§2 ch4: Investigation Response
4.1 Investigation Response
If a CA/N report is classified as an Investigation, it will be assigned to a Children’s Service Worker, who will conduct a thorough investigation. Investigation response procedures outlined in this chapter pertain to an alleged perpetrator who is an immediate or extended family member, friend, baby sitter not caring for more than four unrelated children, exempt child care center, exempt residential care facility or any others not listed as a specialized group in Section 2, Chapter 4.3 Special Investigations.
Role and Responsibilities of CD Investigator
The role, responsibility and authority of the child abuse/neglect investigator continues to include the responsibility to ensure safety of children and that services are provided to a family when service needs are immediate during the investigation. As part of the investigation process, the investigator will question the child alone initially, then together with the non-perpetrator parent/caretaker.
The CD Investigation and Family Assessment are non-punitive in approach and are directed towards assisting families in providing adequate care and nurturance for their children. The foc us of the Division is identification, assessment and service provision in an effort to protect children, preserve families whenever possible, and prevent further maltreatment. Information herein which describes the rationale for co-investigations with law enforcement, and the roles of law enforcement and CD Children’s Service Workers is adapted, with permission, from “Joint Investigation, A Multidisciplinary Approach,” by Joann Grayson, PH.D., in the Virginia Child Protection Newsletter, Winter, 1994, Volume 44.
- Are mandated to report all reports alleging criminal activity as defined in RSMo 210.109.3(4) to law enforcement;
- Investigate CA/N reports and make determination of preponderance of evidence, unsubstantiated, and unsubstantiated-PSI, etc.;
- Assess and assure child safety if necessary develop a safety plan to address safety concerns;
- Offer services to families with identified needs, regardless of finding;
- Make referrals to other community agencies and services, as needed; and
- Obtain assessments and medical evaluations as part of the investigation.
The investigator’s role may also include:
- Assisting with prevention and advocacy efforts by community education;
- Development and support of prevention programs; and
- Service on prevention committees.
4.1.1 Preparing for the Investigation
When the Children’s Service Worker receives a report, he/she should develop an investigative plan outlining the actions to be taken. This plan will most likely be a formalized thought process rather than a written document. When this has been done, the Children’s Service Worker shall conduct a thorough investigation to determine if abuse/neglect is occurring or has occurred.
Determine necessity of immediate investigation based on CANHU emergency determination.
County office can determine a report as an emergency even though not designated as such by CANHU.
County office may also determine that emergency response is not necessary in certain circumstances on reports initially screened as an emergency by CANHU. This override of Response Priority Level is only allowed with supervisory approval, and only when safety is assured. Although not a CA/N report, all requests from a physician/health care provider for a "Newborn Crisis Assessment" are treated as priority.
When the only basis for action is an alleged violation of the mandatory school attendance statute involving a child who alleges to be home schooled, the juvenile officer must contact the child’s parents to verify that the child is being home schooled. Reported violations of the mandatory school attendance statute involving a child who is home schooled must be made to the prosecuting attorney in the county in which the child resides.
188.8.131.52 Informing Law Enforcement
Staff shall contact the appropriate law enforcement agency immediately in order to begin co-investigation. The Children’s Service Worker shall provide such agency with a detailed description of the report received. Notifying law enforcement of all investigations is a statutory requirement.
The investigation shall be completed jointly with all co-investigators to gather/obtain relevant data and evidence. Arrange for post-investigation conference to review findings. A conference may be conducted via the telephone if not all parties can meet in person.
If allegations of domestic violence are present in the CA/N-1 received from CA/NHU, contact local law enforcement to verify if they have responded to reports of domestic violence at the family’s home. If law enforcement has responded to calls at the family’s residence and feel this could pose danger to staff, request their assistance during the home visit.
184.108.40.206 Reviewing Prior History
Reviewing prior history is an important preliminary step. If there have been prior reports to the agency, staff shall review the context of those reports and the outcome of each. In reviewing prior reports, staff shall examine what events were reported in the past, what response the agency had (was the report found “probable cause” or “preponderance of evidence”, were Family-Centered Services provided, what was the outcome of these services? etc.), as well as who was involved in prior reports.
