Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Indian Child Welfare Act And CASA

The Indian Child Welfare Act and CASA:
Advocating for the Best Interests of Native Children

by Abby Abinanti
Passed by Congress in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) requires that every state court dependency matter involving an Indian child must be resolved with reference to specific provisions. The Act is a clear indictment of state courts and social service agencies whose practices and abuses lead to the unprecedented necessity of federal intervention. Within the Act, Indian children are afforded specific protections by Congress designed to insure that the pre-Act abuses of the states are eliminated. It is important for the CASA volunteer involved with an Indian child to realize that most courts and agencies resist being labeled as abusive, even within a historical context. The CASA volunteer must understand that the historical tendency of institutional abuse directed at Native American families led Congress to the pass this Act. When working with an Indian child, the CASA volunteer has the opportunity to protect the child’s rights by insuring that the state agencies involved with the case are following the Indian Child Welfare Act.
In the 1970's prior to the passage of the Act congressional hearings were held. The hearings revealed terrible abuses, indicating a national pattern of wholesale public and private removal of Indian children from their homes which resulted in the undermining of Indian families and a had a devastating impact on tribes across the country. At the national level the following results were compiled:
  • Indian children were placed in foster care or were adopted at three times the rate of non-Indian children.
  • Approximately 25-35 percent of all Indian children were removed from their homes and placed in non-Indian foster homes and adoptive homes, or institutions.
Congress determined "that the Indian child welfare crisis is of massive proportions and that Indian families face vastly greater risks of involuntary separation than are typical for our society as a whole." It is important to note is that Congress did not find the separations warranted. Instead, it was found that the removals often resulted from states failing to recognize the essential tribal relations of Indian people and the different cultural standards regarding extended families which prevail in Indian communities. The removals were not only removals from the nuclear family but from the tribal community and resulted in cultural alienation for the tribal children. The alienation frequently translated into serious adjustment problems during adolescence. Indian children were often not able to adjust to social and cultural environments that were significantly different from their home environments. The children grew up facing racism and exclusion in non-Indian communities and did not have the cultural skills to fit into a tribal environment.
In passing the Act, Congress made the following declaration of policy: "The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of this Nation to protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and the placement of such children in foster or adoptive homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture, and by providing for assistance to Indian tribes in the operation of child and family service programs." This very strong statement is often times overwhelming to personnel in non-Indian systems who find it difficult to grasp that such a position evolved from the abusive behavior of institutions that they believe are essentially fair and operating for the good of the entire public. The CASA volunteer must find a gentle but firm way of making sure this policy is the guiding force in any dependency action involving an Indian child.
Many people, when initially faced with issues involving Indian children, grapple with the concept of different treatment for Indian children. Some may feel it is not fair to the Indian child to be treated differently, to have different rules than non-Indian children. It is the CASA's job to understand and insure that the Indian child's special rights are acknowledged and secured. To be able to advocate in such a manner it is essential that the CASA volunteer understand the basis for this difference. It can best be understood as a citizenship right. Congress in passing the ICWA essentially acknowledged the premise that an Indian child's citizenship within the tribe is a valuable right to be protected for the child. Many tangible and intangible benefits flow from citizenship, many people have strong identity based on citizenship, benefits and responsibilities flow between the sovereign and the citizen. The sovereign has an interest in the welfare of each of its citizens. An Indian child's rights as articulated in the ICWA are not based simply on race or cultural considerations, they are based on the political relationship that exists between the government of the United States and each of the recognized tribes. According to the law, these tribes are considered domestic, dependent nations and as such have a special relationship with the federal government that transcends the relationship of states to other citizens of each state. Each Indian child has an interest in his or her tribe, and each tribe has an interest in each of its children. The ICWA is designed to prevent inappropriate interference with this relationship.
The CASA volunteer who is assigned an Indian child should immediately review the provisions of the ICWA to determine whether or not the Act is being adhered to by the state court and the social services agency. The CASA volunteer should attempt to make contact with the child's tribe and determine what resources are available to the Indian child. Those resources may include relative or tribal placement options, treatment programs for the parents or the child, housing options, educational placements etc. The CASA volunteer should determine if the child is enrolled in the tribe, as enrollment is the acknowledgment of citizenship and is a vital interest that must be protect. If the child is eligible but not enrolled the CASA volunteer should do everything possible to facilitate that enrollment.
If the permanency plan is to allow the parents to try and reunify with the Indian child before offering placement options, the CASA volunteer should advocate for protection of the child's relationship with any potential tribal placement. The CASA can do this by encouraging contact between possible tribal placements and the Indian child during the course of reunification. The CASA can also seek out activities that connect the child with their native culture. Many services, and service providers, exist that are linked to Indian communities. The volunteer should advocate to have Indian children served by these providers. It is essential for proper development of Indian children's self-identity to have an advocate for their cultural identity and tribal citizenship. If they do not have this identity, studies show that these Indian children do not fare well as teenagers and adults.
Many Indian communities have long standing bias against social services, it is important to remember that the Act was not passed in a vacuum. The abuses which led to the passage of the Act were experienced by real people. Many of these victims live in the Indian community today. They remember, sometimes personally and sometimes in the community’s collective memory, their children being unjustly taken from them. Their willingness to work with social services is often compromised even when it might lead to a better result in a specific case. The CASA volunteer is not tainted by a relationship with an agency who is responsible for the infliction of pain in the Indian community. Thie presents a unique opportunity for the volunteer to create a trusting relationship with a child’s tribe and can provide an invaluable service to the Indian child by negotiating the issues associated with their dual citizenship.
It is possible under the ICWA that a case be transferred to a tribal court. (In certain limited circumstances it would be mandatory.) If there is discussion of transfer of jurisdiction, the CASA volunteer can be a very good liaison between the parties and the tribe. Often times when a transfer is discussed the state officials, including the court and the social services personnel, react with apprehension. They often fear that a transfer is somehow a lessening of services, or that the tribal system is not as adequate as the state system to protect the child. This apprehension is often based assumptions and stereotypes rather than on actual knowledge of what is available on any given reservation. The CASA volunteer’s role may very well be to serve as an information link between these two worlds which may not have a good working relationship. The volunteer can only commit to this type of a role if they understand and accept the premise that the best interests of an Indian child includes protection of the child's Indian identity.
The ICWA imposes a federal standard on all states which decrees that the best interests of Indian children are served by protecting "the rights of the Indian child as an Indian and the rights of the Indian community and tribe in retaining its children in its society." H.R. Report No. 1386, 95th Cong.,2d Sess.23 (1978). The Act has many provisions that are mandatory, the purpose of this article is not to make the CASA volunteer into an ICWA expert, but rather to develop an understanding that Indian children must have advocates who zealously protect their rights as Indian children, not just as children. At every stage of the proceeding special rules apply to the Indian cases, and the CASA must see that those involved in the proceedings adhere to these rules so that the Indian child's rights are not compromised. The CASA can play an essential role in securing those rights and in make those rights real. For instance, the Act sets out preferences for foster care placements. But if no Indian homes have been recruited or if no one vigorously seeks a tribal placement, it is possible that the placement preference scheme will be meaningless. As the child’s advocate, the CASA can take the extra steps and put in the extra effort to make the law real for the Indian child.
In conclusion, a CASA volunteer working with an Indian child has a critical role. As with all CASA advocacy, it is a role that requires diligence. A special sensitivity in needed to help the parties involved understand the federal mandates and the added requirements of those mandates. The CASA must advocate for the child's citizenship rights within their tribe, while insuring that the child's day to day needs for basic care are being met. A challenging task, but one which is essential if the Indian children they work with are to reach their full potential.


The Indian Child welfare Act

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Arizona Department of Child Safety: Policy and Procedure Manual

Welcome to the new child welfare policy and procedure manual. This manual is the Department's interpretation of applicable federal and state laws and administrative code. This manual provides overall guidance for Department of Child Safety field staff, however, practice is implemented upon individual case circumstances.

Links to forms found in the DCS Policy and Procedures manual are not enabled for external users; however, forms referenced in the DCS Policy and Procedures Manual that have been approved for public view (and use) may be accessed through the DCS website at: https://dcs.az.gov/data/dcs-forms. If you have difficulty accessing a particular form, please free to contact us at PolicyUnit@azdcs.gov for assistance.

This manual is divided into seven (7) Chapters:
Chapter 1: Hotline and Intake describes hotline functions and intake procedures

Chapter 2: Investigations, Assessment includes policy and procedures that are to be used in the investigation and assessment of child abuse and neglect reports

Chapter 3: Case Planning and Services describes opening a case for services, case planning voluntary, in home, and out-of home services and supports to children and families

Chapter 4: Out of Home Care focuses on policy and procedures for placement assessment and selection

Chapter 5: Child Permanency describes family reunification, adoption services, adoption subsidy, guardianship, Independent living, and ICPC

Chapter 6: Indian Child Welfare focuses on policy and procedures related to working with American Indian children and families

Chapter 7: Records, Legal, Quality Assurance and Funding gives direction on record organization, legal, quality assurance processes and information on financial resources

Each chapter has a heading with a Chapter number and Section. The first number matches the unit in which each Chapter can be found. The Section number divides the chapter into topics relating to the overall chapter subject. For example, Chapter 2: Section 3 describes interviewing policy and procedures in the Investigation and Assessment Unit. Each chapter/section contains the following five elements: policy, procedures, forms, related information and legal.

This manual uses popup screens to display additional information. If requested, please show "all content" to view this information. Also, spamblockers should be disabled if you have difficulty in viewing any information contained in this site.

For assistance in using the manual, questions or clarification of policies and procedures and suggestions for improvement should be sent to Policyunit.




DISCLAIMER
The Department of Child Safety provides the information on this Website as a public service. While we try to keep the information on the Website timely and accurate, there will often be a delay between official adoption of information and its appearance on the Website. Therefore, this site is provided on an "as is" basis, and the Department of Child Safety makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the operation of this site, the information, content, or materials. All responsibility or liability for any damages caused by viruses contained within the electronic files or at this site is disclaimed.

The "unofficial" versions of rules adopted by the Department of Child Safety are included on this Website as a public service. The Arizona Administrative Code and the Arizona Register, published by the Secretary of State, remain the official source for the administrative rules.


Chapter 1: Section 1
Hotline Receipt of Information

Policy
The Department shall operate a statewide Centralized Intake "Hotline" 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to protect children by receiving incoming communications/ referrals concerning suspected child abuse or neglect.

The Hotline encompasses a toll-free telephone number and an electronic reporting service, specifically for the purpose of accepting communications regarding suspected child abuse or neglect.

If a person communicates suspected abuse or neglect to a Department employee other than through the Hotline, the employee shall assist the person in making a report to the Hotline.

The Department accepts anonymous reports; however, individuals making a report will be asked to identify themselves while being informed that their identity is confidential and released only as required by law.

Procedures
Referrals
The Intake Specialist gathers information from reporting sources using the Department’s standardized interview questions and practice guide to meet the following criteria:
  • The suspected conduct would constitute abuse or neglect.
  • The suspected victim of the conduct is under eighteen years of age.
  • The suspected victim of the conduct is a resident of or present in this state.
  • The person suspected of committing the abuse or neglect is the parent, guardian, or custodian of the victim or an adult member of the victim's household.
  • Whether the suspected abuse or neglect involves criminal conduct, even if the communication does not result in the preparation of a report for investigation.
  • The appropriate investigative track for referral based on the risk to the child's safety.

Electronic Referrals
The Department provides an electronic reporting service available for professional mandated reporters to report non-emergency concerns regarding child abuse or neglect. An online submission shall meet the reporter's mandated reporting requirements. For all emergency situations where a child may be in immediate risk of abuse or neglect that could result in death or serious injury, professional mandated reporters are directed to 911 or the toll-free telephone hotline.

An Intake Specialist reviews all electronic referrals received and follows Department policy and procedures to determine if the information meets report criteria. See Decision to Take a Report.

If additional information is needed to make a report decision, the Intake Specialist contacts the reporting source for more information.

Types of Communications
Intake Specialist documents all concerns in CHILDS under a "Communication Type." Communications that meet the statutory definition of abuse or neglect are documented as reports. See Decision to Take a Report. Non-report communications may either require a response from the field or are maintained in CHILDS for future reference.

The following communications require a response or action from the field. These communications are assigned to the field and reviewed by a DCS Supervisor or designee to determine the appropriate response/action.

Action Request – A communication requesting the Department to respond to situations, such as to assist law enforcement or other state child welfare agencies even when there are no allegations of abuse or neglect. Action Requests alert the field to other situations that may require Department action.

Examples of Action Requests:
  • Court ordered pickup regarding children not in DCS care;
  • Court ordered investigation or services;
  • Runaway from other states who needs placement until a parent or guardian is able to make arrangements to pick-up the child;
  • Courtesy placement of an Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) child due to disruption in Arizona until the child’s state of residency is able to retrieve the child; or
  • Successor of a permanent guardian when the original permanent guardianship was filed through DCS.

Hotline assigns Action Requests to a DCS Supervisor, who dispositions the Action Request as either Action Taken or No Action Taken with an explanation provided.

Document any action taken by the Department in an appropriate case note.

During the Department’s response to an Action Request, if the parent, guardian, or custodian refuses to take custody of the child, or if allegations of abuse or neglect become known, the DCS Supervisor or designee contacts the Hotline to change the Action Request to a report.

Additional Information – A communication used in the following situations:
  • The original reporting source calls back within 72 hours from the time the original report was taken and has additional information but no new allegations. After the 72 hours, document this information as a status communication and link to the case or original report.
  • The DCS Specialist notifies the Hotline to report new allegations on an active investigation. The narrative contains the new allegations and is linked to the original report.

