglect of the child with severe emotional disturbance?

Determination

The caseworker may determine that the parent’s refusal to allow the child to be in the home is based solely on the parent’s inability to obtain the necessary mental health services for the child if:

  •  the assessment criteria are met;

  •  circumstances in the family support this determination; and

  •  the supervisor approves.

Making a Disposition for Allegations

DFPS must not make a reason to believe (RTB) finding of abuse or neglect by a parent who refuses to permit the child to remain in or return to the child’s home if:

  •  the child has a severe emotional disturbance;

  •  the parent’s refusal is based solely on the parent’s inability to obtain mental health services necessary to protect the safety and well-being of the child; and

  •  the parent has exhausted all reasonable means available to the parent to obtain the mental health services necessary to protect the safety and well-being of the child.

Texas Family Code Sections 261.001(4)(B) and 261.002(b)(i)

Relinquish Custody Question on Allegation Detail Page

If the caseworker rules out the allegation of abuse or neglect by a parent who refuses to permit the child to remain in or return to the child’s home, and the above three criteria are met, the caseworker must answer YES to the question:

“Is the primary caregiver seeking to relinquish custody of this alleged victim solely to obtain mental health services for the child?  Yes  No”

2392 Referring the Child for a Residential Treatment Center Bed Funded by DSHS

CPS December 2015

When the parent is refusing to allow a child with severe emotional disturbance to remain in or return to the child’s home, the caseworker must make reasonable efforts to prevent removal and placement by DFPS.

As part of these efforts, the caseworker must refer the child for placement by the parent in a residential treatment center (RTC) bed funded by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS), if the child meets referral criteria.

2392.1 Referral Criteria

CPS December 2015

Before completing the referral for a DSHS-funded RTC bed, the caseworker must determine if the child and family meet all of the following referral criteria:

  •  The family is involved in an open investigation, and DFPS has not taken conservatorship of the child.

  •  The family is not eligible for DFPS post adoption substitute care services.

  •  The parent’s refusal is based solely on their inability to obtain mental health services necessary to protect the safety and well-being of the child.

  •  The disposition of “Ruled-Out” will be given to allegations involving the parent and the child with severe emotional disturbance, based on evidence gathered by the time Form 2037 is submitted.

  •  The child is between five and seventeen years of age.

  •  The child has an IQ of at least 70.

  •  The child is a U.S. citizen.

  •  The child has a mental health diagnosis given by a licensed mental health professional that is recognized by the current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and the child’s mental health condition results in severe mental, behavioral, or emotional impairments in functioning.

For a detailed definition of Severe Emotional Disturbance, see the Investigation and Referral to DSHS Residential Treatment Center Bed Resource Guide.

The parent must provide the caseworker with:

  •  results of testing that show the child’s IQ and mental health diagnosis; and

  •  documentation that the child is a U.S. citizen.

If the caseworker and supervisor agree the family and child meet the eligibility criteria, the caseworker must:

  •  complete Form 2037 Referral for DSHS Funded RTC Bed (Child Not in DFPS Conservatorship);

  •  scan in a psychological evaluation on the child completed within the last six months; and

  •  email the form (and psychological evaluation) to the CPS mental health program specialist in state office at SOMH@dfps.texas.gov.

The caseworker and supervisor do not contact DSHS directly because contact is made by state office.

2392.2 Providing Crisis Services During the Referral Process

CPS December 2015

Any time there is an emergency in the family during the referral process, the caseworker must immediately notify the CPS mental health specialist for assistance in getting crisis services for the family.

The CPS Mental Health specialist, DSHS RTC Coordinator, investigation caseworker, and family must meet to plan for and provide crisis intervention services to prevent the child from coming into CPS foster care during the referral process.

Investigation Caseworker Responsibilities

Investigation caseworkers must help families maintain safety and stability during the referral process so eligible children can be placed in DSHS funded RTC beds when a placement becomes available. The investigation caseworker must:

  •  if necessary, establish a safety plan with the family to guide them towards services or actions that help keep the family safe and stable;

  •  convene a Family Team Meeting (FTM) to decide how to ensure the safety of the child. See 1121 Family Group Decision-Making (FGDM);

  •  attend a Community Resource Coordination Group (CRCG) in person or by telephone, if a CRCG is convened during the referral process; or

  •  take other protective and stabilizing actions as appropriate.

2392.3 Responding to the Referral Process Outcome

CPS December 2015

The investigation caseworker must staff the case with the supervisor to determine next steps when the CPS mental health specialist notifies the investigation caseworker that one of the following results has occurred.

Parents Place the Child in a RTC Funded by DSHS

The investigation caseworker must close the investigation when the child is placed in the DSHS funded RTC, unless other children in the home require further CPS intervention.

The Child is Not Placed in a RTC Funded by DSHS, and DFPS Removal Does Not Appear Necessary

When the child is not placed in a DSHS funded RTC bed, the CPS mental health specialist must inform the investigation caseworker. If DFPS removal does not appear necessary, CPS staff must close the investigation, unless the children in the home require further CPS intervention.

2393 If DFPS Removal Appears Necessary

2393.1 Discussing the Option of Joint Temporary Managing Conservatorship

CPS December 2015

If DFPS removal appears necessary, the investigation caseworker must discuss with the parent the option of asking the court to appoint DFPS and the parent to be Joint Temporary Managing Conservators (JMC) of the child, unless DFPS determines it would not be in the best interests of the child to have joint conservatorship.

The investigation caseworker must also discuss the option with the parent in post adoption conservatorship services under 6961 Postadoption Substitute Care Services, unless it is not in the child’s best interest.

Determination

The caseworker must not discuss joint temporary managing conservatorship of the child with the parents until the supervisor and program director have approved:

  •  the removal of the child; and

  •  the caseworker going forward with a discussion of joint temporary managing conservatorship with the parents.

If the decision is made to discuss joint temporary managing conservatorship with the parents, and the parent is interested, the caseworker must discuss with the county or district attorney whether to include this request in the petition.

If the county or district attorney declines to file for DFPS-parent joint temporary managing conservatorship, the caseworker must staff the case with the Regional Attorney.

Documenting the Discussion

The caseworker must document the following in the narrative in the FSU stage in IMPACT:

  •  Whether joint temporary managing conservatorship was discussed with the parent; and

  •  Whether the parent wanted joint temporary managing conservatorship, and if not, why not.

2393.2 Documenting Removal

CPS December 2015

When documenting removal of a child with severe emotional disturbance solely because the family was unable to obtain mental health services, the caseworker must complete the following in IMPACT.

