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Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families
Department Operating Procedure
DOP Number:
500.0005
Effective Date:
July 1, 2018
Page 1 of 7
Version #:1
Revision History:
 
Director:
Trista Piccola
Section:
Child Abuse/Neglect
Investigations
Title:
Criteria for a Child Protective Services Investigation
Legal Authority:
·     Rhode Island General Law §40-11-2
·     Rhode Island General Law §40-11-3
·     Rhode Island General Law §40-11-7
·     Rhode Island General Law §42-72-8
 
Related DOPs:
·    Child Fatality or Near Fatality Response; DOP: 100.0125
·    Glossary of Terms; DOP: 100.0280
·    Response Priorities - Priority 1, Priority 2, and Priority 3; DOP: 500.0010
·    Family Assessment Response; DOP: 500.0015
·    Standards for Investigating Child Abuse and Neglect (CA/N) Reports (Levels 1, 2, 3); DOP: 500.0025
·    Police Involvement in Child Protective Investigation; DOP: 500.0040
·    Institutional Abuse/Neglect Case; DOP: 500.0035
·    Kinship Care; DOP: 700.0035
 
 
Related Forms:
·     Hotline Screening Tool
·     Notice of Alert (Form #199)
 
I.     PURPOSE
 
The Department of Children, Youth and Families (hereinafter the Department) initiates a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation when a report that meets Investigation Criteria is made to the CPS Hotline. Reports may involve families new to the Department, families actively being serviced by the Department, families previously active with the Department and incidents of institutional abuse and/or neglect. The report involves a child under 18 years of age or under 21 years of age if the youth is residing in foster or institutional care or if the youth is in Department custody, regardless of placement.
 
II.     PROCEDURE
 
A.     Investigation Criteria 1- Child Abuse/Neglect (CA/N) Report - RIGL 40-11-3 requires the Department to immediately investigate reports of child abuse and neglect. The circumstances reported, if true, must constitute child abuse/neglect as defined by RIGL 40-11-2.
1.     The Department investigates reports that allege child abuse and/or neglect when reasonable cause to believe that abuse or neglect exists. Child Abuse/Neglect (CA/N) Reports accepted for investigation contain the following elements:
a.     Harm or substantial risk of harm to the child (under 18 or under 21 years of age if in Department placement or custody) is present.
b.     A specific incident or pattern of incidents suggesting child abuse and/or neglect.
c.     A "person responsible for the child's welfare" has allegedly abused or neglected the child.
b.     Call Floor Child Protective Investigator (CPI) completes a Child Protective Services (CPS) report in RICHIST for all reports alleging child abuse and neglect.
c.     Field CPI initiates an investigation within 48 hours if the report is accepted for investigation.
d.     An investigation relating to a foster home or child care program is conducted in conformance with DOP: 500.0035, Institutional Abuse/Neglect Case.
 
B.     Investigation Criteria 2: Non-Relative Caregiver - RIGL 42-72.1-4 requires that no parent assigns or otherwise transfers to another, not related to him or her by blood or marriage, his or her rights or duties with respect to the permanent care and custody of his or her child under eighteen years of age unless duly authorized by an order or decree of the court.
1.     A CPS investigation is initiated when the Department receives a report that a parent has assigned or otherwise transferred to another, not related to him or her by blood or marriage, his or her rights or duties with respect to the permanent care and custody of his or her child under eighteen years of age, unless the arrangement was authorized by an order or decree of the court.
2.     During the investigation, it is determined if the home is suitable for the child. If the placement is deemed appropriate, the Department licenses the caregiver if she/he meets licensing standards and is able to meet the needs of the child.
3.     If the placement is unsuitable, the Department removes the child and places him or her in an appropriate living arrangement. If the child must be placed in out of home care, the Department must first explore potential relatives as placement resources (refer to DOP: 700.0035, Kinship Care).
4.     The Call Floor CPI completes a CPS report.
5.     The Field CPI initiates an investigation within 48 hours if the report is accepted for investigation.
 