The Hotline links all Additional Information communications to a Report or Action Request.

The DCS Supervisor staffs with the DCS Specialist to determine if this information requires additional action/response. Document any action taken by the Department in an appropriate case note.

Report – A communication that meets the statutory definition of abuse or neglect of a child. See Decision to Take a Report and Disposition of report and Initial Response.

Employee Report – A communication that meet the statutory definition of abuse or neglect of a child AND the parent, guardian, or custodian is identified as an employee of the following:
• Department of Child Safety (including all programs and offices, such as the Comprehensive Medical and Dental Program (CMDP) and the Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI); or
• Protective Services Section of the Attorney General's Office.


Second Source – A communication from a second source pertaining to the same allegation or incident in an existing report. Information from a third source and any other subsequent sources are also entered as Second Source communications. When applying this procedures, there is no time limit from when the existing report was first taken to when the second source calls the Hotline. Any new allegations or incidents require a new report.

The Hotline links all Second Source communications to a report or action request.

The DCS Supervisor staffs with the DCS Specialist to determine if this information requires additional action/response.

When a Second Source communication is received on an active investigation, the DCS Specialist shall treat any additional "second sources" as a source and make contact as required by Interviews.

If a Second Source communication is received on a closed report/case, the Intake Specialist staffs with an Intake Supervisor to determine if the new information effects child safety or previous findings (unsubstantiated/unable to locate). If so, a new report shall be created.

Status Communication – A communication that does not qualify as a new Report or a Second Source or Additional Information, and pertains to an open case or report that is pending disposition for assignment. The Hotline links all Status Communications to an open case or report that is pending disposition for assignment.

The DCS Supervisor and DCS Specialist review all status communications and determine the appropriate response.

Any indication that a child who is in the custody of the Department and may be in danger, injured by, or engaged in sexual conduct with another child, requires a Department response. In these situations, the Intake Specialist sends a copy of the status communication via email to the following:
  • DCS Specialist and DCS Supervisor; and
  • DCS’ Office of Licensing and Regulation (OLR) if the child is residing in a licensed out-of-home placement.

During the response to a Status Communication, if allegations of abuse, neglect, or licensing concerns become known, the DCS Specialist contacts the Hotline to report the information.

Document the response taken in an appropriate case note.

The following communications are not transmitted to the field for response, but are maintained in CHILDS for future reference:

Alert – A communication that provides instructions or information to the Hotline or After-Hours staff, in the event a child or parent comes to the attention of the DCS. Examples are as follows:
  • Notification from another state child welfare agency regarding a family who has relocated or may be relocating to Arizona;
  • Notification from a DCS Specialist to advise how to handle a situation that may occur on a case during after-hours or on the weekend (For example, if a child-in-care has run away, and there are specific arrangements for when the child is located); or
  • Notification from the community or law enforcement of a situation where the Hotline may be contacted (for example, when the police are searching for a missing child and request notification if the child comes to the attention of the Hotline).

DCS History Request – A request made by law enforcement (or other entitled entity) and there is no case or a case is closed, and no report pending disposition for assignment. If a family has an open case or report pending disposition for assignment, then a Status Communication is entered, so that the assigned DCS Specialist knows that law enforcement (or other authorized persons) inquired about a family.

Data Correction - A communication entered in error that must be corrected. No communication may be completely deleted from CHILDS; therefore the Hotline uses Data Correction when uncorrectable errors are made. Examples are as follows:
  • Correct narrative errors as once a communication is dispositioned, the narrative may not be edited;
  • Delete a communication - two communications have been started for the same information, and one needs to be deleted; or
  • A correction when the wrong person is named as the source.

Hotline Communication - Information received from a source that does not meet criteria for a DCS report, AND there is no open case and/or no report pending disposition for assignment.

Licensing Issue - Information pertaining to DCS\DHS\DES licensed placement facilities (including foster homes, group homes, DDD homes and shelter facilities). Licensing Issues pertain to information that does not meet criteria for a report.

Resources Provided - communication type used in the following situations:
  • Law enforcement requests assistance from DCS staff, and there is not sufficient information to enter a DCS report or a Communication. (e.g., dispatch is calling for an officer out in the field); or
  • Relatives are willing to be caretakers of a child if DCS should become involved with a family in the future; however, there is no open case or report pending disposition for assignment.

Unborn Concerns - communication used when there are concerns for an unborn baby, and the concerns will meet report criteria upon the baby being born. Examples include:
  • Allegation that the unborn child has been prenatally exposed to drugs or substances, and the exposure was not the result of medical treatment and administered by a health care professional, which may include clinical indicators in the prenatal period, history of substance use or abuse, medical history, or results of a toxicology or other laboratory test on the mother;
  • Domestic violence that would place the baby in serious harm or impending danger; or
  • Existing mental health issues that would place the baby in substantial risk of harm.

Information Received by DCS Employees
DCS employees outside of the Hotline shall assist any person wishing to make a report of abuse or neglect in contacting the Hotline via the phone number 1-888-SOS-CHILD (1-888-767-2445), or if the person is a mandated reporter, the online reporting service website https://dcs.az.gov/services/suspect-abuse-report-it-now.

The following forms are available to provide more information about the Hotline: Hotline-Information guide for mandated reporters and Hotline Brochure.

Forms


Related Information


Legal







 

Effective Date: August 6, 2016

Revision History: November 30, 2012, March 18, 2013, July, 1, 2013, September 30, 2013, February 4, 2015, January 6, 2016


Chapter 1: Section 2
Decision to Take a Report


Policy
Any incoming communication that meets the criteria for a report shall be taken as a report.

A communication meets DCS report criteria when the reporting source alleges the following:
  • Victim is currently under the age of 18;
  • Victim has been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused, neglected, abandoned, or exploited by a parent, guardian, custodian, or adult member of the victim's household who:
    • Has inflicted the abuse or neglect;
    • May have inflicted the abuse or neglect; or
    • Permitted another or had reason to know another person may inflict abuse or neglect;
  • Victim is a resident of or present in Arizona, and
  • The identity or current location of the child victim, the child victim's family, or the person suspected of abuse or neglect is known or can be reasonably ascertained.

For the purpose of a report, a child victim is a resident when:
  • The child victim attends school or is enrolled in child care in Arizona; or
  • The child victim's primary custodian resides in Arizona.

Except for criminal conduct allegations, the Department is not required to prepare a report if all of the following apply:
  • The suspected conduct occurred more than three years before the communication to the Hotline; and
  • There is no information or indication that a child is currently being abused or neglected.

The Hotline is not required to generate a report solely because:
  • The parent/caregiver is seeking inpatient treatment or an out-of-home placement because the child’s behavioral health needs pose a risk to the family; and/or
  • The parent/caregiver brought into the home a biological, foster, or adoptive child whose behavioral health needs pose a risk to the family.

The following allegations standing alone do not meet the criteria for a DCS Report unless the communication also includes an allegation of child abuse or neglect as defined in A.R.S. § 8-201 and otherwise meets the criteria as set forth in A.R.S. § 8-455:
  • The child is absent from school;
  • The child is age eight years or older and has allegedly committed a delinquent act;
  • The sibling of a child eight years or older has allegedly committed a delinquent act;
  • The sibling or other child living in the home who is age eight years or older allegedly committed a delinquent act against the alleged child victim;
  • The child’s parents are absent from the home or are unable to care for the child but made appropriate arrangements for the child’s care;
  • The child is receiving treatment from an accredited Christian Science practitioner, or other religious or spiritual healer, but the child’s health is not:
    • In imminent risk of harm; or
    • Endangered by the lack of medical care;
  • The child has minor hygienic problems;
  • The child is the subject of a custody or visitation dispute;
  • The spiritual neglect of the child or the religious practices or beliefs to which a child is exposed;
  • The child’s parent, guardian, or custodian questions the use of or refuses to put the child on psychiatric medication but the child’s health is not:
    • In imminent risk of harm; or
    • Endangered by the refusal to put the child on the recommended psychiatric medicine;
  • The child is an unharmed newborn infant, who is seventy-two (72) hours of age or younger, and whose parent or agent of the parent voluntarily delivered the parent’s newborn to a safe haven provider as provided in A.R.S. §§ 8-528 and 13-3623.01.

All reports for investigation must include, if available, the following:
  • Name, address, and other location or contact information for the following individuals:
    • Reporting source;
    • Parent, guardian, custodian, or adult member of the household who is the suspect of the abuse or neglect; and
    • Child(ren).
  • Nature and extent of the indication of the child's abuse or neglect, including any indication of physical injury; and
  • Any information regarding possible prior abuse or neglect, including reference to any communication or report involving the child, the child's siblings, or person suspected of abuse or neglect.


Procedures
Report for Field Investigation
If a communication meets the criteria for a report for field investigation, the Intake Specialist shall:
  • Inform the reporting source that a report is being taken and provide the reporting source with contact information for the field unit;
  • Search the Children's Information Library and Data Source (CHILDS) and the Department’s Central Registry (CPSCR) databases to determine whether there have been previous reports or communication on the family and the status of prior cases. This search assists the Intake Specialist to determine if:
    • The information was previously reported and another communication type is appropriate;
    • There is a pattern of concerning behavior outlined in communications that may be escalating and cumulatively would result in meeting the report criteria;
  • When needed, search the Arizona Technical Eligibility Computer System (AZTECS) database to gather and/or confirm demographic information on household composition and members, including absent parent information, if available.
  • Upon determination that DCS report criteria has been met and the response time has been determine, the Intake Specialist finalizes entry of the report in CHILDS and disposition to the appropriate DCS office.

Location or Identity of Child Victim, Child Victim's Family, or Perpetrator Unknown
When a communication meets all other criteria of a report for investigation but the source does not know the identity or location of the child, family, or perpetrator, or states that the parent has fled with the child to avoid contact from the police or the Department, the Intake Specialist takes the following steps to gather information that will allow the Intake Specialist or DCS Specialist to reasonably ascertain the identity or location of the child, family, or perpetrator:
  • Continue with the phone interview or follow-up with the reporting source who submitted an online report, to obtain all pertinent information regarding the maltreatment of the child;
  • Discuss different ways to locate the family;
  • Explore whether the reporting source can describe where the child/family might be located, or if there are other options to locate the child/family. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Directions to a home or area, if enough details are provided (e.g., description of the home, cross streets, etc.)
    • Apartment or hotel name
    • Non-custodial parent's home
    • Any location where the child or parent is currently located (e.g., home of relative or friend, hospital, police station, juvenile detention center, etc.)
    • Parent's place of employment
    • A place a child can be found consistently (e.g., karate class, church, other enrichment class, etc.)
    • Parent’s jail address (if parent is currently in jail)
  • Consider a collateral contact to a professional mandated reporter; see Guide to Collateral Contact for more information.

If the reporting source does not have the above information, advise the reporting source to call the Hotline if it becomes available.

The Intake Specialist researches CHILDS and AZTECS to locate the child/family and assigns the report when the victim, the victim’s family or the perpetrator can be identified.

If none of the above information can lead to the identity or location of the victim, victim's family, or perpetrator, then report criteria is not met and the information shall be documented as a Hotline Communication.

Non-Reports
If a communication does not meet the criteria of a report for investigation, the Intake Specialist:
  • Informs the reporting source that the information provided did not meet report criteria and further research/review will take place to determine if there is any action the Department can take. If no action can be taken the information will be retained for future reference.
  • Refers the reporting source, when applicable, to a community resource that may address his or her concerns;
  • Directs the reporting source to notify law enforcement when information provided warrants police involvement and, in addition, cross reports the information to law enforcement; and
  • Searches CHILDS, CPSCR, and AZTECS databases to determine whether there have been previous reports or communications on the family and the status of prior cases. This assists the Intake Specialist to determine if:
    • The information was previously reported, closed, and the new information affects child safety or previous findings;
    • There is a pattern of concerning behavior outlined in previous communications that may be escalating and cumulatively would result in meeting the report criteria; and
    • The information in the report was previously investigated and closed, however the investigation resulted in an “unable to locate.”
  • Upon determination that DCS report criteria has not been met, the Intake Specialist immediately finalizes entry of the appropriate communication type in CHILDS.

At least weekly, a Child Abuse Hotline supervisor or designee shall review communications concerning abuse or neglect of a child that did not meet report criteria to verify that the communication was properly classified.

Non-Reports, Action Needed
If a communication does not meet the criteria of a report for investigation, but action is required, the Intake Specialist:
  • Documents the information and notifies the Child's Safety Specialist of concerns regarding a child in the care, custody, or control of the Department and placed in out-of-home care with a licensed or unlicensed caregiver. When applicable, provide s the information to the Office of Licensing and Regulations (OLR);
  • Documents the information and cross reports to the Department of Economic Security (DES), Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) or the Department of Health Services (DHS) when a child is not in the care, custody, or control of the Department, however, is in a facility licensed by the DHS or DDD;
  • Contacts the child abuse reporting line in the appropriate jurisdiction where the child resides for concerns regarding a child living in another jurisdiction who may be at risk of abuse or neglect; or
  • Directs the caller to notify law enforcement when a felony criminal offense has been committed involving child abuse or neglect by a person other than a parent, guardian, custodian, or an adult member of the child’s household without the knowledge of the parent, guardian, or custodian.

For more information, see Cross Reporting.



 

Effective Date: August 6, 2016

Revision History: November 30, 2012, September 13, 2013, February 4, 2015

Chapter 1: Section 3
Prioritizing Reports and Communication Reviews

Policy
For each report for investigation the Department shall determine the appropriate priority, investigative track, and whether there is criminal conduct based on the Department's standardized safety and risk assessment tools.

