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4260 Determining Neglectful Supervision in CPS Reports

SWI Policy and Procedures July 2015

Neglectful supervision is characterized as:

  •  placing the child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize:

  •  requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities, and

  •  that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child;

  •  placing a child in, or failing to remove the child from, a situation in which the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of sexual conduct harmful to the child; or

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)(B)(I)(iv)

  •  placing a child in, or failing to remove the child from, a situation in which the child would be exposed to sexual abuse committed against another child.

Texas Family Code §261.001(4)()(I)(v)


4261 Reports Involving Motor Vehicles

SWI Policy and Procedures August 2015

CPS generally does not investigate situations related to traffic violations, such as driving without proper car seats, or speeding with a child in the car. Law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction to investigate these cases. Intake specialists must obtain additional information and consider other factors in order to determine if the situation falls under CPS jurisdiction to investigate.

4261.1 Driving Without a Car Seat or Seat Belt

SWI Policy and Procedures August 2015

While failing to secure a young child in a car seat or with a seat belt is against Texas law, this alone does not constitute child abuse or neglect. When SWI receives a report alleging that parents or caregivers have failed to secure their children with car seats or seat belts, the intake specialist gathers additional information and assesses the situation according to DFPS’s interpretation of the legal definitions of abuse and neglect. If an unrestrained child is injured or dies in a traffic accident, the intake specialist only generates an intake when there are additional safety issues (e.g. parent was under the influence at the time of the car accident; or the parent was trying to outrun police in a car chase).

4261.2 Caregiver Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

SWI Policy and Procedures August 2015

Law Enforcement Reporting

When law enforcement is reporting a caregiver driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a child in the car, the intake specialist is not required to establish potential harm or patterns of behavior, in order to process an intake for abuse or neglect. Law enforcement officials are able to provide a professional opinion as to the caregiver’s impairment. Therefore, when law enforcement is reporting these situations, the intake specialist recommends an investigation.

All Other Reporters

When the reporter is not law enforcement, the intake specialist is required to obtain additional information in order to establish if the situation falls under CPS jurisdiction. The interview is focused on how the caregiver’s substance use is affecting his or her ability to care for the children and how the caregiver’s behavior affects the safety of the children.

Relevant factors may include, but are not limited to:

  •  how the caregiver acts or drives while under the influence;

  •  how often it happens; and

  •  if the child has been injured.

4261.3 Children Left Alone in Vehicles

SWI Policy and Procedures August 2015

Intake specialists are often required to assess situations involving children being left unsupervised in motor vehicles, a potentially dangerous combination. However, SWI must carefully assess the situation and all associated safety issues before determining if the incident falls under CPS jurisdiction to investigate.

Some safety factors to be considered include, but are not limited to:

  •  age and capabilities of child;

  •  sufficiency of ventilation;

  •  length of time left alone in the car;

  •  temperature outside;

  •  location where the car is parked;

  •  child’s physical and emotional condition (over-heated, scared, worried, etc.);

  •  if the child is participating in dangerous behaviors (playing with car’s controls, climbing in trunk, etc.).

Any combination of these factors may warrant an intake. Therefore, the intake specialist must complete a thorough interview in order to fully assess each situation on an individual basis.

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