National Study of Child Protective Services Systems and Reform Efforts:

Chapter 4.
Investigation

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Contents

INTRODUCTION

The investigation function addresses the process of determining whether a child has been maltreated or is likely to be maltreated, and if services are needed to ensure that the child will not be harmed in the future. The following features of the investigation function are described in this chapter:

ABUSE AND NEGLECT DEFINITIONS

There was great consistency in the core typology of abuse and neglect. However, additional classes of behavior or the results of such behaviors contributed to the uniqueness of each State's definitions.

Fifty States (98.0%) included definitions of the four major categories of maltreatment--neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. (See table 4-A.)(1) These basic categories of child maltreatment are specifically discussed in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).(2) Forty-one States (80.4%) included definitions of additional forms of maltreatment such as abandonment, medical neglect, lack of supervision, and risk of harm.

DISPOSITION CATEGORIES AND DEFINITIONS

All States included definitions of dispositions. These definitions were grouped into three broad categories--substantiated, unsubstantiated, and indicated--for analysis. Substantiated included such terms as "founded" and "valid" that are used by States to define a group of cases where maltreatment has occurred or where significant risk exists for the child. The term "indicated" is used by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) to define cases in which there is some reason to believe maltreatment occurred or risk exists, but which do not meet the evidentiary requirements for substantiated. (See table 4-B.) Additional categories included "unable to determine or complete" or "other."

Definitions for substantiated and unsubstantiated were varied in the breadth or narrowness of focus implied in their wording. Such definitional differences may reflect underlying differences in how States balance concern for child safety with concern for the effects of intervention on the family. Definitional differences also appear to have implications for the proportions of cases that are unsubstantiated.(3)

Two themes concerning the definition of "substantiated" were also identified. Forty-one States (80.4%) mentioned only collecting information regarding the truth of the allegations or whether an incident of maltreatment had occurred. Seven States (13.7%) specified that substantiated could be based either on evidence of maltreatment or the risk of maltreatment occurring in the future.

Two themes concerning the definition of "unsubstantiated" were identified. Twenty-three States (45.1%) defined "unsubstantiated" broadly in terms of "insufficient evidence." These States defined unsubstantiated cases as failing to meet the standard of evidence for substantiated--"when credible evidence of abuse or neglect has not been obtained" or "fails evidence standard." Twenty-six States (51.0%) considered unsubstantiated more narrowly as cases where there is no evidence that maltreatment occurred--"clearly unfounded, erroneous, or incorrect," "worker is reasonably sure that child abuse or neglect did not occur," or "whenever facts obtained during the investigation provide credible evidence that child abuse or neglect has not occurred." (Some States had provisions for both types of definition.)

States had different typologies for classifying the results of investigations, although some of these also used terminology close to substantiated and unsubstantiated. While these can, at State discretion, be mapped to the more common typology, they are noteworthy because of the underlying philosophical differences. Some examples are:

Levels of Evidence

The level of evidence needed for disposition decisionmaking was also reviewed.

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PURPOSE OF INVESTIGATION

While the disposition categories supported determining whether abuse or neglect had occurred or the child was at risk, there were additional purposes for an investigation. (See table 4-C.)

JOINT INVESTIGATIONS

The responsibility of the CPS agency may be shared with other agencies. The circumstances under which agencies are involved in joint investigations included emergency removals; joint investigations on sexual abuse reports; and joint investigations on sexual and severe physical abuse reports.(4)

Fifty States (98.0%) specified in policy that law enforcement could be involved in investigations related to specific types of cases. (See table 4-D.) Although the language varied, many States specified that law enforcement had the capacity for emergency removals of children from the home in cases of severe abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and child death. One State described the policy as triaging all high-priority cases to the State police. Another State required a violation of criminal law or sexual abuse for law enforcement to be involved in a case. Another State included the police in cases with a criminal-level offense.

Responsibilities for investigations of maltreatment in childcare institutions were also frequently mentioned as either being shared or assigned to another agency. Seven States (13.7%) specified that another agency had the responsibility for abuse or neglect occurring in daycare centers or substitute care facilities.

PRIORITY STANDARDS FOR BEGINNING AN INVESTIGATION

Most States outlined a prioritization process. Forty-four States (86.3%) specified priority standards for beginning investigations. (See table 4-E.) The Council on Accreditation (COA) and the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) suggest prioritizing responses based on urgency; those with higher safety and risk issues should be responded to first. Priority standards reported in State policy were based most often on the seriousness of the allegation and the situation, and the age of the alleged victim.

Not all States specified timeframes, although priorities were discussed. Generally, the policy on response time for more serious situations was either "immediate" or within 24 hours, while the response time for lower risk situations ranged from 72 hours to 15 days (with several between 3 and 5 days).

REQUIREMENTS REGARDING WHO IS INVESTIGATED

State policy specified the subject of the investigation. (See table 4-F.) Forty-seven States (92.2%) specified that all children in the family or home would be the subjects of the investigation. Ten States (19.6%) had additional policy considerations. Some examples included "all children present at the time of the initial investigation;" "all adults in the home who have responsibility for the care, custody, and control of the child;" "parents not residing in the home, but who may have routine contact with the child;" and "only other siblings who may be at risk."

ASSESSMENTS

The majority of States specified the use of risk and safety assessments as tools to guide decisionmaking on when and how to intervene to both keep children safe in the immediate future and to reduce long-term risk. Risk assessments have been used for a number of years to identify potential risks to a child that could result in harm at some point in the future. More recently, safety assessments have been developed to assess imminent risk of serious harm. State policies typically described using risk and safety assessments at more than one point during an investigation. (See tables 4-G and 4-H.)

Typically, risk and safety assessments were discussed in policy as being conducted as a part of the investigation. Some examples of other situations in which risk and safety assessments were specified included at case closure, during case planning, at any major decision point, or whenever circumstances suggest a child's safety is at risk. One difference between the use of an assessment for risk and safety was that the safety instrument seemed more likely to be used prior to reunification than the risk instrument. Some States had policies within the "other" category that defined timeframe requirements, such as safety must be assessed "within 7 days of a report," "within 24 hours after face-to-face contact," or "continuously through investigation."

In addition to the use of risk and safety assessments, 24 States (47.1%) identified the use of other standardized assessment requirements. (See table 4-I.) Most commonly used were family assessments focusing on family strengths and needs. Substance abuse evaluations were specifically mandated in three States.

CONTACTS AND TIMEFRAME REQUIREMENTS

Policy also specified who must be contacted during an investigation. (See table 4-J.) Six main categories of contact requirements were identified. (Responses were not mutually exclusive.)

The COA and the CWLA suggest that investigations should be completed within 30 days. (See table 4-K.)(5)

RESULTS OF THE INVESTIGATION

Investigations can have different outcomes. (See table 4-L.) (Responses were not mutually exclusive.)

DECISIONMAKING

Decisionmaking related to the investigation disposition was highly consistent among the States. (See table 4-M). Only four States (7.8%) indicated different decisionmakers depending upon the case. Thirty-two States (62.7%) stipulated that "the worker decides, supervisor approves" the results of an investigation. The majority of the remaining States indicated that the worker and supervisor make decisions together.

An examination of the relationship between decisionmaking responsibility and purpose of investigation found that the more expansive the scope, the more likely the worker would make the decision with supervisory approval. However, an examination of the relationship between decisionmaking responsibility and disposition scope did not reveal a similar pattern.

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NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

The majority of States had requirements for notifying specific persons about the results of the investigation. (See table 4-N.) (Responses were not mutually exclusive.)

CENTRAL REGISTRY AND DUE PROCESS

States have chosen to balance the competing needs of their mission to protect children with the rights of individuals in a variety of ways. One way in which States balanced their responsibilities to children and the individuals alleged to be perpetrators of abuse or neglect was to place restrictions on which reports were included on their Central Registries, when perpetrator information was included. In addition, States also differed in the purposes for which records may be used and the procedures for access to information, when records are sealed or expunged from the registry, and due process procedures for individuals whose names are placed on the registries. (See table 4-O.)(6)

All States had policies regarding the maintenance of a Central Registry or some type of record keeping system to track reports of abuse and neglect. Some of the States did not have policy regarding a traditional Central Registry, but rather discussed the use of an automated client database. In the latter cases, the expungement policy was related to the administrative client database rather than the Central Registry.

There were variations in the types of reports being maintained:

Uses and Access to Reports

State policies also varied in terms of the "uses" permitted for Central Registry data. (Responses were not mutually exclusive.) Forty-three States (84.3%) specified in policy that the Central Registry could be used for internal administrative purposes, such as use of prior reports in risk assessment, use by multidisciplinary or fatality review teams in the course of their duties, production of statistical or audit reports, and program planning. Forty-four States (86.3%) specified the Central Registry was used for background employment and licensing checks.

In 37 States (72.5%), the Central Registry could be used for information sharing, including provision of information to other Federal, State, or local governmental or private entities, (e.g. tribes, law enforcement, schools, health care practitioners or facilities, and legislators) when their child protection responsibilities necessitated such information. Information also could be shared with researchers with appropriate safeguards to confidentiality. Fourteen States (27.5%) specified other uses including research on trends, identifying prior victims, and background checks on volunteers.

Expungement

Forty-five States (88.2%) had explicit expungement policies. Expungement policy regarding reports included considerations of the disposition of the report, whether services were provided, whether additional reports were made and substantiated, and the age of the child.

Forty-five States (88.2%) had explicit expungement policies. The time of expungement of unsubstantiated reports from a Central Registry ranged from "promptly" or "forthwith" to 5 years. Some States specified longer timeframes and maintained records with no perpetrator information attached or in a separate data system. In others cases, these States appeared to make a distinction between unsubstantiated reports and reports where clearly no child abuse or neglect occurred, such as those defined as frivolous or bad faith reports. Policy on founded or substantiated reports often included a timeframe for restricting access, sealing, and expunging the report. In many States, expungement of founded reports was stipulated to take place after the child's 18th birthday.

Due Process

Forty-five States (88.2%) included information on due process for persons identified as perpetrators. Most of the appeal processes were stipulated to occur within the CPS agency, either through a review by a high-level administrator or a fair hearing conducted by a hearing officer appointed by CPS.

Twenty-one States (41.2%) stipulated that the alleged perpetrator must be notified either before or after his or her name is placed on the registry. Examples of notification timeframes include:

Policy also covered sending the perpetrator information on the appeal process and the timeline for appeal.

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SERVICE PROVISION DURING INVESTIGATION

Thirty-nine States (76.5%) had policy that specified that workers were required to provide short-term services during the investigation, if needed. (See figure 4-1.)

Figure 4-1:
Required to Provide Short-Term Services During Investigation if Needed

Figure 4-1: Required to Provide Short-Term Services During Investigation if Needed.

Required = Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Not Required = Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont.

Thirty-eight States (74.5%) had policy requiring investigation workers to plan or assist in planning for ongoing services. These States are shown on the map in the figure 4-2 below.

Figure 4-2:
Investigation Worker Required to Plan for Ongoing Services

Figure 4-2: Investigation Worker Required to Plan for Ongoing Services

Required = Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Not Required = Alaska, Delaware, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

States varied in the description of the purpose of the services. (See table 4-P.)