Child Placement Characteristics on the Person Detail Page

The caseworker must select one or more of the following in IMPACT, as appropriate to the child’s condition:

  •  Bipolar

  •  Conduct Disorder

  •  Depression

  •  Emotionally Disturbed

  •  Mood Disorder

  •  Oppositional Defiant Disorder

  •  Post-Traumatic Stress disorder

  •  Psychotic Disorder

  •  Reactive Attachment Disorder

  •  Other Behavior Problem

Removal Reason on the Conservatorship Removal Page

On the Conservatorship Removal page, the caseworker must select the Removal ReasonA/N risk - Primary caregiver relinquishes custody of this child solely to obtain mental health services for the child”.

2400 Referring a Case from Investigation or Alternative Response to Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS)

CPS October 2020

The Safety Assessment and Risk Assessment help guide Investigations (INV) or Alternative Response (AR) staff members in deciding whether to refer a family for FBSS.

A family does not need FBSS when either of the following applies:

  • There is a protective caregiver who has demonstrated behaviors that address the danger indicators or risk factors, and there is evidence to support these behaviors will continue.
  • The family has an active network of people who are aware of the dangers and are willing to take action to prevent harm, and the family is receiving services through their community that address the contributing factors that led to the referral to INV or AR.

A family is referred to FBSS when any of the following apply:

  • A safety plan is necessary and is being carried out to address the family’s danger indicators (regardless of the family’s risk level). All danger indicators present must have a safety intervention that sufficiently manages the danger.
  • The family has high or very high risk that is not managed by a protective caregiver, community services, or a sufficient safety network, as described in Exception Rationales for Risk-Based Case Opening/Case Closing Decisions on the DFPS intranet.
  • There is a signed court order that requires the parents to participate in FBSS.

A family will not be referred to FBSS when any of the following applies:

  • Removal is imminent.
  • The family is uncooperative or unwilling to receive services.
  • There is a pending legal intervention for court-ordered services or removal.

Furthermore, the circumstances listed below are not appropriate for FBSS because DFPS cannot ensure child safety:

  • No perpetrator has been identified, and a child has suffered shaken baby injuries, multiple injuries, broken bones, or fatality.
  • The parent did not adhere to a Parental Child Safety Placement (PCSP) or safety plan in the current INV or AR case.
  • There are child safety concerns for a child age 0-5 due to a parent or caregiver’s behaviors (substance use, mental health, domestic violence, etc.) that have been previously addressed and the family lacks a stable or sufficient support system, or the parent or caregiver has taken no action to indicate a willingness to change behavior.
  • The parent or parents or caregiver or caregivers are not engaged or cooperative with DFPS’s intervention.
  • There is no identified caregiver who is willing to protect the child, including limiting parent access if necessary.
  • The same or similar concerns have been addressed in a prior case with FBSS or Conservatorship (CVS), there is a child age 0-5, and the family lacks a stable or sufficient support system, or the parent or caregiver has taken no action to indicate a willingness to change behavior.

If any of these circumstances exist, INV or AR must staff (discuss) the case with the attorney representing DFPS for non-emergency or emergency removal. If, after this discussion, the attorney representing DFPS determines that there is no legal basis for removal, or if the court denies removal, then INV or AR closes its stage.

2410 Process for Concurrent Stages – Investigation or Alternative Response and Family-Based Safety Services

CPS October 2020

The Investigation (INV) or Alternative Response (AR) caseworker completes the FBSS Referral Form in IMPACT and submits it to the supervisor for review after both of the following have occurred:

  • Initial investigative tasks are complete (see 2230 Investigation Tasks).
  • The INV or AR caseworker, in consultation with the supervisor, has determined the family meets the criteria for FBSS.

FBSS Referral Form Process

When reviewing the FBSS Referral Form, the INV or AR supervisor makes sure all of the following required tasks are complete:

  • The INV or AR caseworker has made face-to-face contact with all children who are alleged victims or with the reference child, and also with any other children who are principals, within the past 11 calendar days before the submission of the referral form. If there is a reason the INV or AR caseworker could not conduct a face-to-face contact within that time frame, the caseworker has entered an exception in IMPACT.
  • The INV or AR caseworker has made face-to-face contact with the parents, caregivers, or both (as applicable) of all children who are alleged victims or of the reference child within the past 11 calendar days before the submission of the referral form.
  • The INV or AR caseworker has made a face-to-face contact with the PCSP caregiver (if any) within the past 11 calendar days before the submission of the referral form.
  • The Safety Assessment is complete (see 2271 Safety Assessments).
  • The Risk Assessment is complete (see 2272 Risk Assessment).
  • The Person List is updated for all people who will receive FBSS services. Required information includes the following:
    • Full name.
    • Date of birth.
    • Social Security number (if the person has one).
    • Address or addresses.

The INV or AR supervisor verifies the required tasks are complete and then either approves or rejects the FBSS Referral Form within two calendar days after the submission of the form (no later than the 13th calendar day from the face-to-face contacts).

If the case meets any of the criteria in Criteria for Secondary Approval of FBSS Referral Form (below), the INV or AR supervisor sends the referral form to the INV or AR program director, allowing two calendar days for review (no later than the 15th calendar day from the face-to-face contacts).

If additional tasks are needed, the FBSS Referral Form does not need to be rejected or invalidated.

However, to approve the FBSS Referral Form, the time frames above must be met.

Criteria for Secondary Approval of FBSS Referral Form

The CPI program director reviews and provides secondary approval of the FBSS Referral Form if the case involves any of the following:

  • Serious injury or neglect requiring hospitalization or other medical care.
  • A child under age 3 who has any of the following situations:
    • Has been injured.
    • Is medically fragile.
    • Has tested positive for drugs.
    • Has a medical condition for which medical treatment has not been sought or obtained.
  • A member of the household or caregiver who meets one or more of the following criteria:
    • Has been involved in a previous FBSS case or court-ordered services within the last two years.
    • Has been ordered to participate in court-ordered services within the last two years.
    • Has been a principal in a case where there was a child fatality or near fatality.
    • Has been involved in a prior legal case that resulted in removal of a child.
    • Has an untreated, diagnosed mental health condition that seriously impairs his or her current ability to supervise, protect, or care for the child. (This applies only to a caregiver, not to other household members.)

The program director approves or rejects the referral form no later than the 15th calendar day from the face-to-face contacts.

Basic Process for Concurrent Stages

The INV or AR stage remains open for at least 10 calendar days from the time the FPR stage is created, to transition the family from INV or AR to FBSS.

The FBSS caseworker does the following:

  • Work with the INV or AR caseworker to conduct a joint visit with the family to discuss DFPS’s concerns about the safety and welfare of the children.
  • Participate in a joint transfer staffing (meeting) with the INV or AR caseworker and both supervisors (INV or AR and FBSS) to discuss the family’s strengths and needs and next steps. If FBSS has determined the FPR stage must close, both program directors (INV or AR and FBSS) must be present for the staffing.

