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1000 The Statewide Intake (SWI) Contact Center

SWI Policy and Procedures July 2009

The contact center for the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is maintained by the Statewide Intake (SWI) division of DFPS.

The purpose of the contact center is to assist individuals when reporting:

  •  abuse, neglect, and exploitation of persons age 65 or older or adults with disabilities; and

  •  abuse and neglect of children.

SWI is responsible for:

  •  assessing the information reported by applying state statutes and DFPS policy;

  •  determining the correct DFPS program with jurisdiction to investigate;

  •  entering the information in the automated system (IMPACT);

  •  ensuring the report is processed to the correct DFPS program and field office; and

  •  serving as a referral center when information reported is not within DFPS jurisdiction.

In addition to phone calls, SWI receives faxes, letters, and Internet reports that are reviewed, assessed, and entered into IMPACT by intake specialists.

1100 Legal Basis

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2017

The Department of Family and Protective Services is charged by the State of Texas with the responsibility to investigate reports of:

  •   child abuse or neglect allegedly committed by a person responsible for a child's care, custody, or welfare (Child Protective Services);

  •   abuse or neglect in child-care operations that are regulated by DFPS (Child Care Licensing);

  •   abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a person age 65 or older or an adult with a disability by a caretaker, family member, or individual who has an ongoing relationship with the person (Adult Protective Services In-Home); and

  •   abuse, neglect, and exploitation of individuals receiving services (adults and children) from certain providers as defined in Human Resources Code §48.251(a)(9) and the Texas Family Code 261.404(a) (Adult Protective Services Provider).

Texas Family Code, Chapter 261

Texas Human Resources Code, Chapter 48

To meet this requirement, DFPS must provide for the receipt of reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.479

Therefore SWI is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round.

1110 Legal Requirement to Report

1111 Abuse or Neglect of a Child

SWI Policy and Procedures July 2009

Reporting Requirement

According to the Texas Family Code §261.101, Persons Required to Report; Time to Report, a professional person who has cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person must immediately (within 48 hours) report the suspected abuse.

Offenses That Must Be Reported

If a professional has cause to believe that a child:

  •  has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected;

  •  is a victim of an offense under §21.11, Penal Code; or

  •  has been abused as defined by Texas Family Code §261.001 or §261.401.

Persons Who Must Report

A professional is an individual who is licensed or certified by the state or who is an employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state and who, in the normal course of official duties or duties for which a license or certification is required, has direct contact with children.

The term includes teachers, nurses, doctors, day care employees, employees of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services, juvenile probation officers, and juvenile detention or correctional officers.

A professional may not delegate to or rely on another person to make the report.

The requirement to report applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, or an employee of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services.

Confidentiality of the Reporter

Unless waived in writing by the person making the report, the identity of an individual making a report is confidential and may be disclosed only:

  •  as provided by the Texas Family Code §261.201; or

  •  to a law enforcement officer for the purposes of conducting a criminal investigation of the report.

Where the Report Must Be Made

The report must be made to:

  •  any local or state law enforcement agency;

  •  DFPS (1-800-252-5400), if the alleged or suspected abuse involves a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child;

  •  the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility in which abuse or neglect occurred; or

  •  the agency designated by the court to be responsible for the protection of the children.

Texas Family Code §261.103(a)

See also the Child Protective Services Handbook, 2157 Receiving a New Report During an Open Investigation of Abuse or Neglect.

Other divisions of DFPS besides Child Protective Services may investigate allegations of child abuse in certain facilities, under definitions of abuse and neglect in the Texas Family Code, §261.401.

1112 Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation of a Person Age 65 or Older or an Adult With a Disability

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2017

Reporting Requirement

A person having cause to believe that an elderly person, a person with a disability, or an individual receiving services from a provider is in a state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation must report the information immediately to DFPS.

Persons Who Must Report

Professionals such as attorneys, clergy members, medical practitioners, social workers, employees or members of a board that licenses or certifies a professional, and mental health professionals who obtain knowledge of possible abuse, neglect, or exploitation during the scope of this employment, are required to report to the department without exception.

To Whom the Report Must be Made

The report is made to DFPS when the concern is regarding an elderly or disabled person residing in the community (for example, in their own private residence) or receiving services from certain providers.

For a list of the certain providers see the APS Provider Investigations Handbook, section 1310 APS Provider Investigations Jurisdiction.

How the Report Must be Made

The report may be made orally or in writing. It should include:

  •   the name, age, and address of the elderly person or person with a disability;

  •   the name and address of any person responsible for the care of the elderly person or person with a disability;

  •   the nature and extent of the condition of the elderly person or person with a disability;

  •   the basis of the reporter's knowledge; and

  •   any other relevant information.