SUMMARY

The investigation policies of State-administered systems were not found to differ from the policies of State-supervised, county-administered systems. This is partially due to consistency in policy for many features of the investigation function. More than two-thirds of the States had policy regarding:

The above can be considered core areas of policy in CPS.

Within each core area, there may exist considerable variation in the specific policy requirements. These have been discussed in this chapter. In addition, there were policy areas for which there was less consistent coverage by State policies. Fewer than one-third of the States included specific policy on the following areas:

Table 4-1:
Summary of Investigation Policies
Policy in Less Than 33% of States Addressed: Policy in 33-66% of States Addressed: Policy in More Than 66% of States Addressed:
  • Definitions of "unable to determine or complete"
  • Definition of "indicated"
  • Limits abuse and neglect typologies to the four major categories
  • Maintaining the family as a purpose of the investigation
  • Timeframe for completing an investigation is less than 2 weeks
  • Referring only substantiated cases for services
  • Worker and supervisor making joint decisions
  • Notifying mandated reporters of the results of an investigation
  • Maintaining all reports on the Central Registry
  • Preventing child abuse and neglect as the purpose of services
  • High standards of evidence for substantiation
  • Focusing on disposition, assessing risk or safety as the purpose of the investigation
  • Determining the need for services as the purpose of the investigation
  • Worker deciding, supervisor approving the results of an investigation
  • Contact with collaterals during an investigation
  • Contact with the perpetrator during an investigation
  • Timeframe to complete investigation in 2-4 weeks
  • Timeframe to complete an investigation in more than 4 weeks
  • Restricting Central Registry to only substantiated, founded, or indicated reports

  • Definitions of additional forms of maltreatment beyond the four major types
  • Definitions of substantiated and unsubstantiated
  • Role of law enforcement in conducting an investigation (removing children if necessary)
  • Priority standards for beginning investigations
  • Including all children in the household in an investigation
  • Use of safety assessment
  • Use of risk assessment
  • Contact with family during an investigation
  • Contact with the child during an investigation
  • Provision of voluntary services
  • Notification of perpetrator of results of an investigation
  • Notification of the family of the results of an investigation
  • Central Registry can be used for internal administrative purposes, information sharing, and background checks
  • Expungement policies
  • Due process notifications
  • Provision of short-term services during the investigation as needed
  • Participation in planning for ongoing services