The INV or AR caseworker takes primary responsibility, with the collaboration of the FBSS caseworker, if any of the following happens within 10 calendar days after the FPR stage opens in IMPACT:

  • A new safety plan is necessary to ensure child safety.
  • A PCSP, or a revision to a PCSP, is necessary to ensure child safety.
  • A legal staffing is necessary.
  • Removal is imminent.

The INV or AR caseworker is responsible for filing the removal affidavit and doing all associated removal tasks, with the collaboration of the FBSS caseworker.

Once 10 calendar days have passed since the FPR stage was opened, the INV or AR caseworker continues to work the investigation (or alternative response) to its completion, while making closure of the INV or AR stage a priority.

See:

2291.4 All Other Recommended Actions (for INV)

2651 Closure Time Frames (for AR)

2600 Alternative Response

CPS May 2018

Unlike a traditional investigation, Alternative Response (AR) does not have a final case disposition of abuse or neglect or a designation of a perpetrator.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.551(1)

An AR case may be transferred to the traditional investigation pathway when new information renders the case unsuitable for AR. However, cases in the traditional investigation pathway are never transferred to the AR pathway.

Children Under the Jurisdiction of a Court in Another State

If a caseworker discovers during an AR case that an alleged victim is in the legal custody of another state, the caseworker must contact the other state to:

  •   determine why the child is in Texas; and

  •   make the necessary arrangements to:

  •   return the child to the other state; or

  •   begin the ICPC process.

Once the caseworker confirms that the child is under the other state’s custody, the caseworker must stage progress the case to the traditional investigation pathway and complete the investigation related to abuse or neglect that occurred while the alleged victim resided in Texas.

2610 Eligibility for Alternative Response

CPS May 2018

Only certain Priority 2 (P2) cases are eligible for AR. Child Protective Investigations (CPI) screeners make the initial decision to refer intakes received from Statewide Intake to AR.

A P2 case is eligible for AR when:

  •   the allegations meet the definition of abuse or neglect, and the report is unable to be closed at intake;

  •   the information in the intake report indicates the initial risk in the family is low to moderate; and

  •   the case is eligible to be screened and does not meet the criteria in 2611.1 Intake Ineligible for Alternative Response.

AR cases warrant the same commitment to child safety as traditional investigations. Even though the risk may initially appear to be low to moderate, the assessment may identify dangers or risk concerns that must be addressed to ensure child safety.

Only authorized personnel are allowed to stage progress cases to AR.

Screeners refer intakes that meet AR criteria to the AR supervisor, who assigns the case to a caseworker. If the supervisor believes the case should be routed to traditional investigations, the supervisor must get program director approval before stage progressing the case.

2611 Intakes or Cases Ineligible for Alternative Response

2611.1 Intakes Ineligible for Alternative Response

CPS May 2018

Intakes that are eligible for AR must go to AR. An intake is not eligible for AR when it includes any of the following elements:

  •   The alleged perpetrator is a:

  •   school employee or volunteer, and the allegations do not involve the alleged perpetrator’s own children or family,

  •   DFPS employee or volunteer,

  •   DFPS contractor,

  •   foster parent, or

  •   prospective adoptive parent.

  •   A current household member is a designated or sustained perpetrator of a child fatality due to physical abuse.

  •   A report has been upgraded from a P2 to a P1.

  •   There is an allegation involving sexual abuse or sex trafficking.

  •   Physical abuse allegations indicate serious physical injury.

  •   The family has an open investigation, Family-Based Safety Services, or conservatorship case.

  •   The current intake involves a child fatality alleged to be a result of abuse or neglect.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.553(b)

  •   A child under the age of 6:

  •   is designated as an alleged victim in the intake,

  •   is discovered living in the home and appears to be a victim of physical abuse, or

  •   is living in the home but is not listed as a victim on an intake with allegations of physical abuse.

  •   A current household member is a convicted sex offender.

  •   Child removal appears likely.

  •   Medical neglect allegations indicate there is a serious medical condition that could cause substantial and immediate harm.

  •   The family has previously refused to participate in DFPS recommended services necessary for the safety of the child, and the collateral information obtained by the CPI screener demonstrates the family may again refuse services.

  •   DFPS has had prior custody of a child living in the home and that case was closed within the last two years.

  •   Allegations involve manufacturing of illegal substances or involve an active drug raid.

  •   Allegations include that a weapon (gun, knife, or other potentially deadly weapon) has been used to threaten or harm anyone in the house.

2611.2 Criteria for Routing a Case to Traditional Investigation

CPS May 2018

AR cases must be routed to the traditional investigation pathway if:

  •   there is a compelling need for a disposition, meaning stage progression is required either for subsequent DFPS personnel actions or legal proceedings; or

  •   a more immediate response is necessary to ensure child safety, and there is a critical task that cannot be completed in AR.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.555

2612 New Intakes on an Open Alternative Response Case

CPS May 2018

If during an open AR case staff receives a new intake involving the same family, the new intake is sent (via regional router) directly to the supervisor.

2612.1 If the New Intake Meets Alternative Response Criteria

CPS May 2018

If the new intake meets AR eligibility criteria, the supervisor decides whether the case should remain on the AR pathway or be stage progressed to the traditional investigation pathway. In most instances, the case will remain on the AR pathway.

Sending the Case to Traditional Investigation

If the supervisor decides to stage progress the case to the traditional investigation pathway, the case must be stage progressed:

  •   within 24 hours from the time of the new intake; or

  •   no later than the next business day if the new intake is received outside regular work hours.

2612.2 If the New Intake Does Not Meet Alternative Response Criteria

CPS May 2018

If the new intake does not meet AR eligibility criteria, it is still routed to the supervisor. The supervisor must ensure the AR stage is completed, merged to the traditional case, and the entire case is then worked using the traditional investigation pathway.

If the case progresses to a traditional investigation, the same caseworker who worked the AR case should generally continue to work the case in the traditional investigation pathway. However, if a child death has occurred in the case involving an allegation of abuse or neglect, the case must be reassigned to another caseworker.

2612.3 Completing Case Merges

CPS May 2018

When new intakes are received on open AR cases, staff must complete case merges in the same way they are completed in the traditional investigation pathway.

2620 Contacts

2621 Documentation and Contact Entry

2621.1 Same Day Contact Entry with Children

CPS May 2018

In the Contact Detail window in IMPACT, the caseworker must enter any face-to-face contact or attempted contact with any child. The caseworker enters this information on the same day as the contact (or attempted contact).

The caseworker must select in the Contact Detail window all children seen during the contact. If the caseworker saw at least one child, the caseworker must not select Attempted.

