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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

CPS May 2017

See the Time With Families Resource Guide.

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 February 15, 2015

Advancing Intake to Investigation

Initial Investigation Tasks

Advancing Intake to Investigation

When supervisor, or designee, receives an intake, they must either close intake as a Priority None (PN) or advance the intake to 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 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 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.

2240 Interviewing, Examining, and Transporting a Child

CPS August 2017

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. Caseworkers must comply with Fourth Amendment requirements 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.

Before taking any of these actions, a caseworker must have:

  •   consent;

  •   exigent circumstances; or

  •   a court order.

2241 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.

2241.1 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.

2241.11 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.

2241.2 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

2241.3 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.

2241.4 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.

2241.5 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.

2242 Entering the Home

CPS August 2017

Before entering a home, a caseworker must have:

  •   consent;

  •   exigent circumstances; or

  •   a court order.

2242.1 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.

2242.11 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.

2242.12 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.

2242.2 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. 

2242.3 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

2243 Interviews With Children

2243.1 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.

2243.2 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)

2243.3 Consent to Interview a Child
2243.31 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.

2243.32 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.

2243.4 Conducting the Interview

CPS August 2017

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 determine whether to:

  •   proceed with the interview in the presence of a parent or a third party agreed to by the parent; or

  •   obtain a court order to interview the child alone.

2243.5 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

2243.6 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.

2243.7 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 Visual Examinations

2244.1 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.

2244.2 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.

2244.21 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.

2244.22 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.

2244.3 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.

2244.4 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).

2244.5 Examinations by External Entities
2244.51 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.

2244.52 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.

2245 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 2245.13 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)

2245.1 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.

2245.11 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.

2245.12 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.

2245.13 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.

2245.2 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.

2245.3 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.

2246 Interviews and Contact with Parents, Alleged Perpetrators, Other Adults, and Principals

2246.1 Interviewing Parents and Alleged Perpetrators

CPS August 2017

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

At the first contact with parents or alleged perpetrators, the caseworker must identify himself or herself and:

  •   explain the role and responsibilities of DFPS;

  •   explain the reason for contact; and

  •   inform the individuals of the general nature of the report and each allegation and obtain their 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:

  •   cause harm to the child;

  •   influence the child's interview; or

  •   compromise the integrity of the investigation.

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

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.508

2246.2 Recording Interviews With an Adult

CPS August 2017

Prior to a caseworker recording an interview with an adult, the caseworker must notify the adult that a recording will be made. The caseworker must store the audio recording in the case file.

2246.3 Obtaining Demographic Information from Principals

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must gather, and document on the Person Detail page in IMPACT, identifying and demographic information from all principals. The caseworker must work with each principal to determine the principal's race or ethnicity and the language in which the principal communicates.

2246.4 Required Documents to Provide to Parents

CPS August 2017

The caseworker must provide a copy of Parent's Guide to Child Protective Services Investigation to parents as soon as possible, in a language they can understand, or read it to them if they are illiterate.

2246.5 Complaints or Requests for Clarification from Alleged Perpetrators or Principal Adults

CPS August 2017

The supervisor must review any complaints or requests for clarification from alleged perpetrators or principal adults involved in the investigation within 14 calendar days from the date the complaint or request is received.

Texas Family Code §261.309(b)

2250 Home Visits

CPS February 15, 2015

The caseworker must conduct a home visit and take photographs of the condition of the home if:

  •  there is a principal child in the home who is 5 years old or younger;

  •  the allegations involve the condition of the home; or

  •  other circumstances in the case make a home visit necessary to ensure child safety.

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 Ensuring Child Safety

2271 Time Frames for Completing a Safety Assessment or Reassessment

CPS October 2017

See the SDM Safety and Risk Assessment Procedure and Reference Manual.

The caseworker must document a safety assessment within 24 hours of the priority response time based on:

  •   face-to-face interviews with or observations of at least one alleged victim, and other information gathered within the priority response time; OR

  •   after implementing a safety intervention.

In circumstances in which none of the child victims could be interviewed during the response priority time, the caseworker must document a safety assessment within 24 hours of a face-to-face interview with at least one alleged victim, or upon implementing a safety intervention.

The caseworker must document a safety reassessment:

  •   before a child returns home from a parental child safety placement (PCSP);

  •   within 24 hours of any circumstance suggesting that the child’s safety may be jeopardized;

  •   before closing an investigation without ongoing Family Based Safety or Conservatorship services, if the last safety finding was Unsafe or Safe With a Plan, unless:

  •   the family cannot be located; or

  •   the family is uncooperative and legal intervention is not possible.

  •   before transferring an investigation to FBSS, if more than 75 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

  •   all agree the safety plan is working.

2272 Supervisor Review of Case Actions and Safety Decisions

CPS August 2017

No later than 15 calendar days after the date of intake, the supervisor must ensure that:

  •   the caseworker has:

  •   had quality face-to-face contact with all alleged victims, or if contact has not been made, is making appropriate efforts to make face-to-face contact;

  •   added any new allegations, alleged victims, or alleged perpetrators to IMPACT;

  •   completed all initial investigation tasks;

  •   appropriately completed any required safety assessments; and

  •   taken any action needed to ensure child safety; and

  •   there is documentation in the case that reflects any needed actions, follow up, or critical next steps.

2273 Referral to Services

CPS February 15, 2015

The caseworker must refer a family to community resources or services whenever the caseworker determines that such resources or services will reduce danger to a child or child vulnerability, or support protective actions. When DFPS provides paid services to the child or family, the caseworker must document in the comments of Form 2054 Service Authorization how the service is related to determining the allegations or providing for child safety.

2280 Disposition

2281 Reaching Dispositions for the Allegations and Alleged Perpetrators

CPS September 2016

Once the caseworker gathers enough information, the caseworker must give each allegation one of the dispositions described below.

See the Disposition Guidelines for Domestic Violence Resource Guide.

2281.1 Administrative Closure

CPS September 2016

Assign the Administrative Closure disposition to the allegation if information gathered establishes one of the following:

  •  CPS does not have the authority to investigate the allegation;

  •  the allegation was already investigated and assigned a disposition;

  •  the allegation does not meet the definition of abuse or neglect;

  •  the allegation was based on an anonymous report and there is no evidence corroborating the allegation; or

  •  the caseworker gathered sufficient, credible information refuting that the alleged abuse or neglect occurred or is at risk of occurring.

