Saturday, December 8, 2012

2224.3 Unable to Complete an Investigation

CPS July 2010

A caseworker assigns a disposition of Unable to Complete to allegations when an investigation cannot be completed because:

  •  the family could not be located to begin the investigation;

  •  the family was contacted, but the family subsequently moved and could not be located to complete the investigation; or

  •  the family refused to cooperate with the investigation and a court order to require cooperation was denied.

See:

2224.31 When a Family Has Moved or Cannot Be Located

2224.32 When a Family Is Uncooperative

When Not to Use an Unable to Complete Disposition

The Unable to Complete disposition must not be used:

  •  to close caseloads abandoned as the result of DFPS staff vacancies, turnover, transfers, or other related circumstances; or

  •  when sufficient information can be obtained to assess risk in the home and assign dispositions of Reason to Believe, Unable to Determine, Ruled Out, or Administratively Closed. See 2271 Definitions of Dispositions of Abuse and Neglect.

Required Background Checks for Unable to Complete Investigations

If there is enough identifying information to conduct a background check, the worker does not assign a disposition of Unable to Complete until the following are conducted:

  •  A criminal background check of each alleged perpetrator, unless the alleged perpetrator is a child who is also alleged to be a victim. See 2263 Criminal Background Checks.

  •  An abuse and neglect background check on every resident of the home, unless an exception applies that is described in 2232.1 Abuse and Neglect Background Checks.

Interference With an Investigation

When a family interferes with an investigation by moving to avoid contact or failing to cooperate, the worker must take action. For specific laws, see 2224.37 Interference With an Investigation.

2224.31 When a Family Has Moved or Cannot Be Located

CPS September 2011

CPS assigns a disposition of Unable to Complete to allegations and a Recommended Action of Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate when the investigation cannot be completed because:

  •  the caseworker is not able to contact the family to begin the investigation; or

  •  the caseworker makes initial contact with the family, but the family moves and cannot be located before the investigation is completed.

Required Actions in Unable to Complete (Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate) Investigations

A caseworker must ensure a child’s safety as much as the situation allows by performing the following investigation tasks. Only after completion of these tasks may the caseworker assign the disposition of Unable to Complete and Recommended Action of Close-Family Moved/Cannot Locate, if applicable.

Conduct Background Checks

The caseworker conducts the following background checks, if there is enough identifying information to do so:

  •  A DPS criminal background check of each alleged perpetrator, unless the alleged perpetrator is a child who is also alleged to be a victim. See 2263 Criminal Background Checks

  •  An abuse and neglect background check on each person living in the home, unless an exception applies that is described in 2232.1 Abuse and Neglect Background Checks

Conduct Interviews, Assess Safety, and Provide Referrals for Service

The caseworker interviews each alleged victim, each parent who lives in the home, each alleged perpetrator, and all other persons who are principal participants in the investigation who can be located. The caseworker:

  •  interviews collateral sources (such as teachers or neighbors) who can be located, as needed;

  •  completes the safety assessment and provides safety services, as needed and to the extent possible given the difficulty in locating the family;

  •  offers referrals to the family for problems evident in the home to whatever degree the investigation allows. This includes completing the Services and Referrals Checklist.

See also:

2234 Assessing Safety

2241 Interviews With Alleged Victims

2243 Interviews With Parents, Alleged Perpetrators, and Other Adults

2244 Interviews With Collateral Sources

2250 Examinations of Alleged Victims and Other Children in the Home

2281.5 Completing the Services and Referrals Checklist Task

Contact the Parents and Alleged Perpetrator

The caseworker contacts the following persons (if they can be located) about the following issues:

  •  The parents and alleged perpetrator – to notify them about the allegations

  •  The parents – to notify them of interviews the caseworker conducted with the children (the caseworker must make a reasonable effort to notify the parents within 24 hours of the interview)

See 2261 Notice of Report: Allegations, Interviews, and Examinations.

Visit the Home

The caseworker visits the home where the family was reported to be living or staying. See 2245 Visits to the Home.