Table 4-A:
Definitions of Maltreatment (n=51)
State Neglect Physical Abuse Sexual Abuse Emotional Abuse Other
AK Failure to provide necessary care. Physical abuse or physical injury. Sexual abuse or exploitation. Mental Injury.
Injury to emotional well-being, intellectual, psychological capacity of a child, evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment in the ability to function.
Medical neglect of handicapped infants in a medical care facility.
AL Negligent treatment such as failure to provide; distinction between poverty and neglect. Harm or threatened, nonaccidental injury Harm or threatened; attempted; or exploitation or attempted. Explicit conduct for pornography, molestation, or prostitution. Mental injury. Substantial impairment with due regard to culture.  
AR Failure or refusal to provide. Acts or omissions. Engaging in conduct creating a substantial possibility of death, permanent or temporary disfigurement, illness or impairment of bodily organ. Solicitation or participation in sexual activity. Includes exploitation. Acts or omissions. Observable and substantial impairment in the intellectual or psychological capacity to function within the normal range with due regard to culture. Failure to support or maintain reasonable contact, abandonment, intentional.
AZ Unable or unwilling to provide that results in substantial risk of harm. Impairment of bodily function or disfigurement or the infliction of or allowing physical injury. Engaging in sexual contact with anyone age 15+ without consent or under age 15 if contact involves only female breast. Lists examples of abuse. Sexual contact with a minor, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation. Diagnosis by a qualified person of mental condition that was probable result of acts or omissions of the parent. Abandonment
CA Failure to provide. Physical or psychological endangerment. Nonaccidental bodily injury including corporal punishment. Victimization by sexual activities. Nonphysical mistreatment that results in disturbed behavior of the child.  
CO Failure to take actions to provide, Including educational and medical neglect. Evidence of physical harm or injury or subjected to reasonable threat of. Sexual abuse including molestation, prostitution, exploitation, touching genitals, buttocks or breasts, or pornography. Identifiable and substantial impairment of functioning or substantial risk. Abandonment
CT Physical neglect whether or not intentional. Unable to provide minimum. Medical, educational, emotional, or moral neglect. Injury inflicted, nonaccidental; injuries at variance with the history; or malnutrition or cruelty. Inflicted or allowed to be inflicted. Cruel or unconscionable acts or statements or threats or allowance of such which have direct affect on the child. In danger of abuse, high-risk newborns
DC Physical, medical, and material neglect. Indicators given such as unexplained bruises, welts or marks, burns, water immersion, fractures. Involvement of a child in sexual activity to provide sexual gratification or financial benefit to perpetrator. Lists signs of sexual abuse. Emotional neglect. Significant impairment of child's emotional stability or mental health so that ability to function is reduced.  
DE Failure to provide. Unjustified force that results in injury, torture. Exploitative misuse. Injury resulting in mental or emotional condition due to abuse or neglect. Exploitation, abandonment, dependency
FL Omission that is serious disregard. Includes failure to stop other person from neglect. Willful action that results in specific listed injuries. Sexual battery, incest, molestation, and exploitation Mental injury. Inappropriate or excessive use of restraints, bizarre punishment, isolation in a childcare facility, or confinement. Threatened harm, substance abuse, lack of supervision, environmental neglect (i.e. drug house)
GA Physical, emotional, educational, cognitive, exploitation, medical Physical abuse that results in specific listed injuries, Battered Child Syndrome, Factitious Disorder by Proxy. Allows, permits, or requires child under 18 to engage in sexual acts for the gratification of adults. Verbal threats or humiliation or bizarre treatment. Results in impaired psychological growth or development. Abandonment, family violence, failure to thrive
HI Psychological neglect, failure to provide, or failure to protect. Physical injuries, nonaccidental trauma Any interfamilial sexual exploitation of a child under 18. Psychological abuse resulting in disturbed child and substantial impairment of functioning. Nutritional deprivation, medical care neglect, intentional drugging and poisoning, abandonment, lack of supervision
IA Denial of critical care.
Failure to provide.
Religious exemption.
Nonaccidental physical injury or at variance with history. Commission of sex offense or omission.
Child prostitution. Presence of illegal drugs.
Commission of bestiality in the presence of a minor.
Mental injury to intellectual or psychological capacity evidenced by observable and substantial impairment. Manufacturing or possession of dangerous substance.
ID Includes physical neglect, medical neglect, and environmental neglect. Observable injuries or symptoms. Sexual conduct or sexual exploitation harming/threatening the health, welfare, or mental injury of the child.    
IL Includes physical neglect, lack of supervision, environmental neglect, malnutrition, and medical neglect. Religious exemption. Act or omission inflicted or creates a real and significant danger of physical injury. Includes acts of violence or intimidation directed toward the child that threaten injury or impairment. Sexual contact or any intentional or knowing touching either directly or through clothing for the purpose of gratification. Includes molestation and exploitation. Mental injury to intellectual, emotional, or psychological development. Observed and substantial impairment of child functioning in normal range. Regard to culture. Requires professional verification. Abandonment, substance misuse
IN Physical or mental condition with impairment or serious endangerment. Intentional and nonintentional. Physical health seriously endangered due to injury by act or omission. Child is not receiving care or treatment. Rape, criminal deviant conduct, molestation, exploitation, pornography, seduction, misconduct, indecent exposure, prostitution or incest and the child is not receiving or is unlikely to receive care. Allowing child to participate in obscene performances. Mental health is seriously endangered due to injury by act or omission; and child is not or unlikely to receive care. Use of alcohol, controlled substance, or legend drug by mother during pregnancy and child is not receiving or is unlikely to receive care.
KS Acts or omissions resulting in harm or likelihood. Medical neglect. Physical neglect. Act or failure to act that results in death, physical harm, or likelihood. Any contact or interaction used for gratification, permitting pornography, or prostitution. Acts or omissions that impair social, emotional, or intellectual functioning or likelihood. Abandonment, lack of supervision, child in need of care (nonabuse and neglect).
KY Inadequate supervision if caller thinks child may be harmed; child locked up; injury or high risk of injury. Abandonment, lack of supervision; child forced to take drugs or alcohol. Health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm. Inflicts or allows nonaccidental injury. Rape, sodomy, incest, sexual penetration with a foreign object, exposing oneself, exposing a child, kissing, touching, fondling in a sexual manner, sexual harassment, and promoting sexual contact with animals. Creates risk of injury to mental or emotional capacity. Action or inaction. Detailed listing of examples. Abandonment, dependency, risk of physical abuse and risk of sexual abuse.
LA Refusal or failure to provide which results in substantial threat or impairment. Financial exemption. Intentional or not, infliction of physical injury, which seriously endangers health. Exploitative overwork of child. Any sexual act or pornography or any other sex involvement constituting a crime. Verbal threats or behavior that results in observable and substantial impairment of well-being and functioning. Withholding medical treatment or nourishment. No religious exemption.
MA Failure to take actions to provide. Financial exemption. May get court order for failure to provide medical treatment. Nonaccidental commission causes or substantial risk of serious injury.   Emotional maltreatment: causing or creating substantial risk of serious emotional injury which is impairment of disorder of intellectual or psychological capacity evidenced by observable and substantial reduction in functioning within normal range.  
MD Failure to provide. Unattended child. Injury under circumstances that indicate harm or substantial risk. Molestation or exploitation, incest, rape, or sexual offense. Mental injury; harm or risk; observable, identifiable, and substantial impairment of mental or psychological functioning.  
ME Deprivation of essential needs or lack of protection. Serious injury means serious physical injury or impairment. Sexual abuse or exploitation Serious mental or emotional injury likely to be evidenced by serious mental behavior or personality disorder. Abandonment
MI Harm or threat by negligent treatment, failure to provide, failure to protect, unreasonable risk, and medical neglect. Poverty exemption. Nonaccidental injury Sexual exploitation, pornography, engaging in sexual contact Physical or verbal acts, omissions or environment which render child anxious, agitated, depressed, withdrawn and interferes with age-appropriate milestones. Failure to protect, improper supervision, abandonment, exploitation
MN Failure to provide. Failure to protect.
Educational neglect.
Prenatal exposure to controlled substance.
Nonaccidental injury (There is a list examples.) Subjection of a child to any act that constitutes a violation of criminal sexual conduct. Mental injury; injury to psychological capacity or emotional stability as evidenced by observable or substantial impairment in the ability to function. Infant medical neglect
MO Failure to provide, by those responsible for the care, custody and control of the child, the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the child's well- Any physical injury, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse inflicted on a child other than by accidental means by those responsible for the child's care, custody, and control. Reasonable discipline, including Use, persuasion, coercion, inducement, or enticement of child under 18 to engage in or assist in any sexually explicit conduct; exploitation. Passive or active patterned, nonnurturing behavior by a parent or caretaker that negatively affects or handicaps a child emotionally, psychologically, physically, intellectually, socially, or developmentally. Medical neglect, educational neglect
MS Refuses to provide when able or unable to provide. Physical abuse or nonaccidental injury or allowing such an injury or abuse. Allowed or caused rape, molestation, incest, prostitution, exploitation, pornography that indicates that the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened. Mental injury Exploitation
MT Physical or failure to thrive. Also, failure to respond to infant's life-threatening illness or to provide adequate health care although able. Intentional act or intentional omission or gross negligence resulting in substantial impairment of bodily function, injury, pain, disfigurement, or death. Sexual assault, intercourse without consent, indecent exposure, deviant sexual conduct, ritual abuse, incest in home or institutional. Acts or omissions; severe injury to emotional, intellectual or psychological functioning. Includes exposure to violence against another person in the home. Exposure to unreasonable risk, abandonment, fatality
NC Does not receive proper care, supervision, or discipline from parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker; or is abandoned or not provided necessary remedial care; or lives in an environment injurious to welfare; or is placed for care in violation of law. Allows or inflicts serious injury by nonaccidental means. First- or second-degree rape, sexual act or offense; preparing pornography. Creates serious emotional damage to juvenile evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior. Dependent juvenile
ND Physical including unattended child, nutrition, clothing, hygiene, educational, medical. Physical force resulting in injury or the child is placed at significant risk. Or, physical punishment of an infant. Intercourse, exhibitionism, exploitation, or any sexual contact. Includes failure to protect or prevent. Parental behavioral patterns with psychological consequences; act or omission. Abandonment, environmental conditions, failure to protect
NE Physical neglect, medical neglect of handicapped infant. Unexplainable or nonaccidental injury or inconsistent with explanation. Or substantial risk of bodily injury. Sexually oriented act, practice, contact, or interaction used for gratification. Emotional abuse: psychopathological or disturbed behavior in child which is documented by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or MH practitioner to be the result of continual scapegoating, rejection, or exposure to violence by child's parent, caretaker. Failure to protect, abandonment, environmental conditions
NH Alcohol and drug abuse; educational neglect; emotional and mental maltreatment; failure to protect; failure to thrive; inadequate needing of basic needs, lack of supervision and caregiver, medical and dental neglect. Mental health issues; Munchausen's syndrome by proxy; poisoning and noxious substances; threatening and menacing behavior. Lists specific injuries. Employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or having a child assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of this conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction; the rapes, molestation, prostitution, or any other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children. Emotional abuse or neglect. Injury to intellectual or psychological capacity; observable impairment. Abandonment
NJ Failure to provide when able. Physical injury or at risk due to action or inaction that was neither necessary, nor justified, not reasonable, nor appropriate. Contacts or interactions for gratification. Conduct causes, allows, or permits significant or persistent emotional pain, harm or impairment. Lack of adequate supervision
NM Failure to provide whether intended or not. Nonaccidental injury inflicted or allowed, regardless of motive. Any incident of sexual contact inflicted or caretaker should have known. Acts which cause substantial impairment of child's mental or psychological ability to function.  
NV Failure to provide Physical injury nonaccidental, meaning permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment of any bodily function or organ of the body. Acts upon a child including incest, lewdness, molestation, sado-masochism or seduction. Injury to intellectual or psychological capacity or emotional condition as evidenced by observable and substantial impairment of functioning in normal range. Excessive corporal punishment
NY Physical, mental or emotional. Impaired or imminent danger. Inflicts or allows physical injury; nonaccidental, likely to cause death or serious or protracted disfigurement or impairment to health. Commits or allows sex offense. Diminished psychological or intellectual functioning attributable to unwillingness or inability to exercise minimum care. Abandonment, institutional abuse
OH Abandoned; lacks care; neglects or refuses to provide including medical, educational, and moral. Evidence of injury or death; nonaccidental or an injury at variance with the history. Acts that cause harm or threaten harm. Activity that would constitute an offense under law, but a conviction not required. Mental injury; any behavioral, cognitive, or mental disorder in a child caused by act or omission described in code.  
OK Deliberate or exceptional lack of attention; physical or emotional. Long standing and impacts several aspects of child's life or life threatening. Poor parenting and poverty excepted. Injury or otherwise harming a child. Severe punishment even if no injury. Minor injuries of child over ten excepted unless child placed in grave physical danger. Rape, sodomy, incest, lewd or indecent acts or proposals; exploitation for the purpose of sexually stimulating the child or others. Injury to intellectual or psychological capacity as evidenced by observable and substantial impairment of function in normal range. Mental injury is pattern of cruelty or unconscionable acts. Abandonment
OR Failure to provide whether intent or not. Acts or omissions. Injury regardless of motive, including discipline. Any incident of sexual contact and exposure or pornography. Mental injury whether or not intentional. Abandonment, child selling
PA Serious physical neglect, prolonged or repeated and endangers child's life or development or impairs child's functioning. Any recent act or failure to act which causes nonaccidental serious physical injury to a child: causes some pain or significantly impairs physical functioning either temporarily or permanently. A recent act, failure to act, or series that creates an imminent risk of sexual abuse or exploitation. Employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion to engage or assist in any explicit conduct, pornography, prostitution. Act or failure to act which causes nonaccidental serious mental injury rendering child anxious, depressed, socially withdrawn, psychotic, or reasonable fear that life or safety is threatened, or interferes with development. Imminent risk
RI Failure to provide when financially able or failure to provide a minimum degree of care. Includes emotional neglect, medical neglect, or failure to provide psychological treatment. Inflicts or allows physical injury. Allow to commit or commit against the child. Impairment to intellectual or psychological capacity. Abandonment, dependency, exploitation
SC Harm, medical neglect, criminal neglect placing the child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting life, health, or safety. Cruelty to children; deprivation. Death or permanent or temporary disfigurement or impairment. Sexual battery. Intercourse, cunnilingus, fellatio, and anal intercourse or any intrusion of any part of a person's body or any object into the genital or anal opening except when such intrusion is accomplished for medically recognized treatment or diagnostic purposes. Injury to the intellectual or psychological capacity of a child evidenced by discernable and substantial impairment. Supported by professional opinion. Abandonment, cruelty to children. Distinguishes criminal abuse and criminal neglect.
Death by child abuse.
SD Failure to provide, including medical neglect. Evidence of injury. Consideration for corporal punishment; reasonable force in a moderate degree. Sexual abuse or exploitation Emotional maltreatment  
TN Failure to care or leaving under 8 unattended. Includes environmental, nutritional, educational neglect, and neglect or death. Abuse resulting in death; acts resulting in injury that requires medical attention; use of life threatening weapons and leading to death or severe physical damage. Sexual touch or penetration Behavior related to observable impairment of physical, sexual, cognitive. Severe drug or alcohol problems that result in harmful conditions or risk of maltreatment.
Substantial risk of physical injury. Substantial risk of sexual abuse. Abandonment. Medical maltreatment. Drug exposed child. Drug exposed infant.
TX Substantial risk of immediate harm; failure to provide medical care that results in substantial harm; failure to provide. Poverty excepted. Failure to protect child from sexual abuse. Physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child or genuine threat of substantial harm from injury. An injury at variance with history. Reasonable discipline excepted. Sexual conduct harmful to mental, emotional or physical welfare. Compelling or encouraging sexual conduct. Pornography. Failure to make reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to child. Injury resulting in observable and material impairment of growth, development, or psychological functioning. Causing or permitting child to be in situation to sustain such injury. Abandonment, causing or permitting use of controlled substance. Substance abuse that results in injury to child.
UT Physical neglect including failure to provide. Medical neglect. Nonaccidental injury that seriously impairs health or involves torture and causes serious emotional harm or involves substantial risk of death. Sex abuse, exploitation, or forcing or coercing observation of sexual activities. Pattern of verbal remarks or parental alienation causing emotional distress; perception or actual threatened harm; teaching illegal behavior; custody disputes leading to multiple CPS referrals, domestic violence related to child abuse and giving child harmful material. Ritual abuse, dependency
VA Medical or physical neglect, failure to provide. If poverty, provide services, but no neglect disposition. Lists specific types of injuries. Includes bizarre discipline. Sexual abuse, exploitation, molestation, intercourse, and sodomy. Mental abuse or neglect. Abandonment
VT Actions or inactions resulting in injury or illness. Educational neglect. Physical health, psychological growth and development or welfare is harmed or substantial risk by acts or omissions. Nonaccidental injury resulting in death, permanent, or temporary disfigurement, or impairment of any bodily organ or function. Sexual molestation or exploitation. Emotional maltreatment resulting in impaired psychological growth and development. Child in need of care or supervision. Abandonment. Risk of harm. Risk of sexual abuse.
WA Fails to meet needs or places child at risk of harm. Nonaccidental injury, dangerous acts, cruel or inhumane acts, physical discipline. Contact, exposure, inappropriate touching, promoting sexual activity or conduct, pornography, prostitution. Acts or omissions that injure or risk injury to psychological and emotional health or development.  
WIT Failure, refusal, or inability for reasons other than poverty, to provide necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care, or shelter so as to seriously endanger the physical health. Threat of neglect. Physical abuse or threat Sexual abuse, exploitation of prostitution. Any contact with a sexual part of the body of a child 15 and under. Emotional damage Withholding medically indicated treatment.
WV Failure to provide, medical neglect, educational neglect, lack of supervision. Physical or mental condition harmed or threatened. "Abused child" means a child whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened by a parent, guardian, or custodian who knowingly or intentionally inflicts, attempts to inflict, or knowingly allows another person to inflict, physical injury or substantial mental or emotional injury, upon the child or another child in the home; sexual abuse or sexual exploitation. Physical injury may include excessive corporal punishment. Sexual abuse or exploitation is noted under the definition of abuse. Emotional injury is noted under the definition of abuse. Abandonment
WY Failure to provide.
Religious exemption.
Educational neglect.
Lack of supervision.
Death or harm to child including disfigurement, impairment of any bodily organ, skin bruising, bleeding, burns, bone fractures, subdural hematoma, or substantial malnutrition. The commission or allowance of a sexual offense against a child as defined by law, which includes any sexual contact or exploitation. Mental Injury. Injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of a child as evidenced by observable or substantial impairment in ability to function. Nutritional deprivation. Abandonment. Withholding medical treatment from handicapped infants.
Medical neglect.
Lack of supervision.
Educational neglect.
T Wisconsin data compiled from statutes