If all the allegations are administratively closed, the caseworker must proceed as set forth in 2310 Administrative Closure.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.507(c)

2281.2 Reason to Believe

CPS September 2016

Assign the Reason to Believe disposition to the allegation if, based on the preponderance of evidence gathered during the investigation, the caseworker concludes that the alleged abuse or neglect did occur and the alleged perpetrator is responsible for it.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §§700.511(b)(1); 700.512(b)(2)

If the caseworker concludes that alleged abuse or neglect did occur but there is not a preponderance of evidence to conclude who is responsible, the caseworker must:

  •  select a disposition of Unable to Determine; and

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.512(b)(4)

  •  enter a new allegation of abuse or neglect with a disposition of Reason to Believe; and

  •  not name a perpetrator in the allegation.

If a physician certifies that a child is in critical or serious condition and the caseworker determines that the child’s condition was due to abuse or neglect, the caseworker must select the severity type Near Fatal.

If, during the investigation into a child fatality, it was found that the child’s death was caused by abuse or neglect, then the severity type of Fatal must be selected.

2281.3 Ruled Out

CPS September 2016

Assign the Ruled Out disposition to the allegation if the information gathered during the investigation supports a reasonable conclusion that:

  •  the alleged abuse or neglect did not occur; or

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.511(b)(2)

  •  the alleged perpetrator is 9 years old or younger, or

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.512(a)(1)

  •  the alleged abuse or neglect did occur but there is sufficient evidence to reasonably conclude that the named alleged perpetrator is not responsible. In this instance, the caseworker must:

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

  •  enter a disposition of Reason to Believe for the correct alleged perpetrator; or

  •  if the perpetrator is unknown, enter a new allegation of abuse or neglect with a disposition of Reason to Believe, and do not name a perpetrator in the allegation.

2281.4 Unable to Complete

CPS September 2016

Assign the Unable to Complete disposition to the allegation if the caseworker could not gather enough information to draw a conclusion as to whether the alleged abuse or neglect occurred, because the caseworker could not locate a principal, or a principal was uncooperative.

  •  The caseworker must not select the Unable to Complete (UTC) disposition for an allegation if there is enough information to determine whether the abuse and/or neglect occurred and who is responsible for it, even if a principal cannot be located or is uncooperative.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §§700.511(b)(3); 700.512(b)(5)

  •  The caseworker must not select the UTC disposition unless the caseworker has made reasonable efforts to locate or gather information from the principals.

See the Finding Families Resource Guide.

2281.5 Unable to Determine

CPS September 2016

Assign the Unable to Determine disposition to the allegation if the allegation does not meet the criteria for Reason to Believe, Ruled Out, or Unable to Complete, but:

  •  the information gathered is not enough to determine whether the alleged abuse or neglect occurred; or

  •  there is enough information to determine that the abuse or neglect occurred, but there is not enough information to determine if the alleged perpetrator is responsible.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §§700.511(b)(4); 700.512(b)(4)

The caseworker must not select this option 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 Approval

CPS February 15, 2015

Closure

Abbreviated Rule Out

Closure for Other Reasons

Transfer

Extension

Closure

After completing all required tasks and documentation, the caseworker must staff with the supervisor before submitting an investigation for closure.

Abbreviated Rule Out

The caseworker can submit the investigation for an abbreviated rule out, without completing the risk assessment, no later than 30 calendar days from the date of intake. Before doing so, the caseworker must, at a minimum, complete these tasks:

  •  Interview all alleged victims.

  •  Complete all initial tasks.

  •  Document all contacts, case actions, and staffings.

  •  Complete the safety assessment.

  •  Interview at least one parent of each alleged victim.

  •  Conduct any required home visit.

  •  Review all other gathered information.

  •  Determine that:

  •  there is enough information to rule out all allegations; and

  •  a parent has taken actions to protect the alleged victims from any identified danger to a child.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §§700.507(d)

Cases submitted for an abbreviated rule out are not eligible to receive family preservation or substitute care services.

Closure for Other Reasons

If the caseworker submits an investigation for any closure reason other than administrative closure or abbreviated rule out, the caseworker must first complete these tasks:

  •  Interview all alleged victims.

  •  Complete the safety assessment.

  •  Complete all initial tasks.

  •  Interview all parents of each alleged victim that have been located.

  •  Interview all alleged perpetrators.

  •  Conduct any required home visit.

  •  Gather any other information or documentation from collaterals that are necessary to make case dispositions and ensure child safety.

  •  Complete the risk assessment, unless all allegations have the disposition of Unable to Complete.

  •  Document all contacts, case actions, and staffings.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §§700.507(e)

The caseworker must not submit an investigation for closure unless the caseworker appropriately assigned a disposition for all allegations and perpetrators and addressed all known dangers to a child.

The caseworker must complete all investigation tasks and documentation and submit to the supervisor as soon as possible, but no later than 45 calendar days from the intake date.

Transfer

If the Risk Assessment has a finding of Risk Indicated, the caseworker must recommend transfer of the case:

  •  to conservatorship, if at least one child has been removed;

  •  to family preservation services, if no child has been removed, unless:

  •  the family refuses services and legal intervention is not possible; or

  •  the children, after reasonable efforts, cannot be located.

Extension

The caseworker must request an extension if unable to submit the case to the supervisor for approval within 45 calendar days from intake. The supervisor can grant an extension for good cause on a case-by-case basis. A program director must approve any extension beyond 90 calendar days from intake.

2292 Action on Submitted Investigations

CPS April 2017

Once an investigation has been submitted, the supervisor must review and approve or reject the submission as soon as possible, but within five calendar days of submission. If the supervisor rejects the submission, the supervisor must communicate to the caseworker and document any outstanding issues that need to be resolved. The caseworker must attempt to resolve outstanding issues within the original investigation time frames or request an extension, regardless of whether the supervisor has approved or rejected the case submission.

The supervisor must assign a child safety specialist (CSS) as secondary approver on any case that meets established criteria, to determine that all known dangers to a child have been addressed.

Texas Family Code §261.3125

If the CSS returns a second approver case because additional actions are required to ensure child safety, the CSS must document the specific actions needed in a contact. When the case action is completed and the supervisor approves the case for closure, the supervisor must submit the case to the program director (PD) for final approval.