Exhaust all Means to Locate the Family

The caseworker requests information to identify and locate the family (including confidential information, as needed) from sources that include, but are not limited to, the following:

  •  Phone, gas, water, and electric companies

  •  Neighbors, relatives, and landlords, if applicable

  •  The school or day care that the children may have attended

  •  The parent’s place of employment

  •  Public agencies, if there are indications that the family may have been receiving funds through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, Medicaid, child support, and so on

  •  Local law enforcement

Texas Family Code, §261.303(e)

Consultation in a Staffing

After taking the above steps without locating the family, the caseworker consults with the supervisor in a staffing to determine any other steps the caseworker must take to try to locate the family. This includes whether to ask for assistance from one of the following as appropriate to the regional protocol:

  •  The DFPS diligent search unit

  •  CPS special investigators or special investigator program directors

If the decision is made to request the assistance of a special investigator or special investigator program director, the caseworker and supervisor determine whether the case is serious according to criteria in 2224.38 Child Safety Check Alert List.

Request Assistance of Special Investigator (or Special Investigator Program Director)

If the supervisor approves, the caseworker requests the assistance of a special investigator to exhaust all means to locate the family. The caseworker assigns the special investigator as secondary on the investigation.

If the caseworker and supervisor determine the case to be serious by considering factors in 2224.38 Child Safety Check Alert List, the caseworker requests the special investigator to obtain identifying information on the victims and alleged perpetrators during the efforts to locate the family.

Special Investigator Provides Assistance

In the special investigator’s effort to exhaust all means to locate the family, the special investigator uses all available tools to locate all principals in the investigation.

The special investigator must notify the caseworker immediately:

  •  upon locating the family; or

  •  after completing final locating efforts without finding the family.

The special investigator must:

  •  immediately notify the program director for the special investigator after completing final locating efforts without finding the family; and

  •  within five business days after completing final locating efforts without finding the family, document the special investigator’s actions and findings in the contact narrative in the investigation stage in the IMPACT system.

Caseworker Notifies Supervisor of Results of Efforts to Locate and Documents the Investigation

The caseworker must notify the supervisor immediately:

  •  if the family is located before the investigation is closed (see the heading below entitled When Not to Use an Unable to Complete Disposition (Close - Family Moved/Unable to Locate); or

  •  after the special investigator notifies the caseworker that final locating efforts have been completed without finding the family.

If the family cannot be located within the time frames of the investigation, the caseworker completes the actions outlined in 2224.33 Documentation in an Unable to Complete/Cannot Locate Investigation. If the special investigator has applied to place the family on the child safety check alert list, the caseworker follows steps in 2224.38 Child Safety Check Alert List to determine when to submit the investigation documentation in IMPACT to the supervisor for approval.

Supervisor Contacts Special Investigator Program Director

After being notified that the special investigator has completed final locating efforts without finding the family, the supervisor contacts the special investigator program director to determine whether to place the family on the Child Safety Check Alert List. See 2224.38 Child Safety Check Alert List.

When Not to Use an Unable to Complete Disposition (CloseFamily Moved/Unable to Locate)

If the family is located before the supervisor approves the closing of the investigation, the supervisor must not approve the closing of the case as Unable to Complete (Close – Family Moved/Unable to Locate).

Rather, the supervisor must ensure that the following actions are taken:

  •  If the family lives in the area covered by the DFPS unit originally assigned the open investigation, the investigation must be resumed. See 2224.34 Locating a Family That Moved During an Investigation

  •  If the family lives outside of the area covered by the DFPS unit originally assigned the open investigation, the originally assigned unit must transfer the case to the unit with jurisdiction where the family lives. The unit with jurisdiction where the family lives must accept the transferred case and finish the investigation, without regard to how long the investigation has been open. See:

2224.34 Locating a Family That Moved During an Investigation

2224.35 Transferring a Case to a Family’s New Location

  •  If the family has been placed on the child safety check alert list (CSCAL) within the current investigation, the caseworker must:

  •  notify by e-mail the special investigator who applied to place the family on the CSCAL that the family has been located and law enforcement can take the family off the list;

  •  document the notification in the investigation narrative; and

  •  uncheck the Child Safety Check Alert List checkbox in the Special Handling section of the Case Summary page.