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Table 4–B:
Disposition Category Features (n=51)
State Substantiated Unsubstantiated Indicated Unable to Determine or Complete Other Alternative Structure
Allegation Only Risk Included No Definition Level of Evidence Insufficient Evidence No Evidence No Definition
AK X     Preponderance   X     X    
AL X     Preponderance X       X Categories based on perpetrator  
AR X     Preponderance Xa       X Religious exemption  
AZ   X   Probable cause, reasonable X            
CA X     Credible   X   X   False report or accident  
CO X     Preponderance X            
CT X     Reasonable cause X            
DC Xb     Credible Xb            
DE X     Preponderance X     X      
FL   X   Preponderance   X   X      
GA X     Preponderance X            
HI X       X     X      
IA Xc     Preponderance X            
ID X     Preponderance X            
IL X     Credible   X       Temporary undetermined  
IN X     Credible   X          
KS X     Reasonable   X       Validated perpetrator  
KY Xd     Preponderance   X       Failure to locate, families in need of services  
LA Xe     Reasonable Xf       X   X
MA X     Reasonable   X          
MD X     Preponderance   X          
ME X     Preponderance X            
MI                     X
MN X       X           X
MO X     Probable cause X X     X   X
MS X     Credible X            
MT X     Preponderance   X     X Insufficient information to investigate, perpetrator not responsible for child and child death  
NC X     Preponderance X            
ND                     X
NE Xg     Preponderance   X     X    
NH X     Preponderance   X     X   X
NJ   X       Xh   X      
NM X     Credible   X       At risk  
NV       Reasonable   X     X   X
NY X     Credible   X          
OH   X       X   X   Failure to locate  
OK   X   Credible           Reasonable parental discipline X
OR X     Reasonable   X   X      
PA X     Clear and convincing and beyond reasonable doubti   X   X      
RI X     Preponderance              
SC X     Preponderance X X     X    
SD X       X           X
TN X     Material evidence     X        
TX X     Preponderance   X     X    
UT X     Reasonable   X     X    
VA Xj     Preponderance   X          
VT X     Reasonable     X        
WA X       X       X    
WI Xk X   Preponderance X       X    
WV   X       X          
WY X     Credible X X          
a Language allows for “reasonable injuries from moderate physical discipline.”
b Two categories, Substantiated & Supported: Defined in statute as a report made by a mandated reporter.
c Two substantiated categories based on whether or not placed in Central Registry.
d Two substantiated categories based on when CAN not originally reported is founded substantiated.
e Four categories based on validation: Valid, Valid and No substance abuse, Valid and Services completed, Valid with substance abuse.
f Language allows for cases with minor injury as a result of corporal punishment.
g Two categories based on court involvement.
h Language allows for accident or action of parent being “necessary and reasonable.”
i Legal standard distinguishes juvenile court and criminal court.
j Three categories based on severity of harm.
k Two categories: Substantiated and Substantiated, Mutual Sexual Activity.

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Table 4–C:
Purpose of Investigation (n=51)
State Protect Child Assess or Remediate Risk Assess or Remediate Safety Determine Disposition Determine Services Maintain Family Other
AK Yes            
AL   Yes Yes Yes Yes    
AR Yes Yes Yes   Yes Yes  
AZ   Yes Yes Yes Yes   Strengths
CA Yes            
CO   Yes Yes   Yes    
CT     Yes Yes      
DC       Yes Yes    
DE Yes   Yes   Yes    
FL   Yes Yes   Yes   Determine responsibility, determine court action
GA Yes Yes Yes Yes      
HI       Yes      
IA Yes            
ID   Yes Yes   Yes    
IL Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes    
IN Yes            
KS Yes     Yes      
KY Yes Yes Yes Yes      
LA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes    
MA Yes Yes   Yes      
MD   Yes Yes Yes Yes    
ME     Yes Yes Yes    
MI   Yes Yes Yes      
MN       Yes      
MO   Yes          
MS Yes       Yes Yes  
MT   Yes          
NC     Yes Yes Yes    
ND   Yes Yes        
NE       Yes Yes    
NH     Yes   Yes    
NJ   Yes Yes Yes Yes    
NM Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes    
NV   Yes Yes Yes      
NY   Yes Yes        
OH       Yes      
OK Yes Yes Yes   Yes    
OR     Yes        
PA Yes Yes Yes   Yes Yes  
RI       Yes      
SC   Yes Yes Yes Yes    
SD   Yes   Yes Yes    
TN Yes Yes Yes Yes      
TX Yes     Yes Yes    
UT       Yes      
VA   Yes Yes Yes Yes    
VT   Yes Yes Yes Yes    
WA   Yes   Yes Yes    
WI Yes Yes Yes   Yes Yes Introduce agency as provider of help
WV   Yes Yes     Yes Explain community concern and agency’s purpose
WY       Yes     Intervention to stop abuse

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Table 4–D:
Joint Investigation Authority as Explicitly Defined in Statute, Policy and Protocol Features (n=51)1
State Agency
1
Circumstances
1
Contract, Policy or Protocol Circumstances
2
Contract, Policy or Protocol Agency
2
Circumstances
1
Contract, Policy or Protocol Circumstances
2
Contract, Policy or Protocol
AK Law enforcement Sexual or severe Abuse Protocol, policy, cooperative agreement Emergency removals Policy          
AL Law enforcement Varies Policy, cooperative agreement, statute Emergency removals Policy          
AR State Police Solely conducts all priority 1 investigations. Contract policy, statute Emergency removals Policy          
AZ Law enforcement Criminal investigations of child abuse. Sexual or severe abuse. Protocol policy, statute Emergency removals Policy Tribal government When tribe has no social service program or at request of tribal social services. Policy, cooperative agreement, statute Emergency removals Policy, statute, cooperative agreement
CA Law enforcement Emergency removals Protocol, policy              
CO Law enforcement All reports of abuse or neglect Protocol, cooperative agreement, statute   Policy Delegated agencies All reports of abuse or neglect Statute    
CT Law enforcement Severe neglect and death of a child. Sexual or severe abuse. Policy, statute Emergency situations Policy Department of Public Health Abuse or neglect in licensed daycare settings Cooperative agreement    
DC Law enforcement Joint on sexual or severe abuse cases. Policy, cooperative agreement              
DE Law enforcement & Department of Justice Sexual or severe abuse or neglect, or when severe domestic violence Policy, cooperative agreement, statute Emergency removals Policy, cooperative agreement, statute Department of Education, Division of Public Health, Department of Corrections, public school districts, child advocacy centers Does not conduct joint investigations by has an agreement on how to cooperate with department. Cooperative agreement.    
FL Law enforcement Only in counties where investigation has been delegated to local law enforcement Policy.              
GA Law enforcement Emergency removals Policy All reports are referred but law enforcement does not choose to go out on most. Policy Team including medical personnel Medical concerns (e.g., Factitious Disorder (FDP), Munchausen Syndrome (MBP) investigations) Statute    
HI Law enforcement Emergency removals Policy, cooperative agreement, statute              
IA Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Protocol, policy Emergency removals Protocol, policy          
ID Law enforcement Sexual or severe Abuse Protocol, policy Emergency removals Policy Prosecuting attorney Sexual or severe abuse Protocol    
IL Law enforcement Serious physical or sexual abuse or other action Statute, Protocol, Policy              
IN Law enforcement Sexual and child fatalities, severe abuse Protocol, policy, cooperative agreement, statute Emergency removals Policy          
KS Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Policy, statute Emergency removals Policy KS Dept. of Health and Environment licensed childcare facilities When there is a concern for health or safety in a regulated facility Protocol, policy, statute    
KY Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Policy, statute     Office of Inspector General, Division of Licensed Child Care When a licensed childcare facility is involved Standards of Practice    
LA Law enforcementa Sexual or severe abuse Policy, cooperative agreement Emergency removals Policy          
MA Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Policy, cooperative agreement, statue Emergency removals Policy Office of Child Care Services, Dept. of Mental Health, District Attorney No mandates; depends on case Policy, cooperative agreement, statute    
MD Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Policy, cooperative agreement Emergency removals Policy Childcare administration Report concerning a childcare facility Policy, cooperative agreement    
ME Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse. Any time a crime may have been committed. Policy, cooperative agreement Emergency removals Policy          
MI Law enforcement Sexual or severe Abuse Protocol, policy, statute              
MN Law enforcement Sexual, severe, or malicious punishment or imminent danger Policy, protocol, statute Emergency removals Policy          
MO Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse, severe neglect Policy, protocol, statute Emergency removals Policy          
MS Required to notify law enforcement, but joint investigation not required.   Statute Emergency removals. Policy          
MT Law enforcement Emergency removals Policy              
NC Law enforcement If a juvenile has been abused. Protocolb , policy, statute Emergency removals Policy NC Division of Child Development CAN in childcare facilities, including residential facilities operated by DHHS Policy, statute    
ND Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Policy, statute Emergency removals Policy          
NE Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse or foster care. Policy, statute Emergency removals Policy Licensing authority Child abuse or neglect in out-of-home care Protocol, policy    
NH Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse, abandonment. Policy, statute, protocol Emergency removals Policy          
NJ Law enforcement Worker safety, child death, violence occurring or threatened. Policy, statute Emergency removals Policy          
NMc Law enforcement Emergency removals Policy              
NV Law enforcement Abandonment or if parents refuse medical care for child, torture or risk of parent fleeing with child. Policy Emergency removals Policy          
NY Law enforcement Emergency removals Policy Sexual or severe abuse Policy Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children When referred by local agency Policy    
OH Law enforcement Emergency removals Policy              
OKd Law enforcement Sexual or severe Abuse Protocol, policy, statute, local agreement Emergency removals Policy          
OR Law enforcement Emergency removal Policy, statute              
PA Law enforcement Emergency removals Policy              
RI Law enforcement     Emergency removals Policy          
SC Law enforcement Violation of criminal law or sexual abuse, severe abuse Protocol, policy, cooperative agreement, statute Emergency removals Policy          
SD Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Policy              
TN Child Protection Investigation Team Sexual or severe abuse Policy, protocol, statute Emergency removals Policy Licensing agency Any referral involving a licensed childcare facility Protocol, policy, cooperative agreement    
TX Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Policy, statute Emergency removals Policy          
UT Law enforcement Safety concerns, serious abuse, and criminal activity Policy, statute Emergency removals Policy, statute Contract agency for conflict of interest For conflicts of interest (e.g., staff, foster parent) Policy, statute    
VA Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse, injury as a result of felony or Class 1 misdemeanor Policy, statute Emergency removals Policy Local attorney for the Common-wealth Sexual or severe abuse Statute    
VT Law enforcement Sexual, severe abuse, criminal neglect, dangerous situations Policy, protocol Emergency removals Policy          
WA Law enforcement Sexual abuse or any case at the discretion of law enforcement. Protocole , statute Emergency removals Policy          
WI Law enforcement Sexual abuse Protocol, policy, statute, cooperative agreement Emergency removals Policy Tribal societies Not specified Protocol, policy, cooperative agreement, statute    
WV Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Policy, statute Emergency removals; all investigations of CAN Policy Prosecuting attorney All investigations of CAN Statute    
WY Law enforcement Sexual or severe abuse Protocol, policy Emergency removals Policy          
1 Portions of these data have been supplemented with preliminary data from an ongoing American Humane Association project, “Law Enforcement, Child Protection Agencies and Hybrids,” funded by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. The final report for this project is anticipated October 2002.
a Each parish has its own agreement on the protocol with law enforcement.
b For CAN in daycare centers.
c Coordination is required for investigations on military bases and on reservations.
d Oklahoma has a third circumstance: "when there is an allegation of methamphetamine lab or other substance abuse."
e Washington statute mandates that local prosecutors must develop a protocol with CPS and local law enforcement on how they will handle sexual abuse cases.