The PD must review the CSS recommendations and verify that all required actions have been satisfactorily completed and documented in the case. If any action recommended by the CSS has not been completed and the PD determines the action is not needed to ensure safety, the PD must document in a contact his or her rationale for not completing the action.

An investigation must not be approved for closure unless all allegations and perpetrators have an appropriate disposition and all known dangers to a child have been addressed.

2293 Notification of Investigation Findings

CPS February 15, 2015

Not Providing Findings

Delaying Notice of Findings

Providing Notice of Findings

Not Providing Findings

The caseworker is not required to provide notification of investigation findings to individuals if the caseworker could not reasonably locate them during the investigation.

The caseworker cannot provide notification of investigation findings to anyone if:

  •  the investigation is being administratively closed because it is being referred for investigation to another authorized entity, such as law enforcement or another state agency; or

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 investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.311(c)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513(d)(2)

Delaying Notice of Findings

The caseworker can delay notification of investigation findings if law enforcement requests the delay to avoid interfering with an ongoing criminal investigation. The caseworker must provide notice once law enforcement informs DFPS that it no longer needs the delay.

Texas Family Code §261.311(d)

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513(d)(3)

Providing Notice of Findings

In all other circumstances, the caseworker must provide written notification of investigation findings within:

  •  24 hours of an administrative closure; or

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

In any closure, the caseworker must provide written notification of investigation to:

  •  each alleged victim who was interviewed;

  •  each parent of an alleged victim or an alleged perpetrator who is a minor;

  •  each person identified as an alleged perpetrator; and

  •  each person who reported the alleged abuse or neglect, if the person’s identity and address are known.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.513

2300 Special Circumstances for Investigations

2310 Administrative Closure

CPS April 2016

Anonymous Reports

Refuting the Allegations

Lacks Authority to Investigate, Already Investigated

Anonymous Reports

At any point in an investigation based on an anonymous report, the caseworker may submit the investigation for an administrative closure without completing the risk assessment. Before doing so, the caseworker must:

  •  interview and examine all alleged victims;

  •  complete all initial tasks;

  •  complete the safety assessment;

  •  interview at least one parent of each alleged victim;

  •  conduct any required home visit;

  •  review all other gathered information; and

  •  determine that:

  •  there is no corroborating evidence; and

  •  a parent has taken actions to protect the alleged victims from any identified danger to a child.

Texas Family Code §261.304

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.507(c)(1)(D)

Refuting the Allegations

The caseworker can submit the investigation for an administrative closure no later than 15 calendar days from intake, if the caseworker has:

  •  sufficient, credible information, from collaterals who have direct knowledge about the child’s condition, refuting that the alleged abuse or neglect occurred or is at risk of occurring;

  •  no information that the child is vulnerable to any other danger; and

  •  not made contact with an alleged child victim or alleged perpetrator.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.507(c)(3)(A)

The caseworker does not need to complete the safety assessment unless the caseworker has interviewed at least one alleged victim. The caseworker does not need to complete the risk assessment.

When the caseworker submits the investigation as an administrative closure, the supervisor must get the program director’s approval, unless the program director authorized the supervisor to move forward without such approval.

Lacks Authority to Investigate, Already investigated

The caseworker must submit an investigation for administrative closure for statutory reasons if, at any point in the investigation, the caseworker determines that:

  •  CPS does not have authority to investigate any of the allegations;

  •  all of the allegations have already been investigated; or

  •  the allegations do not meet the definition of abuse or neglect.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.507(c)(1)-(2)

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

If the allegations have already been investigated, the caseworker must merge them with the prior investigation.

2320 School Investigations

CPS August 2017

In a school investigation, these 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 individuals, 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.

  •   Reasonable physical discipline that:

  •   is appropriate for the child's age and development;

  •   is appropriate for the reason for which the discipline is being administered; and

  •   does not result in physical injuries substantially harmful to the child or contain genuine threats of substantial physical injury to the child.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.403

Criteria for a School Investigation

To qualify as a school investigation:

  •   the alleged perpetrator must be a person meeting the definition of school personnel or volunteer at the child's school;

  •   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;

  •   the alleged abuse or neglect must have occurred during the current school year, or there must be a likelihood that enough evidence can still be collected to establish whether abuse or neglect occurred in a school setting; and

  •   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 §§700.402; 700.404

The reported incident will be 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.

Pre-Investigation Requirements

Before starting a school investigation the caseworker must:

  •   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 caseworker will arrive to begin the investigation. The caseworker must request that the principal not inform the alleged perpetrator before the caseworker interviews him or her;

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.407

  •   notify law enforcement of the report and request a joint investigation; and

  •   conduct abuse and neglect background checks on the alleged perpetrator and alleged victim, and a criminal history check on the alleged perpetrator.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.408(b)

Required Actions

In a school investigation, the caseworker must complete the following tasks:

  •   Get a full statement from the reporter.

  •   Interview each alleged victim.

  •   Interview any witnesses or collaterals who may have information.

  •   Gather any physical evidence relevant to the investigation, such as school records and photographs.

Texas Government Code §552.114(b)(3)

  •   Interview the alleged perpetrator.

  •   When necessary for the investigation, request that a parent of the alleged victim get a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of the child.

  •   When necessary for the investigation, request that an alleged perpetrator submit to a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination and provide the records to the caseworker.

  •   Complete the investigation within 30 calendar days, unless the supervisor grants an extension.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.408(c)

The supervisor must close or return the case to the caseworker within 10 calendar days of submission.

The caseworker does not need to complete all tasks if the caseworker completes enough tasks to reach a disposition of Reason to Believe or Ruled Out.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.511(b)(1)-(2); 700.512(b)(2)

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

If the school is not under TEA jurisdiction, the caseworker 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; and

  •   conduct a visual examination of the child.

See 2243.32 Consent to Interview a Child at School and 2244.22 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 caseworker must either:

  •   obtain a court order before performing that action; or

  •   remove the child if exigent circumstances exist.

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

Completion and Closure

The caseworker does not complete a safety or risk assessment in a school investigation.

The program director must approve final case closure.

Notification letter requirements for school investigations are the same as for a standard investigation.

If, in consultation with regional management, danger to a child is indicated, the caseworker must contact the principal, director, or superintendent to inform them of the disposition and danger to a child, regardless of whether school is subject to regulation by TEA.

