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2600 Handling Complaints

2610 Complaints Regarding a Report Taken by SWI

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2016

SWI may be notified of a complaint or concern about the assessment or processing of a report or the customer service that was provided by SWI staff. These complaints or concerns may be received from (but are not limited to) the following sources:

  •  The general public through a call directly to SWI. A SWI supervisor or worker V reviews the report and responds to the caller.

  •  Field staff in other DFPS programs (CPS, APS, CCL). These may be resolved through the re-entry queue or speaking directly with a SWI supervisor, depending on the situation.

  •  The Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA), which receives inquiries from a variety of sources. The SWI program improvement unit is responsible for researching and responding to these concerns.

  •  From within the SWI program. A SWI supervisor or worker V determines what, if  any, action needs to be taken.

2611 Complaints About SWI Staff From the General Public

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2016

All complaints about SWI staff must be staffed with a supervisor. When the original reporter calls with a concern about a SWI report, the intake specialist:

  •  obtains:

  •  the Call ID,

  •  the name and number of the person calling, and

  •  a brief explanation of the concern;

  •  confirms that the caller is the original reporter by accessing the report in IMPACT;

  •  informs the complainant (if confirmed as the original reporter) that supervisory staff will be given the concern for review; and

  •  notifies an intake supervisor or worker V of the concern immediately via the staffing queue.

If the caller is not the original reporter, the intake specialist explains that no information may be shared, and assesses whether a new report needs to be taken.

Documentation When the Complaint Is the Only Information Provided

Regardless of whether the caller is the original reporter or not, in IMPACT, the intake specialist:

  •  enters an I&R – Other business call;

  •  documents in the Narrative “Concern regarding SWI handling of a report. Notified [name of intake supervisor or worker V].” Details of the concern are not documented in IMPACT; and

•     saves and closes the I&R.

If the call contains both information about abuse, neglect, or exploitation AND a complaint, only the information about the abuse, neglect, or exploitation is documented in IMPACT.

If a call back is required, it is made by the staffing supervisor as soon as the staffing schedule permits. If the matter requires immediate attention (for example, a possible incorrect assessment), the staffing supervisor handles the complaint.

If the matter does not require immediate attention (for example, a SWI intake specialist allegedly was rude), the staffing supervisor forwards the information to the SWI intake specialist’s supervisor, who reviews the concern and addresses the matter with the employee if necessary.

2612 Handling Concerns Originating Within the SWI Program

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2016

Occasionally an intake specialist may have concerns regarding the way a call was handled or a report was processed. If this occurs, the intake specialist consults with an intake supervisor or worker V, who determines whether any action needs to be taken. If needed, the intake supervisor sends a description of the concern as well as the steps taken to resolve the concern to the involved specialist’s supervisor via email.

2613 Procedures for Field Staff Regarding Concerns Shared with SWI

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2016

At no time should field staff call or email a specific SWI intake specialist directly, nor should field staff email or leave a voice mail for a specific intake supervisor. When field staff have concerns about the handling of a report processed by SWI, field staff has been instructed as follows.

Concerns That Need Immediate Attention

Notifications of concerns that must be handled immediately should be made by a field supervisor level or above. It is imperative for the field supervisor to:

  •  contact SWI by phone at 512-929-6784 or 800-252-3223;

  •  identify himself or herself as a DFPS field staff supervisor (or above); and

  •  ask to speak to an intake supervisor or worker V.

Concerns Regarding Incorrect Assignment

Supervisory field staff should transmit these reports to the correct routing coordinator before notifying SWI. These reports should not be closed or assigned back to SWI.

Supervisor level field staff then notify the SWI Program Improvement Unit of the error via email to the DFPS QAUNIT mailbox so that SWI QA may review the error and provide feedback to the SWI specialist.

Re-Entry Requests

If the field staff is requesting a re-entry, the intake specialist transfers the field staff to the re-entry queue (x 3966). See 3173.4 Intake Specialists Not Assigned to the Re-Entry Queue.

Concerns Regarding the Quality of an Intake

Field staff (supervisor level or above) may email concerns to the DFPS QAUNIT mailbox when the concern involves a quality issue that does not require immediate action, resolution, or re-entry.

2620 SWI Concerns Regarding Field Handling of an Investigation

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2016

While assessing and documenting a report, an intake specialist may develop a concern regarding the local office’s handling of a case (for example, an intake that was closed without any contacts being made). The intake specialist documents the concern in an email to his or her intake supervisor.