The Department shall assign one of the following priority levels and response times to each allegation within a report:
  • Priority 1 (2 hours)
  • Priority 2 (48 hours)
  • Priority 3 (72 hours)
  • Priority 4 (7 days)

The Department shall assign tracking characteristics that apply to all reports and communications.

For communications that require an immediate field response, Centralized Intake "Hotline" shall promptly notify the assigned DCS office or after-hours designee of the communication, For reports involving criminal conduct allegations, Centralized Intake shall immediately provide information to OCWI.

All reports shall be properly transmitted to the assigned DCS office for report disposition.


Procedures
Child Safety Decision and Risk Assessment
The Intake Specialist gathers and assesses information from the reporting source to determine the prioritization of reports. The Intake Specialist uses the standardized Hotline Report Decision tool to assist in determining the appropriate priority of each report.

Criminal Conduct Screening Tool
The Intake Specialist uses the standardized Criminal Conduct Hotline Screening Guide to assist in determining whether criminal conduct exists.

Tracking Characteristics
Tracking Characteristics are family conditions or special circumstances that may contribute to the abuse or neglect of a child. Not all reports or communications have a tracking characteristic, but for those that do, the Intake Specialist writes a narrative to support the specific tracking characteristic selected. A tracking characteristic can be assigned to a report after an investigation has determined the criteria is met, this is done through the After Investigation Findings window.

The Intake Specialist or DCS Specialist assigns one of the following Tracking Characteristics to a report or communication based on the criteria below:

Court Ordered Pick-up (CT ORD PKU C or A)
Used for DCS reports and Action Requests when a Judge, Commissioner or Hearing Officer has ordered DCS to pick-up a child and:
  • The court orders that the child remain in DCS Custody; and/or
  • The child is ordered not to return home; and/or
  • The court order contains allegations that meet report criteria.

When there are no allegations of abuse or neglect documented in the order, an Action Request is entered.

Child in Care (CHILD IN CARE C or A)
Used when the child victim in a DCS report or Action Request meets the following criteria:
  • Is placed out of home by DCS under a Voluntary Placement Agreement;
  • Is a ward of the court in an open DCS case and may be placed in a foster home, shelter or other placement by DCS; or
  • Is part of an in-home dependency (Children who are wards of the court and in DCS custody reside in their own home).

Court Ordered Investigation (CT ORD INV C or A)
Used for DCS reports and Action Requests when a Judge, Commissioner or Hearing Officer has ordered DCS to investigate possible abuse or neglect of a child who may be involved with the court in another type of hearing, such as a delinquency or family court matter.

When used in a DCS report, a minute entry must be received with information that meets report criteria or listed allegations.

If no allegations are listed, an Action Request is entered.

Criminal Conduct (CRIMINAL CONDUC)
Applies to DCS reports and serves as an alert to the DCS Specialist and Child Welfare Investigator of the need to coordinate with Law Enforcement. See Investigations Involving the Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI).


Domestic Violence (DOM VIOLENCE-C)
Assigned to DCS reports when:
  • Children are present in the home (not just in the room) during a domestic violence incident; and/or
  • Domestic violence contributes to the reported abuse or neglect.

Drowning
Assigned to a DCS report when there is indication that a caretaker did not practice adequate supervision causing the child to drown or nearly drown, and the child is in serious or critical condition, or if a caretaker purposely drown or attempted to drown a child.

False Report (FALSE REPORT)
Only used by the DCS Specialist as an after-investigation finding. Intake Specialists do not assign this tracking characteristic to DCS reports. For more information see Substantiating Maltreatment.

Historical
Assigned to a DCS Report when the suspected abuse or neglect occurred more than three years before the communication to the hotline.

Near Fatality (NEAR FATLITY)
Assign to DCS reports when it is believed that the injury is most consistent with a non-accidental injury, and the child is in serious or critical condition because of the injury. If this tracking characteristic is assigned to a DCS report, the Hotline sends a notification to DCS administration.

Private Dependency Petition (PRIV DEP PETITN)
Entered when a private dependency petition (PDP) is filed by a private party or their legal counsel and the Department may be:
  • Joined as “a party to the petition” by the Juvenile Court; and/or
  • Instructed to investigate the circumstances of the petition.

Request for Assessment (REQ FOR ASSESSM)
The Intake Specialist screens in out-of-state courtesy assessments only with the approval of an Intake Supervisor and enters as an Action Request. Courtesy assessments may be received from other state child welfare agencies and:
  • Are usually for a safety assessment of the home of a non-custodial parent or relative who lives in Arizona in order to allow a visit by the child who may be a court ward in the requesting state; or
  • May include a request that DCS interview an alleged victim child on behalf of the out-of-state child welfare agency.

This is not used when a home study is being requested for a child to be placed (live with) a non-custodial parent or relative in Arizona. Placement of court wards from another state must go through the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children (ICPC).

Runaway Other State (RUNAWAY OTHR ST)
Used for Action Requests when a child has runaway from another state or a courtesy ICPC placement due to disruption in Arizona. This applies when a child has run away from another state and is need of a placement until the parent or guardian is able to make arrangements to pick-up the child. It also applies to children who are wards of the court in another state and who disrupt from ICPC placement in Arizona; thus, he/she is in need of shelter until the child’s state of residency is able to retrieve the child from Arizona.

Safe Haven Newborn (SAFE HAVEN NEWB)
Assigned when a newborn child, age 72 hours or younger, is left by the parent or the parent's agent at a Safe Haven, and there are allegations that meet report criteria. See Safe Haven Newborn Infant.

Safe Haven Non-Report (SAF HAVN NONRPT)
Assigned with a communication when there are no allegations and a licensed private adoption agency has the ability and desire to take custody of the infant within 48 hours of completion of a physical examination. See Safe Haven Newborn Infant.

Sex Trafficking
Assigned when the allegation contains information that a child was a victim of sex trafficking; sex trafficking means the recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for a commercial sex act.

Substance Exposed Newborn (SUB EXP NEWBORN)
Used when information indicates the mother prenatally exposed her child to a drug or substance that was not the result of a medical treatment administered to the mother or the newborn infant by a health professional. This is based on any of the following:
  • Clinical indicators in the prenatal period including maternal or the newborn presentation (e.g., newborn complications, withdrawal symptoms, etc.);
  • Information regarding history of substance use or abuse by the mother during pregnancy;
  • Admission by the mother or another person reports the use of drugs, non-prescribed controlled substances, or extensive use of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy;
  • Medical history of the mother, which may include positive toxicology screens during the mother’s prenatal visits or the mother received treatment during pregnancy for alcohol or substance abuse;
  • Positive toxicology or other laboratory test on the mother or the newborn at the time of birth; or
  • An infant under the age of one who is exhibiting symptoms that is consistent with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Effects.

Substance Abuse (SUBSTANCE ABUSE)
Used with clear indicators that the substance abuse (prescribed and non-prescribed) contributes to the maltreatment of the child. This tracking characteristic is not used for substance exposed newborn (SEN) reports.

Successor Permanent Guardianship (SUC PERM GUAD C or A)
Used for either a DCS report or Action Request. This tracking characteristic is used for DCS report when all of the following criteria are met:
  • The current permanent guardian is no longer willing or able to care for the child;
  • The child is without an appropriate caretaker (report criteria is met); and
  • The original permanent guardianship was filed through DCS.

For Action Requests, this tracking characteristics applies when the information provided does not meet report criteria.

Unknown Unknown
Assigned to a hotline communication when the only reason the report is not being taken is because the identity and location of the child victim, the child victim’s family or the alleged perpetrator cannot be reasonably ascertained.

Unsafe Sleep
Assigned to a DCS report where there is an indication that a caretaker did not place a child on his/her back, in a crib, or there is an indication that the caretaker slept with the child causing the child's death, near death, or other serious injury.

None (NONE)
Used when none of the tracking characteristic requirements are met.

Notification to DCS and OCWI
Intake Specialists assess whether or not any situation needs immediate response by DCS or OCWI. Situations requiring an immediate response include, but are not limited to the following:
  • All DCS reports with a response time 1;
  • DCS reports with a response time 2 on Friday evenings and Saturdays;
  • Action Requests that require immediate attention;
  • Emergency needs of a child in the care, custody, and control of the Department via court order or a Voluntary Placement Agreement. For example:
    • Emergency hospital admission for medical or psychological treatment;
    • Disrupted placement;
    • Visitation issues; or
    • Any situation concerning the health or welfare of a child in DCS custody;
  • Requests from a foster parent, caretaker, or service provider regarding a child in custody;
  • Parental requests for contact with a DCS representative;
  • Information received on any open DCS case, which may be significant to an investigation or case, and the DCS Specialist may need to know prior to the next regular business day;
  • Requests from Law Enforcement for assistance such as:
    • Requests for immediate DCS assistance on a DCS report, regardless of response time; or
    • Requests for immediate DCS assistance with no DCS report. The Intake Supervisor notifies the DCS Staff of the request for DCS assistance emphasizing that a DCS report was not taken and inform them to immediately call the Hotline back if child abuse or neglect allegations come to their attention.
  • Communications involving endangered missing children. Law enforcement may contact the Hotline to report that a child identified as an Endangered Missing Person by DCS has been located and an immediate response from DCS is needed. These may or may not be a report depending on the circumstances surrounding the family conditions.

After-Hours Notification Schedules
DCS and the OCWI office hours are defined as 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. In order for the Department to meet mandated response to situations where children are in present danger, a system of after-hours procedures and staff are maintained throughout the state. All information received by the Hotline during after-hours which may require a response from DCS and the OCWI staff, prior to the next regular working day, is referred to DCS and the OCWI after-hours staff.


DCS Reports for Child Placement Assistance Only
There are instances when a DCS report is taken from law enforcement solely for the purpose of providing shelter for a child due to a parent’s absence or arrest. These DCS reports may be changed to communications if all of the following circumstances are met:
  • DCS staff learn that the parent or a caretaker is available when the reporting source is called back;
  • There are no other allegations of abuse or neglect by the parent or caretaker; and
  • The DCS staff has not made contact with the family.

Communication Review
The Hotline conducts a review process so communications are reviewed for accuracy. DCS Supervisors, DCS management staff, Office of Licensing and Regulation (OLR) staff, or the Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI) Manager may request a Communication Review of any communication type or assigned response time or tracking characteristic of a DCS report, prior to disposition for investigation.

To initiate a Communication Review
The following communication types may be processed via telephone request:
  • DCS reports with a Present Danger Response Time 1: The person making the request must describe the reasons for the needed change. Such changes can include the report being changed to a different communication type; adjustments to the maltreatment type; a change to a lower response time; or adjustments to the tracking characteristics.
  • The Intake Supervisor reviews the request. If agreed upon, Present Danger Response Time 1 reports may be changed to another communication type or another response time or category with no further documentation by the requestor. If agreement is not reached the requestor may request a second opinion from an Intake Manager.
  • Action Request Communications: The Intake Supervisor may review and complete this request when the Court orders DCS to take custody of a child and there is no allegation of abuse or neglect, or the parent could not be located. If allegations of abuse or neglect become known, or the parent refuses to take custody of the child after the initial contact, an Action Request can be changed to a DCS Report.

All other communication types can be processed by completing the Communication Review form. The requester completes the heading and the "Request for First Level Review" section, documents what changes is being requested and reason(s) supporting the request, and sends the form to the email address: Hotline QA noting, “QA Request – (Report or Caretaker’s Name)” on the subject line.

Review
Intake staff reviews the request and prior history on the family, if applicable, an assessment is conducted and recommendations provided regarding the request, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Intake staff sends the response via email to the requestor and copies the Intake Managers and the Intake Supervisor of the Intake Specialist who input the communication. If changes are recommended, Intake staff will make the appropriate changes and notify the requestor when completed.





 

Effective Date: July 25th, 2017

Revision History: November 30, 2012, March 18, 2013, July, 1, 2013, September 30, 2013, February 4, 2015, March 13, 2016, August 6, 2016


Chapter 1: Section 4
Cross Reporting

Policy
The Department shall cross report to other jurisdictions if it is determined that the information received does not meet criteria for a DCS report in Arizona, but a child living in another jurisdiction may be at risk of abuse or neglect.

The Department is required to provide information to the appropriate law enforcement agency when information received does not meet the criteria for a DCS report, but there is reason to believe a felony criminal offense may have been committed. This information shall be reported to law enforcement even if the identity and/ or current location of the victim or person suspected of the abuse or neglect is not known.

In addition, when information is received regarding maltreatment of a vulnerable adult or of a child in child care or behavioral health facilities, the Department shall cross report to the respective authority for these facilities

Procedures
Cross Reporting to Other State Child Welfare Agencies
When The Hotline determines that the information received does not meet criteria for a DCS report, but that a child living in another jurisdiction may be at risk of abuse or neglect, the Intake Specialist:
  • Cross reports to the Child Welfare agency in the other jurisdiction for an investigation to proceed;
  • Provides all available information regarding the possible abuse or neglect; and
  • Enters as a communication including a notation in the narrative as to who the Intake Specialist reported the information to.

Cross Reporting to Law Enforcement
When information received by the Hotline does not meet criteria for a DCS report, but there is reason to believe a felony criminal offense of abuse or neglect against a child may have occurred, the Intake Specialist:
  • Informs the reporting source of the need to cross report and encourages the source to call law enforcement;
  • Contacts the law enforcement agency where the crime took place, providing the information and a copy of the written communication if requested by law enforcement; and
  • Enters as a communication, which includes the law enforcement agency contacted with the incident or police report number provided.