If there were children that the caseworker did not see during the contact, the caseworker must create a separate Contact Detail listing those children and indicating an attempted contact.

2621.2 Case Activities Requiring 24 Hour Documentation

CPS May 2018

In the narrative, the caseworker must enter full documentation of the interviews and observations of all children within 24 hours of contact.

The caseworker must also enter full documentation of all interviews and case activities within 24 hours of taking any of the following case actions:

  •   Establishing a safety plan.

  •   Initiating a parental child safety placement.

  •   Removing a child.

2621.3 All Other Documentation

CPS May 2018

The caseworker must document all other contacts, attempted contacts, staffings, and case activities within seven calendar days.

Documentation Content

Documentation on contacts with individuals must include:

  •   danger to a child;

  •   child vulnerabilities;

  •   any required parental consent;

  •   protective actions; and

  •   services that the family needs or is receiving.

Documentation on staffings must include any case-related decisions and required actions.

2622 Initial Contacts

CPS May 2018

An alternative response (AR) caseworker assigned a new AR case must consult with the supervisor and review the family’s DFPS and criminal history before contacting the family.

2622.1 Contact Time Frames

CPS May 2018

The caseworker must attempt first contact with an AR family to schedule the first face-to-face meeting:

  •   within 24 hours from the time the CPI screener stage progresses the case to AR; or

  •   no later than the next business day if the intake is received outside of regular work hours.

The caseworker must make the first contact with the family via telephone to schedule a face-to-face visit.

If the caseworker is unable to contact the family by telephone, the caseworker must make first contact with the family face-to-face.

2622.2 Unable to Make Contact

CPS May 2018

If, within 3 days from the first attempted contact, the caseworker has not made contact with the family (telephone or in-person) to schedule the first face-to-face visit, the caseworker must consult with the supervisor to determine the next steps.

2622.3 Unable to Locate

CPS May 2018

If the caseworker cannot locate the family, see 3100 When a Child Who is With His or Her Family Cannot be Located.

2622.4 First Face-to-Face Contact

CPS May 2018

The caseworker’s first face-to-face contact with an AR family, including all children in the household, must occur within five days from the time the case is stage progressed to AR, unless the caseworker has been unable to make contact with the family to schedule a visit. See:

2622.3 Unable to Locate

3100 When a Child Who is With His or Her Family Cannot be Located

The contact must occur in the family’s home unless the family requests it to occur elsewhere. It also must include all family members (defined as everyone who lives in the household), if possible.

Any members of the household as defined by the Household Plus definition who have significant in-home contact but are not considered part of the nuclear family must also be contacted and assessed for safety and risk prior to closure of the AR case.

If Transferring an AR Case to a Traditional Investigation

Once the AR supervisor approves the transfer of the AR case to a traditional investigation, the caseworker must complete face-to-face contact with all alleged victims as soon as possible but not later than five days from the date the case was stage progressed to AR.

2622.5 Family Member Not Present

CPS May 2018

If a family member is not present at the time of the first face-to-face contact with the family, the caseworker must staff with the supervisor and make a follow-up contact with the family member as soon as possible.

If a child who lives in the household is not present for the first face-to-face contact with the family, the caseworker must staff with the supervisor and make contact within the five-day time frame to ensure child safety has been addressed.

2622.6 Notifying an Involved Parent that a Child Has Been Seen

CPS May 2018

During the first face-to-face contact with the family, the caseworker must identify both parents of each child in the home and assess their involvement with the child in an effort to establish safety and a support network. The caseworker must make reasonable efforts to notify all involved parents who live outside the child’s household about the caseworker’s contact with their child, unless it would endanger any child in the home, a reporter, or anyone else who participated in the family assessment. See the Alternative Response Resource Guide for a definition and more information regarding an “involved parent.”

The caseworker is not required to notify a parent who is not involved with the child.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.561(a)

The inclusion of involved parents who live outside the child’s primary residence in the family meeting is at the discretion of the parent with whom the child primarily resides.

2622.7 Family Refuses to Participate

CPS May 2018

If the family refuses to participate in the AR process during the first face-to-face contact with the family, the caseworker must attempt to explain why the family may benefit from AR. If the family still refuses, the case becomes a traditional investigation, and the caseworker, if still in the home, immediately assesses the safety of the child and begins working the case. The caseworker consults with the supervisor as soon as possible to determine the next steps, including stage progression of the case to the traditional investigation pathway.

2622.8 Determining Alleged Perpetrator’s Military Status

CPS May 2018

In an AR case, the caseworker must ask each adult alleged perpetrator if he or she is an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces or is the spouse of a member on active duty. If the person states he or she meets one of those descriptions, the caseworker must notify the nearest U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Family Advocacy Program about the investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.301(j)

See DoD’s Military Installations website to find the nearest Family Advocacy Program.

For information about timing of the notification and documentation, see 2248.7 Determining Alleged Perpetrator’s Military Status.

2623 Initial Contact Tasks

2623.1 Initial Tasks

CPS May 2018

During the first face-to-face contact with the family, the caseworker must:

  •   provide the AR Parent’s Guide to the family;

  •   gather sufficient information to complete the initial safety assessment;

  •   address any immediate dangers; and

  •   gather household member information to run any additional criminal background checks.

Audio Recordings

Audio recordings of interviews with children are not required unless a caseworker makes the decision to interview a child without a parent or primary caregiver present either at the child’s request or due to safety issues.

Photos

Photos are not required unless there are injuries, but are encouraged with the family’s knowledge and consent.

2623.2 Contact with Collaterals

CPS May 2018

During the first face-to-face contact with the family, the caseworker must:

  •   explain CPI’s responsibility to contact collaterals;

  •   discuss who the caseworker will contact;

  •   provide an opportunity for the family to offer input regarding collaterals to contact; and

  •   clarify the information the caseworker will request from collaterals.

2623.3 Family Refusal to Cooperate At Any Time

CPS May 2018

If a family refuses to cooperate at any time in the AR stage, the caseworker must work the case using traditional investigation methods. The caseworker also:

  •   takes any steps to ensure child safety;

  •   immediately consults with the supervisor; and

  •   stage progresses the case to traditional investigation in IMPACT as soon as possible.

2624 Ensuring Child Safety

CPS May 2018

See the Safety and Risk Assessment Resource Guide.

The caseworker must document an initial safety assessment within 24 hours of implementing a safety intervention regardless of whether or not the caseworker has interviewed or observed the children.

The caseworker must document an initial safety assessment within 24 hours of the priority response time when there was a face-to-face interview with or observation of at least one child.

If none of the children could be interviewed during the priority response time, the caseworker must document a safety assessment within 24 hours of a face-to-face interview with at least one child.