For schools under TEA's jurisdiction, the DFPS Records Management Group  handles all requests for case records.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §§700.411; 700.412

Texas Family Code §261.406

Sharing Case Information

After the case is closed, DFPS may only share case information with:

  •   the parents of the alleged victim;

  •   the alleged perpetrator; and

  •   law enforcement.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.203

2330 Child Fatality

2331 When a Child Dies

CPS July 2015

When a child dies, and the death is suspected to be related to abuse or neglect, CPS conducts an investigation. Any time a CPS regional director becomes aware of a child death that could be related to abuse or neglect that has not been reported, he or she must ensure that a report is made to SWI. The CPS Investigation program administrators assume this responsibility in the event that a regional director is unavailable. This does not preclude other CPS staff from reporting 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:

3000 Ensuring Child Safety

6490 If a Child Dies While in Substitute Care

CPS has established a protocol guide for all child fatality investigations. 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 5850 Judicial Bypass 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

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 February 15, 2015

Interviewing Parents and Medical Personnel

Order of Temporary Conservatorship

Disposition

If there are allegations of medical neglect (MDNG) due to a lack of medical care because of legitimate religious beliefs, CPS does not consider the parents or guardian negligent, but the caseworker may request temporary managing conservatorship (TMC) 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 illness and possible alternatives to the recommended medical treatment. If more than one physician is available, the caseworker must secure a second medical opinion. The caseworker must try to get written medical statements 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

  •  physician’s statements indicate 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 (TMC) so that the caseworker may consent to the recommended treatment. The caseworker must not consent to the recommended treatment until the judge has signed the order naming DFPS TMC for this purpose.

Disposition

If the caseworker determines that the child lacks needed medical attention because of religious beliefs, the caseworker must assign a disposition of Ruled Out to allegations of medical neglect related to the recommended medical treatment. The caseworker must determine dispositions for all other allegations not related to MDNG regarding the recommended treatment, as in a normal 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)

CPS September 2015

Informing Law Enforcement

Determining Appropriate Services for Victims of Sex Trafficking

CPS investigates allegations of labor trafficking and sex trafficking of children only by persons traditionally responsible for the children’s care, custody, and welfare.

For the purposes of a CPS investigation, only the following may be 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 lives in the child’s family’s household; or

  •  with whom a parent or legally responsible person or entity, such as CPS or a court, placed the child;

  •  a person who is at least 10 years old and resides elsewhere or whose place of residence cannot be determined, and either has regular free access to the household or when in the household dwelling takes care of or assumes responsibility for children in the household;

Texas Family Code §261.001(5)

TAC §700.477

  •  a person with whom the child’s parent cohabits; or

  •  school personnel or volunteers at the child’s school.

Informing Law Enforcement of Sex or Labor Trafficking

When The Alleged Trafficker is a Person Responsible for a Child’s Care, Custody, or Welfare

The caseworker must notify local law enforcement immediately, or no later than 24 hours after, the beginning of an investigation of child trafficking, to:

  •  determine whether a joint investigation is warranted or coordinate the CPS investigation with an ongoing criminal investigation; and

  •  ensure worker and victim safety, as necessary.

When the Alleged Trafficker is NOT a Person Responsible for a Child’s Care, Custody, or Welfare

The caseworker must inform law enforcement immediately upon, or no later than 24 hours from, determining there are indications that a child may be a victim of sex or labor trafficking.

If, in working an I&R, casework related special request, or intake that is sent to the field, CPS staff learns that human trafficking is involved, CPS staff must send a copy of the report to the Joint Crimes Information Center (JCIC) at TXJCIC@dps.texas.gov.

Determining Appropriate Services for Victims of Sex Trafficking

When a child in an open investigation (INV) case has been identified as a victim of trafficking or is at risk of becoming a victim of trafficking, the caseworker must assess the community resources available to help the child. The caseworker must document his or her efforts to identify and address child trafficking situations in case narratives.

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.state.tx.us 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.state.tx.us.

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 to decide how to ensure the safety of the child;

  •  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 DPFS-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 Transferring a Case from Investigation to Family Based Safety Services (FBSS)

CPS February 15, 2015

Family Based Safety Services (FBSS) is also known as Family Preservation (FPR).

After determining that a family meets the criteria for family preservation services, the investigator must:

  •  complete the FPR referral form;

  •  attach any necessary external documentation; and

  •  submit the completed paperwork to the supervisor.

The investigation supervisor must ensure that:

  •  the case is appropriate for FPR; and

  •  the FPR referral form and attached documentation contain enough information about the reasons why the family qualifies for family preservation services.

The investigation supervisor then forwards the packet to the FPR supervisor.

After reviewing the packet, the FPR supervisor must assign an FPR caseworker. The investigation and FPR caseworkers and supervisors must:

  •  cooperate and collaborate efforts to assess the family’s needs related to child safety;

  •  conduct a joint visit with the family as appropriate; and

  •  transfer the family from investigations to family preservation as soon as possible.

The investigator retains primary responsibility for taking any needed actions to ensure child safety, and for making any required contacts related to a documented Safety Plan (Form 2604-b) or a Parental Child Safety Placement while the investigation stage is open.

2500 Basic Family Based Safety Services (FBSS) Process

CPS October 2017

Family Based Safety Services (FBSS) is also known as Family Preservation (FPR).

2510 General Provisions of the FBSS Process

CPS October 2017

Definition of Parent in FBSS

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

Staffing (Consultations)

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

2511 Ongoing Child Safety Assessment

CPS October 2017

The caseworker must assess child safety throughout the FBSS stage.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.514(d)

2512 Safety Reassessment

CPS October 2017

The purpose of a safety reassessment is to determine if the child in the home is still safe and if the safety plan, if there is one, remains effective.

The FBSS caseworker must complete a safety reassessment:

  •   when circumstances suggest that the child’s safety may be jeopardized;

  •   before closing a FBSS case with at least one child in the home;

  •   when considering unsupervised contact;

  •   before returning a child from a PCSP; or

  •   when a case is being closed with the child remaining in a parental child safety placement (PCSP) without the PCSP caregiver obtaining legal custody. Usually when a FBSS case is being closed with a PCSP, the PCSP caregiver has obtained legal custody before case closure. Case closure actions must follow 3217 Ending a PCSP, or 3218 Closing a Case or Stage When the Child Remains in a PCSP with a Caregiver Who Does Not Have Legal Custody.