2224.32 When a Family Is Uncooperative

CPS December 2008

Determining Whether a Parent Is Uncooperative

A parent (or other person responsible for the care of the alleged victim) is considered uncooperative when:

  •  he or she is unable or unwilling to cooperate with an investigation; and

  •  the result is that CPS cannot complete the investigative actions necessary to arrive at a disposition and finding of risk and to ensure that the child is protected.

Actions that may be considered uncooperative include, but are not limited to:

  •  failing to respond to phone calls, letters, and other messages from the worker;

  •  refusing to give the worker access to the home, the alleged victim, or the siblings;

  •  refusing to give the worker an interview with the alleged victim or the victim’s siblings, or concealing the alleged victim;

  •  refusing to allow the worker to transport the alleged victim for the purpose of an interview or examination (see 2247 Overview of Transporting a Child During the Investigation);

  •  refusing to consent to a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of the alleged victim or the release of medical, psychological, or psychiatric records pertaining to the alleged victim;

  •  refusing to consent to a medical or mental health examination of a parent or other person responsible  for the care of an alleged victim;

  •  refusing to give the worker access to medical or mental health records relating to a parent or other person responsible for the care of an alleged victim;

  •  relocating the family's residence, either temporarily or permanently, without notifying the worker of the new address, or concealing the family's new address;

  •  attempting to remove the alleged victim from the state to avoid the investigation.

Taking Required Actions Before Closing a Case as Unable to Complete

Before assigning a disposition of Unable to Complete because the family is uncooperative, the worker must do as follows:

  •  Confer in a staffing with a supervisor to determine how to proceed

  •  Contact law enforcement, as appropriate, for safety precautions

  •  Conduct background checks. (See 2224.3 Unable to Complete Investigation.)

  •  Attempt to interview each alleged victim, any parent who lives in the home, the alleged perpetrator, and other principals or collaterals in the case, such as a teacher or a doctor, as needed (see 2241 Interviews With Alleged Victims, 2243 Interviews With Parents, Alleged Perpetrators, and Other Adults, 2244 Interviews With Collateral Sources, and 2250 Examinations of Alleged Victims and Other Children in the Home).

      If a parent is unwilling to have his or her children interviewed in the home, the worker confers in a staffing with a supervisor to determine how to proceed, including whether to seek a court order in aid of investigation.

      The worker must not go to the school to interview the children after the parents have refused to allow the worker to interview the children at home.

  •  Notify the parents and alleged perpetrator about the allegations.

  •  Notify the parents that the worker has interviewed and examined the children within 24 hours of the interview (see 2261 Notice of Report: Allegations, Interviews, and Examinations).

Conducting a Staffing and Making Key Decisions

When parents refuse to consent to the necessary actions of an investigation, the worker must confer in a staffing with the supervisor, program director, or child safety specialist, as needed) to:

  •  assess the child’s immediate safety, based on the latest information available, and identify any actions needed to ensure the child’s safety; and

  •  identify any case-work related actions the worker may take to gain the family’s cooperation.

Determining Whether to Request a Court Order in Aid of Investigation

If investigation actions are needed because the parent’s refusal to cooperate poses a risk to the child’s safety, the worker, supervisor, or both work with the county or district attorney to seek a court order to obtain:

  •  the child’s records;

  •  entrance to the home for the interview, examination, and investigation; and

  •  approval for any other necessary actions.

For more information about the legal bases for seeking a court order, see 2224.37 Interference With an Investigation.

If the court does not grant the petition for an order in aid of investigation, the supervisor must immediately consult with the program director to determine what action, if any, CPS can take to protect the children.

If the court orders CPS to close the investigation, the supervisor must immediately consult with the program director and the regional attorney to determine what action, if any, CPS can take to protect the children.

Closing the Investigation Before it Is Complete

If it appears that the parent’s refusal to cooperate does not pose a risk to the child’s safety, based on credible and reliable information gathered from principals and collaterals in the investigation, the worker:

  •  continues to try to gain the parent’s cooperation for the full 30 days of the investigation; and

  •  closes the case as incomplete, if cooperation is not obtained.

See 2224.33 Documentation in an Unable to Complete/Cannot Locate Investigation.

Proceeding With the investigation

If the worker obtains the family's cooperation before concluding the investigation, the worker proceeds with the investigation.