2624.1 Completing the Safety Reassessment

CPS May 2018

If a case remains open in the AR stage after the initial safety assessment, the caseworker continues to assess child safety throughout the case.

The caseworker must document a safety reassessment in any of the following situations:

  •   Before a child returns home from a parental child safety placement.

  •   When information on a household from a new intake with different allegations or incidents has been merged with the current AR case.

.  •  Prior to requesting a case extension in AR if more than 30 days has passed since the completion of the last safety assessment.

  •   Within 24 hours of any circumstance suggesting that the child’s safety may be jeopardized, including when a new danger indicator is identified, a previous danger indicator changes, or there is a change in safety intervention or safety decision.

  •   Before closing a case without ongoing Family-Based Safety Services (FBSS), if:

  •   the last safety finding was Safe and more than 60 days have passed since the last safety assessment was completed, or

  •   the last safety finding was Unsafe or Safe With a Plan, unless the family cannot be located.

  •   Before transferring an AR case to FBSS, if more than 60 days have passed since the last safety assessment was completed, unless:

  •   the FBSS caseworker has been working with the family and is aware that the child is safe;

  •   there have been no changes; and

  •   FBSS, AR, and the family all agree the safety plan is working.

2624.2 Supervisor’s 15 Day Review of AR Case Actions and Safety Decisions

CPS September 2019

No later than 15 calendar days from the date of intake, the supervisor reviews case documentation to ensure that the caseworker has completed the following:

  •  Attempted to contact or made contact with the reporter.

  •  Had quality face-to-face contact with all children and caregivers (or if contact has not been made, is making appropriate and continued efforts to make face-to-face contact). This does not apply to cases that are approved for administrative closure that do not require contact with the children.

  •  Completed all initial case tasks (See 2622 Initial Contacts and 2623 Initial Contact Tasks), unless the case is approved for a type of administrative closure that does not involve completing these tasks.

  •  Completed any required Safety Assessment tools (See 2271 Time Frames for Completing a Safety Assessment or Reassessment).

  •  Taken any action needed to ensure child safety.

Documentation of Supervisor Review

After completing the 15 day review the supervisor documents in IMPACT completion of their review and any actions needed to address child safety.

This requirement applies to all cases open on the 15th day from the date of the intake, including intakes for which the plan is to administratively close.

For administratively closed cases that do not involve contact with the children, see 2655 Submitting a Case for Administrative Closure.

2624.3 Completing the Risk Assessment

CPS May 2018

The caseworker initiates the risk assessment as soon as possible after meeting with the family to ensure that any services and work with the family throughout the life of the AR case address risk concerns. 

If the caseworker submits a case for any closure reason other than administrative closure, unable to locate, or transfer to investigation, the caseworker must complete the risk assessment.

If the risk assessment has a final risk level of High or Very High at the time of closure, the caseworker must:

  •   request an extension, if appropriate (See 2640 Extension); or

  •   recommend transfer of the case to FBSS, unless:

  •   actions taken by the family mitigate the concerns for future harm to the child as described in the exception rationale for opening risk-based cases, or  

  •   the family is receiving or has been connected with community services that will address priority needs and contributing factors for safety and risk concerns.

2625 Ongoing Contacts

CPS May 2018

Seven Day Contact

Contact between the caseworker and the primary caregiver should occur at least once every seven days if the case is going to remain open. This contact must be pertinent to the family’s case and may be made face to face or by other means, such as a phone call, texting, or email.

The ongoing contacts at least every seven days are important to:

  •   continue the engagement and relationship building process with the family;

  •   support the family as they make changes to ensure child safety;

  •   make sure the family feels the caseworker’s presence, support, and interest in their well-being and the safety of the children in the home.

If there is not a reason to be involved with a family, then the caseworker:

  •   closes the case as soon as possible; and

  •   contacts the family to share the status of the case, if the caseworker is unable to close the case within seven days.

30 Day Contact

The caseworker must make a face-to-face contact with the family, including all children in the home, at least every 30 days. If a child is not present at the 30 day contact, the caseworker notifies his or her supervisor to discuss a plan for making contact with the child as soon as possible.

The caseworker continuously addresses AR eligibility concerns throughout the life of the AR case and must immediately consult with the supervisor if eligibility concerns arise.

2626 Alternative Response Family Plan

2626.1 Completing the Plan

CPS May 2018

If there are dangers in the home, the caseworker must complete a family plan and a safety plan. See 3200 CPS Actions When Danger to a Child is Present, under Safety Plan.

The caseworker and the family complete the AR family plan during a face-to-face visit within 21 days from the time the case is stage progressed to AR. The caseworker and the parents or caregivers document and sign the plan. The caseworker provides the family with a copy of the plan at the end of the visit. The caseworker initially gets verbal supervisor approval for the family plan during case discussions with the supervisor.

For further information, see the Alternative Response Resource Guide.

If there are no dangers, a family plan can still be completed, depending on the family’s needs.

A caseworker may continue to work an AR case if a completed safety assessment indicates no identified dangers and the following conditions are met:

  •   Evidence indicates that the family has experienced dangers (not currently active) in the past.

  •   CPI can identify services to improve general family functioning and overall protective actions within the standard AR case time frame.

2626.2 Documenting the Plan in IMPACT

CPS May 2018

The caseworker documents the process of developing the AR family plan in a contact in IMPACT.

CPI will monitor the family’s progress and compliance with the AR family plan during every contact with the family.

2626.3 Addressing Dangers to a Child

CPS May 2018

If dangers have been identified, the AR family plan must include tasks and activities to increase parent or caregiver protective actions to mediate those dangers. If any current dangers are identified after the AR family plan is created, the plan must be revised to include services, tasks, and activities to increase parent or caregiver protective actions related to the newly identified dangers.

If danger exists, at least some of the services provided must directly address protective actions related to that danger.

2630 Stage Progressing an AR Case to Traditional Investigation

2631 When a Case Must be Progressed to Investigation

CPS May 2018

A case must be stage progressed from AR to the traditional investigation pathway if any one of the following situations is discovered after the case is assigned to the AR pathway:

  •   A child fatality occurs due to abuse or neglect while the case is open.

  •   There is a danger to a vulnerable child and there is no parent or caregiver to implement the protective actions needed to keep the child safe.

  •   CPI determines there has been a prior child fatality due to physical abuse and the designated perpetrator is currently part of the household.

  •   There are allegations of sexual abuse or sex trafficking.

  •   There is serious physical injury.

  •   A child fatality occurred that has not been previously investigated.

  •   A child under the age of 6 lives in the home and appears to be a victim of physical abuse.