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Table 4-E:
Priority Standards for Beginning an Investigation (n=51)
State Are priority Standards for Starting an Investigation Described in Policy? Priority Standards
AK Yes Priority 1 -24 hours; Priority 2 -72 hours; Priority 3-7 days
AL Yes High risk protocol used
AR Yes Priority 1 - 24 hours; Priority 2 - 72 hours
AZ Yes High, moderate, low, and potential risk
CA No
CO Yes High, medium, or low risk
CT Yes Failure to respond immediately could result in death or serious injury - 2 hours; School report - same day; Nonlife threatening situation, serious enough to warrant same day response - 24 hours; Nonlife threatening situation, indicates need for timely response - 72 hours
DC Yes Based on immediate protection needs, current risk, physical evidence, and intake information-- Priority 1, Priority 2, or Priority 3 category is assigned
DE Yes Children at high risk - 24 hours; children at risk - 10 days
FL Yes Immediate on site or within 24 hours
GA Yes Serious or high-risk reports must be responded to within 24 hours (specific types listed in policy). All others must be responded to within 5 working days.
HI Yes Immediate response for children in police protective custody or in hospital; all other responses - within 1 week, but preferably within 72 hours.
IA No
ID Yes Priority 1 - immediate danger; Priority 2 - not immediate danger but allegations of CAN are clearly defined in referral; Priority 3 - without parental care but not in immediate danger
IL No
IN Yes Immediate to 5 days, depending on seriousness of allegation
KS Yes Same day - when there is reason to believe a child has been seriously injured or is in immediate serious danger; 72 hours - all other allegations
KY Yes 1) Imminent danger; (2) sexual abuse; (3) nonimminent danger - physical; (4) nonimminent danger - physical; (5) neglect; (6) risk of physical or sexual abuse.
LA Yes Emergency - first face-to-face contact within 24 hours; High priority - face-to-face contact within 3 days; nonemergency - first face-to-face contact within 5 days
MA Yes Emergency; nonemergency
MD Yes Children in imminent danger - investigation must begin within 30 minutes.
ME Yes Same day - emergency reports; "must assign" cases - within 3 days; all reports - within 7 days
MI Yes Immediate response - physical injuries requiring medical care, chronic severe mental injury, caretaker demonstrates instability; 24-hr. response - child under 6 and is at risk of harm; 72 hrs. - no observable conditions
MN Yes Immediate - imminent danger, infant medical neglect; 1 working day to 72 hours - nonimminent danger
MO Yes Immediate - emergency situations; 24 hours - nonemergency situations; 72 hours - only allegation is educational neglect
MS Yes Felony under State or federal law - immediately; all others - within 24 hours
MT Yes 1st priority - immediate danger to child; 2nd - all others
NC Yes High risk - immediate response - physical abuse of child under 3, child under 6 left alone, sexual abuse, tormenting or torture, life-threatening situation, child under 12 is self-referred or refuses to go home
ND Yes Level A - sexual abuse, severe physical punishment; Level B - physical abuse, severe neglect; Level C - neglect, psychological maltreatment
NE Yes Families with children identified as harmed by maltreatment or who are at serious risk; families with children who are dependent.
NH Yes High risk - within 24 hours; moderate risk - 48 hours; low risk - 72 hours
NJ  
NM Yes Emergency, Priority 1, Priority 2
NV Yes High priority - emergency response; intermediate priority - same day; low priority - within 3 days
NY No
OH Yes Emergency - within 1 hour; all others - within 24 hours
OK Yes Priority 1 - no later than 24 hours; Priority 2 - within 48 hours to 15 days; Priority 3 - within 15 days to 30 days
OR Yes Cases of younger and vulnerable (i.e. disabled) children or children with serious injuries including sexual maltreatment are priority response, as well as neglect cases that result in serious injury.
PA Yes Within 24 hours unless immediate response is required for safety reasons.
RI Yes Emergency response - imminent danger; immediate response - risk factors present, not in imminent danger; routine response - minimal risk of harm
SC Yes Emergency or high risk - within 2 hours; nonemergency or medium risk - within 24 hours
SD Yes Describes situations requiring immediate response.
TN Yes Priority 1 - same day; Priority 2 - next day; Priority 3 - 5 working days
TX Yes Priority 1 - within 24 hours; Priority 2 - within 10 days
UT Yes Priority 1 - 1 hour; Priority 2 - within 24 hours; Priority 3 - 3 working days
VA No Regulation requires immediate response.
VT No
WA Yes Six risk levels (0 = no risk, 5 = high risk). Risk based on severity of allegations, risk factor information.
WI Yes Priority given to children who are not or might not be safe or at high risk.
WV Yes Depending on severity, 0 to 2 hours; within 72 hours; or within 14 days
WY Yes Immediate response depending on severity of allegation and age of child; all responses must begin within 24 hours.

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Table 4-F:
Priority Standards and Requirements for Investigation (n=51)
State Is There a Requirement to Investigate?
All Children in Family, Home Only Subject of Allegation Other
AK Yes    
AL Yes    
AR Yes    
AZ Yes    
CA     Yes
CO Yes    
CT Yes    
DC Yes    
DE Yes   Yes
FL Yes    
GA Yes    
HI Yes    
IA Yes    
ID     Yes
IL Yes   Yes
IN Yes    
KS Yes    
KY Yes   Yes
LA Yes   Yes
MA Yes    
MD Yes   Yes
ME Yes    
MI Yes    
MN Yes    
MO Yes    
MS Yes    
MT   Yes  
NC Yes    
ND Yes    
NE Yes    
NH Yes   Yes
NJ Yes    
NM Yes    
NV Yes    
NY Yes    
OH Yes    
OK Yes    
OR Yes    
PA Yes    
RI Yes    
SC Yes    
SD Yes    
TN Yes   Yes
TX Yes    
UT Yes    
VA Yes    
VT Yes    
WA     Yes
WI Yes    
WV Yes    
WY Yes    

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Table 4-G:
Risk Assessments (n=51)
State Is Risk Assessment Required During Investigation? At What Other Points is Risk Assessment Required?
Before Investigation (all reports) Before Investigation (screened in) After Disposition (substantiated) After Disposition (all reports) Other
AK No          
AL Yes X X   X  
AR Yes   X X   X
AZ Yes       X X
CA            
CO Yes       X X
CT Yes       X X
DC Yes         X
DE Yes          
FL Yes         X
GA No     X   X
HI Yes X X X    
IA Yes       X  
ID Yes   X     X
IL Yes         X
IN Yes     X   X
KS Yes   X      
KY Yes   X      
LA Yes         X
MA Yes         X
MD Yes       X  
ME No          
MI No     X   X
MN Yes     X    
MO Yes       X  
MS Yes       X  
MT No          
NC Yes     X   X
ND Yes          
NE No          
NH Yes X     X  
NJ Yes       X  
NM Yes         X
NV Yes   X   X  
NY Yes     X   X
OH Yes         X
OK Yes          
OR Yes          
PA Yes X     X X
RI Yes       Xa  
SC Yes X   X X  
SD Yes     X    
TN Yes         X
TX Yes          
UT Yes       X  
VA Yes     X    
VT Yes     X    
WA No       X  
WI Yes       X  
WV No X   X X X
WY Yes   X X   X
a Including unfounded reports

Table 4-H:
Safety Assessments (n=51)
State Is Safety Assessment Required During Investigation? At What Other Points is Safety Assessment Required?
Before Investigation (all reports) Before Investigation (screened in) After Disposition (substantiated) After Disposition (all reports) Other
AK Yes          
AL Yes   X   X  
AR Yes   X      
AZ Yes       X  
CA            
CO Yes       X X
CT No          
DC Yes         X
DE Yes         X
FL Yes          
GA Yes         X
HI Yes   X Xa    
IA Yes   X     X
ID Yes X        
IL Yes       X X
IN Yes         X
KS Yes         X
KY Yes   X   X  
LA Yes         X
MA No          
MD Yes       X X
ME Yes   X     X
MI Yes         X
MN No          
MO Yes          
MS Yes       X X
MT No          
NC Yes     X   X
ND Yes          
NE Yes          
NH Yes X     X  
NJ            
NM Yes         X
NV Yes          
NY Yes         X
OH No         X
OK Yes          
OR Yes     X    
PA Yes X     X X
RI Yes         X
SC Yes X X X X X
SD            
TN No          
TX Yes          
UT Yes         X
VA Yes   X      
VT Yes          
WA Yes          
WI Yes X     X  
WV Yes X   X X X
WY Yes   X     X
a Confirmed and unconfirmed reports.

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Table 4-I:
Other Standardized Assessment Requirements (N=24)
State Assessment Requirements
AK Assessment of protective capacities, needs, and future risk of abuse and neglect at close of investigation for all substantiated cases.
AL Checklist for setting priorities at intake and investigative standards
AR Health and Safety Checklist
AZ Family assessment to identify family strengths, risk factors, acceptable outcomes or objectives related to each risk factor and additional considerations or concerns.
CO Needs assessment (North Carolina Family Assessment Scale-NCFAS)
CT Domestic violence assessment, substance abuse screening
DE Substance Abuse Evaluation
GA Multidisciplinary team assessments required when: death of child with current or prior CPS or placement history, serious injury to child in a family with current or prior CPS or placement services history, and CPS investigations in home approved for placement of children in legal custody of DCFS.
HI Comprehensive family assessment-case management used to assess problem behavior, social functioning, emotional patterns, education, cognition, life situations, history, family relationships, and interaction.
IA Family assessment, needs and strengths
ID Family assessment
IL Family Assessment Factor worksheet
KY Continuous Quality Assessment
MI Family assessment, needs and strengths
MS Safety checklist for children ages 0 to 5
NC Family assessment, needs and strengths
NJ Medical evaluations for serious physical harm and sexual abuse
NM Family assessment, needs and strengths
OK Strengths and needs assessment on voluntary services cases
RI Needs assessment-case planning, evaluation of what services are needed by the children and their families within a specific geographical area or within a given population.
SC Family assessment
SD Intake form, risk assessment material, determination of need for protection, investigative narrative, referral process, case plan in process
UT Medical examination
WA Drug and alcohol assessment, limited English proficiency assessment, child's ethnicity-for tribal affiliation. Staffing by a multidisciplinary team when a child under 6 is removed, or if there is serious disagreement between CPS and medical professionals.