C.     Investigation Criteria 3: Sexual Abuse of a Child by Another Child- Sexual Abuse of a Child by Another Child - RIGL 40-11-3 requires the Department to immediately investigate sexual abuse of a child by another child.
1.     The Department is required by RIGL 40-11-3 to investigate allegations of sexual abuse/molestation/exploitation of a child by another child immediately. The Department initiates an investigation in conformance with DOP: 500.0025, Standards for Investigating Child Abuse and Neglect (CA/N) Reports (Levels 1, 2, 3).
2.     The Hotline CPI completes a CPS report.
3.     The Field CPI initiates an investigation within 48 hours if the report is accepted for investigation.
 
D.     Investigation Criteria 4: Duty to Warn- RIGL 42-72-8 allows the Department to release information if it is determined that there is a risk of physical injury by a person to himself/herself or others and that disclosure of the records is necessary to reduce that risk. If the Hotline receives a report that a perpetrator of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse has access to another child in a family dwelling, that report is classified as an investigation and assigned for investigation.
1.     RIGL 42-72-8 allows the Department to release information if there is a risk of physical injury by the person to himself/herself or others and that disclosure of the records is necessary to reduce that risk.
2.     In accordance with the law, a CPS Investigation is initiated when the Hotline receives a report that a perpetrator, who has been convicted, adjudicated or indicated for the following categories of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse, has physical access to other children in a family.
a.     Convictions:
i.     Murder (involving a child)
ii.     First degree child abuse
iii.     Battery by an adult upon children ten years of age or younger - serious bodily injury
iv.     First degree child molestation
v.     Second degree child molestation
b.     Adjudications in Family Court
i.     Termination of Parental Rights based on finding of conduct toward a child of a cruel and abusive nature
ii.     Sexual abuse
c.     Indicated Abuse Findings (CPS)
i.     Death
ii.     Brain damage
iii.     Subdural hematoma
iv.     Internal injuries
v.     Intercourse
vi.     Sexual exploitation
vii.     Molestation
3.     The Hotline CPI completes a CPS report.
4.     The Field CPI initiates an investigation within 48 hours if the report is accepted for investigation.
5.     Field CPI attempts to verify any prior adjudication on a Dependency/Neglect/ Abuse petition, criminal conviction in Family, District or Superior Court or a CPS indicated finding of allegations of sexual abuse and/or serious physical abuse pertaining to the alleged perpetrator.
6.     Field CPI attempts to verify the identity of the person previously adjudicated, convicted and/or the subject of a prior CPS finding on charges/allegations of sexual abuse and/or serious physical abuse.
7.     Prior to responding to the home, the Field CPI contacts legal counsel to determine what, if any, information can be disclosed to the primary caregiver pursuant to the provisions of RIGL 42-72-8. After-hour inquiries are referred to the on-call administrator who consults with the Chief Legal Counsel.
8.     Field CPI responds to the home and interviews the child to determine if he/she has been a victim of any act of abuse and/or neglect by the alleged perpetrator.
9.     Field CPI determines if there is a substantial risk of imminent physical or emotional harm to any child residing in the same household as the alleged perpetrator or to whom the alleged perpetrator has frequent access. The CPI and his/her supervisor consider any appropriate factors in assessing risk to the child, which include, but are not limited to:
a.     How long ago the conviction, adjudication and/or indicated finding occurred;
b.     Whether the alleged perpetrator has engaged or is engaging in clinical treatment to address the issues of prior sexual abuse and/or serious physical abuse;
c.     The age of the child(ren) residing in the household;
d.     Whether there has been any prior Department involvement with the child who is the subject of the current investigation;
e.     Whether or not the family is amenable to services; and
f.     Whether the child has disclosed any acts of abuse and/or neglect by the alleged perpetrator.
10.     If the CPI, in consultation with his/her supervisor, determines that there exists a substantial risk of imminent harm to the child, the CPI advises the primary caregiver that the alleged perpetrator must not be allowed further access to the child.
11.     If the alleged perpetrator is a natural parent or legal guardian of the child and agrees to leave the home of the primary caregiver, the CPI consults with Department’s Legal Counsel regarding the filing of a Dependency/Neglect/Abuse petition.
12.     If the primary caregiver is unwilling or unable to ensure that the alleged perpetrator will not be allowed access to the child and/or the alleged perpetrator is unwilling to leave the residence of the primary caregiver, the CPI consults with legal counsel and takes immediate action to ensure the protection of the child.
 