The intake supervisor reviews the issue. If there appears to be a legitimate reason for concern, the intake supervisor forwards the information to the Program Improvement unit mailbox (QAUNIT@dfps.state.tx.us). The SWI Program Improvement staff notifies the regional contact to request a review of the case. Program Improvement staff do not perform any case reviews.

2630 Complaints Regarding Case Handling or Actions by DFPS Field Staff

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2016

Serious Concerns

Serious concerns about non-SWI, DFPS employee misconduct received at intake are sent to the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA) for review and handling. Examples of such concerns include but are not limited to:

  •  A breach of confidentiality by DFPS staff.

  •  DFPS staff abused a child (not in CPS conservatorship) on a CPS investigation or family preservation caseload during a home visit.

  •  An APS specialist arranged for an APS client to hire the specialist’s brother to complete home repairs for the client.

•     A DFPS employee was observed to be intoxicated while transporting a client.

These complaints are sent to OCA regardless of whether the reporter has indicated intent to contact the local office or OCA. The intake specialist who receives the complaint fills out the OCA Complaint email template and sends the complaint directly to OCA. The OCA Complaint email template is located in the Templates section of SWIndex (an SWI internal resource).

Note: If a complaint about non-SWI DFPS staff is received after normal OCA business hours and it is believed the matter needs immediate attention, the concern is staffed with an intake supervisor, worker V, or higher authority if a supervisor is not available.

Customer Service Concerns

When reporters share concerns by phone regarding the customer service of local casework staff, (such as “the caseworker was rude” or “the caseworker is not returning my calls”) the intake specialist refers the reporter to the local chain of command which ultimately ends with the Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA). The intake specialist provides the phone number to the local office in which the employee is housed. If the reporter has already called the local office or this option is not acceptable to the reporter, the intake specialist:

  •  Provides the number to OCA (800-720-7777); or

  •  Offers to transfer the call to OCA (extension 3105) when the call is completed, if it is during OCA’s business hours (M-F, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, excluding holidays).

For minor concerns regarding customer service, no other action is needed by SWI staff, regardless of the reporter’s intent to call the local office or OCA (1-800-720-7777).

2640 Documenting Complaints in IMPACT

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2016

Complaints Received by Phone, Fax, or Mail

If the intake specialist receives no other information except for the complaint, the specialist enters an I&R Other business call and documents “Complaint about DFPS staff” as the body of the narrative, then saves and closes the I&R. The In Re is the DFPS staff member named in the complaint.

If the intake specialist receives information in addition to the complaint, the specialist documents and processes that information following normal procedures. No additional I&R Other business call is needed.

In neither situation should the intake specialist document details of the complaint in IMPACT.

Complaints Received through the DFPS internet reporting website

All complaints received via e-report must be staffed with a supervisor for possible sensitivity. If the narrative contains:

  •  Only a complaint or other information that can be closed at intake, the intake specialist marks the I&R Other business call as sensitive with the reason “Worker Complaint/Misconduct.” If the information provided is a serious concern, the intake specialist copies and pastes the complaint information word for word into the OCA Complaint template which gets sent to OCA. Without altering the narrative, the specialist saves and closes the report as an I&R Other business call.

  •  Additional information that needs to go to the field as either an intake or an I&R Call regarding existing case, the intake specialist removes the information regarding the complaint from the narrative. If the information provided is a serious concern, the intake specialist copies and pastes the complaint information word for word into the OCA Complaint template which gets sent to OCA. The specialist should delete the narrative line stating that the e-report has not been altered. The redacted narrative can then be sent to the field per normal assignment procedures.

•     Information that needs to go to another agency, the intake specialist creates an I&R Protective Matter Referred on, marks it as sensitive, and enters the notation of “Worker Complaint/Misconduct” in the associated Comments field. Without altering the narrative, the specialist saves and assigns the I&R to the SWI support staff workload for faxing to the other agency per normal assignment procedures. If the information provided is a serious concern, the intake specialist copies and pastes the complaint information word for word into the OCA Complaint template which gets sent to OCA.

2650 Complaints Regarding Investigations Conducted by Another Texas State Agency

SWI Policy and Procedures May 2016

Complaints about investigations conducted by other state agencies are referred to that agency for review according to the agency’s internal procedures.

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