Table 4-J:
Investigation Contact Requirements (n=49)
State Child Family Collateral Alleged Witnesses Other
AK Yes Yes Yes      
AL Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes At least one professional source
AR Yes Yes   Yes Yes Teachers and neighbors
AZ Yes Yes       Any other person with knowledge
CA Yes Yes Yes     At least one adult, persons with knowledge of child and caretaker.
CO   Yes   Yes  
CT           Any other person with knowledge
DC   Yes        
DE Yes Yes Yes      
FL Yes Yes   Yes    
GA   Yes Yes      
HI Yes          
IA Yes Yes Yes Yes    
ID Yes Yes Yes      
IL Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Reporter, relevant professionals, extended family.
IN Yes Yes   Yes Yes Professionals
KS Yes Yes   Yes    
KY Yes Yes Yes Yes    
LA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Reporter
MA Yes Yes Yes Yes   Mandated reporter
MD Yes Yes   Yes   Obtain records from appropriate department staff, closed records, schools, health facility, other public or private agencies, medical examiner.
ME Yes Yes Yes Yes   Case members
MI Yes Yes   Yes   Child's physician
MN Yes Yes   Yes   Any other person with knowledge
MO Yes Yes Yes Yes    
MS Yes   Yes Yes    
MT Yes Yes        
NC Yes Yes Yes Yes    
ND Yes Yes Yes Yes    
NE Yes Yes Yes      
NH   Yes       Reporter
NJ   Yes      
NM Yes Yes Yes     Exams and evaluations where appropriate
NV Yes Yes Yes     Reporter if appropriate
OH Yes Yes   Yes    
OK Yes Yes Yes Yes   Professional consultants if appropriate
OR   Yes Yes    
PA Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Any other person with knowledge
RI Yes Yes        
SC Yes Yes Yes Yes    
SD Yes          
TX Yes Yes Yes Yes    
UT Yes Yes        
VA Yes Yes Yes Yes    
VT Yes Yes Yes     Reporter
WA Yes          
WI Yes Yes   Yes    
WV Yes Yes Yes   Yes Any other person with knowledge
WY Yes Yes   Yes   *Subjects of the referral.*

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Table 4-K:
Timeframe for Completing Investigation (n=47)
State 0-2 Weeks 2-4 Weeks More Than 4 Weeks
AL     Yes
AR   Yes  
AZ   Yes  
CO   Yes  
CT   Yes  
DC   Yes  
DE   Yesa Yesa
FL     Yes
GA   Yes  
HI     Yes
IA   Yes  
ID Yes    
IL     Yes
IN     Yes
KS   Yesb Yesb
KY   Yes  
LA Yesd Yesc Yesd
MA Yes    
MD     Yesd
ME   Yes  
MI   Yes  
MN     Yes
MO   Yese Yesf
MS Yes    
MT     Yes
NC   Yes  
ND   Yes  
NH     Yes
NJ     Yes
NM   Yes  
NY     Yes
OH   Yes  
OK   Yes  
OR   Yes  
PA     Yes
RI Yes    
SC     Yes
SD   Yesg Yesh
TN     Yes
TX   Yes  
UT   Yes  
VA    

Yes

VT   Yes  
WA     Yes
WI     Yes
WV   Yes  
WY     Yes
a Urgent cases must be completed within 20 days; routine cases within 45 days.
b A Family Based Assessment must be completed within 30 days of child entering custody, or within 45 working days of date case was accepted, whichever is first.
c Policy requires that Foster Home investigations be completed within 30 days. All other investigations must be completed within 60 days. A determination of disposition must be completed within 30 days.
d 10 days for preliminary report and 60 days for completion of report.
e For completing investigation
f For reaching disposition
g For investigation
h For assessment

Table 4-L:
Results of Investigation (n=51)
State Referral to Services (substantiated cases only) Referral to Services (any case) Case Closure Services Provided As Voluntary Case Referral to Other CPS Response Track Other
AK   Yes        
AL   Yes Yes     Community services, multidisciplinary teams provide services
AR   Yes Yes Yes    
AZ   Yes Yes Yes    
CA     Yes      
CO   Yes Yes Yes   Referral to services if court involvement
CT Yes   Yes Yesa    
DC Yes   Yes     Case closure with referrals to community resources including collaboratives
DE   Yes Yes Yes   Contracted services
FL   Yes Yes Yes    
GA Yes   Yes Yes Yes  
HI Yes   Yes Yes Yes Other agency
IA   Yes Yes Yes   Recommendation for criminal prosecution; recommended for juvenile court action
ID   Yes Yes   Yes  
IL   Yes Yes Yes   Referral to community services
IN   Yes Yes Yes    
KS   Yes Yes Yes    
KY   Yes Yes Yes Yes Aftercare plan
LA   Yes Yes Yes   Direct referral to services if worker observes or suspects CAN. Invalid cases may be referred to Family Services.
MA Yes   Yes Yes   Other agency, State or community
MD   Yes Yes Yes    
ME     Yes Yes Yesb  
MI Yes   Yes Yes   Community-based services
MN   Yes Yes Yes    
MO   Yes Yes Yesc Yes  
MS   Yes Yes      
MT     Yes Yes   If court-ordered
NC   Yes Yes Yes    
ND   Yes Yes Yes    
NE   Yes Yes Yes    
NH   Yes Yes Yes    
NJ   Yes Yes Yes    
NM   Yes Yes Yes   Family preservation services
NV Yes   Yes Yes Yes  
NY   Yes Yes Yes    
OH   Yes Yes Yes   Other agency
OK   Yes Yes Yes    
OR   Yes   Yes   Preventive services available if resources permit
PA   Yes Yes Yes Yes Close case with referral to community care
RI Yesd   Yese Yes   Outside agency and DCYF services for indicated cases
SC Yes   Yes      
SD Yes   Yes   Yes  
TN   Yes Yes      
TX   Yesf Yes      
UT   Yes Yes Yes Yes Outside agency
VA   Yes Yes Yes   Outside agency
VT Yes   Yes     Other agency
WA   Yes Yes Yes    
WI   Yes Yes Yes Yes  
WV   Yes Yes Yes Yes  
WY   Yes Yes Yes Yes Other community resources for unsubstantiated
a Behavioral health services if there is a child behavioral health issue
b Community intervention contract agencies
c Preventive services indicated
d Indicated cases only
e Indicated or unfounded cases
f Must be a "risk indicated" finding

[Go To Contents]

Table 4-M:
Responsibility for Disposition Decision (n=51)
State Worker Decides Supervisor Only Worker Decides and Supervisor Approves Worker and Supervisor Decide Together Other Which Cases?
AK     Yes     All
AL     Yes     All
AR     Yes Yes    
AZ     Yes     All
CA     Yes      
CO            
CT       Yes   All
DC     Yes     All
DE       Yes   All
FL     Yes     All
GA     Yes     All
HI     Yes     All
IA     Yes     All
ID     Yes     All
IL     Yes   Field Manager (some) All
IN     Yes     All
KS       Yes   All
KY     Yesa Yesb   Worker and supervisor decide together on majority of cases
LA       Yes   All
MA       Yes   All
MD     Yes     All
ME       Yes   All
MI     Yes     All
MN            
MO     Yes     All
MS     Yes     All
MT       Yes   All
NC       Yes    
ND         State, Countyc  
NE     Yes     All
NH     Yes     All
NJ       Yes    
NM     Yes     All
NV     Yes     All
NY     Yes     All
OH     Yesd      
OK     Yes     All
OR     Yes   Law enforcement where appropriate; supervisor where cases of danger to worker, removals, return to home, unclear disposition, court action, case closure. All
PA     Yese Yes   Depends on obviousness of case
RI       Yes   All
SC       Yes   All
SD     Yes     All completed investigations
TN   Yes        
TX     Yes     All
UT     Yes      
VA     Yes     All
VT     Yes     All
WA     Yes     All
WI     Yes      
WV       Yes   All
WY     Yes     All
a Rare
b Majority
c State has final responsibility
d Ohio Administrative Code rules do not specify the individuals responsible for making the disposition decision. Case practice is for the supervisor to review and approve the disposition made by the worker.

Table 4–N:
Who Must be Notified of Disposition Decision (n=49)
State Law Enforcement Family Perpetrator Reporter Mandated Reporter Central Registry Other
AK   Yes     Yes   Tribal worker; if abused alleged in a licensed facility, facility must be notified.
AL Yes Yes Yes       Legal parent if they reported.
AR Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  
AZ   Yes Yes     Yesa  
CO           Yes Division of Child Care
CT Yesb Yes Yes   Yes Yes State attorney, bureau chief of Child Welfare Services, childcare facilities or school superintendents as appropriate
DC     Yes        
DE Yesc   Yes     Yesd  
FL   Yes Yes Yes      
GA   Yes         Protective Services Data System
HI   Yes Yes Yes   Yes  
IA   Yes Yes   Yes Yes Juvenile court (founded names), county attorney
ID   Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  
IL   Yes Yes   Yes Yes Department of Professional Regulation and school superintendents if applicable; department licensing staff; a DCFS caseworker if involves foster parent or relative home placement; employers, if child-related field; GAL; school, if child is school age.
IN Yes Yes   Yese   Yes  
KS   Yes Yes     Yesf  
KY   Yes Yes       Office of Inspector General, depending on type of investigation
LA   Yes Yes     Yes Protective services alerts for fleeing perpetrator. District Attorney on all valid findings.
MA   Yes Yes   Yes Yes  
MD Yes Yes Yes        
ME   Yes Yes     Yes  
MI     Yes Yes Yes Yes Prosecuting attorney in serious cases
MN   Yes Yes Yes Yes   Upon request voluntary reporters and mandated reporters, but the agency can refuse to provide if determines detrimental to best interest of child. In facility investigations, facility is notified.
MO   Yes Yes   Yes Yes School liaison
MS Yes   Yesg     Yes District attorney, youth court judge, mandated reporters if requested
MT     Yes        
NC Yes Yes Yes Yes   Yes  
ND     Yes     Yes  
NE Yes   Yes     Yes  
NH Yesh Yes   Yes     Involved professionals
NJ   Yes Yes Yes   Yes State Central Registry must be notified.
NM Yes Yes       Yes Regulatory agencies and others who have a right to know the results
NY   Yes Yes   Yes Yes  
OH Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  
OK Yesi Yes Yes       District attorney
OR   Yes Yes Yes      
PA Yes Yes Yes   Yes Yesj Notice given subjects of report
RI Yes Yes Yes   Yes Yes  
SC   Yes Yes   Yes   FF, FS Staff
SD Yesk Yes Yes     Yesl FBI for cases involving Indian child on reservation only for cases where there is criminal action.
TN             Juvenile court for all cases; district attorney for indicated severe abuse cases.
TX   Yes Yes Yes   Yes  
UT     Yes        
VA   Yes Yes Yes   Yes  
VT   Yes Yes Yes   Yes State Attorney (in cases of sexual abuse and severe physical abuse), parents of young perpetrators, residential and childcare licensing unit (if the perpetrator resides or receives services in a facility servicing children)              .
WA     Yes        
WI Yes Yes Yes Yes     Tribal child welfare staff
WV   Yes          
WY   Yes Yes   Yes Yes  
a After appeal process for substantiated cases
b Those meeting criteria for joint investigation only
c Those meeting criteria for joint investigation only
d Perpetrator's named can only be placed on Central Registry after appeal process completed. If a criminal charge results, perpetrator's name will appear on Delaware Criminal Justice Information System.
e When associated with medical or educational personnel.
f If they have been validated and gone through due process
g When evidence is found
h Those meeting criteria for joint investigation only
i If jointly investigated
j Only if it is a CPS case, not if GPS.
k Only cases where there is criminal action
l Only for substantiated cases

[Go To Contents]