The Intake Specialist documents all the information in a Communication, including the following information, if available, within the narrative:
  • Child’s full name, age or date of birth, and how to locate;
  • Parent/ caretaker’s full name, address, phone, and other pertinent information to locate;
  • Identity of the perpetrator, relationship to the child, and how to locate;
  • Specifics of the alleged criminal activity;
  • When the criminal activity took place (or estimated time frame); and
  • Where the criminal activity occurred. This is critical to determine law enforcement jurisdiction. If out of state, identify the law enforcement entity, if possible.

Cross-Reporting to Arizona Adult Protective Services
If the Intake Specialist determines that information received by The Hotline concerns abuse or neglect of a person over the age of 18 living within the State of Arizona, the Intake Specialist:
  • Suggests that the reporting source notify the Department of Economic Security (DES)’s Adult Protective Services (APS); and
  • Cross reports the information to DES/Adult Protective Services and enters the information as a communication.


DCS Office of Licensing and Regulation
Information not meeting report criteria involving children in the care, custody or control of the Department who are placed in a DCS licensed home or facility is to be documented and cross reported by the Intake Specialist to the Office of Licensing and Regulations.

DES Certified Child Care Homes and Licensed Facilities
Information received about a child placed in a facility licensed by DES, that does not meet the report criteria, and does not involved children in the care, custody or control of the Department, is documented as a communication and cross reported to DES.

DHS Licensed Child Care Homes/Facilities and Locked Behavioral Health Facilities
The Department of Health Services (DHS), Child Care Licensing Division licenses individuals and facilities to provide child care while the DHS Behavioral Health Licensing Division licenses locked facilities. Information received about a child receiving child care services from or placed in a facility licensed by DHS, which does not meet the report criteria, and does not involve children in the care, custody or control of the Department, is documented as a communication and cross reported to DHS.




 

Effective Date: August 6, 2016

Revision History: February 4, 2015
Chapter 1: Section 5
Safe Haven for Newborn Infants

Policy
The Safe Haven for Newborn Infants statutes, A.R.S. § 8-528 and § 13-3623.01(A), provide that a person is not guilty of abuse of a child pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3623(B) solely for leaving an unharmed newborn infant with a Safe Haven provider.

If a parent or agent of a parent voluntarily delivers the newborn infant to a Safe Haven provider, the Safe Haven provider shall receive the newborn infant if both of the following are true:
  • The parent did not express intent to return for the newborn infant; and
  • The Safe Haven provider reasonably believes that the child is an unharmed newborn infant.

The Department shall attempt to locate a licensed private adoption agency on the Save Haven agency list to take legal custody of a newborn infant left with a Safe Haven provider for placement.

A DCS report is taken only when no licensed private adoption agency on the Safe Haven agency list has the ability and desire to take custody of the newborn infant within 24 hours of completion of a physical examination.

Procedures
Definitions and Criteria for Safe Haven Newborn
An Agent is someone who delivers the child to a Safe Haven provider on behalf of the parent.

A Safe Haven provider means any of the following:
  • Staff member or volunteer at a licensed private child welfare agency or licensed adoption agency or church that posts a public notice;
  • Firefighter on duty;
  • Emergency medical technician (EMT) on duty; and
  • Medical staff member at a health care institution (e.g., a hospital).

A parent or agent of a parent who leaves a newborn infant with a Safe Haven provider may remain anonymous, and the Safe Haven provider is not required to ask the parent or agent any questions. The Safe Haven provider immediately calls the Hotline upon receiving a newborn infant from a parent or an agent of a parent. The Intake Specialist determines if the information provided meets the statutory definition of a Save Haven newborn.

The Intake Specialist enters as a Hotline communication the following criteria for a Safe Haven newborn infant:
  • Infant is 72 hours old or younger or that the date of birth is unknown but the source believes the child is 72 hours old or younger; and
  • Infant delivered by the parent or agent of the parent to a Safe Haven provider.

The following situations do not fall within the Safe Haven for Newborn Infants statutory provisions and are taken as a DCS report:
  • Mother gives birth in a hospital and decides she does not want to take the infant home.
  • Infants born in a hospital and subsequently left by a mother who does not return by the time the infant is ready for discharge are not considered a Safe Haven newborn because the mother did not voluntarily deliver the child to a Safe Haven provider.

In the above situations, the Intake Specialists requests the name, date of birth, and other identifying information about the mother, child, and alleged father from the source as required by the mandated reporting statute.

Required Physical Examination of Newborn Infant
All Safe Haven newborn infants must be examined at a hospital. If the reporting source is not a hospital, the Intake Specialist advises the reporting source to immediately transport or arrange for the infant to be transported to a hospital for a physical examination. If the reporting source is a hospital, the Intake Specialist confirms that an exam will be conducted.

Confirmation of Safe Haven Newborn Infant
The Intake Supervisor or manager confirms that the infant qualifies as a Safe Haven newborn infant and takes the following action:
  • If the Safe Haven provider is a licensed private adoption agency or is affiliated with a licensed adoption agency that has the ability and desire to take custody of the infant, confirm that the agency is a licensed private adoption agency.
  • If the licensing agency does not have the ability and desire to take custody of the infant and place the infant for adoption or the Safe Haven Provider is not affiliated with a licensing agency, immediately contact the next agency on the rotating list of licensed, private adoption agencies maintained by the Hotline and the Department’s Safe Haven Liaison. The Hotline must make this contact within eight (8) hours of notification of the original call about the Safe Haven infant.
  • Inform the private adoption agency that the agency is next on the rotating list and confirm that the agency will take custody of the infant within 24 hours from the time of the completion of the physical examination.
  • If the private adoption agency is not able and willing to take custody of the infant, contact the next agency on the rotating list until a licensed private adoption agency is located that is able and willing to take custody of the infant.
  • If the first agency is able and willing to take custody of the infant, provide the name, address and phone number of the hospital where the child is located. Ask the agency to contact the Hotline when the agency takes custody of the infant.
  • Contact the hospital and provide the agency name, contact name, and address and phone number of the agency that will take custody of the infant.

Confirmation of Custody Taken
Hotline management confirms that the licensed private adoption agency took custody of the infant within 24 hours from the time of the completion of the physical examination by reviewing the documentation of the follow-up telephone call from the agency. If no telephone call was received, Hotline management calls the agency to confirm they took custody of the infant. If the adoption agency is unable to take custody, the Hotline management will take steps to see if the next licensed, private adoption agency on the rotating list is able to take custody of the child. If no adoption agency takes custody of the infant within 48 hours after the completion of the physical examination, the original Hotline communication will be changed to a DCS report.


Documentation
Document all information received into CHILDS.

Indicate at the start of the first paragraph of the Hotline communication narrative that this is a Safe Haven Newborn communication.




 

Effective Date: February 4, 2015

Revision History:

Chapter 2: Section 1
 Disposition of Reports and Initial Response

Policy
Upon receipt of a Department of Child Safety (DCS) report by a local office, a DCS Program Supervisor, OCWI Manager, or other designated staff acting in a supervisor role shall assign one of the following dispositions:
  • Field investigation;
  • Field Investigation Unknown Report; or
  • No jurisdiction.

Upon receiving information that there is or may be a federal statute, state statute, or court order that prohibits or restricts the Department from fully investigating the report (e.g. the alleged maltreatment occurred on Tribal reservation land), the DCS Program Supervisor or OCWI Manager shall review the court order and/or consult the appropriate jurisdiction to determine whether the Department will have a role in investigating the report.

The Department shall initiate the response to a DCS report in a timely manner, according to the report response timeframes specified in Chapter 1: Section 3 Prioritizing Reports and Response.

The DCS Specialist shall initiate the response to a DCS report by having in-person contact with an alleged child victim identified in the DCS report, or by attempting to have in-person contact with an alleged child victim at the child’s known or probable location.

The Department shall make reasonable efforts to have in-person contact with each alleged child victim within the assigned report response time frame.

The response time frame may be mitigated after law enforcement, other emergency personnel, or a professional mandated reporting source makes in-person contact with the alleged child victim(s) and provides information to the assigned local DCS office that confirms: (1) the child(ren)’s current whereabouts, (2) that the child(ren) are not in present danger, and (3) and that a mitigating factor is present. Mitigating factors are:
  • The child is hospitalized and will remain hospitalized during the mitigated response time frame.
  • The child is under continuous supervision of a responsible adult and will remain there during the mitigated response time frame.
  • The report is of a child death and it is confirmed that there is no other child in the home or the alleged perpetrator has no access to another child.

The initial report response time frame is measured from the time the local DCS office receives the report from the Child Abuse Hotline.

When the Department has received a DCS report, the Department shall make reasonable efforts to locate the child victim and family.

The Department shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency when the DCS report contains allegations of criminal conduct, in accordance with joint investigation protocols. If during the course of an investigation the Department determines that a criminal offense may have been committed or a new allegation of abuse or neglect not previously reported is present, the Department shall immediately provide information to the appropriate law enforcement agency and the DCS Hotline.

The Department shall report immediately, and in no case later than 24 hours after receiving, information on missing or abducted children or youth to law enforcement authorities for entry into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.

The Department shall report immediately, and in no case later than 24 hours after receiving, information on a missing or abducted children or youth to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).


Procedures
Disposition of Reports
When a DCS report is received by the local DCS office from the Child Abuse Hotline (the Hotline)the unit supervisor or another designated staff acting in a supervisory role will review the report to determine:
  • if there is agreement of the Hotline's decision to take the report based on the information provided or initiate a Communication Review; or
  • to disposition the report as one of the following:
    • Field investigation;
    • Field Investigation Unknown Report; or
    • No jurisdiction.

Disposition a report as Field Investigation Unknown Report when the family name is unknown but there is other identifying information, such as an address or location. The DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator is required to respond to the DCS report based on the information provided and within the report response time frame. When the name of the family is determined, search CHILDS to determine if the family already has a history with DCS.
  • If there is a case history or a case ID for the family, the DCS Program Supervisor will link the current report to the existing case and change the disposition to Field Investigation.
  • If there is no case history or case ID for the family, the DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator will update all unknown participants with their correct names and identifying information, and the DCS Program Supervisor or OCWI Manager will create a new case and change the disposition to Field Investigation.

Upon receiving information that a federal statute, state statute, or court order does or may prohibit or restrict the Department from fully investigating the report, the DCS Program Supervisor or OCWI Manager will review the court order and/or contact the appropriate jurisdiction to determine whether the Department will have a role in investigating the report.

After contacting the appropriate jurisdiction, if it is determined that the Department will not have a role in investigating the report (for example, when the family resides on an American Indian Tribal land, or upon confirming that a statute or court order prohibits the Department from taking investigative action) the DCS Program Supervisor or OCWI Manager will disposition the report as No Jurisdiction. The Department must provide a copy of the report to the responsible jurisdiction and document all contacts in a case note. For more information about coordination of investigations when a family is currently on Tribal land, see Chapter 6, Section 1, Identification of an Indian Child and Determination of Jurisdiction.

Mitigating a Response Timeframe
The DCS Supervisor or OCWI Manager may mitigate the report response time frame when law enforcement, other emergency personnel, or a professional mandated reporting source made in-person contact with the alleged child victim(s) and provides information to the assigned local DCS or OCWI office to confirm:
  • each alleged child victim’s current whereabouts;
  • each alleged child victim is not currently in present danger;
  • there is no indication that any other child in the home is in present danger; and:
  • one or more of the following mitigating factors is present for each of the alleged child victims:
    • The child is hospitalized and will remain hospitalized during the mitigated response time frame.
    • The child is under continuous supervision of a responsible adult and will remain there during the mitigated response time.
    • The report is of a child death and it is confirmed that there is no other child in the home or the alleged perpetrator has no access to another child.

The response time frame may be mitigated while the mitigating factor is present, and for no more than 24 consecutive hours. A response time frame of seven days (Priority and Response Time 4) may not be mitigated. The Department must make reasonable efforts to have in-person contact with each alleged child victim while the mitigating factor is present and within the mitigated response time frame.

Contact law enforcement to request a welfare check in the following circumstances:
  • An alleged child victim is currently outside of Arizona, across a state or federal border.
  • A two hour response time frame is assigned, but a child victim is two or more hours away from the assigned local office, so that DCS is not able to make in-person contact with the child within the response time frame.
  • There is concern for the safety of the DCS Specialist based on information in the report or the criminal background of an adult in the home.
  • The Program Manager has approved the welfare check to be requested for another reason related to the safety of a child or DCS staff.

Response to DCS Reports
The report response time frame begins when a local DCS office receives the DCS report from the Hotline either by telephone notification or when the report is assigned (dispositioned) to the local office (appearing on the Supervisor’s Report Directory), whichever occurs first.

The DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator must initiate the response to a DCS report within the assigned response time frame by having in-person contact with an alleged child victim identified in the report, or attempting to have in-person contact with an alleged child victim at the child’s known or probable location.

The following examples do not constitute an initial response:
  • calling the reporting source for additional information;
  • requesting law enforcement to complete a welfare check; or
  • having a telephone call with a school nurse, school social worker, relative, neighbor, non-abusing parent, etc., who claims to ensure the safety of the child.

The DCS Specialist or OCWI investigator must make reasonable efforts to have in-person contact with each alleged victim within the assigned response time frame. When there are multiple children in the report or a child’s location is not confirmed, initiate the response early enough to allow reasonable efforts to have in-person contact with all of the children within the report response time frame. Reasonable efforts include actions to identify and respond to the probable location(s) of the child victims (such as the child’s home, non-custodial parent’s home, school or child care setting, and/or other probable locations identified in the report or through other means). Prompt follow-up must occur until all alleged child victims and other children in the home have been seen in-person and the safety of each child has been assessed and managed, or reasonable efforts to locate each child have been made.