E.     Investigation Criteria 5: Alert to Area Hospitals, Safety of Unborn Child - RIGL 42-72-8 allows the Department to release information if it is determined that there is a risk of physical injury by a person to himself/herself or others and that disclosure of the records is necessary to reduce that risk. The Department issues an alert to area hospitals when a parent has a history of substantiated child abuse/neglect or a child abuse/neglect conviction and there is concern about the safety of a child.
1.     RIGL 42-72-8 allows the Department to release information if it is determined that there is a risk of physical injury by the person to himself/herself or others, and that disclosure of the records is necessary to reduce that risk.
2.     In accordance with this law, the Department issues an alert to area hospitals when it is believed that there may be risk of harm to a child born to a parent with a history of substantiated child abuse or neglect or a child abuse/neglect conviction.
a.     Reasons for an alert may include, but are not limited to:
i.     Parent has exhibited behavior or conduct that is seriously detrimental to a child of a duration that renders it improbable for the parent to care for a child for an extended period.
ii.     Parent has subjected another child to aggravated circumstances, including abandonment, torture, chronic abuse or sexual abuse.
iii.     Parent has committed voluntary manslaughter of another child.
iv.     Parent has aided or abetted, attempted, conspired or solicited to commit such a murder or such a voluntary manslaughter.
v.     Parent has had his/her parental rights to a sibling of the child terminated involuntarily.
vi.     There is a history of chronic substance use disorder by one or both parents.
vii.     Parent has inflicted excessive corporal punishment upon a child, resulting in physical injury to the child.
viii.     Parent has a history of mental or emotional disability which has proven to render the parent unable to care effectively for his or her children.
b.     The alert requests that the hospital contact the CPS Hotline upon the birth of the infant as a result of the Department’s concerns about the welfare of the child.
3.     Issuing an Alert
a.     An alert regarding the safety of an unborn child may be initiated by a Family Service Unit (FSU) worker, by a CPS worker or by a Juvenile Correctional Services (JCS) worker.
i.     An alert may be initiated by a FSU worker on an open case, on a case that will close during the pregnancy due to a Termination of Parental Rights or on a recently closed case.
ii.     An alert may be initiated by a Call Floor CPI on a case not open to the Department.
iii.     An alert may be initiated by a JCS worker, which includes Juvenile Probation and the Rhode Island Training School.
b.     Worker discusses the need for an alert with his/her supervisor and administrator to obtain approval.
c.     Upon approval, the following processes are completed:
i.     FSU, CPS or JCS supervisor completes a Case Activity Note (CAN) in RICHIST, indicating any special instructions, such as an available placement resource.
ii.     Supervisor sends an e-mail to all CPS administrators informing them of the alert.
iii.     Worker completes the DCYF # 199, Alert to Area Hospitals - Safety of Unborn Child.
d.     FSU, CPS or JCS supervisor and administrator sign the alert.
e.     FSU, CPS or JCS supervisor sends the alert to area hospitals.
4.     When the Hotline receives a response to the alert upon the birth of the child, the report is reviewed. A determination is made whether the report is assigned for investigation or to a Family Assessment Response in conformance with DOP: 500.0015, Family Assessment Response.
 