Texas Human Resources Code §48.051

1120 Anonymity, Confidentiality, Immunity, and Good Faith

SWI Policy and Procedures March 2013

Anonymity

A reporter may remain anonymous when making a report; however, it is helpful for an investigator to have the reporter’s name and contact information. Therefore, intake specialists encourage reporters to provide their names and contact information as well as the names and contact information of any collateral (additional) sources who can corroborate their reports. Reporters who decline to provide their names and contact information are still asked to provide the name of the county from which they are calling.

If the caller who wishes to remain anonymous reports child abuse or neglect by a person responsible for a child’s care, custody, or welfare, the report is assigned to the appropriate field office to conduct a preliminary investigation. The purpose of the preliminary investigation is to determine if there is any evidence to corroborate the report.

Unless the preliminary investigation uncovers some evidence to corroborate the report of abuse, DFPS may not conduct a thorough investigation or take any action against the person accused of abuse.

Texas Family Code §261.304

Confidentiality

The reporter’s name is confidential information. DFPS staff must not disclose the reporter’s name to the client, his or her family, or the public. The reporter’s name may be released verbally or in writing to the courts, the district or county attorney, law enforcement agencies, DFPS staff, and other individuals as specified in 40 TAC §700.203, Access to Confidential Information Maintained by DFPS.

If a complainant requests that his or her identity be kept confidential, the specialist advises the reporter that the department may have to disclose his or her identity to the district attorney and to law enforcement officials, but may not reveal the fact that the person reported the abuse to parents, alleged perpetrators, children, or the general public without the reporter’s consent, unless a court orders otherwise.

Texas Family Code §261.201

Exception

The APS Facility Investigations program may reveal to the facility administrator the name of the reporter, if the alleged perpetrator is reported to be sexually exploiting a person served, and the alleged perpetrator is considered to be a mental health services provider.

In the APS Provider Investigations Handbook, see 2311 The Reporter.

DFPS Rule, 40 TAC §§711.401, 711.403

Immunity

Child Protective Services and Child Care Licensing

Intake specialists may inform reporters that the Texas Family Code, §261.106, gives them immunity from civil or criminal liability resulting from the report, unless a complainant is reporting his or her own conduct or reporting in bad faith or malice.

Adult Protective Services

A person is immune from civil or criminal liability if he or she:

  •  files a report;

  •  participates in an investigation;

  •  testifies; or

  •  participates in any judicial proceeding arising from a petition, report, or investigation.

A person, including an authorized department volunteer, medical personnel, or law enforcement officer, who participates in an investigation or the provision of services, is also immune as long as the person is acting in good faith.

Texas Human Resources Code §48.054(a),(b)

Good Faith

Child Protective Services

If the reporter is a parent who reports the other parent in connection with a pending suit affecting the parent-child relationship, the specialist may inform the reporter that false reports are admissible as evidence in any suit between the parents regarding the terms of conservatorship of a child.

Texas Family Code §153.013

Specialists also may inform any reporter that the Texas Family Code §261.107 sets a state jail felony for knowingly or intentionally making a report that is false or without a factual foundation.

Adult Protective Services

A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally reports information that the person knows is false or lacks factual foundation. Such an offense is a Class A misdemeanor.

Texas Human Resources Code, §48.053

Child Care Licensing

A person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally makes a report that the person knows is false or lacks factual foundation.

Texas Family Code §261.107

See also:

Child Protective Services Handbook, 2133 Special Issues Relating to Reporting Abuse or Neglect

APS In-Home Investigations Handbook, 1000 Program Overview: Adult Protective Services (APS)

Licensing Policy and Procedures Handbook, 6200 Receipt of Reports

1130 Notification to Law Enforcement

SWI Policy and Procedures July 2009

SWI is responsible for sending notification to the local law enforcement agency for all CPS and CCL intakes.

APS In-Home Facility Investigations and DADS are responsible for sending notification to the local law enforcement agency when necessary.

Child Protective Services

Unless law enforcement is the source of a report, SWI must immediately notify the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency of any report it receives that concerns the suspected abuse or neglect of a child or death of a child from abuse or neglect.

Texas Family Code §261.105(b)

See also the Child Protective Services Handbook, 2136 When to Notify Law Enforcement About Reports of Abuse or Neglect.

Child Care Licensing

Unless law enforcement is the source of a report, SWI notifies law enforcement, within 24 hours of receiving the report, of all reports alleging abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a child or the death of a child from abuse or neglect while in care.

If staff notifies law enforcement by telephone, written notice is also sent.

Licensing staff are required to make additional notification to law enforcement, especially in cases of serious physical or sexual abuse.

In the Licensing Policy and Procedures Handbook, see:

6420 Notification to Law Enforcement

6200 Receipt of Intake Reports

Texas Family Code §261.402

Adult Protective Services

If the investigation reveals that the person age 65 or older or person with a disability has been abused by another person in a manner that constitutes a criminal offense under any law, including §22.04 of the Texas Penal Code, a copy of the investigation must be submitted to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

See also:

APS In-Home Investigations Handbook, 2270 Referring Cases to Law Enforcement

APS Provider Investigations Handbook, 3111 Notification to Law Enforcement

 

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