See the SDM Safety and Risk Assessment Procedure and Reference Manual.

2513 Reasonable Effort to Engage Parents

CPS October 2017

The FBSS caseworker must make reasonable efforts to engage both parents of each child who will be receiving FBSS.

2514 CPS Actions When Danger to a Child is Present

CPS October 2017

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

2515 CPS Actions When a Child or Principal Cannot Be Located

CPS October 2017

If a child or principal cannot be located at any point while a FBSS stage is open, and this prevents the FBSS caseworker from gathering enough information or taking action to ensure child safety, the FBSS caseworker must consult with the supervisor and take one of the actions described in 3100 When a Child Who is With His or Her Family Cannot be Located.

2516 Uncooperative Principal in an FBSS Case

CPS October 2017

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

Texas Family Code §261.3031

2517 Transferring Stages between Counties

CPS October 2017

If principals in a case are actually or are believed to be located in more than one county, FBSS 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.

2518 Documentation and Same Day Contact Entry

2518.1 Same Day Contact Entry

CPS May 2017

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

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.

If the caseworker is 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.

2518.2 Case Activities Requiring 24 Hour Documentation

CPS May 2017

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

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

2518.3 All Other Documentation

CPS May 2017

The caseworker must document all staffings and other case activities within seven calendar days.

Documentation Content

Documentation on contacts and case activities must include information related to:

  •   danger to a child;

  •   child vulnerabilities;

  •   protective actions; and

  •   services that the family needs or is receiving.

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

2520 Child Trafficking (Sex and Labor Trafficking)

CPS September 2015

If a child in an open Family Preservation (FPR) case is suspected of being a victim of trafficking or is at risk of becoming a victim of trafficking, the caseworker must interview the child to determine:

  •  child safety; and

  •  whom the alleged trafficker is.

Informing Law Enforcement of Sex or Labor Trafficking

When The Alleged Trafficker is a Person Responsible for a Child's Care, Custody, or Welfare

The caseworker must immediately, or no later than 24 hours, call in a new intake to SWI and report the situation to local law enforcement.

When the Alleged Trafficker is NOT a Person Responsible for a Child's Care, Custody, or Welfare

The caseworker must immediately, or no later than 24 hours, report the situation to local law enforcement and to the Joint Crimes Information Center (JCIC) at TXJCIC@dps.texas.gov.

Determining Appropriate Services for Victims of Sex Trafficking

When a child in an open FPR case has been identified as a victim of trafficking or is at risk of becoming a victim of trafficking, the FPR caseworker must assess whether community resources are available to help the child and make referrals as appropriate. The FPR caseworker must document any referrals for services in the family plan of service.

The FPR caseworker must document his or her efforts to identify and address child trafficking situations in case narratives.

2530 Contacting Principals That Receive Family Preservation Services

CPS February 15, 2015

As soon as possible, but within 10 calendar days after the family preservation stage is open, the caseworker must make an initial face-to-face contact with:

  •  each principal child who will be receiving family preservation services;

  •  each parent whose location is known; and

  •  each parental child safety placement (PCSP) caregiver.

While a family preservation stage is open, the caseworker must make face-to-face contact with each child and parent who is included on the most recent family plan of service, and with any PCSP caregiver.

Whenever possible, the caseworker must conduct the face-to-face contacts in the individual’s home.

During the contact, the caseworker must talk to the child in private (as appropriate for the victim’s age and development).

The caseworker must make contact as often as necessary to meet the family’s needs and ensure child safety, but at least once a month. If a child is in a PCSP at any point during a family preservation stage, the caseworker must make contact with all parents who agreed to the PCSP every 10 calendar days.

The supervisor must approve, and the caseworker must document, the frequency of required contact. The supervisor must approve any changes to the frequency of required contact, and the caseworker must document these changes.

2540 Family Plan of Service

CPS October 2017

The caseworker must begin assessing what the family needs to ensure child safety at the first face-to-face contact, and initiate any needed services as soon as possible.

2541 Family Strengths and Needs Assessment (FSNA)

CPS October 2017

The Family Strengths and Needs Assessment (FSNA) helps to identify and create agreements about what the family plan of service (FPOS) should address, and determines strengths that may help with child safety.  The FBSS caseworker completes the FSNA collaboratively with the family before developing the initial FPOS and FPOS evaluations. The supervisor may approve an exception to completing the FSNA if the family cannot be located, court ordered services are being pursued, or another reason for an exception exists based on case circumstances.

See the SDM Family Strengths and Needs Assessment Resource Guide.

2542 Creating the Initial Family Plan of Service

CPS October 2017

The FBSS caseworker must develop a family plan of service within 21 calendar days of opening a FBSS stage. The supervisor may approve an exception if the family cannot be located, court ordered services are being pursued, or another reason for an exception exists based on case circumstances. The family plan of service is designed to assist parents in accessing help, seeking assistance from other sources besides CPS, and developing sufficient capacity to protect their children from abuse or neglect.

The FBSS caseworker must document this plan on the Family Service Plan form.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.704(a)-(c)

2543 Foster Care Candidacy (FCC) Determination for FBSS

CPS October 2017

When completing the initial Family Plan of Service (FPOS), the FBSS caseworker must determine whether a child is at serious risk of removal and placement into foster care, and therefore eligible for Foster Care Candidacy (FCC).

If the caseworker determines the child eligible for FCC, the FBSS caseworker must re-evaluate the child’s Foster Care Candidacy within six months of the first determination date.

When the caseworker determines or re-evaluates the child’s eligibility for FCC, the FBSS caseworker must:

  •   complete a Family Plan Evaluation;

  •   record the FCC eligibility; and

  •   submit the Family Plan Evaluation for approval no later than six months after the previous determination.

If the FBSS caseworker determines the child is not eligible for Foster Care Candidacy (FCC) on the initial Family Plan of Service (FPOS), but the child later becomes FCC eligible, the caseworker must complete a Family Plan Evaluation, record the FCC eligibility, and submit the Family Plan Evaluation for approval.

The supervisor may approve an exception to completing a Family Plan Evaluation if the family cannot be located, court ordered services are being pursued, or another reason for an exception exists based on case circumstances.

2544 Participation in the Family Plan of Service

CPS October 2017

In developing the family plan of service, the FBSS caseworker must make reasonable efforts to obtain the participation and input of:

  •   the supervisor;

  •   both parents of each child who will be receiving FBSS;

  •   each child who will be receiving FBSS (as appropriate for each child’s age and development); and

  •   all other principals in the child’s home.