F.     Investigation Criteria 6: Serious, Critical Injury, Child Near Fatality or Child Fatality- Serious, critical injury of a child, near child fatality or Child Fatality. Under RIGL 40-11-3.1 the Department is required to investigate all instances of child fatalities or near fatalities in which child abuse or neglect is suspected to be a contributing factor regardless of whether the family is currently active or has ever received services from the Department.
1.     CPS Investigative Response:
a.     CPS proceeds with its investigation as per Department procedure. If the family is currently active with another division of the Department, CPS coordinates its activities with assigned staff from those divisions.
b.     The CPI initiates contact with other assigned Departmental staff to share information regarding the reported fatality/near fatality, review the family’s current or recent history with the Department, identification of potential safety concerns for any other children in the home or placement in which the child fatality or near fatality occurred, and potential or available relative/kinship resources.
i.     Contact is initiated by the CPI prior to the start of the investigation when possible, exceptions being weekend, holidays and afterhours events.
ii.     Contact at the above stated times is initiated if information necessary to the investigation is not available.
c.     The CPI assess the safety of any other children in the home or placement where the fatality or near fatality occurred as well as any other children in the victim’s family that may reside elsewhere, and develops safety plans accordingly. Safety plans are shared with other agency staff assigned to the case. Responsibility for changes in placement, medical clearances, legal consults and the writing and filing of petitions if necessary, is shared between CPS and other assigned divisions for those cases active at the time of the fatality or near fatality.
i.     The CPI is responsible to conduct interviews required for the investigation including those with family members, both immediate and extended.
ii.     The CPI is the primary agency contact with hospital/medical personnel, the office of the Medical Examiner, any law enforcement agencies involved including police departments and the Office of the Attorney General.
iii.     The CPI and supervisor participate in the Child Fatality/Near Fatality Review as scheduled.
iv.     The CPI updates the Child Fatality/Near Fatality Reviewer as to the outcome of the Department’s investigation, findings from the Medical Examiner’s office, and the status of any law enforcement investigations/activity inclusive of local police and the Attorney General’s office.
d.     The divisional administrator assesses and arranges for the initial level of support needed by the assigned CPI staff, the unit and the division as appropriate.  Supports may be accessed through the Department’s Peer Support Team, the State of RI EAP, and the employee’s medical benefits.
e.     The divisional administrator arranges for coverage of tasks associated with other cases assigned to the CPI and CPI supervisor managing the child fatality or near fatality and monitors work on those cases as needed.
2.     FSU/JCS Responsibility:
a.     FSU and/or JCS staff already assigned to and working with the family at the time of the child fatality or near fatality remain the primary agency staff assigned to the case.
i.     Once notified of the fatality or near fatality, Department staff assigned to the case do not enter any CANs or case information into RICHIST or alter the hard copy record in any way until completion of the Child Fatality/ Near Fatality Review or as advised by the CF/NF Reviewer.
ii.     Hard copy records are turned over to the CF/NF Reviewer.
b.     In recognition of the difficulty of experiencing a child fatality or near fatality, casework responsibility for other cases assigned to the worker/supervisor are distributed for coverage within the unit or region for up to 7 business days, if necessary.
i.     Line and supervisory staff assigned to the case in which the fatality or near fatality occurred use this time to address the needs of the involved family and to care for their own wellbeing.
ii.     Management staff in these divisions provide direct assistance and support to the assigned staff in addressing the needs of the involved family as well as assess the emotional wellbeing of the assigned staff, the involved unit and division as a whole and secure supports for them as necessary and appropriate.
c.     The primary worker, in consultation with the CPI and in coordination with the investigation, assists with identifying and determining the appropriateness of family/kinship placements if needed.  The primary worker is responsible to assess the wellbeing needs of any other children in the family and to secure services and supports to meet those needs.
i.     The primary worker and supervisor are responsible to assess the needs of the parents and to secure services and supports to meet those needs inclusive but not limited to, emotional supports, grief counseling, and financial assistance for funeral and burial arrangements.
ii.     The divisional administrator, in conjunction with the CRA, assists with arrangements for funeral and burial services as needed.
iii.     If the child fatality or near fatality occurred in a foster home the primary service worker in conjunction with the Licensing worker (and provider agency if appropriate) assess the needs of the foster parents. The Licensing worker is responsible to assist the foster parents.
iv.     The primary worker and supervisor do not enter any CANs or other information into the RICHIST or hard copy records once notified of the child fatality or near fatality and until such time as the Fatality/Near Fatality Review is conducted or as advised by the CRA.
v.     The primary worker and supervisor provide the hard copy record and any un-entered notes, unfiled reports/evaluations or other materials pertinent the case to the CRA for use in the development of the case timeline necessary for the Child Fatality/Near Fatality review meeting. All hard copy records are provided to the CRA immediately after notification is received by the assigned staff of the fatality/near fatality.
vi.     The divisional administrator meets with their assigned staff to discuss the events and assess the level of support needed by them as well as by the unit and the division as a whole. Services can be accessed through the Peer Support Team, the State of RI EAP, or the employee’s medical benefits.
vii.     The primary worker and assigned supervisor participate in the Critical Event review as scheduled.