  •   There are allegations involving physical abuse or sexual abuse and there is a child under the age of 6 in the home (even if the child is not listed as a victim on the intake).

  •   DFPS has had prior custody of a child living in the home and that case was closed within the last two years.

  •   Allegations arise involving manufacturing of illegal substances or involve an active drug raid.

  •   Allegations include that a gun, knife, or other potentially deadly weapon has been used to threaten or harm anyone in the house.

  •   A previous case was closed with a disposition of UTC and the recommended action of Family Moved/Cannot Locate, and another report about the family is received within one year.

2632 When a Case May be Progressed to Investigation

CPS May 2018

A case must be evaluated for possible stage progression from AR to the traditional investigation pathway if any one of the following situations is discovered after the case is assigned to the AR pathway:

  •   A convicted sex offender lives in the home. The assessment must determine if the reason for the conviction could pose a danger to the child.

  •   A child has a serious medical condition that could cause substantial and immediate harm.

  •   A child under the age of 6 lives in the home and the current allegations are not related to physical abuse or sexual abuse. The caseworker must make an assessment to determine if the situation poses a danger to the child, or if the case is appropriate to stay in AR.

  •   CPI determines there has been a child fatality prior to the current case that was due to some type of abuse or neglect (other than physical abuse) and the designated perpetrator is part of the household in the current case.

If any of these were known at the time of intake, the case would not have been eligible for AR. Circumstances vary in these types of situations and the caseworker’s assessment must determine if the particular circumstances pose a danger to the child.

2633 Legal Orders to Participate in Services

CPS May 2018

When a legal order requesting a family participate in services is required, the case must be stage progressed to a traditional investigation and then to Family-Based Safety Services, as appropriate.

2634 Parent or Caregiver Request for Reassignment

CPS May 2018

At any time during an AR case, the primary parents or caregivers have the option to request reassignment to the traditional investigation pathway.

Only the parent or caregiver being assessed has this option. Reporters cannot request a specific pathway.

2635 Stage Progress to Investigation Within 24 Hours

CPS May 2018

Once the supervisor approves the transfer of the AR case to a traditional investigation, the caseworker must immediately begin conducting traditional investigation activities and progress the case to the Investigation stage in IMPACT within 24 hours.

2640 Extension

CPS May 2018

For certain cases, a one-time 20 day extension is allowed, with supervisor approval. Staff may request a case extension at any time, but no later than 60 days from stage progression to AR.

2641 Criteria for Extension

CPS May 2018

To qualify for an extension, a case must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  •   The caseworker completed a safety reassessment on the household of concern within the last 30 days. The reassessment indicated there is a danger present in the child’s home. The caseworker and supervisor agree that the danger will be resolved such that the child will be safe and the case will be closed within the extension time frame, with no further CPI intervention.

  •   The risk level on the risk assessment for the family is high or very high. The caseworker and supervisor agree that the risk will be resolved such that the child will be safe and the case may be closed within the extension time frame, with no further CPI intervention.

2642 When Not to Allow Extension

CPS May 2018

The case is not eligible for an extension if the danger or the high or very high risk level cannot be resolved during the case extension time frame. The case must be progressed to FBSS, or staff should consider whether a removal is appropriate. A removal involves progressing the case to investigation as soon as possible.

2643 Extension Approval Time Frame

CPS May 2018

The supervisor must approve an extension request within 24 hours of submission, or the next business day.

2644 Closure Time Frames for Cases with Extension

CPS May 2018

If the supervisor approves a case extension:

  •   the caseworker must save and submit the AR case for closure within 80 days from stage progression to AR; and

  •   the supervisor must formally close the case, or transfer it to ongoing services, no later than 90 days from stage progression to AR.

2650 Case Closure

2651 Closure Time Frames

CPS May 2018

The caseworker must save and submit an AR case for closure no later than 60 days from stage progression to AR, unless an extension was approved.

The supervisor must formally close the case, or stage progress the case to ongoing services, no later than 70 days from stage progression to AR, unless an extension was approved.

2652 Alternative Response Case Closure Notifications

CPS September 2019

When Written Notification is Required

The caseworker must provide written notification within the following time frames:

  •  Within 24 hours of an administrative closure.

  •  Within 15 calendar days of all other types of AR case closure.

In any closure, including when the AR case is progressed to the FBSS stage, the caseworker must provide written notification to each of the following people (except as stated in 2652.1 Exceptions to Providing Case Closure Notifications):

  •  Each locatable and involved parent or other persons with primary or legal responsibility for each child in the case, including the household where there were alleged safety concerns.

  •  Each person who reported the alleged abuse or neglect, if DFPS knows this person’s identity and address.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513; 40 TAC §700.567

2652.1 Exceptions to Providing Case Closure Notifications

CPS September 2019

When Written Notification is not Required

The caseworker is not required to provide notification of case closure if the caseworker could not reasonably locate the family during the AR case.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513(d)(1)

When Written Notification is Prohibited

The caseworker must not provide notification of case closure to anyone in the following circumstances:

  •  The case is being administratively closed because it is being referred to another authorized entity, such as law enforcement or another state agency.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513(d)(4)

  •  The caseworker determines that notice is likely to endanger any child in the home, a reporter, or anyone else who participated in the case.

Texas Family Code §261.311(c)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513(d)(2)

2653 Required Actions

CPS May 2018

Before closing an AR case, the caseworker must ensure both of the following actions have been completed:

  •   All allegations reported in the intake have been addressed with the family.

  •   All principal children have been interviewed or observed based upon the developmental level of each child.

2654 Resulting Actions

CPS May 2018

Based on the assessment results, one of the following actions must occur:

  •   The AR case is closed and CPI ceases intervention with the family.

  •   The AR case remains open in the AR stage to address safety and risk concerns or to provide services to the family to strengthen protective actions. The case may stay open up to and beyond the 60th day, if an extension is granted.

  •   The AR case is stage progressed to traditional investigations because new information, including any new dangers, renders the case unsuitable for AR.

  •   The AR case is stage progressed to FBSS because dangers that make the child unsafe in his or her home have been identified and those dangers cannot be adequately addressed within the standard or extended AR case time frame.

  •   There is high or very high risk identified in the family that cannot be mitigated by family or community services per the exception rationale for opening risk-based case.

  •   The AR case is routed to conservatorship (CVS) because the child is unsafe and a removal is necessary. To route an AR case to CVS, the AR case is first stage progressed to traditional investigations and then progressed to CVS. The AR caseworker continues to work the case as the primary caseworker while the case is in the traditional investigation pathway.

2655 Submitting an Alternative Response Case for Administrative Closure

CPS October 2020

The caseworker may assign an administrative closure reason to an alternative response case only when all allegations in the intake and additional information gathered indicate continued CPI intervention is not warranted.