Locating the Child Victim and Family for Investigation
Make reasonable efforts to locate the child and family for all cases assigned for investigation as follows:
  • Make at least three (3) attempts to locate the alleged child victim(s) and any other children in the home through home visits at different times of day during the investigation.
  • Send a certified letter to the family's last known address.
  • Interview the reporting source or other persons who may have information about the location of the child victim or family such as the landlord or neighbors.
  • Review the Family Assistance Administration (FAA) AZTECS database to determine if a current address is available for the child and the child's family.
  • Contact the County Jail and the Department of Correction if the DCS report or other information indicates current or past incarceration.
  • If identifying information is available on one or more adult household members, complete the DPS background check and review MVD information, when available, to determine if a current or recent address is available for the child's family.

Complete the following reasonable efforts to locate the child if the circumstance applies to the child or family:
  • If the child is of school age;
    • contact the child’s school or school district, if known;
    • complete a search with the Arizona Department of Education, or
    • contact other schools in the area of the family’s last known address.
  • If the child is attending child care;
    • contact the child care provider, if known; or
    • contact the Department of Economic Security (DES) Child Care Administration to determine if the child is enrolled in another child care facility.

Request law enforcement assistance in locating:
  • the victim(s), or sibling(s) or other child(ren) living in the home with an alleged victim of a criminal conduct allegation, with DCS Program Supervisor approval; or
  • a child who is a ward of the court.

Submit a request to the Arizona Family Locate Service when the DCS report response time frame is Priority 1 or 2.

If the family is believed to have left the State of Arizona and the state to which the family is or may be moving is known, contact that state’s child protection agency.

If preliminary information gathered during the investigation indicates the child victim is in present danger and/or impending danger and the whereabouts of the child and family remain unknown, consult with the Attorney General’s Office regarding filing a petition for a court order for temporary investigative custody if the child is located. [ARS § 8-821(A)]

Family Locate
The Family Locate Unit can be used as part of reasonable efforts to locate a parent, guardian, or custodian. Complete the DCS Family Locate Referral, CSO-1310A and email it to the + Family Locate mailbox.

Include the type of action that the request is related to (Investigation, Dependency, Severance, etc.) as these indicators are used to prioritize the incoming request. In addition, the Requesters Information section must be completed to serve as a contact mechanism should additional facts and/or clarification be needed to appropriately conduct the search. Other mandatory fields include:
  • CHILDS case name,
  • Missing person name,
  • Participant Identification Number (PID),
  • DCS Specialist’s name,
  • Site Code,
  • Telephone number
  • Fax number.

Provide as much information as possible in order to increase the likelihood of a successful and timely locate outcome. The PID number is crucial because documentation of results and the ability to refer to external vendors is dependent upon this data. If known, include information such as date of birth (DOB), Social Security Number (SSN), physical description, last known address (LKA), etc.

Missing Children, Notification, and Entry into Databases
The Department of Child Safety is required to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency when DCS receives a report made pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3620 or receives information during the course of providing services to the child and family that indicates a child is at risk of serious harm and the child’s whereabouts are unknown (missing). A missing child may be determined to be at serious risk of harm based on the following:
  • the DCS report narrative and/or additional information from the reporting source or other collateral contacts and a thorough review of the family’s history with DCS, including any law enforcement involvement; or
  • an assessment that the child is in present danger or unsafe due to impending danger based on information collected from collateral sources and interviews conducted with family members or others.

The Family Locate Unit or the Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI) at +OCWI Referrals may assist in completing additional efforts to locate the child. When all reasonable efforts have been made to locate the missing child and the child cannot be located, the child’s whereabouts are unknown and the child is considered missing.

When a child is at serious risk of harm and is missing or has been abducted, the Child Safety Specialist or OCWI Investigator shall consult with the DCS Supervisor or OCWI Manger to determine whether the child is a “missing child.” The DCS Supervisor or OCWI Manager must:
  • within 24 hours, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) to add the missing or abducted child to their database. An online report may be made by visiting: https://cmfc.missingkids.org/reportit;
  • within 24 hours, notify the appropriate law enforcement agency that the child is missing; and
  • provide the mandatory information to enter the child into the Arizona Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center Missing Person Databases as an “endangered” missing child. This mandatory information includes:
    • Name,
    • Sex,
    • Race,
    • Date of Birth,
    • Height,
    • Weight,
    • Eye Color,
    • Hair Color, and
    • Date of last contact.

If known, provide the following additional information to assist law enforcement to locate the child:
  • last known address or location
  • Social Security Number
  • personal descriptors including scars, marks, tattoos and other physical characteristics
  • identifying information on siblings (name, date of birth, Social Security Number)
  • significant relationships (including grandparents or other extended family members)
  • current or last school attended
  • vehicle of the person believed to have the missing child in his/her custody, such as:
    • Vehicle make
    • Vehicle model
    • Vehicle style
    • Vehicle color
    • Vehicle identification number
    • Vehicle license plate number
    • Vehicle license state
    • Vehicle license type
  • If the vehicle information is not known, DCS may ask the local law enforcement agency to search the Motor Vehicle Division database for any vehicles registered to the person.

The person who may have custody of the missing child qualifies for entry into the Arizona Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center Missing Person Databases. If the person who may have custody of the missing child has a history of substance abuse, mental illness or a physical disability, request the appropriate law enforcement agency to enter the person under the missing person “disability” category. The DCS Supervisor or OCWI Manager shall file a signed Missing Person report if requested by law enforcement.

When filing an endangered missing child or a missing adult report, request the local law enforcement agency to contact the Child Abuse Hotline if the child or adult is located. If the Department locates the missing child or adult, the Department must contact and inform the assigned law enforcement agency within 24 hours.

If the local law enforcement agency does not accept a “missing” person report, the DCS Supervisor or OCWI Manager should contact his/her assigned Program Manager to elevate this decision to the next supervisory level within the appropriate law enforcement agency.

If the person who may have custody of the missing child does not meet the criteria for entry into the Arizona Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center Missing Person Databases, ask the local law enforcement agency to enter the person in the “wanted person file, attempt to locate (ATL)” in the Arizona Crime Information Center Database. Provide the child’s missing person report number to link this report to the “miscellaneous” field in the child’s missing person file.

Missing Child is Located
If notified by the Child Abuse Hotline that the missing child has been located by law enforcement, immediately contact the law enforcement officer to determine the child’s location and information concerning the child’s current circumstances. Respond to the location of the child, assess the child’s safety, and determine the need for a protective action. Coordinate and collaborate with the Region that filed the missing child report. It may be necessary to make arrangements for the child’s immediate placement if the child has been taken into protective custody by law enforcement. Obtain a copy of the temporary custody notice from the law enforcement officer.

If the child is located by means other than law enforcement, respond to the location of the child, assess the child’s safety, and determine the need for a protective action. Coordinate and collaborate with the Region that filed the missing child report. Immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement agency that the missing child has been located.

If a missing child on an open case is located, the Child Abuse Hotline will:
  • issue a status communication to the unit where the case is open, and
  • contact the local DCS office where the child is located for an immediate response.

If a missing child on a closed case is located, the Child Abuse Hotline will:
  • take a report based on the primary parent’s residence, and
  • contact the local DCS office where the child is located for an immediate response.

Documentation
Disposition and documentation of reports by DCS Program Supervisor or OCWI Manager
The DCS Program Supervisor or OCWI Manager shall use the Report Disposition window in CHILDS to enter and document the decision to assign a report as follows:
  • Field Investigation;
  • Field Investigation Unknown; or
  • No Jurisdiction.


Documentation of Reports Dispositioned as No Jurisdiction
Document how and when the report information was provided to the appropriate jurisdiction in the Report Disposition Window Explain Box.

Document the DCS Program Supervisor’s or OCWI Manager’s review and approval or denial of a decision not to take additional investigative action because there is a federal statute, state statute, or court order that prohibits or restricts the Department from fully investigating the report in the Report Disposition Window Explain Box.

Documentation of a Mitigated Response Timeframe
Use the CSRA, Section II, to document information obtained from law enforcement, other emergency personnel, or a professional mandated reporting source who made in-person contact with the alleged child victim(s) and confirmed the report met the criteria for a mitigated response time frame.

Documentation must include:
  • the name and profession of the person providing the information;
  • the date and time when the information was provided directly to the assigned local DCS office;
  • the date, time, and location of contact with each child victim;
  • information that indicates each alleged child victim is not currently in present danger;
  • information that indicates no other child in the home is in present danger;
  • information that indicates a mitigating factor is present for each child victim.

Use the Report Detail (LCH031) window to document the initial response. Enter the date and time of the initial response as well as the name and role of the person who made the initial response (e.g. “Law Enforcement” or “Other Emergency”).

Use the Report Detail (LCH031) window to document the name of the DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator who made the initial Department response. Document the date and time the DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator had in-person contact with an alleged child victim, or attempted to have in-person contact with an alleged child victim at the child’s known or probable location.

Documentation of Response Initiation by Child Safety Specialist or OCWI
For unmitigated reports, use the Report Detail (LCH031) window to document the name of the DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator who made the initial Department response. Document the date and time the DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator had in-person contact with an alleged child victim, or attempted to have in-person contact with an alleged child victim at the child’s known or probable location. Select field response “CPS”.

Documentation of In-Person Contact with Children
Use the CSRA, Section II, to document the actions taken to initiate the response, and reasonable efforts to have in-person contact with each alleged victim within the assigned response time frame, including actions to identify and respond to the known or probable location(s) of the child victims.

Use the CSRA to document continuing efforts to have in-person contact with all alleged child victims and other children in the home, and to assess and manage the safety of each child.

Missing child documentation for DCS Supervisor
Document that a child is “missing” and that a law enforcement report has been filed in a Locate Efforts case note in CHILDS. Document the date, time, law enforcement agency contacted, report number and the name of the specific child, parent, guardian, custodian or other person identified as “missing” in a Locate Efforts case note.

If law enforcement does not accept a “missing” child or adult person report, document efforts to make the report in a Locate Efforts case note including contact made by the assigned Program Manager elevating the decision to the next supervisory level within the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Within 24 hours of a missing child being located, enter a case note indicating that the child has been located and, if the child was located by means other than law enforcement, that the appropriate law enforcement agency has been notified.



Chapter 2: Section 2
Pre-Commencement Activities to Prepare for Initial Response
Policy
The DCS Specialist shall conduct pre-commencement activities to prepare and plan for conducting the Family Functioning Assessment – Investigation.

A DCS Specialist shall make concerted efforts to obtain and review the following prior to initiating the response to a DCS report:
  • prior Arizona CHILDS records concerning the alleged child victim and alleged perpetrator;
  • any information obtained from another jurisdiction concerning the alleged child victim and alleged perpetrator (if during the course of an investigation it is discovered that abuse or neglect occurred in another state or jurisdiction, the DCS Specialist shall contact the appropriate agency to determine the outcome of that investigation);
  • criminal histories;
  • court orders; and
  • any additional documents that are known and available that may assist in the assessment of child safety and the investigation of the allegations.

The Department shall identify, promptly obtain, and abide by court orders that restrict or deny custody, visitation, or contact by a parent or other person in the home where the child resides.

Procedures
Pre-commencement activities prepare the DCS Specialist for conducting the Family Functioning Assessment – Investigation. The DCS Specialist obtains, reviews, and analyzes available information prior to initiating contact with the family; and develops a plan for the initial contact, including specific information to be collected at the initial contact.

Obtain and review as much information as possible before the initial contact, considering the urgency for response. For example, a Priority 1 response time frame may limit the Specialist’s ability to gather historical information prior to making contact with the family. When essential review activities cannot to be completed prior to initial contact, the DCS Specialist should complete a comprehensive record review as soon as possible, prior to conducting further investigative activities.

If the DCS Specialist discovers there is an order of protection in place, the Specialist must assess both worker and victim safety concerns and obtain additional information to the extent possible regarding the alleged perpetrator’s compliance or non-compliance with prior or current orders.

Obtaining and Reviewing History
Review the Arizona CHILDS database for any records involving the family, including all reports, communications, and case history. The review will include the following information:
  • the current allegation narrative and parties involved;
  • all prior reports and investigation summaries to identify:
    • patterns of maltreatment types, alleged victims, alleged perpetrators, and investigative outcomes;
    • patterns of escalating maltreatment (i.e. increase in frequency of reports or severity of maltreatment) over time;
      • elapsed time between alleged maltreatment incidents (i.e. reports are occurring more frequently over the past 12 months, etc.);
      • injuries to a child victim that required hospitalization or medical treatment (or trauma therapy);
      • prior Department interventions (voluntary services, safety plans, judicial involvement);
    • change in household or familial composition;
    • patterns of pervasive individual or family conditions that have been unmanaged in the past (i.e. domestic violence, parental substance abuse, and unmanaged medical or mental health condition in a household member, etc.); and
    • services the family has been offered or participated in, the outcomes of these services (types, participation, progress, and completion), how these services addressed the identified safety threats and risks, and whether the services were successful.

Determine whether additional sources of information should be contacted, such as school or medical personnel, law enforcement, relatives, and other persons with knowledge about the allegations.

Determine whether additional information should be obtained, such as law enforcement records, medical records, school records, mental health records, and other relevant records.

If information is obtained that an allegation of child abuse or neglect may have been made in another state or other jurisdiction, contact the state or other jurisdiction to determine the outcome of any investigation of the allegation(s). If history exists, request records from the jurisdiction to incorporate into the current Family Functioning Assessment. A list of state child welfare agencies is available at Child Welfare Information Gateway. If a family has lived in another state or jurisdiction, consult with a DCS Program Supervisor to determine if contact with the other state or jurisdiction will occur.