The worker should consider the caregiver’s history of being protective as well as the caregiver’s history of not being protective. Within the context of the framework for safety model, staff should consider the 6 safety questions:
- What is the nature and extent of the maltreatment? (Threats of danger)
- What circumstances accompany the maltreatment? (Threats of danger)
- How does the child function day-to-day? (Child vulnerability/capacity to protect oneself)
- How does the parent discipline the child? (Caregiver protective capacity or threats of danger)
- What are overall parenting practices? (Caregiver protective capacity or threats of danger)
- How does the parent manage his/her own life? (Caregiver protective capacity or threats of danger)
Examining this history provides the worker with a base of information for their contact with the family. Additionally, the history tells the Children’s Service Worker what worked for the family (if past services were provided), as well as what did not seem to work. If it becomes known during an Investigation/Family Assessment that there is a history or alleged incident of domestic violence, staff should contact Law Enforcement and/or any other professionals known to be familiar with the domestic violence in order to obtain complete information on the family.
The implications of a family’s history in CPS practice should be utilized in a manner consistent with the “rolling icebergs” theory by Tony Loman, of the Institute of Applied Research. Incident reports should be seen in the context of other problems that manifest themselves within a family in different ways at different points in time. One specific incident may only be the “tip of the iceberg”, while other (sometimes more serious) things might be hidden below the surface. Repeated reports on families, then, may best be understood as rolling icebergs, with different aspects revealing themselves and being observed across time. Understanding how to recognize and utilize prior history in this manner will provide a solid foundation for intervention by the Children’s Service Worker. Supervisors must assure that staff has made every effort to search for prior CD involvement, and that the information is given appropriate consideration.
Accumulation of Harm
An accumulation of harm can have a long-term impact on a child’s overall physical, mental or emotional development. Research has shown that the quality of nutrition and nurturing during the first five years of a child's life is particularly important for normal growth and development later in the child's life. Needed care and attention that is missed in these early years is difficult to make up for in later years. An example of this is a family with a preschool child who is repeatedly not provided adequate stimulation and nutrition and who becomes developmentally delayed. Because the child is already at a disadvantage developmentally, the ability to do well in school and reach other developmental milestones becomes further and further out of the child's reach. This kind of pattern of neglect, resulting in accumulated harm, can result in long-term, negative consequences for the child.
The concept of accumulation of harm is important in identifying and developing treatment strategies with families who are experiencing chronic neglect, as well as any other pattern of abuse/neglect. When assessing the immediate safety and future risk of a child’s condition, Division staff must be aware of the heightened risk to children when caretakers show a repeated pattern of failing to meet the child’s physical, medical, educational, and emotional needs.
220.127.116.11 Involving the Non-Custodial Parent
It is important for Division staff to consider and document the role of all non-resident parents when conducting Child Abuse/Neglect (CA/N) Investigations or Family Assessments. This information may be captured in the CA/N narrative and/or the strengths/needs assessment. Staff are encouraged to inquire about the role of the non-resident parent with more than one family member, and at least one of them should be the non-resident parent’s child if deemed age appropriate by staff. Staff should also make good faith efforts to understand and document the involvement of the non-resident parent in the life of his/her child. This information can be obtained from interviews conducted with household members, multidisciplinary team members, and collateral contacts. When possible, staff are encouraged to speak with the non-resident parent to discuss their knowledge and involvement with the family.
Division staff can talk to whomever he/she needs to in order to do a thorough assessment of safety, risk, or to evaluate the family's strengths and needs, which may include a non-resident parent. If the non-resident parent is the alleged perpetrator, then in order to have an objective completion of the CA/N Investigation or Family Assessment, attempts must be made to talk to that person. Staff should use administrative data resources in order to locate the non-resident parent if that information is not made available through other sources.
Good faith efforts should be made to provide the non-resident parent with a disposition notice at the conclusion of any Child Abuse/Neglect Investigation or Family Assessment involving his/her child. Should the non-resident parent present a request for additional information, staff should only disclose information which pertains to his/her child. In the event that staff are informed by household members, multidisciplinary team members, or collateral contacts that information shared with the non-resident parent may place a child or their family at imminent risk of harm, staff should seek supervisory consultation prior to contacting or corresponding with the non-resident parent.
Chapter Memoranda History: (prior to 1/31/07)