2224.33 Documentation in an Unable to Complete/Cannot Locate Investigation

CPS September 2011

During the investigation, the caseworker must document:

  •  the safety assessment (see 2234 Assessing Safety); and

  •  details about the investigation in the Narrative on the Contact Detail page in the IMPACT system as follows:

  •  All contacts made

  •  Steps the caseworker took to locate or engage the family

  •  Police reports issued

  •  Case consultations in a staffing

See 2281.3 Completing the Contacts Task.

When the supervisor verbally approves the assigning of a disposition of Unable to Complete to the allegations, the caseworker must perform the following tasks:

1.   Document all court actions. Exception: See 2224.38 Child Safety Check Alert List.

2.   Notify the appropriate parties (if they can be located) about the results of the investigation. See 2273 Notification About Investigation Results.

3.   Finalize the allegations (assigning a disposition of Unable to Complete). See:

2271 Definitions of Dispositions of Abuse or Neglect; and

2281.2 Completing the Maintain Allegation Task.

4.   Select the risk finding of Risk Assessment NA. See 2235.7 Investigations in Which Risk Assessments Are Not Conducted.

5.   Select the appropriate Recommended Action for the case:

  •  Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate; or

  •  Close – Family Uncooperative.

6.   Complete the Investigation Conclusion page.

7.   Document the investigation in the IMPACT system by:

  •  ensuring that the person-related information is correct (see 2281.1 Completing the Maintain Person Task); and

  •  documenting information about safety and risk factors obtained before the family moved or became uncooperative.

2224.34 Locating a Family that Moved During an Investigation

CPS June 2006

If the family is located and still resides in the area of the original DFPS unit assigned to conduct the open investigation and the investigation has not been closed as Unable to Complete in the IMPACT system, a worker in the area must resume the investigation. The supervisor must not approve closing the original case and making a new report on the same allegations.

If the family is subsequently located outside the county of the original unit that was assigned to conduct the open investigation, staff in the original unit must take the actions noted in 2224.35 Transferring a Case to a Family's New Location.

2224.35 Transferring a Case to a Family's New Location

CPS June 2006

The supervisor of the original unit must consult with the supervisor of the new unit to arrange a case transfer if:

  •  the worker locates the family outside the county of the original investigation unit before the supervisor has approved the investigation in the IMPACT system as Unable to Complete, and

  •  the worker can provide the inheriting investigative unit with sufficient locating information (see Locating Information below).

The supervisor of the original unit or inheriting unit must not approve closing the original case and making a new report on the same allegations. 

The transfer must be made within seven calendar days after obtaining the locating information on the family. The supervisor in the original unit must ensure that the investigation is adequately documented before the case is transferred, including the family's address or an equally substantive means of locating the family.

Resolving Disagreements Regarding Case Transfers

The receiving supervisor must accept the case transfer and may not refuse to accept it.

If the original and receiving supervisors disagree about the responsibilities of their respective units, their program directors must resolve the disagreement.

If the program directors cannot resolve the disagreement, the program administrator makes the final decision.

For additional information, see 2222.2 Preventing and Resolving Disagreements Among Staff Regarding Residence Designations.

As usual, child safety must be the paramount consideration in the decision-making process.

Locating Information

In this context, "locating information" is defined as the family's address or an equally substantive means of locating the family. (Example of sufficient locating information: "The school says they have transferred Sarah's records to the Greentown Elementary school." Example of insufficient locating information: "I heard the family may have moved to Greentown.") The worker in the original unit must document the locating information for the family on the Address section of the Person Detail page in IMPACT or in the structured narrative.

Transferred Investigations Must Remain Open

The transferring unit and the receiving unit must not make a new report to Statewide Intake in lieu of continuing with the current open investigation. Only cases that are closed with an Unable to Complete disposition before the discovery of new locating information qualify for a new report from staff.

2224.36 When a Subsequent Intake Is Received for a Family With a Previous Unable to Complete Investigation (Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate)

CPS September 2011

Priority of Subsequent Intake

To ensure the safety of the child, an intake is assigned as a Priority 1 (P1) when:

  •  a previous case on the family meets the following criteria:

  •  Has an overall disposition of Unable to Complete (UTC)

  •  Has a recommended action of Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate

  •  Was closed within 12 months before the date of the subsequent intake

  •  the subsequent intake is the first report made on the family after a previous case that meets the above three criteria was closed.