If the caseworker cannot obtain participation from any parent, child or other principal in the child’s home, the caseworker must document the efforts made to obtain participation.

The caseworker must ensure that each individual agreeing to and signing the Family Service Plan form, or any revision to it, understands and agrees to:

  •   his or her responsibilities;

  •   the potential consequences of non-compliance; and

  •   the actions or circumstances needed to complete the family plan of service and close the FBSS stage with no further CPS involvement.

The caseworker must provide a signed copy of the Family Service Plan form, and any revision to it, to all individuals who signed it.

The caseworker must initiate any needed services for the family as soon as possible, but no later than 21 calendar days after a FBSS stage was opened.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.704(d)

2545 Caseworker Monthly Review of Progress

CPS October 2017

Every month while a FBSS stage is open, the FBSS caseworker must:

  •   make reasonable efforts to contact any provider who is providing services as part of the family plan of service and get information about the family’s progress. If the caseworker is unable to get information, the caseworker must document his or her efforts to do so;

  •   gather any other information or documentation from collaterals, related to child safety or the family plan of service;

  •   evaluate all information gathered; and

  •   document:

  •   whether FBSS are still needed to ensure child safety; and

  •   whether any changes are needed to the family plan of service, an existing Safety Plan, or an existing PCSP. The caseworker must document reasons for any changes.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.704(e)

2546 Supervisor Monthly Review

CPS October 2017

The supervisor must review the FBSS caseworker’s contact and evaluation documentation every month, ensuring that all necessary actions have been taken to ensure child safety and that continued services are needed. The supervisor must document if there are any needed actions.

2550 Opening an Investigation While a Family Preservation Stage is Open

CPS February 15, 2015

Whenever the caseworker learns that a principal on the Family Service Plan form is a principal in an open CPS investigation, the caseworker and the supervisor must staff the case with the investigator and the supervisor from the open investigation.

2560 Closing a Family Preservation Stage

CPS June 2016

After consulting with the supervisor, the caseworker must submit a family preservation stage for closure when at least one of these circumstances exists:

  •  Family preservation services are no longer needed to ensure child safety.

  •  The family has moved and reasonable efforts to locate the family have not been successful.

  •  Consultation with the attorney representing DFPS determines that legal intervention, including court-ordered services, is not possible, and

  •  The family has refused all services, or

  •  CPS has already offered or provided all available services appropriate to the family’s needs or that the family has requested and is eligible to receive.

  •  At least one child is removed from the home and the court grants CPS temporary managing conservatorship.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.705

Photographic Documentation

The caseworker must take pictures documenting the condition of the child before submitting a family preservation stage for closure.

Face-to-Face Contact

Ten working days or fewer before submitting the case for closure, the caseworker must:

  •  Conduct a home visit at the child’s home.

  •  Make face-to-face contact with each person on the current Family Plan of Service.

Case Closure Letter

Within 15 calendar days after closing a stage, the caseworker must send a case closure letter to parents (including noncustodial parents) and legal guardians who have been receiving Family Based Safety Services.

2600 Alternative Response

CPS September 2017

Unlike a traditional investigation, Alternative Response (AR) does not have a final case disposition of abuse/neglect or 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 will never be transferred to the AR pathway.

Children Under the Jurisdiction of a Court in Another State

If a caseworker discovers during an alternative response 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 investigation and complete the investigation related to abuse and/or neglect that occurred while the alleged victim was residing within Texas.

2610 Eligibility for Alternative Response

CPS March 2017

Only a certain subset of Priority 2 (P2) cases is eligible for AR. CPS screeners make the initial decision to refer intakes received from Statewide Intake to AR.

P2 cases are 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 risk in the family is low to moderate; and

  •  the cases are eligible to be screened and do not meet the criteria in 2611.1 Intake Ineligible for Alternative Response.

AR cases warrant the same commitment to child safety as 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 to AR.

Screeners refer intakes that meet AR criteria to the AR supervisor, who assigns the case to a caseworker. If the AR supervisor believes the case should instead be routed to traditional investigations, the AR 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 2016

Intakes that are eligible for AR must go to AR. The following intakes are not eligible for AR:

  •  The alleged perpetrator is a:

  •  school or DFPS employee,

  •  school or DFPS volunteer,

  •  DFPS contractor,

  •  foster parent, or

  •  prospective adoptive parent.

  •  A designated or sustained perpetrator of a child fatality due to physical abuse is a current household member.

  •  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.

  •  An intake involves an alleged victim younger than six.

  •  Families have an open investigation 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 convicted sex offender is a current household member.

  •  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 CPS recommended services necessary for the safety of the child, and the collateral information obtained by the CPS screener demonstrates the family may again refuse services.

  •  CPS 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 or 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 2016

AR cases must be routed to the traditional investigation pathway if:

  •  there is a compelling need for a disposition, 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 needed that cannot be completed on the AR track.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.555

2612 New Intakes on an Open Alternative Response Case

CPS May 2016

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 AR supervisor.

2612.1 If the New Intake Meets Alternative Response Criteria

CPS May 2016

If the new intake meets AR eligibility criteria, the AR supervisor decides whether the case should remain on the AR pathway or should be stage progressed to the traditional investigation pathway. In most instances, the case will remain on the AR path.

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 intake; or

  •  no later than the next business day if the intake is received outside regular work hours.

2612.2 If the New Intake Does Not Meet Alternative Response Criteria

CPS May 2016

If the new intake does not meet AR eligibility criteria, it is still routed to the AR supervisor. The AR 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 2016

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 Alleged Victims and Other Children

CPS May 2017

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

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.

If the caseworker is 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.

2621.2 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 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 a child.

2621.3 All Other Documentation

CPS May 2017

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 2017

An alternative response (AR) caseworker assigned a new AR case must consult with the supervisor and review the family’s CPS and criminal history before contacting the family.

2622.1 Contact Time Frames

CPS May 2016

The caseworker must attempt first contact with an AR family to schedule the initial face-to-face meeting:

  •  within 24 hours from the time the CPS 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 with the family.

If the family does not have a telephone, the caseworker must make first contact with the family face-to-face.

2622.2 Unable to Make Contact

CPS September 2017

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 initial formal face-to-face visit, the caseworker must consult with the supervisor to determine the next steps.