See:

2655.1 AR Administrative Closure: Reporter is Anonymous

2655.2 AR Administrative Closure: Refuting the Allegations

2655.3 AR Administrative Closure: Lacks Authority to Assess

2655.4 AR Administrative Closure: Allegations Already Investigated

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(b)

When submitting an AR case for administrative closure, the following steps are taken:

  • The caseworker must document all contacts, actions, and consultations in accordance with 2621 Documentation and Contact Entry.
  • The program director reads the investigation and approves or denies the request for closing the case.
  • If approved for administrative closure, the program director documents his or her approval in a contact narrative.
  • The supervisor submits the case for closure to the program director.
  • The program director reviews the documentation and closes the investigation stage in IMPACT.

See:

2652 Alternative Response Case Closure Notifications.

2316 Types of Closure: Comparison Table.

2655.1 AR Administrative Closure: Reporter is Anonymous

CPS October 2020

The caseworker may submit an AR case for administrative closure at any point, without completing the Risk Assessment tool, if the case is based on an anonymous report.

In this situation, the caseworker completes the following tasks:

  • Interviews and examines all alleged victims.
  • Completes all initial tasks (See 2622 Initial Contacts and 2623 Initial Contact Tasks).
  • Completes the Initial Safety Assessment tool.
  • Interviews at least one parent of each alleged victim. Although only one parent is required to be interviewed regarding the incident, the caseworker must notify both parents, if possible, that the child has been contacted. See 2622.6 Notifying an Involved Parent that a Child Has Been Seen.
  • Conducts any required home visit.
  • Reviews all other gathered information.
  • Determines that both of the following apply:
    • There is no evidence to support the allegations.
    • A parent is willing and able to protect the alleged victims from future dangers.

Texas Family Code §261.304

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(b)(1)(D)

2655.2 AR Administrative Closure: Refuting the Allegations

CPS October 2020

If the allegations have been refuted, the caseworker submits the AR case for administrative closure no later than 15 days from intake.

Requirements for Administrative Closure

All the following criteria must be met for this type of administrative closure:

  • No prior reports of abuse or neglect involve any principal in the case.
  • DFPS has not received any more reports of abuse or neglect of any alleged victim in the case. (A new report does not count, for the purpose of this bullet point, if it involves the same incidents and allegations as the original report.)
  • The caseworker has not made contact with any alleged child victim or alleged perpetrator.
  • The caseworker has determined that no abuse or neglect occurred.
  • The caseworker has determined that the child will be safe without further assessment, response services, or help. The caseworker determines this by contacting a professional or another credible source with direct knowledge of the child’s condition within the appropriate time frame.
  • The following criteria apply regarding professional or credible sources:
    • The information from the credible source must be new or in addition to the information in the intake.
    • The Texas Family Code §261.3018(e) defines “professional” for this purpose. This term refers to a person who is licensed or certified by the state, or who is an employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state and who, in the normal course of official duties or duties for which a license or certification is required, has direct contact with children in the normal course of the person’s duties. This includes the following people:
      • Teachers.
      • Nurses.
      • Doctors.
      • Daycare employees.
      • Employees of a clinic or health care facility that provide reproductive services.
      • Juvenile probation officers.
      • Juvenile detention or correctional officers.

Procedures for Administrative Closure

If all the above criteria apply, the caseworker takes the following steps:

  • Does not complete the Safety Assessment or Risk Assessment tools.
  • Submits the investigation for administrative closure.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489 (b)(1)(A-D)

2655.3 AR Administrative Closure: Lacks Authority to Assess

CPS October 2020

The caseworker submits an AR case for administrative closure, at any point in the case, if he or she determines that any of the following apply:

  • DFPS does not have jurisdiction to investigate because another authorized entity, such as law enforcement, another state agency, or another DFPS program, has jurisdiction. See 2652.1 Exceptions to Providing Case Closure Notifications under the heading When Written Notification is Prohibited.
  • The abuse or neglect, danger, or risk of abuse or neglect is not in Texas or did not occur in Texas. (See 2372 Abuse Out of State).
  • The alleged perpetrator is younger than 10.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(b)(1)(C)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.497(a)(1)

The caseworker submits the AR case for administrative closure as soon as possible, but no later than seven calendar days, after making the determination.

2655.4 AR Administrative Closure: Allegations Already Investigated

CPS October 2020

The caseworker submits an AR case for administrative closure if, at any point in the case, the caseworker determines that both of the following apply:

  • DFPS has already investigated or addressed the same incident and allegation in a previous case that was closed before the date of the new intake.
  • There are no new incidents or new allegations in the current case.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.489(b)(1)(a)

The caseworker does the following:

  • Documents the case number of the closed case and explains how information in the new report was addressed in the closed investigation.
  • Submits the investigation for administrative closure as soon as possible, but no later than seven calendar days after making the determination.
  • Merges the case with the previous case.

2700 Emergency Assistance (EA) Eligibility

CPS June 2020

The caseworker determines whether the child is eligible for emergency assistance (EA) if both of the following apply:

  • The case is in a traditional investigation or an alternative response stage.
  • The risk level is High or Very High.

To determine EA eligibility, the caseworker determines the following information and documents it in IMPACT:

The documentation of whether the child is eligible for EA belongs in the Investigation stage, not in the Alternative Response stage, if both of the following apply:

  • The case is currently an alternative response case.
  • DFPS plans to progress the case to the Investigation stage because DFPS needs to remove the child from the home.

2710 Determining the Family’s Total Annual Income

CPS June 2020

The caseworker determines and documents the family’s total annual income (before taxes and other similar deductions).

The annual income includes 12 months, as follows:

  • The month when DFPS determined that the risk existed (or the month when DFPS removed the child from the home, if that has occurred).
  • The 11 months directly before that.

2711 People for Whom to Collect Income Information

CPS June 2020

To determine the family’s total annual income, the caseworker collects information about certain people’s total monthly income. This includes income that the person receives, as well as income that someone else receives on the person’s behalf. This applies to certain people (see the two lists below) who live in the home where the High or Very High risk of abuse or neglect was present.

The following people are included:

  • Oldest victim in an investigation, or reference child (oldest victim in the intake) in an alternative response case.
  • Siblings of the oldest victim or reference child (including whole, half, and adoptive siblings). This only includes siblings who are minors.
  • Financially responsible adults (including minor parents), including the following caregivers of the oldest victim or reference child:
    • Biological or adoptive parents whose parental rights have not been terminated.
    • Managing conservator.
    • Other financially responsible adult who is caring for the child full-time (such as a grandparent or other relative).