The priority of a P1 intake that meets this description must not be downgraded. See 2142 Assigning Priority to Reports of Abuse or Neglect.

If the new referral is not the first new report on the family within the first year after an investigation was closed as Unable to Complete (Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate), the priority of the new intake can be a 1, 2, or N (none), based on the facts of the case.

During the New Investigation

If an intake report indicates that a family has had a prior case, the caseworker for the new report must review the prior case. See 2233.4 Subsequent Investigations on a Family.

During the new investigation, the caseworker must address allegations made in the previous Unable to Complete (Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate) investigation, as well as any new allegations.

If the prior case meets the description in the chart below, then the caseworker must take the actions detailed in the chart.

If …

then, the caseworker must …

  •  The prior investigation was closed as Unable to Complete (Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate) within the previous 12 months; and

  •  The new intake report does not indicate whether the family was placed on the child safety check alert list (CSCAL) during the prior investigation …

Review the Special Handling section on the Case Summary page for the prior investigation to see whether the Child Safety Check Alert List checkbox is selected.

The Child Safety Check Alert List checkbox is selected in the Special Handling section …

  •  Notify by e-mail the special investigator who applied to place the family on the CSCAL that the family has been located and law enforcement can take the family off the list;

  •  Document the notification in a closed stage addendum attached to the investigation in; and

  •  Uncheck the Child Safety Check Alert List checkbox in the Special Handling section.

See:

2224.38 Child Safety Check Alert List

2232.6 Making a Contact to Initiate the Investigation

2233.4 Subsequent Investigations on a Family

When a Person Is Inadvertently Found

At times, during the normal course of business, it is discovered that a person who is a principal participant in the investigation, a collateral source, or a reporter of abuse or neglect was, within the previous 12 months, named in a case that has a disposition of Unable to Complete (Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate).

In this instance, the information is reported to the DFPS Statewide Intake Division, which:

  •  generates an intake that lists the previous unaddressed allegations; and

  •  designates the case as Priority 1 (P1).

2224.37 Interference With an Investigation

CPS December 2008

A person may not interfere with a DFPS investigation of reported child abuse or neglect.

Texas Family Code §261.303

Duties of the Worker and Supervisor

Several laws provide legal remedies that CPS can use to conduct the investigation or protect the child when parents or other persons attempt to interfere with an investigation. The worker and supervisor must be familiar with these laws and use them as remedies when appropriate.

If a parent or other person is uncooperative in ways described below, the worker confers in a staffing with the supervisor to determine what actions to take so that the investigation may proceed, such as obtaining a court order for access to the child. See 2224.32 When a Family Is Uncooperative.

If there is credible information that a person may have committed a crime that interferes with the CPS investigation, the worker and supervisor determine whether a police report should be filed.

The worker documents the staffing, the decision made, and the approval in the structured narrative in the IMPACT system.

Failure to Cooperate With an Investigation

If a parent or other person refuses to cooperate with a CPS investigation, and the refusal poses a risk to the child’s safety, the worker and supervisor must work with the attorney representing CPS to obtain a court order to take appropriate actions to protect the child or conduct the investigation.

See Texas Family Code §264.009 regarding legal representation for DFPS to obtain a court order, and §261.303 regarding orders as remedies for interference with investigations.

Failure to report to DFPS within a reasonable amount of time after receiving proper notice constitutes a refusal to cooperate and a summons may be issued.

Texas Family Code §261.3031

Admission to Interview, Examine, or Investigate

If admission to the home, school, or other place where the child may be located cannot be obtained for an interview, examination, or investigation, a court may order admission, if good cause is shown.

Texas Family Code §261.303(b)

Access to Records and Approval of Examinations

If a parent or person responsible for the child's care does not consent to the release of the child's medical, psychological, or psychiatric records, or to a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of the child, the court may order that the records be released or that the examination be made.