Obtaining and Reviewing Department of Public Safety (DPS) background checks
Obtain Department of Public Safety (DPS) background checks and results when investigating and responding to all reports of child abuse and neglect. Include a review of National (NCIC), state (ACJIS), and a search of public records. If unable to complete a DPS background check or more information is needed to support or refute the allegations, conduct a check of local criminal histories, including requesting information from local law enforcement for recent contact history with the family and/ or at the residential address (if available).

In accordance with federal requirements, the criminal history information may only be used for these purposes and must be shredded when no longer needed for the investigation.

A request should be submitted for each case. Second and subsequent requests may be submitted as necessary, for example, when household composition changes or when updated information is needed. The criminal history information cannot be secondarily disseminated.

Submit a request for criminal history information on the parents of each child victim and all other adults in the home where the alleged abuse or neglect occurred to the DPS using the DPS Criminal Records Check Find window. Each request must include the person’s full legal name, date of birth, and valid social security number.

The criminal history information should be used in developing a strategy to initiate the assessment and assist in decision making concerning the safety of the children and DCS staff.

Upon receipt of the criminal history information, determine whether any adult in the home has any current or prior criminal activity:
  • that may pose a threat to the safety of the DCS Specialist or other child welfare staff;
  • involving a child or that places a child at risk of harm, including past abuse or neglect of a child;
  • involving substance abuse;
  • involving domestic violence where:
    • a child was assaulted; or
    • a child was injured or threatened, or may have attempted to intervene; or
    • a child was inadvertently harmed even though he/she may not be the actual target of the violence; or
    • the caregiver's own victimization (past or current) severely interferes with his or her ability to parent or protect child; or
    • a household member has past convictions regarding violent behaviors and acts toward others to include assault and battery, homicide, sexual assault or rape, or criminal acts involving weapons.

Obtaining and Reviewing Court Orders
The DCS Specialist must make a good faith effort to promptly obtain and abide by court orders that restrict or deny custody, visitation or contact by a parent or other person in the home with the child. As part of this good faith effort, the DCS Specialist must ask the parent, guardian, or custodian under investigation if a current court order exists [ARS §8-802 (C)(11)]. A court includes but is not limited to city court, criminal court, domestic relations court, family court, justice court, probate court, federal court, and tribal court. Limited information about orders for wants, warrants, orders of protection and injunctions will be available as part of the criminal history information obtained from DPS. The DCS Specialist should request copies of court orders by contacting the Clerk of Court, Superior Court in the county in which the order was entered. If the DCS Specialist confirms that the parent/caregiver's custody, visitation, or contact with the child was denied or restricted, abide by the terms of the order if the order is in effect. The DCS Specialist cannot facilitate or concur with placement or contact of the child with the parent/caregiver in any manner that conflicts with the order. If the DCS Specialist confirms that any adult in the home has restricted contact with a child, abide by the terms of the order if the order is in effect.

If the order has expired or the status of the order cannot be confirmed, consult with the Office of the Attorney General prior to facilitating or concurring with placement or contact of the child with the parent.

Information obtained from the order or court records must be considered during the investigation of the allegation(s) and assessment of child safety and safety planning.

Collection and Review of Additional Information and Documents
Obtain and review medical, school, and/or behavioral health records for the child if:
  • the current allegations are directly related to the child’s physical health, education, or behavioral health;
  • there is reason to believe these records contain information that will fill a gap or reconcile an inconsistency in the information about child safety; or
  • there is reason to believe records contain evidence necessary for substantiation or a dependency.

When obtaining the child(ren)'s medical, school, and/or behavioral health records, the DCS Specialist should do the following:

Obtain and review medical and/or behavioral health records or provider reports for parents, guardians, or caregivers if any of the following apply:

  • The parent’s, guardian’s, or custodian’s medical or behavioral health is directly related to the current allegation.
  • There is reason to believe these records contain or confirm information that will fill a gap or reconcile an inconsistency in the information about child safety.
  • There is reason to believe the records contain evidence necessary for substantiation or dependency action.

When obtaining the parent's, guardian's, or custodian's health, behavioral health, or substance abuse records, obtain signed consents authorizing release of the records utilizing the Authorization to Disclose Health Information, CSO-1038.

Required Reporter Contact
The DCS Specialist must attempt to contact the reporting source to verify information contained in the allegation narrative and to explore additional information the reporter might have on the maltreatment incident or about the child or family’s functioning. Attempt to contact the reporting source prior to the initial contact with the family, except when a concern for child safety and the need for expediency warrants a post-initial response contact, as in the following circumstances:
  • An immediate response is needed because a Priority 1 response time is required.
  • Attempting contact with the reporter may increase the risk of harm to the child or adult household member (e.g., reporter is a subject of the report or resides in the same home as the family and attempted contact may inadvertently alert the alleged perpetrator of the investigation, etc.).

When circumstances preclude contacting a reporting source prior to initial contact with the family or an attempted contact was unsuccessful, contact the reporting source as soon as practical after the initial response is completed.

Preparing for Specific Types of Investigations
The investigation of specific types of allegations may require additional preparation or action by the DCS Specialist, and/or may require the DCS Specialist to obtain and review additional documentation and information to support or refute the allegations of abuse or neglect.

Medical Examinations
Medical examinations and/or consultation by a physician with expertise in child abuse and neglect are required for specific injuries or circumstances. Examinations and/or consultations are available through the local Child Advocacy Centers or may be performed at a medical center or hospital where the child is located. This requirement applies to the following injuries or circumstances:
  • Head injury resulting in skull fractures or impact to the skull;
  • Internal organ injury;
  • Multiple injuries or multiple plane injuries (battering);
  • Severe facial bruises;
  • Fractures or bruises in a non-ambulatory child;
  • Fractures;
  • Instrumentation injury with risk of impairment;
  • Immersion burns;
  • Second and third degree burns;
  • Abusive Head Trauma;
  • Medical Child Abuse (e.g., Fabricated or Induced Illness/Factitious Disorder);
  • Delayed or untreated medical condition which is life threatening or permanently disabling which may include Infant Doe, comatose state or debilitation from starvation or possible non-organic failure to thrive;
  • Serious physical injury or illness due to neglect;
  • Child under age six (6) who has been provided prescribed/non-prescribed or illegal drugs or alcohol and is exhibiting symptoms of the drug or alcohol;
  • Child reporting vaginal or anal penetration or oral sexual contact (oral contact with the penis, vulva or anus) within the past seventy-two (72) hours, AND has not been examined by a medical doctor; or
  • Child reporting sexual abuse within the past 120 hours (5 days), AND has not been examined by a medical doctor.

Consider a medical examination/urine analysis if there is reason to believe a child has been residing in a home with extensive drug usage or sales, or if the child had access to the drugs.

Consider a medical examination of non-verbal siblings in cases of near fatality or fatality as a result of physical abuse.

Forensic medical examinations are generally required for cases involving criminal conduct allegations, especially when sexual abuse is indicated. Consult your county's joint investigation protocol to determine whether a forensic medical examination is required.

Based on consultation with your DCS Program Supervisor, medical examinations may be obtained in other circumstances to confirm whether the injury is non-accidental or suspected to have been inflicted.

Explain to the parent, guardian, or custodian the purpose of the medical examination and try to elicit their support and permission for the process.

If the parent, guardian, or custodian refuses to allow the child to be examined, place the child in temporary custody for up to 12 hours to have the child examined by a medical doctor or psychologist. Utilize the Temporary Custody Notice, CSO-1000, if the child is removed.

When it is suspected that abuse or neglect has occurred, but a physician or other medical personnel is unable to confirm the abuse or neglect, or differing or conflicting medical opinions have been received from the same or different physicians regarding the diagnosis or specific medical finding(s), the case, including all medical opinions should be reviewed within 48 hours with:
  • a physician who has substantial experience and expertise in child abuse and neglect diagnosis, or
  • a multidisciplinary team (including a physician who has substantial experience and expertise in child abuse or neglect diagnosis, any attending physician, the DCS Specialist and the DCS Supervisor).

If a multidisciplinary team or expert medical consultation is unavailable in your area, consult with your supervisor and have your DCS Program Supervisor or Program Manager contact the CMDP Medical Director at 602-351-2245.

Fatality and Near Fatality
When investigating a child fatality, coordinate with law enforcement and the Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI), if available, to gather medical documentation to determine whether a child’s death was the result of abuse or neglect. Ask the physician (e.g. medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy):
  • Is the child's injury or condition consistent with a non-accidental injury and/or due to parent, guardian, or custodian neglect?
  • Based on the information the physician has at this time, is it his or her opinion that it is likely the child died as a result of this injury or condition?

When investigating a near fatality, ask the physician (e.g. medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy):
  • Is the child's injury or condition consistent with a non-accidental injury and/or due to parent, guardian or custodian neglect?
  • Is the child in serious or critical condition because of this injury or condition?

A child's injury may also be identified as a near fatality when a parent, guardian, or custodian has admitted to or has been arrested, indicted, charged, or convicted for causing the child's injury and the medical professional has confirmed the injury places the child in serious or critical condition.

Permitting a Child to Enter or Remain in a Structure or Vehicle in which Chemicals or Equipment is Found for Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug
Information gathering should focus on whether the parent, guardian, or custodian knew or should have known that dangerous drugs were being manufactured in the structure or vehicle, and whether he/she permitted the child to enter or remain in the structure or vehicle. Also, determine the frequency and duration that the child was in this location.

Indicators that the parent, guardian, or custodian may have known or should have known include the following:
  • the presence of drugs, drug equipment, or paraphernalia;
  • persistent noxious odor;
  • purchasing or sale of an illegal substance from the structure or vehicle; or
  • presence or observation of volatile, toxic, or flammable chemicals used for manufacturing a dangerous drug.

Inquire about or observe the following in assessing the parent’s, guardian’s, or caregiver’s knowledge.
  • Are there frequent visitors or activity at all times or at odd hours of the day/night?
  • Are the occupants unemployed, yet they appear to have money and other commodities?
  • Is there extensive security (such as cameras) or unusual ways to obscure the home or vehicle?
  • Is there indication of chemical waste dumping (such as “burn pits” or “dead spots”) in the yard?
  • Is there indication of the following chemicals or equipment: rubber tubing, bunsen burner, ammonium sulphate, kitty litter, sodium hydroxide, rock salt, camp fuel, solvent (such as lighter fluid), liquid propane, freon, iodine, lacquer thinner, sulfuric acid (such as Liquid Plummer), multiple packs or boxes of Sudafed and/or ephedrine or pseudoephedrine etc?

Medical Marijuana
If a parent, guardian, or custodian claims he/she is a qualifying medical marijuana patient with a debilitating medical condition, focus information collection on whether the medical use of marijuana impairs parental functioning, and/or whether the child has been intentionally or negligently exposed to medical marijuana; thus, placing the child in present or impending danger. In making this determination, ask about the following:
  • the debilitating medical condition;
  • method of consumption (smoking, vaporization, infused edible food products, etc.);
  • any action taken by the patient to ensure that any child in the home is not adversely affected by the patient’s medical use of marijuana such as,
    • plans to consume (smoking, vaporization, infused edible food products, etc.) when the child is not present,
    • plans to make arrangements so that the child is not exposed to “second hand” smoke or vapor;
  • any action taken by the patient to make arrangements so the child in the home does not have access to the marijuana, such as:
    • the marijuana is clearly labeled, out-of-sight and not accessible to the child;
    • if the patient is authorized to cultivate marijuana plants for the patient’s medical use, whether the plants are secured in an enclosed, locked facility;
    • if the patient cooks with marijuana, whether any resultant food products are clearly labeled, out-of-sight, and not accessible to the child;
  • the effect of the debilitating medical condition and the medical use of marijuana on the patient's ability to provide a safe home environment for the child, including:
    • transportation to/from appointments, and other routine activities,
    • any concerns by the patient's physician about the patient’s ability to provide for the child’s safety and well-being; and
    • whether there is another responsible un-medicated caregiver in the home when consumption occurs, and if more than one caregiver is a qualifying patient, plans to ensure that one caregiver is un-medicated (established routine where one caregiver is un-medicated at all times).

Substance Exposure to a Newborn Infant (under 30 days of age)
Information gathering should focus on documenting that a health professional has determined that a newborn infant was exposed prenatally to a drug or substance listed in section 13-3401 (does not include alcohol), and that this exposure was not the result of a medical treatment administered to the mother or the newborn infant by a health professional. The determination by the health professional shall be based on one or more of the following:
  • Clinical indicators in the prenatal period, including maternal or the newborn presentation
  • History of substance use or abuse including the type, frequency, and amount of drug used and the last time used
  • Medical history
  • Results of a toxicology or other laboratory test on the mother or the newborn infant

Obtain all relevant medical documentation regarding the determination made by the health professional. Health professionals include physicians, surgeons, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants acting under the direction of a physician or surgeon.

If available, collect additional information evidencing the parent’s, guardian’s, or custodian’s drug and/or alcohol use including but not limited to:
  • the child's complete medical records;
  • the mother's medical records pertaining to the period of pregnancy; and
  • any additional records (such as police report or medical records) evidencing the parent’s, guardian’s, or custodian’s drug and/or alcohol use.

Substance Exposure to Infant(from birth to up to one year of age)
In addition to the above, information gathering should focus on documenting that the use of a dangerous drug, narcotic drug, or alcohol by the mother adversely affected the infant’s health. Information gathering should include a:
  • medical diagnosis that the child was exposed to a dangerous drug, a narcotic drug or alcohol during pregnancy;
  • identification of the adverse effects of the prenatal exposure; and
  • medical interpretation that the infant’s symptoms are the result of the prenatal exposure.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) or Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAE)
Information gathering should focus on documenting the diagnosis by a health professional of an infant under one year of age with clinical findings consistent with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or fetal alcohol effects (FAE). The diagnosis may be made at any time during the child’s first year of life.