2622.3 Unable to Locate

CPS May 2016

If the caseworker cannot locate the family see 3100 When a Child Who is With His or Her Family Cannot be Located.

2622.4 Initial Face-to-Face Contact

CPS September 2017

The initial caseworker face-to-face contact with an AR family 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.

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 2016

If a family member is not present at the time of the initial face-to-face, the caseworker must staff with the supervisor and make a follow up contact with the family member as soon as possible.

2622.6 Family Refusal to Participate

CPS May 2016

If the family refuses to participate in the AR process during the initial contact, the AR caseworker must attempt to explain why AR might be more beneficial to the family. If the family still refuses, the case becomes a traditional investigation, and the caseworker, if still in the home, should immediately assess the safety of the child and begin working the case. The caseworker should consult with the supervisor as soon as possible to determine the next steps, including stage progression of the case to the traditional investigation pathway.

2623 Initial Contact Tasks

2623.1 Initial Tasks

CPS May 2016

During the first face-to-face contact the caseworker must:

  •  provide the AR Parent’s Guide to the family;

  •  gather sufficient information to complete the initial safety and family needs assessment;

  •  address any immediate safety issues; 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 separately 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 2016

During the initial face-to-face visit, the AR caseworker must:

  •  explain to the family CPS responsibility to contact collaterals;

  •  discuss with them who will be contacted;

  •  provide an opportunity for the family to offer input regarding collaterals to contact; and

  •  clarify the information that will be requested.

2623.3 Family Refusal to Cooperate At Any Time

CPS May 2016

If a family refuses to cooperate at any time in the AR stage the caseworker must work the case using traditional investigation methods and:

  •  take any steps to ensure child safety;

  •  immediately consult with the supervisor; and

  •  stage progress the case to traditional investigation in IMPACT as soon as possible.

2624 Initial Safety and Family Needs Assessment

CPS May 2016

The caseworker completing an AR initial safety and family needs assessment must document the assessment in IMPACT within 24 hours of the face-to-face interviews with the children and/or caregivers.

However, if the caseworker talks to the caregiver (before an opportunity is available to interview the children) and determines a danger exists that requires a safety intervention, the caseworker must complete the safety assessment within 24 hours of the safety intervention being implemented, whether or not the children have been interviewed.

If a case remains open in the AR stage after the initial child safety and family needs assessment, the AR caseworker continues to assess child safety throughout the case.

The supervisor must approve the safety and family needs assessment within 24 hours of it being submitted for supervisor approval, or the next business day.

2625 Ongoing Contacts

CPS May 2016

Contact between the AR caseworker and the primary caregiver should occur at least once every seven days. This contact must be pertinent to the family’s case and may be made face-to-face or using telephone, texting, email, etc.

A face-to-face contact with the family must occur at least every 30 days.

The AR caseworker should continuously address AR eligibility concerns throughout the life of the AR case and must immediately consult with the AR supervisor if eligibility concerns arise.

2626 Alternative Response Family Plan

2626.1 Completing the Plan

CPS May 2016

If there are active or immediate safety threats, a family plan and a safety plan must be completed. See 3200 CPS Actions When Danger to a Child is Present, subheading Safety Plan.

The AR 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 AR caseworker and the parents or caregivers document and sign the plan. The AR caseworker provides the family with a copy of the plan at the end of the visit. The AR caseworker initially gets verbal supervisor approval during case discussions with the supervisor.

For further information, see the Alternative Response Resource Guide.

If there are no active or immediate safety threats, a family plan can still be completed, depending on the family’s needs.

An AR caseworker may continue to work an AR case if a completed safety assessment indicates no identified active safety threat and the following conditions are met:

  •  Evidence indicates that the family has experienced safety threats (not currently active) in the past; and

  •  The department can identify services to improve general family functioning and overall protective actions within the standard AR case timeframe.

Both conditions must exist. A case extension cannot be granted based solely on past, inactive safety threats.

2626.2 Documenting the Plan in IMPACT

CPS May 2016

The AR caseworker documents the process of developing the AR family plan in a contact in IMPACT.

CPS will monitor the family’s progress and compliance with the AR family plan during every contact with the family.

2626.3 Addressing Active Safety Threats to a Child

CPS May 2016

If active safety threats have been identified, the AR family plan must include tasks and activities to increase parent/caregiver protective actions to mediate those threats. If any current safety threats are identified after the AR family plan is created, the plan must be revised to include tasks and activities to increase parent/caregiver protective actions related to the newly identified safety threats.

If an active safety threat or immediate risk exists, at least some of the CPS services provided must directly address protective actions related to that threat.

2630 Stage Progressing an AR Case to Traditional Investigation

2631 When a Case Must be Progressed to Investigation

CPS September 2017

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.

  •   CPS 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 is discovered to be living 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).

  •   CPS 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.

  •   The 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 September 2017

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 is found to be living in the home. The assessment must determine if the reason for the conviction could pose a danger to the child.

  •   A child is found to have a serious medical condition that could cause substantial and immediate harm.

  •   A child under the age of 6 is discovered to be in the home and the current allegations are NOT related to physical abuse or sexual abuse. An assessment must be made to determine if the situation poses a danger to the child, or if the case is appropriate to stay in AR.

  •   CPS 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 September 2017

When a legal order requesting a family participate in services is required, the case must be stage progressed to a traditional investigation or to Family Based Safety Services (FBSS), as appropriate.

2634 Parent or Caregiver Request for Reassignment

CPS September 2017

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 September 2017

Once the AR 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 2016

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 2016

To qualify for a possible extension, a case must meet all of the following criteria:

  •  The child is unsafe in his or her home.

  •  The caseworker and supervisor agree that the active safety threat will be resolved such that the child will be safe and the AR case may be closed within the extension time frame, with no further CPS intervention.

2642 When Not to Allow Extension

CPS May 2016

If the active safety threat cannot be resolved during the case extension time frame, no extension should be approved. The case must be progressed to FPR, 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 2016

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 2016

If a case extension is approved, the AR caseworker must save and submit the AR case for closure within 80 days from stage progression to AR.

If a case extension is approved, the AR 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 2016

The AR 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 AR 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 Completing the Final Safety and Family Needs Assessment

CPS May 2016

Before staffing an AR case for closure with the supervisor, or stage progressing an AR case, the AR caseworker must complete the closure safety and family needs assessment if more than 14 days have passed since the initial assessment was completed.