Texas Family Code §261.303(c)

Access to Medical Records Related to the Report of Abuse or Neglect

A person or medical facility that reports abuse or neglect must release to CPS any records that relate directly to the suspected abuse or neglect, and may do so without parental consent or a court order.

Texas Family Code §261.303(d)

Information on the Family’s Location or Identity

If a person or entity, including a utility company, has confidential locating or identifying information on a family that is the subject of a CPS investigation, the person or entity must release the information at the request of DFPS.

Texas Family Code §261.303(e)

Preventing Removal of a Child From Texas — Temporary Restraining Order

If there is credible information that a parent or other person responsible for the child may remove the child from Texas before the investigation is complete, CPS may request a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prohibit the parents from removing the child.

Texas Family Code §261.306(a)

Access to Mental Health Records and Examinations — Parent-Related

When the parent or person responsible for the child's care is the subject of a report of abuse or neglect, CPS may investigate whether the person has a history of medical or mental illness. When the parent or person does not consent to an examination or to giving CPS access to medical or mental health records, the court may order the examination or access.

Texas Family Code §261.305

Relocating to Conceal a Family's Address or a Child

A person may be committing a Class B misdemeanor when all of the following are true:

  •  The person relocates his or her residence (temporarily or permanently) without notifying CPS of the new address, or the person conceals the child.

  •  The person relocates or conceals with the intent to interfere with a CPS investigation.

  •  The relocation or concealment interferes with the CPS investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.3032

Attempting to Interfere With the Transporting of a Child

A person may be committing a Class B misdemeanor, if the worker notifies the person about when and from where the worker plans to transport a child, and the person:

  •  is present at the location from which the child will be transported; and

  •  attempts to interfere with the CPS investigation.

Texas Family Code §261.302(f)

See 2247.2 Attempting to Contact the Parent.

2224.38 Child Safety Check Alert List

CPS February 2012

The child safety check alert list (CSCAL) is an automated program operated by the Department of Public Safety as part of the Texas Crime Information Center. The program helps DFPS locate families that move or cannot be located while CPS is attempting to investigate a family. Situations in which CPS is attempting to investigate include the following:

  •  The family moves or cannot be located before CPS begins an investigation. In this instance, the:

  •  Overall Disposition is Unable to Complete; and

  •  Recommended Action is Unable to Locate/Family Moved.

  •  The family moves or cannot be located after CPS determines during an investigation that the child is not safe and removal or family-based safety services (FBSS) are needed to ensure safety, but the investigation is not yet approved and closed. In this instance the:

  •  Risk Finding is Risk Indicated; and

  •  The Recommended Action is usually Family Moved After Investigation-Close, but could be Removal/Subcare or FPR depending on the circumstances of the case.

See Texas Family Code, §261.3022 Child Safety Check Alert List.

If a law enforcement officer encounters a person whose name is on the list, the officer:

  •  asks the person about the child’s well-being and current residence;

  •  reports the information to the DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division, so that SWI can assign it as a priority one report (P1) or take other appropriate action; or

  •  takes possession of the child, if the circumstances exist that meet the criteria explained in Texas Family Code, §262.104 Taking Possession of a Child in Emergency Without a Court Order; and

  •  reports to local law enforcement that the child has been located, which results in the family being taken off the list.

Criteria for Applying for a Court Order to Place a Family on the Child Safety Check Alert List

As outlined in 2224.31 When a Family Has Moved or Cannot Be Located, the investigation caseworker may request a special investigator to assist in finding the locating and identifying information.

To promote statewide consistency in the process to place families on the child safety check alert list, special investigators are tasked with applying to place families on the list when the criterion noted below are met. According to regional procedures, the caseworker assigns the special investigator as secondary on the investigation.

The following criteria must be met before the decision is made to apply for a court order to place the family on the child safety check alert list:

  •  All means available to DFPS for locating the family must be exhausted. See the section entitled Exhausting All Means for Locating a Family in 2224.31 When a Family Has Moved or Cannot Be Located.

  •  The caseworker and supervisor must have determined the case to be serious. See the content entitled Determine the Seriousness of the Case in this item.

  •  Certain identifying information about the victims and alleged perpetrators must be collected, if available. See the content in this item entitled Collecting Required Information While Seeking to Locate a Family.