Deliberate Exposure to or Reckless Disregard of the Child’s Presence During Sexual Activity
Deliberate exposure means that the parent, guardian, or custodian knowingly and willingly subjected the child to sexual activities, including having the child read or view explicit sexual materials (pornography), buying the child explicit sexual materials (pornography), taking the child to a strip club, having the child view others engaged in sexual activity, or allowing the child to see activities of bestiality or materials depicting bestiality.

Reckless disregard means that the parent, guardian, or custodian knew or should have known that the child was present or would likely be present when engaging in sexual activity, and failed to take actions to prevent the child from observing the activity such as closing and/or locking the door, waiting for the child to sleep, etc. Note that this would not include infants who sleep in the same room as their parent, guardian, or custodian.

Information gathering should focus on obtaining statements from credible witnesses (including the child and parent) and corroborative evidence of the alleged behavior involved.

Child Victim of Sex Trafficking
Sex Trafficking involves recruiting, harboring, transporting, obtaining, maintaining, or benefiting financially from any commercial sex act involving a child. Gather information from interviews with the child and other sources to determine if the child is a victim of sex trafficking. A child who has been subject to commercial sexual exploitation is always considered a victim of sex trafficking,
not a perpetrator.

When information indicates that a child has been exposed to sex trafficking, follow procedures for Criminal Conduct or New Allegations disclosed during the Investigation found in Interviewing. Refer the child to appropriate services to address his/her needs.

Unreasonable Confinement
Confinement means the restriction of movement or confining of a child to an enclosed area and/or using a threat of harm or intimidation to force a child to remain in a location or position.

Information gathering should take into account the totality of the circumstances. The totality of the circumstances includes consideration of the method and length of confinement; and the child’s age, developmental and cognitive functioning, and any special needs such as mental illness, behavioral health, and physical limitations.

Examples of unreasonable confinement may include but are not limited to:
  • tying a child’s arms or legs together;
  • binding (tying) a child to a chair, bed, tree, or other object; or
  • locking a child in a cage.

Locking a child in a bedroom, closet, or shed may be unreasonable confinement, taking into account the totality of the circumstances, such as the length of time; whether the child was deprived of food, water, access to a bathroom; or had no means to leave in the event of an emergency.

Documentation
In the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA) under Section I: Background Information document the following:

Prior History in Arizona or other states or jurisdictions:
  • Document each report, including the current report, with the date, summary of allegations, findings, and service outcomes.
  • Document if there is a pattern of maltreatment, chronicity, increasing severity of the allegations, or a change in the household composition.

Department of Public Safety (DPS) background checks and results:
  • List any arrests, charges, and disposition for all parents of the child victim(s).
  • List any arrest, charges, and disposition for each adult in the home where the maltreatment occurred.
  • Document each adults relationship to the child(ren).

Court Orders Limiting or Restricting Contact:
  • Document efforts made to obtain the information, including the date that each parent, guardian, or custodian was asked if a current court order exists, and their responses.
  • List any court order that may restrict or deny custody, visitation or contact with the child(ren); including the jurisdiction and involved parties.
  • Summarize any court orders that indicate a potential safety threat.

Joint Investigation and/or Police Involvement:
  • Identify Law Enforcement agency, Detectives names, contact information, and DR# for the incident.
  • Document the status of the police investigation and outcomes.
  • Joint Investigation Detail (LCH 431) will still need to be completed for all reports containing the "Criminal Conduct" tracking characteristic.

Documents Reviewed (if applicable):
If any of the following documents were obtained and reviewed, file the document(s) in the hard copy record:
  • Police reports
  • Other Criminal history
  • Medical records
  • School records
  • Court orders
  • Provider reports on services provided to the family
  • Any other documents reviewed

Any consultation with the AAG shall be documented in the Case Notes window under AG Contact.

File written reports and documentation provided by collateral sources in the hard copy record.

Document a near fatality by confirming or entering the Near Fatality (TY) tracking characteristic in the Investigation Tracking Characteristic Findings window or the After Investigation Finding Detail window in CHILDS.

Document the child's medical need, examination and child's physician information using the Medical Condition, Practitioner Detail and Examination Detail windows.

Update the Person Detail window to document each case participant's language preference and English proficiency.



 

Effective Date: June 9th, 2017

Revision History: July 1, 2013, November 30, 2012, September 13,2013, October 28, 2014
Chapter 2: Section 3
Initial Contact and Conducting Interviews
Policy
The Department shall conduct investigations by interviewing and personally observing the alleged child victim, interviewing other children and individuals, reviewing documents, and using other accepted investigative techniques, as necessary to gather sufficient information to determine:
  • whether the alleged child victim is currently safe or unsafe;
  • the nature, extent, and cause of any condition created by the parents, guardians, custodians, or adult member of the household that would support or refute the allegation that the child is a victim of abuse or neglect;
  • the name, age, and condition of other children in the home; and
  • whether any child is in need of safety actions or services.

Unless case specific circumstances exist for a focused investigation, the Department shall:
  • contact the reporting source;
  • interview or facilitate the interview of the alleged child victim, or personally observe the alleged child victim if the child cannot be interviewed due to age or inability to communicate;
  • interview other children living in the home of the alleged abuse or neglect;
  • interview the alleged perpetrator(s);
  • interview parent(s), guardian(s), or custodian(s) of the alleged child victim(s) living in the home of the alleged abuse or neglect;
  • interview parent(s), guardian(s), custodian(s) of the alleged child victim(s) living in a different household, if the whereabouts can be reasonably determined; and
  • interview all other adults living in the home (including the spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other, roommates, etc.) of the alleged abuse or neglect.

The interviews listed above shall be conducted in-person, except for the following:
  • the reporting source may be interviewed by telephone;
  • parent(s), guardian(s), and custodian(s) who live in a different household from the home of the alleged maltreatment may be interviewed by telephone, unless s/he is an alleged perpetrator or placement with him/her is being considered.

Interview other children, adults, and collateral sources of information who may have witnessed or been told about the alleged abuse or neglect and/or safety threats, or may be able to fill a gap or resolve a discrepancy in the information needed to assess family functioning and child safety. For example, these individuals may include:
  • siblings and half-siblings of the child victim who live in a separate household;
  • siblings and other children who frequent the home where the abuse or neglect occurred (a parent must provide written consent to interview the child unless the child initiates contact or is sibling to an alleged victim);
  • other adults who frequent the home or have contact with the child (such as a parent’s spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other, roommate);
  • school personnel;
  • medical providers;
  • child care providers;
  • relatives; and
  • neighbors.

Prior to interviewing a child, the Department shall obtain written consent from the parent, guardian, or custodian, except when the child being interviewed is:
  • the subject of an investigation;
  • a sibling of the subject of an investigation;
  • a child who lives with the subject of an investigation;
  • a child who initiates contact with the Department; or
  • a child identified in a report alleging a criminal conduct allegation (see the appropriate county's joint investigation protocols - Joint Investigation Protocols).

The Department may exclude a parent, guardian, custodian, household member, or any other individual from being present during the interview with the alleged victim, the alleged victim’s siblings, or other children residing in the alleged victim’s household.

DCS Personnel shall present a DCS Identification card to everyone interviewed.

Before interviewing a parent, guardian, or custodian, the Department shall:
  • verbally inform the parent, guardian, or custodian of his/her rights and duties;
  • provide the parent, guardian, or custodian with the Notice of Duty to Inform; and
  • ask the parent, guardian, or custodian to sign a written acknowledgment of receipt of the information.

The Department shall collect information from parents about their child's ethnicity.

The Department shall coordinate investigations with law enforcement according to protocols established with the appropriate municipal or county law enforcement agency when one or more of the following circumstances exist:
  • The report alleges or the investigation indicates that the child is or may be the victim of a criminal conduct;
  • The report alleges or the investigation indicates that the child is a victim of sexual abuse.
  • The report alleges or the investigation indicates that the child is a victim of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking.
  • Law enforcement is conducting a criminal investigation of the alleged child abuse and neglect or an investigation is anticipated.

If during the course of an investigation, the Department determines that a criminal offense may have been committed or a new allegation of abuse or neglect not previously reported is present, the Department shall immediately provide information to the appropriate law enforcement and the Child Abuse Hotline.

As soon as possible but in no more than 24 hours, any child who is identified as a sex trafficking victim shall be reported to law enforcement for entry into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.

In instances of criminal conduct against a child, the Department shall protect the victim's rights of the child.

If any participant involved with a case notifies the Department of enrollment in the Address Confidentially Program, the Department shall confirm enrollment and once verified shall maintain the participant's home address as confidential and keep it separate from the case record (paper and electronic).

Procedures
Joint Investigation with Law Enforcement
Criminal conduct allegations require a joint investigation with the law enforcement entity of the jurisdiction where the allegations reportedly occurred. Prior to conducting interviews with the family, consult local law enforcement where the incident occurred and coordinate investigative efforts and interviews according to an appropriate interview sequence designated by the assigned law enforcement agent.

Each county has different protocols for Joint investigations; these protocols may be accessed at: Joint Investigation Protocols

Joint Investigations are a partnership with law enforcement requiring clear role delineation. The roles and responsibilities of law enforcement and DCS personnel are different.

Protocols for Joint Investigation
Coordinate the investigation with the identified law enforcement agency. Coordination requires a shared, cooperative approach and ongoing consultation, collaboration, and communication. Joint investigations include:
  • developing a plan to complete the investigation;
  • responding with law enforcement;
  • communicating openly and frequently to discuss the status of the case; and
  • obtaining and sharing information in a timely manner, particularly at the following critical communication points:
  • completion of interviews;
  • filing of a dependency petition;
  • prior to the return of the child victim to the home or at any time during the life of the case;
  • prior to the return of an alleged perpetrator to the home at any time during the life of the case;
  • re-assessment of safety to include a possible change in the safety plan or a change in placement; and
  • disclosure of information about the criminal conduct.

Initiate the investigation within the assigned Standard Response Time.

If law enforcement is not able to respond jointly within the response time requirements established for the Department, explain to the law enforcement agency that the Department is proceeding with its investigation of child safety.

When a child is identified as a victim in a report alleging criminal conduct, protect the child victim against harassment, intimidation, and abuse, such as not allowing the alleged abusive person or any other person to threaten, coerce, or pressure the child victim, or to be present during interviews, family meetings, or other Departmental actions with the child victim.

Prior to report closure, contact law enforcement to verify there are no additional steps needed by the Department and ask if law enforcement is pursuing prosecution.

Initial Contact – Interviewing and Observing Children
Interview a child who is the subject of investigation (identified as the child victim in the report) or another child who lives in the home(prior to law enforcement involvement, with permission of the assigned law enforcement agent or when necessary to ensure child safety), to determine child safety. Whenever possible, interview the child, siblings, and all other children living in the home in a safe and neutral location. Interview the child alone for all or part of the interview. Ask the parent, who is not alleged to have abused or neglected the child, to be present for the child interview if the child refuses or is reluctant to be interviewed without the parent being present.

If a child is non-verbal, substitute observation of the child and document the observation to replace the interview.

The alleged perpetrator shall not be present during the interview of a child who is the subject of an investigation, his or her siblings, or any other child in the household.
Provide children with information about the investigation process, including the role of various individuals in the process; explain that the Department is working to ensure their safety.

If a child is non-verbal, substitute observation of the child and document the observation to replace the interview.

When a child is interviewed without consent of the parent, guardian, or custodian, initiate contact with the parent, guardian, or custodian the same day and inform of the child’s interview. The DCS Specialist should make reasonable efforts to inform the parent, guardian or custodian about the interview before the child returns home from school, when applicable.

If efforts to contact the parent, guardian, or custodian are not successful, talk to the reporting source, as appropriate, to determine if there is a means to contact the parent, custodian, or guardian. If there is no way to contact, leave a copy of A Guide to the Department of Child Safety at the home, along with the assigned DCS Specialist's name, business address, phone number, and a request to be contacted.

Interviewing a Child at School
If an interview of a child needs to be conducted at school:
  • Be respectful to the school's rules, schedule, testing, and the child's educational needs.
  • Coordinate with the school's administrative personnel.
  • Provide DCS identification and a copy of the Request for Interview at School.
  • Ask to interview the child privately. If the child requests that a teacher or other school staff member be present for the interview, explain the need to speak with the child privately.
  • Limit the amount of time a child misses classroom instruction.
  • Do not share any additional details of the investigation with school personnel unless needed to determine the child's safety.
  • Collect additional information if needed by requesting school records and interviewing school personnel by using the Request of Release of Education Records (investigation only).

If interviewing the child at school and there is a joint investigation, criminal conduct allegation, or law enforcement involvement, the Department or law enforcement must have parental permission, a court order/warrant, or exigent circumstances to conduct the interview. Exigent circumstances means a child has suffered or will imminently suffer abuse or neglect, and it is reasonable to conclude the child will be in danger if the child returns home. Interview the child to assess the child's safety and determine if the child is or will be a victim of abuse or neglect.

For these circumstances, limit the interview to 20 minutes and ask who, what, where, when questions to determine whether the child has suffered or will imminently suffer abuse or neglect, and whether the child will be in danger if the child returns home that day. Assess for child safety only. Do not conduct a full interview with the child. If denied access to the child, notify the Program supervisor and contact the Attorney General's Office.

Photographing
If a child has visible injuries and/or visible indicators of neglect, arrange to have the child photographed, preferably by law enforcement, a Child Advocacy Center, or a medical professional; and at the same time as a medical evaluation to reduce the number of times the child is examined. If these personnel are not available, photograph the child by depicting the child's entire body and face, not just the external manifestation of abuse. Photographs should include a ruler and color bar where possible. Label each photograph with the child's name, date of photograph, date of birth, name of DCS Specialist, and name of the person taking the picture. Photographs of children can be taken without permission of the parent, guardian or custodian.