If less than 14 days have passed, and the case is being closed, the caseworker only needs to complete the last two questions on the closure safety and family needs assessment before closing the case.

2653 Notifications

CPS May 2016

If contact is possible, the caseworker must notify families that their AR case is being closed or stage progressed to the traditional investigation track, FPR, or conservatorship (CVS).

The caseworker must send a notification letter to the last known address of the family any time an AR case is closed or stage progressed.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.567

2654 Required Actions

CPS May 2016

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.

2655 Resulting Actions

CPS May 2016

Based on the assessment results, one of the following actions must occur:

  •  The AR case is closed and CPS ceases intervention with the family.

  •  The AR case remains open in the AR stage to address safety issues and/or to provide services to the family in order 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 safety concerns, renders the case unsuitable for AR.

  •  The AR case is stage progressed to FPR because safety threats have been identified that make the child unsafe in his or her home and those safety threats cannot be adequately addressed within the standard or extended AR case time frame.

  •  The AR case is routed to CVS because the child is unsafe and a removal was necessary. In order to route an AR case to CVS, the AR case is first stage progressed to traditional investigations and then progressed to conservatorship. The AR caseworker continues to work the case as the primary caseworker while the case is in the traditional investigation pathway.

2656 Administrative Closure

CPS February 2017

Anonymous Reports

At any point in an AR case based on an anonymous report, the caseworker may submit the case for an administrative closure without completing the closure safety and family needs assessment. Before doing so, the caseworker must:

  •  interview and examine all alleged victims as identified in the intake;

  •  complete all initial tasks;

  •  complete the initial safety and family needs assessment;

  •  interview at least one parent of each alleged victim (as identified in the intake);

  •  conduct any required home visit;

  •  review all other gathered information; and

  •  determine that:

  •  there is no corroborating evidence; and

  •  a parent has taken actions to protect the alleged victims (as identified in the intake) from any identified danger to a child.

Texas Family Code §261.304

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.507(c)(1)(D)

Refuting the Allegations

If the allegations have been refuted, the caseworker can submit the AR case for an administrative closure no later than 15 calendar days from intake, if the caseworker has:

  •  sufficient, credible information, from collaterals that have direct knowledge about the child’s condition, refuting that the alleged abuse or neglect occurred or is at risk of occurring;

  •  no information that the child is vulnerable to any other danger; and

  •  not made contact with an alleged child victim or alleged perpetrator, as identified in the intake.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.507(c)(3)(A)

The caseworker does not need to complete the initial safety and family needs assessment unless the caseworker has interviewed at least one alleged victim (as identified in the intake). The caseworker does not need to complete the closure safety and family needs assessment.

When the caseworker submits the AR case as an administrative closure because the allegations have been refuted, the supervisor must obtain the program director’s approval.

Lacks Authority to Assess or Already Investigated or Addressed

The caseworker must submit an AR case for administrative closure with the reason that CPS lacks statutory authority to assess it if, at any point in the case, the caseworker determines that:

  •  CPS does not have authority to assess any of the allegations;

  •  all of the allegations have already been addressed in a previous case; or

  •  the allegations do not meet the definition of abuse or neglect.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.507(c)(1)-(2)

The caseworker must submit the AR case for administrative closure as soon as possible, but no later than seven calendar days after making the determination.

If the allegations have already been investigated or addressed in a previous case, the caseworker must merge the case that is to be administratively closed with the previous case.

2700 Emergency Assistance (EA) Eligibility

CPS June 2017

In both traditional Investigations and Alternative Response stages, the caseworker must complete the Emergency Assistance (EA) section in IMPACT when the:

  •   investigation Structured Decision-Making (SDM) final risk level is "high" or "very high";

  •   alternative response risk finding is "risk indicated"; or

  •   child is removed.

2710 Determining Annual Family Income

CPS June 2017

The caseworker must determine and enter the gross annual family income in the EA section.

Individuals for Whom Information Must be Collected

To determine the gross annual family income, the caseworker must collect monthly income information for the alleged victims in an investigation or the reference child (oldest alleged victim in the Intake) in an alternative response, and any of the following individuals who live in the same home:

  •   financially responsible adults (and teen parents), including the child's:

  •   biological or adoptive parents whose parental rights have not been terminated, or

  •   managing conservator; and

  •   the child's minor siblings (including half and adoptive siblings).

Types of Income Information Which Must be Collected

The caseworker must determine whether the family receives any of the following types of income:

  •   wages, salaries, and tips;

  •   self-employment income;

  •   monthly child support payments received on behalf of the child or the child's siblings who are living in the home;

  •   governmental benefits such as SSI or RSDI, Railroad Retirement benefits, veteran's benefits, TANF, SNAP, and WIC;

  •   unemployment compensation or disability insurance benefits; and

  •   any other income the family receives.

The caseworker must collect:

  •   the name of each income source (for example, the employer that pays wages, the agency that provides a government benefit, and so on);

  •   each income amount; and

  •   each income recipient.

If the family reports they have no income, the caseworker must ask and document how the family supports itself.

The caseworker uses the monthly income information to calculate the gross family income amount (see the Emergency Assistance Eligibility Resource Guide).

Verification

The caseworker must accept the family's statement of available income without further verification, unless the caseworker has a reasonable belief that the information is questionable. If the caseworker reasonably believes the information is questionable, the caseworker requests the following information from the family:

  •   a copy of the monthly paycheck or direct deposit if a member of the family is working;

  •   a copy of the SSA or other governmental benefit award letter that includes the amount if the child or other member of the family receives such benefits;

  •   a copy of proof of any other type of income a member of the family reports, such as a direct deposit slip or bank statement showing the income level.

When a Child is Removed

If CPS removed a child from the home, the caseworker must use the Eligibility Determination Worksheet of the Foster Care Assistance Application (FCAA) to verify the income information provided by the parents (i.e., by the financially responsible adults in the same home as the child).

Documentation

The worker must document the following information in the contact narrative in IMPACT:

  •   whose income the annual family income is based on; and

  •   the information gathered to determine the gross annual income, the information sources (including the FCAA if it was used), and the total gross annual income.

The caseworker must select the correct income range in the EA section in IMPACT.

The supervisor must not close the stage until the supervisor has ensured that the income information is accurate and correctly documented.

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