  •  Appropriate approval must be obtained. See the content in this item entitled Obtaining Approval.

Determine the Seriousness of the Case

The caseworker and supervisor determine the seriousness of the case by considering:

  •  the abuse and neglect allegations, and any evidence that corroborates that the allegations are credible and serious. Examples of serious allegations include, but may not be limited to:

  •  life-threatening living arrangements,

  •  serious sexual abuse that involves:

  •  oral, anal, or genital intercourse, or

  •  sexual acts performed with a child that involve:

  •  the genitals or anus of either party, whether or not intercourse or contact occurred; or

  •  touching or fondling of the genitals, breasts, or anus of either party.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502

  •  serious physical abuse involves injuries that:

  •  require or required prompt medical attention;

  •  may require hospitalization; or

  •  may endanger the child’s life or cause permanent functional impairment, death, or disfigurement if untreated.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.502

  •  reported ages and vulnerability of the children in the home, and any evidence that corroborates that any child in the home is:

  •  significantly developmentally delayed; or

  •  otherwise especially vulnerable.

  •  any evidence that corroborates:

  •  safety threats in the home; and

  •  insufficient parental protective capacities to ensure child safety.

Collect Required Identifying Information While Seeking to Locate a Family

To complete an application to place a family on the child safety check alert list, the special investigator must obtain identifying information on the persons named as victims and alleged perpetrators in allegations in the investigation as indicated in the following charts. See the Child Safety Check Alert List - Data Entry Form in the DFPS automated forms on the intranet. It is located in the first section of the CPS Intake and Investigation Forms.

Victims

Required Information

Desired, but Not Required

Name

Height

Gender

Weight

Race

Ethnicity

Date of birth (0000 may be entered for MMDD, but a valid birth year must be provided)

Eye color

Family’s last known physical address (street name, city, state, ZIP code)

Hair color

Type of abuse or neglect

Scars, marks, or tattoos

Social Security number

Alleged Perpetrators

Required Information

Desired, but Not Required

Name

Height

Gender

Weight

Race

Ethnicity

Date of birth (0000 may be entered for MMDD, but a valid birth year must be provided)

Eye color

Relationship to the oldest alleged victim

Hair color

Scars, marks, or tattoos

Social Security number

Driver’s license number and the state that issued the number

License plate number and the state in which the plate is registered

Vehicle year, make, model, style, and color

Documenting Identifying Information

The special investigator must document identifying information obtained for the victims and alleged perpetrators:

  •  on the Person Detail page for the person – name, gender, race, date of birth, family’s last known physical address, Social Security number, driver’s license number and the state that issued the number;

  •  under the CVS/Home third level tab on the Person Detail page for the person - height, weight, eye color, hair color; and

  •  in the Contact Detail narrative – scars, marks, or tattoos; vehicle year, make, model, style, and color; license plate number and the state in which it is registered.

Obtaining Approval

After notification that the special investigator has completed final locating efforts without finding the family, the supervisor of the primary caseworker and special investigator program director review the case promptly to determine whether to apply to place the family on the child safety check alert list. They must provide approval when the following criteria are met:

  •  All means available to locate the family have been exhausted. See 2224.31 When a Family Has Moved and Cannot Be Located;

  •  The case is determined to be serious;

  •  Required identifying information on the victims and alleged perpetrators has been obtained.

If needed, the program director of the primary caseworker’s unit makes the final decision.

How the Special Investigator Applies for a Court Order to Place a Family on the Child Safety Check Alert List

Within 72 business hours after approval is given to apply to place the family on the child safety check alert list, the special investigator consults with the county attorney or district attorney regarding filing for the court action.