Table 4-O:
Central Registry Features (n=51)
State Central Registry Required Reports Included Uses for Information Expungement Rules Due Process and Notificationa
AK No-only the client database which includes information All investigation reports but not reports of harm. Internal administrative, information sharing    
AL Yes All reports -excluding cases with no CAN, but case is opened. Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure In cases "not indicated," after 5 years if no subsequent reports. Alleged perpetrator must request. Appeal made to Attorney General's office. Alleged perpetrators working with children are entitled to court hearing, those not working with children entitled to administrative review (through the department). County department and perpetrator notified of expungement. Confidentiality provisions for unsubstantiated cases. State notifies alleged perpetrator.
AR Yes All investigated reports and any record of screened out reports. Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure Unsubstantiated shall be expunged "promptly." Department may keep information on unsubstantiated reports for risk assessment but may not disclose except as specified by law. "True"reports shall be maintained. Appeal is available, source not specified. Department must notify reporter of whether or not an investigation has been conducted and services offered within 10 days.
AZ Yes Substantiated reports after the appeal process. Internal administrative, information sharing, adoption certificate and licensure, report CAN trends, assure compliance with statutory requirements. Substantiated reports are maintained in registry for 25 years from date of report. Appeal made to Office of Administrative Hearings. Other provisions: internal review by Protective Services Review Team.
CA Yes All reports except unfounded Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure For inconclusive or unsubstantiated reports after 10 years with no subsequent report or victim over age 18 may request name be removed. Notify reporter of disposition.
Upon request will notify an individual of their registry status.
CO Yes Confirmed reports Background checks for school and childcare employees; criminal background checks by law enforcement. Sealed 10 years after child's 18th birthday. Director of registry may seal or expunge for good cause and with written notification to subject of report. Minor reports must be expunged after 6 months unless there is a Dependency and Neglect or criminal filing. Subject notified of placement on registry, right to appeal, and expungement. If the subject is acquitted but not expunged, the Central Registry must notify the subject and also of right to appeal. Policy states that appeals are made to the Central Registry Director. Per statute, subject has right to a fair hearing before an administrative law judge. County may object to acquittals. Department has burden of proof.
CT Yes Confirmed reports Internal administrative; background checks for school and childcare employees, foster and adoptive parents and residential childcare facility staff; criminal background checks by law enforcement; inquiries from professionals, i.e. judges, physicians, under specific circumstances. After child's 18th birthday records are sealed, then expunged after 7 years. Reporter notified of status of investigation. Appeals are made to Regional Administrator or the Director of the hotline. If subject desires, he or she may appeal to administrative hearing process of the State and then to courts.
DC Yes Substantiated, unsubstantiated maintained separately without perpetrator identification. All reports are entered; only "supported" reports will remain in registry. Internal administrative, information sharing, background checks 18th birthday of child if no suspicion or evidence that younger sibling being abused, or 5 years after end of services whichever is first. Appeal made to Child and Family Service Agency Office of Fair Hearings.
DE Yes Substantiated reports; does not include dependency cases. Internal administrative, health care and childcare, employment and licensure Unsubstantiated reports may be kept by Division at its discretion by statute. No indication in policy. Appeal made to Division Director. Subject notified of finding, right to a fair hearing prior to placing name on registry.
FL No-refers to hotline which keeps reports for 7 years or youngest child is age 18. All reports Internal administrative, employment and licensure Until 7 years after last entry to record or child turns 18. Unfounded and No Findings cases may be expunged if requested but must consider child's safety and likelihood of returning to system By request of subject of report or child's parent. No open cases can be expunged. Appeal not available for alleged perpetrator-a child's due process.
GA No - Ruled unconstitutional and replaced by Protective Services Data System (PSDT).   Internal administrative PSDT recording cancelled if review determines allegation should be unsubstantiated. May request either panel review or administrative review but not both. Neither will be scheduled if decision on allegations made or pending in juvenile or superior court -court is recourse.
HI Yes All reports Internal and administrative, employment and licensure, background checks for volunteers. Statute directs Department to establish rules for disclosure of information. None found in policy. If petition dismissed by court or unsubstantiated shall be expunged within in 3 years. Ruled out, frivolous or bad faith allegations must be expunged within 60 days. Appeal made to Department of Human Services. Appeal must be made within 90 days from which client is notified.
IA Yes Founded on registry. Assessment data shall not be placed on registry. Department may develop rules for maintenance of data not placed on registry. Internal administrative, information sharing,
Employment and licensure, information provision for subject
For founded cases data is sealed 10 years after last reported incident unless good cause is shown. Sealed data is expunged after 8 years unless case involves abuse, then kept for 30 years. Lack of preponderance that abuse has occurred. Appeal made to DHS Appeals Section. Other provisions: record check, evaluation and court review, and registry review (informal process). Subject may file written Statement within 6 months of notification to request correction of data or findings. Department provides evidentiary hearing. Subject may appeal finding of hearing in district court.
ID Yes Substantiated reports Employment and licensure Report is expunged no less than 5 years after Department has closed the case. As of 3/02, when a person has successfully appealed. Appeal made to Division administrator of Family and Community Services and regional program manager review appeals. Other provisions: Division Administrator works with Regional Program Manager for review.
IL Yes Indicated and unfounded under certain conditions (if requested to track false reporting, serious physical abuse, sexual abuse or child death). Background checks for people who work with children as professionals or volunteers. Unfounded expunged "forthwith" but information may be made available to CPS units when investigating a subsequent report or to subject of report if requested within 60 days. If subject requests removal within 60 days and department refuses or does not act within 30 days, subject has right to hearing. Hearing conducted by Director or his designee. Department has burden of proof. Appeals are made to an appeals unit.
IN Yes Substantiated; "informal adjustment" made after 180 days if family fails to comply with services. Internal administrative, information sharing,
Employment and licensure
Expunged within 10 days if hearing officer finds it to be unsubstantiated, if court determines no CAN, criminal charges dismissed or result in not guilty verdict, No later than 6 months after name entered for failure to participate in a services agreement, not later than 20 years after court determines child in need of services or when victim reaches age 24. Expunged immediately for administrative or clerical error; 20 years or until victim reaches 24 years of age (if court adjudicated), or 180 days for unsubstantiated cases. Administrative hearing may be requested within 30 days after notified of substantiated. Conducted by Administrative hearing officer. Department has burden of proof.
Appeal made to Judicial Court.
KS Yes Validated reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure After 3 years from most recent incident or if new information found or circumstances change. Appeals made to Secretary.
KY Yes Not specified- in process of changing criteria. Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure   Appeals made to Office of Performance Enhancement, Quality Initiatives Branch. Other provisions: CAPTA, local resolution hearings, service complaints.
LA Yes Valid Reports Internal administrative, Information sharing, employment and licensure,b report CAN trends If unable to locate client or client is uncooperative, report is expunged after 3 years. Justified maintained until child is 18 or 5 years have passed since findings, whichever is longer. Fatality investigations with a valid finding maintained for 20 years. Appeals made to court. If report is recorded as justified and no petition is subsequently filed alleging the child is in need of care, subject may file a written motion for correction in parish court where finding was made.
MA Yes Supported cases. All reports unless determined "allegation invalid" (frivolous or absolute determination that no CA/N). Internal administrative If unsubstantiated expunged after 1 year. If substantiated when child reaches age 18 or 1 year after termination of services, whichever is last. Appeals may be made and fair hearing conducted by hearing officer. Other provisions: Superior Court, grievance procedure (e.g., against social worker, decision).
MD Yes Indicated reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure Unsubstantiated within 5 years if no further reports, if "ruled out" within 120 days if no further reports, after 7 years for substantiated if no further entries for individual. Appeal to office of Administrative Hearings, or to circuit court. Alleged perpetrator notified within 30 days of finding of substantiated or unsubstantiated of finding and opportunity to appeal.
ME Yes Substantiated reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure (excludes school employees) Unsubstantiated expunged after 18 months with no additional report, may be retained for 5 years for Medicaid audits but stored separately. If a finding is overturned on appeal, report is expunged immediately. Appeals go to Director, QA staff reviews, overturns are reviewed by Director or QA Supervisor. May appeal to superior court.
MI Yes Substantiated before July 1, 1999. Afterward Category I or II (child not safe and in need of services) or perpetrators who cause serious harm. Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure If unsubstantiated (no timeframe given). If substantiated remains until subject is dead. Records can be expunged if child is safe and services don't need to be monitored, or if a case is downgraded to a less serious level. Perpetrator must be notified within 30 days of right to request expungement or an administrative hearing if refused. Hearing is before hearing officer appointed by the department and requires preponderance of evidence. May hold a re-hearing upon new evidence or misapplication of the law. Appeal to local office, administrative hearing by local FIA office that conducted investigation. Other provision: only alleged perpetrator or alleged perpetrator's attorney can request can request expungement.
MN No   Internal administrative, information sharing, employment checks are forbidden by statute. No determination of maltreatment or need for CPS services records must be maintained for 4 years. If determination of maltreatment or need for CPS services must be maintained for 10 years after final entry.  
MO Yes Cases that are court adjudicated, show probable cause for CAN. Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure Records are retained indefinitely. After 5 years if insufficient evidence of abuse and neglect is found, after 10 years if "unable to locate" subject may petition for removal after 1 year. Substantiated cases may be retained indefinitely. Perpetrator and parents notified of findings within 90 days. Have 60 days to request reversal. May seek administrative review by child abuse and neglect review board. Standard is probable cause. If unsatisfied may request judicial review in county of residence within 60 days. Appeals made to county office.
MS Yes All credible evidence reports Internal administrative, employment and licensure If subsequent information indicates credible evidence did not exist or decided as result of fair hearing process. Subject may request a fair hearing within 10 days. Hearing conducted by department. Subject may be represented by an attorney. Appeal to MS Division of Family and Children's Services Protection Unit. Other provisions: Fair hearing, attorney representation, due process provided by CAPTA.
MT Yes All reports Internal administrative; background checks for childcare workers and volunteers in service-providing agencies. Within 30 days of finding that report is unfounded. Subject may appeal to the division administrator, then may request Fair Hearing conducted by the department's hearing officer.
NC Yes All reports Internal administrative, study of CAN trends, detection of repeat abuses of juveniles or siblings.    
ND Yes "Services required" reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure, background checks with written permission. 10 years from date of decision Statute directs department to hold appeal hearings and adopt rules for doing so. Policy states that appeals made to Office of Administrative Hearings. Appeal made to DHS. Office of Administrative Hearings - conducts hearings.
NE Yes Substantiated, petition to be filed. Inconclusive or unfounded. Information sharing, employment and licensure Unfounded expunged "forthwith." Any record at any time if "good cause" and upon notice to subjects. Individuals may request expungement. Subject may request expungement at any time subsequent to finding. Appeal made to department's legal division and local court. Subject has right to fair hearing within department conducted by department head or designee. Department has burden of proof. These decisions may be appealed under the Administrative Procedure Act.
NH Yes Founded reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure Founded retained for 7 years. Unfounded at-risk reported maintained for 3 years. There is a proposal to expunge after 7 years- this would become statute and policy. Fair hearing officer through Administrative Appeals Unit within DHHS. Other provisions: Administrative fair hearing. Perpetrators are notified and given opportunity to appeal.
NJ Yes Founded reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure Unfounded must be expunged (no timeframe given). Name may be removed on successful appeal through Division's internal dispute procedures or court hearing. Initial appeal made to local division office. Internal administrative and court hearings. Subject has right to representation, to bring witnesses, review records, ask questions and submit written statements.
NM Yes Substantiated reports Information sharing, employment and licensure, background check for previous department involvement An individual can request a review, the results of a review are noted in the record, but person's name will not be removed. The results of any substantiated investigation which is not the subject of a court action may be reviewed through the Department's administrative review process.
NV Yes Substantiated Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensurec Unless credible evidence of CA/N must be expunged at conclusion of investigation or no later than 60 days after report filed, whichever comes first. Substantiated reports sealed no later than 10 years after child turns 18.  
NY Yes All indicated reports Internal administrative, background checks for school or childcare employees, screening foster and adoptive parents Unfounded or successfully appealed reports are sealed except for department, court or law enforcement use in subsequent investigations. All expunged 10 years after 18th birthday of youngest child named in report. Record may be expunged at any time by the Office of Children and Family Services if subject presents clear and convincing evidence that affirmatively refutes the allegation. Subject may request amendment of record up to 90 days after notified of completion of investigation. If commissioner does not amend report within 90 days subject may request fair hearing held by department or designated agency. If denied may then request a court hearing.
OH Yes All reports Internal administrative, study of CAN trends, detection of prior reports, information provision for subject Expungement time frames are based on disposition or case resolution. "No risk" resolution is expunged after 3 months, "low risk" = 6 months, "low, moderate risk" = 1 year, "moderate risk" = 5 years, "moderate, high risk" = 10 years. Substantiated reports are expunged 10 years from date of disposition, indicated reports are expunged 5 years from date of disposition and unsubstantiated reports are expunged 3 months from the date of disposition unless subsequent reports are received. In the event that subsequent reports are received, reports are linked and maintained in accordance with longest retention timeframe. Within 3 days of completion of the assessment/investigation, the Public Children Services Agency (PCSA) shall notify the alleged perpetrator in writing of the case disposition. Administrative appeal made to, and grievance review by, the PCSA. No appeal at State level. Written copies of grievance process must be given within 3 working days of request.
OK No, but information system handles some functions. All reports except finding of "reasonable parental discipline." Information sharing with law enforcement, limited background checks on foster parents (for agency use only) and adoption applicants. Expunged only by order of the court unless other State or federal law specifies otherwise. Finding of "reasonable parental discipline" also expunged. Alleged perpetrator may appeal finding and placement of name on the information system. Administrative Review conducted at State office level.
OR None for perpetrators, but registry for victims. Founded reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure, tracking of child victims    
PA Yes Determined, founded, or indicated reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure, studies on CAN trends Unfounded are expunged 120 days after year of the report (except for cases accepted for services = 1 year plus 120 days after closure). Founded and Indicated cases are expunged when subject child reaches the age of 23. Perpetrators with date of birth or social security number information are kept indefinitely. Secretary may expunge at any time for good cause. If report is unfounded but subjects found to need services arranged by the county, the county may retain the record but identify it as unfounded. Person named as perpetrator may request amendment or expungement within 45 days of notification. Appeals made to Secretary of the department. If refused or not acted upon in 30 days, subject has right to hearing before the department's Bureau of Hearing and Appeals. Burden of proof is on the agency. Other provisions: Three levels-1: administrative review and OCYF, 2: hearing with bureau of hearings and appeals, 3: court system.
RI Yes All reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure, study of CAN trends Unfounded destroyed 3 years. Indicated cases never expunged, except if appeal is in favor of alleged perpetrator. Appeal decided by administrative hearing officer. Can appeal to family court and as high as supreme court.
SC Yes Only court ordered perpetrators. Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure, study of CAN trends Information identifying alleged perpetrator must be removed immediately upon determination of unfounded. Category II and III unfounded record may be retained for 1 year. Other information must be destroyed 7 years from date services are terminated. Department may maintain "indicated report" without information identifying a perpetrator. Appeal to family court. Other provision: CPS Appeals Committee or family court.
SD Yes Substantiated reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure(except schools) Unsubstantiated must be expunged after 3 years if no subsequent reports. Substantiated may be removed after 7 years if individual requests a hearing and can prove by preponderance of the evidence that information should be removed. (Court adjudicated perpetrator may not request information removal.) Individual may request that inaccurate information be removed. Appeal to department through informal review process. Appeal process occurs before name placed on Central Registry. Perpetrator is notified 30 days before name goes into registry, during which time they can begin appeal process. Subject may request amendment or expungement in writing within 30 days of notice of substantiated. If denied or department does not act within 30 days may request an administrative hearing. Decision made by department but is subject to judicial review.
TN Yes All reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensured When a "defendant is found not guilty of severe child abuse or sexual abuse." Appeal made to Commissioner's office. Other provisions: when a person's employment or volunteer status is affected.
TX Yes Disposition of "reason to believe" or person designated as the perpetrator. Internal administrative, information sharing, and other background checks, employment and licensure (except schools) Retained until 18th birthday of youngest child in the investigation or 5 years after case is closed whichever is first. If case involves removal, case is not expunged. Alleged perpetrator may request administrative review during investigation and a hearing regarding the department's decision to release information. Appeals made to TDPRS administrator not involved in the case. Other provision: Other appeals go to PRS Ombudsman and administrative law judge.
UT Yes Confirmed reports Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensured   Subject may challenge finding within 30 days of notification. Division may approve or deny. If Division requests it or fails to act within 30 days Office of Administrative Hearings and to district court holds adjudicative proceedings.
VA Yes Central Registry for founded. Unfounded are kept in separate data system accessible only to department and local departments. Internal administrative, employment and licensure, information provision for subject.
Statute doesn't specify except for background checks for volunteers with specified community agencies.
Unfounded are maintained for 1 year in SACWIS; not kept in registry. Date of report if no subsequent reports. Department may keep them for up to 2 more years if requested by subject. Records may be purged immediately if court orders that civil action has determined bad faith. Founded level 1 expunged 18 years past date of complaint, level 2 expunged 7 years after date of complaint and level 3, 3 years after complaint. Appeal goes to local department; can be filed with State if appeal is upheld at local level. Other provisions: hearing with State hearing officer or circuit court.
VT Yes Substantiated Internal administrative, employment and licensure Information sharing with law enforcement, and employment checks are forbidden by statute. Information entered on individuals under age 10 will be expunged upon 18th birthday. Name of alleged perpetrator for unsubstantiated cases destroyed if no court proceeding brought within 1 year, kept indefinitely for substantiated cases of notification. All records destroyed when child reaches the age of 18. If family, when youngest child reaches age of 18. Person may apply at any time for review. Three levels: review by district director, review by commissioner and review by Human Services Board that holds a fair hearing.
WA No -perpetrator's name recorded on CAMIS information system. All investigations, log of screened out cases   At the end of 6 years from receipt, an unfounded report shall be purged unless there has been a subsequent report. Person identified as the perpetrator shall be notified by certified mail with return receipt. Person named as perpetrator in founded report has the right to request review and amendment of finding within 20 days of receipt of written notification. The appeal is initially filed with the area administrator, then they can appeal to administrative law judge and then to superior court.
WI No All reports Internal administrative, information sharing, licensuree    
WV Yes Only cases with criminal convictions Information sharing, employment and licensure All shall be destroyed six years following their preparation unless there are pending proceedings. N/A (since all are criminal convictions). No appeal process because part of criminal process.
WY Yes Founded, under investigation, except when alleged perpetrator is a minor. Internal administrative, information sharing, employment and licensure Data error, new evidence, change of findings due to administrative review, fair hearing, or district court appeal, rehabilitation is demonstrated as determined by panel, death of alleged perpetrator. Within 6 months, reports classified as under investigation must be classified as founded or unfounded. Unfounded must be expunged. Founded may be expunged if error shown, new evidence, successful appeal, rehabilitation is shown as determined by a panel appointed by Director, allegations substantiated at "low risk" or death of perpetrator. Appeal may be made initially to District Manager who attempts to resolve dispute. From there they go to an administrative hearing. Hearing Officer is provided by the department. Perpetrators may also provide a written statement for the file during investigation and up to 20 days after disposition.
a Notifications listed only if mentioned specifically as required in statute or policy. Most States allow access to Central Registry information to perpetrators, parents or guardians, or reporters. These are not listed specifically unless they mention required notification.
b Limited to courts for CASA volunteers and caregivers for anyone that will be caring for their children. c Limited to potential adoptive parents.
d Limited to screening childcare providers
e Facilities only