The following people are not included:

  • Stepparents
  • Stepsiblings
  • Parents’ paramours
  • Parents’ paramours’ children

2712 Types of Income Information to Collect

CPS June 2020

The caseworker determines whether the family receives any of the following types of income:

  • Wages, salaries, or tips.
  • Self-employment income.
  • Child support payments for the support of the oldest victim or reference child, or that child’s siblings who are living in the home.
  • Government benefits, such as the following:
    • Supplemental security income (SSI).
    • Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (RSDI).
    • Railroad retirement benefits.
    • Veteran’s benefits.
    • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF).
    • Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • Unemployment compensation.
  • Disability insurance benefits.
  • Any other income.

The caseworker collects and documents the following information:

  • The name of each recipient of income.
  • The name of each source of income (for example, the employer that pays wages, the agency that provides a government benefit, and so on).
  • The total amount of income (before taxes and other similar deductions) that each recipient earned or received during each of the 12 months. This could be the same amount each month or different amounts in different months.
  • The number of months within the appropriate 12-month period (see 2710 Determining the Family’s Total Annual Income) in which the recipient received each type of income. This could be all 12 months or fewer than 12 months.

If the family claims to have no income, the caseworker asks how the family supports itself and documents the response.

Calculating Annual Income

The caseworker uses the information about monthly income to calculate the family’s total annual income. See the Emergency Assistance Eligibility Resource Guide for procedures.

2713 Verification of Income

CPS June 2020

The caseworker accepts the family members’ statements about their income without further verification, unless either of the following applies:

  • The caseworker has a reasonable belief that the information is questionable.
  • DFPS has removed one or more children from the home.

If the Information Is Questionable

If the caseworker reasonably believes the information is questionable, the caseworker asks the family for a copy of any or all of the following:

  • Paycheck or direct deposit slip, if a member of the family is working.
  • Award letter for benefits from the Social Security Administration or another government agency (showing the amount), if the child or another member of the family receives such benefits.
  • Proof of any other type of income that a member of the family has reported, such as a direct deposit slip or bank statement showing the income.

If DFPS Has Removed a Child

If DFPS has removed a child from the home, the caseworker uses information in IMPACT to cross-check the information that the parents provide about the family’s income for the month of removal. The month of removal is the month during which DFPS removed the child from the home.

The caseworker compares the amounts of income in the following places:

  • The family members’ statements of their income for EA purposes for the month of removal.
  • The Income for Child and Income for Family sections on the Income and Expenditures page of the Foster Care Assistance Application (FCAA)in IMPACT. This shows the income that the family reported for the 11 months before the month of removal.

If there are any differences, the caseworker does the following:

  1. Discusses the differences with the family.
  2. Documents the reasons for the differences.

2714 Documentation

CPS June 2020

Contact Narrative

The caseworker documents the following information in the contact narrative in IMPACT:

  • The names of the people whose income the caseworker counted in the family’s total annual income.
  • The information that the caseworker gathered to determine the family’s total annual income.
  • The sources of information that the caseworker used (including the FCAA, if DFPS has removed a child).
  • The family’s total annual income (before taxes and other similar deductions).

If the case involves more than one home where the risk level is High or Very High, the caseworker does the following:

  1. Finds the household that is in the Household Identified for Closure field on the CPS Investigation Conclusion page or the CPS Alternative Response Conclusion page in IMPACT.
  2. Uses that household for purposes of EA eligibility, including gathering information and documenting it in the contact narrative in IMPACT.

If a child is a member of more than one household, the caseworker does the following for each source of income that is for the child:

  1. Determines which household benefits most from the income.
  2. Uses that household for purposes of EA eligibility, including gathering information, counting income, and documenting information.

For example, the caseworker counts child support payments with the household of the parent who receives the child support on behalf of the child.

EA Eligibility Application/Determination Section in IMPACT

The caseworker chooses the appropriate income range in the EA Eligibility Application/Determination section in IMPACT. The appropriate income range represents the family’s total annual income, based on the following:

  • The information that the family provided, if the court has not legally removed any children from the home.
  • The information that the caseworker verified using the FCAA, if the court has removed one or more children from the home.

If the case involves more than one home where the risk level is High or Very High, the caseworker does the following:

  1. Finds the household that is in the Household Identified for Closure field on the CPS Investigation Conclusion page or the CPS Alternative Response Conclusion page in IMPACT.
  2. Uses that household to document in the EA Eligibility Application/Determination section in IMPACT.

Supervisor Approval

The supervisor does not close the stage until the supervisor has made sure that the income information is accurate and correctly documented.

2720 Responding to the Eligibility Statements

CPS June 2020

IMPACT automatically makes the EA Eligibility Application/Determination section available when the caseworker completes the Risk Assessment tool and the risk level is High or Very High.

The caseworker completes this section, which contains three statements that each require a response of Yes or No.

2721 Risk Level

CPS June 2020

The first statement in the EA Eligibility Application/Determination section is:

Risk Levels are:

  • Low
  • Moderate
  • High
  • Very High

IMPACT automatically marks the Yes response for this statement and does not allow the caseworker to change it.

2722 Child’s Living Situation

CPS June 2020

The second statement in the EA Eligibility Application/Determination section is:

The child lives with a parent or relative at some time during the past six months.

The table below explains how to respond to this statement.

If:

Then the caseworker:

The child lived with a parent or relative* at the time DFPS determined that the risk existed

Marks Yes

The child lived with a parent or relative* at some other time during the past six months

Marks Yes

Neither of the above applies

Marks No

* The following people are considered relatives, for the purpose of responding to this statement:

  • Grandfather
  • Grandmother
  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Stepfather
  • Stepmother
  • Stepbrother
  • Stepsister
  • Uncle
  • Aunt
  • First cousin
  • Nephew
  • Niece

The caseworker also makes sure that the narrative portions of the interviews with the child or family in IMPACT accurately reflect the living arrangements of all the children.

2723 Cause of the Risk

CPS June 2020

The third statement in the EA Eligibility Application/Determination section is:

It is correct to say that we have no information that indicates that the risk of abuse/neglect was directly caused by a caregiver’s refusal to accept employment or training for employment.

The table below explains how to respond to this statement.

If:

Then the caseworker:

Both of the following are true:

  • The caregiver has refused to accept employment or training for employment.
  • The caseworker determines that the refusal directly caused the risk of abuse or neglect.

Does both of the following:

  • Marks No.
  • Makes sure that the narrative portions of the interviews with the child or family in IMPACT accurately explain how the refusal directly caused the risk of abuse or neglect.

Both of the following are true:

  • The caregiver has refused to accept employment or training for employment.
  • DFPS has no reason to believe that the refusal caused the risk of abuse or neglect.

Marks Yes.

The caregiver has not refused to accept employment or training for employment.

Marks Yes.

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