Within 24 business hours after the attorney agrees to file the court action, the special investigator provides the attorney with the following documents, and files a copy of the documents in the family’s physical case record:

  •  Affidavit in Support of Application for Ex Parte Order to Place Family on Child Safety Check Alert List;

  •  Application for Ex Parte Order to Place Family on Child Safety Check Alert List; and

  •  Ex Parte Order to Place Family on Child Safety Check Alert List. Note that the Type of Abuse field on the order must contain the four letter code CPS uses for the primary type of abuse or neglect alleged in the case, as follows:

  •  Physical abuse – PHAB

  •  Sexual abuse – SXAB

  •  Emotional abuse – EMAB

  •  Abandonment – ABAN

  •  Neglectful supervision – NSUP

  •  Medical neglect – MDNG

  •  Physical neglect – PHNG

  •  Refusal to assume parental supervision – RAPR

If the court orders the family placed on the child safety check alert list, the:

  •  court (or special investigator on the court’s behalf) forwards the application and identifying information to the appropriate local police or sheriff who then notifies the Texas Crime Information Center to place the family on the child safety check alert list. See Texas Family Code §261.3022(d).

      If the court allows the special investigator (SI) to perform this task, the SI must notify the law enforcement agency within one business day after the hearing.

  •  special investigator:

  •  within one business day after the hearing, informs any family members or friends that are available that the order has been issued and request their cooperation in locating the family,

  •  within three business days after the hearing:

  •  files a copy of the signed order in the paper record;

  •  takes the actions listed in the following content entitled Special Investigator Documents in IMPACT a Family’s Inclusion on the Child Safety Check Alert List.

When the court has finalized its actions related to the application to place the family on the child safety check alert list, the special investigator immediately notifies the investigation caseworker, who immediately notifies the supervisor.

Special Investigator Documents in IMPACT a Family’s Inclusion on the Child Safety Check Alert List

When an application is filed with the court to place a family on the child safety check alert list, the special investigator documents this action in the IMPACT system:

  •  on the Investigation Conclusion page;

  •  under the Legal Action tab; and

  •  in the investigation narrative, as needed.

The SI completes these tasks whether the court granted the order or not.

Investigation Conclusion Page

On the Investigation Conclusion page, the special investigator must:

  •  select Yes in response to the question Did you request orders during the investigation? and

  •  save the page.

Legal Action Tab in Investigation Stage

The special investigator must take the following actions for each victim and then must repeat the process for each alleged perpetrator in the investigation stage in IMPACT.

1.   Select the second-level tab titled Legal.

2.   Click Add, after the Legal Actions page opens.

3.   Click the radio button to the left of the victim’s name after the Person List opens.

4.   Click Continue, on the Person List page.

5.   When the Legal Action and Outcome page opens, select:

  •  in the Action field – Orders During Investigation,

  •  in the Subtype field – Child Safety Check Alert List,

  •  in the Outcome field – Granted or Not Granted.

6.   Select (from the calendar that appears beside the Outcome/Court Date field) the date that the court granted or declined to grant the order.

7.   Select Save.

Repeat the process for each alleged perpetrator.

When the legal action is documented under the Legal Action tab, the IMPACT system selects the Child Safety Check Alert List indicator on the Special Handling section on the Case Summary page. Staff must not select this indicator rather than documenting the legal action.

Special Investigator Notifies the Primary Caseworker of Completion of Tasks

The special investigator (SI) must notify the primary caseworker by e-mail when all tasks assigned to the SI in the investigation have been completed.

Caseworker and Supervisor Responsibilities

Caseworker

After being notified that the special investigator has documented in IMPACT whether the family is included on the child safety check alert list, the caseworker:

  •  completes the documentation of the rest of the investigation; and

  •  saves and submits the case to the supervisor for approval.

See 2224.33 Documentation in an Unable to Complete/Cannot Locate Investigation.

Supervisor

The investigation must not be closed until the court has approved or disapproved the application to place the family on the child safety check alert list.

Removing the Family From the Child Safety Check Alert List

If a family is placed on the child safety check alert list (CSCAL), and:

  •  CPS locates the family before the current investigation is closed or within a year after the family was listed, the caseworker must immediately notify by email the special investigator who applied to place the family on the CSCAL that the family has been located and law enforcement can take the family off the list.

See:

2224.31 When a Family Has Moved or Cannot Be Located

2224.36 When a Subsequent Intake Is Received for a Family With a Previous Unable to Complete (Close – Family Moved/Cannot Locate) Investigation

  •  neither CPS nor law enforcement locates the family within a year after the family was listed:

  •  DPS automatically removes the family from the list; and

  •  the IMPACT system unchecks the Child Safety Check Alert List checkbox in the Special Handling section on the Case Summary page.