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Table 4-P:
Purposes of Short-Term Services During Investigation (n=42)
State Best Interest of Child Family Preservation Child Safety Strengthen Families Prevention of Abuse or Neglect
AKa   Yes Yes    
AL     Yes    
ARa Yes Yes Yes    
AZa   Yes      
CO     Yes   Yes
CT     Yes Yes  
DC   Yes      
DE     Yes    
GA     Yes   Yes
HI   Yes Yes    
IA     Yes    
ID     Yes    
IL Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
IN          
KS   Yes      
KY     Yes    
LA   Yes      
MD   Yes Yes    
ME     Yes    
MI   Yes      
MS   Yes Yes    
MT     Yes Yes  
NC     Yes    
ND     Yes    
NE   Yes Yes    
NH     Yes Yes  
NJ     Yes    
NM Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NY     Yes    
OH     Yes    
OK     Yes    
OR     Yes    
PA   Yes   Yes Yes
RI     Yes    
SC     Yes    
TX     Yes    
UT     Yes Yes  
VA   Yes Yes Yes Yes
WA   Yes      
WI   Yes Yes Yes  
WV     Yes    
WY     Yes    
a Not required to provide services.

Endnotes

1. Definitions discussed in this chapter are not exact quotes of the full, written, policy statements. In many instances, reviewers paraphrased especially long and detailed definitions. These definitions were reviewed and accepted by State administrators.

2. Most State policy manuals contained detailed definitions of the full range of abuse types. In a few States, the general category of "abuse" included physical, neglect, sexual, or emotional abuse. For these States, the language dealing with these forms of maltreatment is presented under the category headings in table 4-A.

3. Fluke, J., Parry, C., Shapiro, P., Hollinshead, D., Bollenbacher, V., Baumann, D., Davis-Brown, K. (2001). The Dynamics of unsubstantiated reports: A multi-state study. Englewood, CO: American Humane Association.

4. Data were supplemented with findings from "Law Enforcement, Child Protection and Hybrids," American Humane Association, funded by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

5. If the policy manual stated a range of time for completion, the later date was used to calculate the categories used in this analysis. If the policy manual specified the timeframe by "working days," estimates were made to convert that timeframe to real calendar days. A 30-day timeframe is considered to fall in the 2-4 week category.

6. Because much of the relevant information appeared only in statute, the information from the policy reviews for each State in table 4-O was supplemented with information from the 2000 Child Abuse and Neglect Statute Series from the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect. However, information contained in the table was reviewed and updated by participating State administrators.


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