Initial Contact – Preparing to meet with Parents, Guardians, and/ or Custodians
Review the Person Detail (LCH016) window for each case participant to determine whether English is the participant's primary language spoken. If another language is the primary language, ask the participant if they wish to communicate in their primary language. If the participant wishes to communicate in primary language, access translation services are in place for contact with the participant; see Limited English Proficiency for more information on obtaining translation services.

Gather the following documents, and provide them to the parent, guardian, or custodian when appropriate and necessary, as defined below:

Conducting Interviews of Parents, Guardians, and/or Custodians
Prior to initiating contact with an adult, review the information available to effectively develop a strategy to engage the participant. Not every interview is the same and each person may require a different technique in order to effectively engage in the interview process. If needed, consult with other Department personnel to assist in this process.

Establish a working relationship with the family to facilitate information gathering. Spend sufficient time establishing and building rapport with the child’s parents/caregivers by:
  • notifying parents of their rights relative to the investigative process at the very beginning of the investigation;
  • explaining, as part of the introductory process, the role of the DCS Specialist, role of the Department and the essence of the report (without getting into the details of the maltreatment until the interview process has begun in full);
  • addressing parental concerns, deflecting strong reactions, and demonstrating empathy in response to significant emotions resulting from the parent’s response to being a subject of an investigation;
  • empowering parents by asking for assistance in arranging for a private place to conduct interviews, scheduling follow-up interviews, and asking for additional contact information on family members, friends and individuals in their support network who they want the investigator to speak with about their family’s circumstances; and
  • guiding the interview process by redirecting the conversation back to the collection of relevant information when parents repeatedly move off-topic, recognizing the difference between intentional avoidance or misdirection from parents and the need for the Specialist to address a parent’s legitimate concern before refocusing the interview.

During initial contact with parents, guardians and/or custodians, the DCS Specialist should ask questions to elicit information related to the following domains of family functioning:
  • Extent of child maltreatment
  • Circumstances surrounding the maltreatment
  • Child functioning on a daily basis
  • Adult functioning on a daily basis
  • General parenting practices
  • Discipline and behavior management

For more information to assist in conducting interviews see Family Centered Interview Guide and Family Functioning Assessment – Investigation.

If unable to complete in-person interviews in the home, complete one visit to the home of the child victim to observe the physical condition of the home and the living environment, and to assess the safety of the children in the home. Document observations, and take photographs if appropriate.

Informing Parent, Guardian or Custodian of Rights
Persons under investigation by the Department have specific rights in addition to any rights afforded in a law enforcement investigation or criminal proceeding. Inform all persons of their rights in a Department investigation, even when law enforcement has informed a parent, guardian, or custodian of their rights with regard to a criminal investigation. During a criminal conduct investigation, the Department is required to disclose the allegations, but statute allows the Department to withhold details that would compromise an ongoing investigation.

Upon initial contact, inform the parent, guardian, or custodian verbally and in writing of all of the following:
  • S/he is under investigation by the Department and the specific complaint or allegation made against the person.
  • The Department has no legal authority to compel cooperation with the investigation or to compel the parent, guardian, or custodian to receive services.
  • The Department shall proceed with the investigation (by interviewing other persons who have information about the alleged abuse or neglect and the safety of any child living in the home, etc.) whether agreed to or not.
  • Refusal to cooperate with the investigation or participate in services offered does not in itself constitute grounds for temporary custody.
  • The Department has the authority to petition the Juvenile Court for a determination that the child is dependent.
  • S/he has the right to file a complaint with the Ombudsman-Citizens Aide, the DCS Ombudsman Office and to appeal determinations made by the Department. Provide the person with the telephone number for the Ombudsman-Citizens Aide.

Inform the parent, guardian, or custodian of all of the following:
  • S/he has right to provide written, telephonic, or other verbal responses to the allegation, including any documentation and to have the information considered in determining whether the child is in need of Department intervention.
  • Anything the person says or writes can be used in a court proceeding.
  • Any verbal response will be included in the report of the investigation.
  • Any written response, including any document, will be included in the case record.
  • Any information provided in response to the allegation(s) will be considered during the investigation.

After informing the parent, guardian, or custodian of the above rights, have the parent, guardian, or custodian sign the Notice of Duty to Inform, acknowledging receipt of notification of these rights. Provide a copy to the parent, guardian, or custodian.

Ask the parent, guardian, or custodian if the child's parent is of American Indian heritage/ancestry. On the Department of Child Safety Notice of Duty to Inform, CSO-1005A, document the response, including the name of tribe of which the child is a member or is eligible for enrollment.

Ask the parent, guardian, or custodian of their child’s ethnicity.

Interviewing Collateral Contacts
In most instances, the reporting source should be the first individual contacted, prior to commencing the investigation. Contact the reporting source to corroborate information obtained by the Hotline and obtain other information the reporter might have on the extent of the maltreatment, circumstances surrounding the maltreatment, child functioning, adult functioning, general parenting, and disciplinary and behavior management practices. Ask the reporting source for the names and contact information of other reliable collateral contacts who know the family.

Identify collateral contacts likely to have relevant and reliable information on the family. Protect the identity of the collateral contacts, to the extent possible, when discussing information shared about the family with the family.

In addition to individuals who have direct knowledge about circumstances surrounding the maltreatment, collateral contacts or sources may include:
  • individuals who have regular contact with the child and are likely to be able to describe the child’s day-to-day functioning;
  • doctors or other professionals who have evaluated or maintain records on the child;
  • individuals with established personal or professional relationships with the parent who can likely describe the parent’s day-to-day functioning; and
  • individuals likely to have witnessed the child-parent interactions, and/or who can describe general parenting and disciplinary and behavior management practices.

When interviewing relatives, neighbors, and others with information regarding the alleged abuse or neglect, share only information necessary in order to secure additional information about the child and family.

Address Confidentiality Program
If a participant notifies the Department of his/her enrollment in the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), contact the Secretary of State's ACP office at 602-542-1892 to confirm the participant is currently enrolled. A case participant presents one of the following documents:
  • An ACP Authorization Card; or
  • A letter from the Secretary of State confirming ACP participation.

Whenever possible, request a copy of the above documents for the case record. If not possible, document all information from the ACP Authorization Card in the case record.

Once a participant has been verified as enrolled in the Address Confidentiality Program, contact the ACP liaison at privacy@azdcs.gov so that the participant's records are properly protected in CHILDS. At no time shall the ACP participant’s home address be entered into CHILDS, be kept in the written case record, or produced in response to a records request.

If a participant is enrolled in the Address Confidentiality Program and his/her home address is needed, complete the Non-Emergency Address Disclosure Request (CSO-1170A) and send it to the ACP liaison at privacy@azdcs.gov. Do not require the participant to provide his/her home address.

Observing Family Interactions
Observe the family in the home where the maltreatment is alleged to have occurred, to personally observe family interactions and the family conditions to which the child(ren) are routinely exposed, protective capacities, style of communication, power and control dynamics, and parenting skills as actually applied compared to those described by parents and caregivers.

Parent-Child Interactions
The DCS Specialist should observe the nature of the parent-child relationship. Observe attachment and interaction dynamics to assess child and adult functioning, general parenting, and parental disciplinary practices and behavior management. Observe whether any of the following are occurring in the parent-child interactions, to evaluate parental protective capacities:
  • Child displays behaviors that seem to provoke strong reactions from parent.
  • Parent ignores inconsequential behavior or appropriately responds to child’s “acting out.”
  • Child has difficulty verbalizing or communicating needs to parent.
  • Parent easily recognizes child’s needs and responds accordingly.
  • Child demonstrates little self-control and repeatedly has to be re-directed by parent.
  • Child plays by himself or with siblings/friends age appropriately.
  • Child responds much more favorably to one family member.
  • Family members appropriately express affection for each other.
  • Parent demonstrates good / poor communication or social skills.
  • Parent is very attentive / ignores or is very inattentive to child’s expressed or observable needs.
  • Parent consistently / inconsistently applies discipline or guidance to the child.
  • Parent reacts impulsively to situations or circumstances in the home.
  • Parent demonstrates adequate coping skills in handling unexpected challenges.

Adult Interactions
The DCS Specialist should observe how the identified alleged perpetrator and non-offending parent (and other adult caregivers) relate to each other. Observe the following interpersonal and relationship dynamics to assess parental protective capacity to manage out-of-control behaviors, actions, or conditions identified in the home:
  • One individual appears much more dominant or controlling in the relationship (i.e., interrupts conversations, challenges partner’s statements, exhibits dismissive non-verbal communication in response to other person’s comments – rolling of eyes, smirks, etc.).
  • The non-offending caregiver appears very self-confident and self-assured.
  • The adult relationship appears volatile and “all consuming” leaving inadequate time or energy for non-offending parent to address child’s needs.
  • The non-offending parent attempts to demonstrate effective parenting efforts, but is undermined by the alleged perpetrator.
  • Only one individual appears to be effective in disciplining and managing child behavior.
  • A co-dependent, high/low functioning dynamic appears to exist between the individuals with significant caregiver responsibility with the identified alleged perpetrator not being held accountable for inappropriate or irresponsible behavior(s) by the higher functioning, more capable adult.

Criminal Conduct or New Allegations Disclosed During the Investigation
If during the course of the investigation, evidence suggests that the allegation should be coded criminal conduct, contact OCWI to determine if the report meets criminal conduct criteria. If the allegation meets criminal conduct criteria, the OCWI Manager adds a tracking characteristic of criminal conduct to the allegation and contacts law enforcement.

If during the course of an investigation, evidence suggests a new allegation or that a new allegation might be criminal conduct, contact the Child Abuse Hotline via an Intake Supervisor to add the allegation to the current report or create a new report for ongoing cases. If the Intake Supervisor believes that the allegation meets criminal conduct criteria (Investigations Involving OCWI), the Intake Supervisor adds a tracking characteristic of criminal conduct to the new allegation and contacts OCWI to assign the new allegation. Contact law enforcement. Document the new allegation after investigations findings.

If during the course of the investigation, evidence indicates that a felony criminal offense perpetrated by someone other than a parent, guardian, or custodian or other adult member of the child's home has been committed, contact the appropriate law enforcement agency

Documentation
In the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA) under Section II: Interviews, document the date, type, time, location, who was interviewed, and information collected; or the concerted efforts to locate, contact, and interview each applicable participant and/ or collateral contact.

Information learned during interviews and observations must be written under the related information domains for each participant contacted. Refer to the SAFE AZ CSRA Documentation Guide for more information.

Document ethnicity for each participant, in CHILDS under the Person Detail window. If the parent identifies any American Indian ancestry or heritage, document in the American Indian Detail window, reached through the Person Detail window.

Document any consultation with the Attorney General’s Office in a case note under AG Contact.

Document consultation with the Supervisor, or designee, in a case note under Supervisory/ Management Contact.

File written, telephonic, or verbal responses to the allegation provided by the subject of a DCS investigation, any written response to the allegation, and any documentation obtained from the subject of a DCS investigation in the hard copy record.

If possible, scan all written reports and documentation provided by collateral sources and attach to a case note, and file in the hard copy. See Case Note Types Guide.



 


Chapter 2: Section 4
Present Danger Assessment and Planning
Policy
In response to allegations of abuse or neglect, the department shall assess, promote, and support the safety of a child in a safe and stable family or other appropriate placement.

A present danger assessment shall be completed on all cases where a field investigation is completed and shall be documented in the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA).

Upon contact with the child and family, the DCS Specialist will determine whether any child in the home where the abuse or neglect was alleged to occur is in present danger.

A child is unsafe when present danger and/or impending danger exists.

A present danger plan shall be implemented for any child assessed as unsafe due to present danger, prior to leaving the child or family. If a present danger plan is implemented, the DCS Specialist must inform the parents that they have the right to an attorney and a hearing before a juvenile court judge if they do not agree to an in-home or voluntary present danger plan that is sufficient to control the danger, and the Department chooses to remove the child(ren) from the home and file a dependency petition.

A case cannot be closed when a child is unsafe.

Procedures
Present Danger Assessment
Upon contact with the child and family, the DCS Specialist will determine whether any child in the home where the abuse or neglect was alleged to occur is in present danger. A child is in present danger when there is an immediate, significant, and clearly observable family condition, child condition, or individual behavior that obviously endangers a child right now or threatens to endanger a child at any moment, and requires immediate action to protect the child before the comprehensive Family Functioning Assessment can be completed.

The DCS Specialist must obtain emergency medical treatment for a child when necessary, as soon as possible. Situations that may require emergency medical treatment include, but are not limited to:
  • head injuries or loss of consciousness,
  • abdominal injuries,
  • severe malnourishment or dehydration,
  • open wounds or burns, and
  • injury to the genitals.

Immediate, significant, and clearly observable are defined as follows:
  1. “Immediate” for present danger means that the dangerous family condition, child condition, or individual behavior is active and operating. What might result from the danger for a child could be happening or occur at any moment. What is endangering the child is happening in the present, it is actively in the process of placing a child in peril. Serious harm will result without prompt investigation and/or DCS Specialist action.
  2. “Significant” for present danger means that the family condition, child condition, or individual behavior is exaggerated, out of control, and/or extreme.
The danger is recognizable because what is happening is vivid, impressive, and notable. What is happening exists as a matter that must be addressed immediately. Significant is anticipated harm that can result in pain, serious injury, disablement, grave or debilitating physical health conditions, acute or grievous suffering, impairment, or death.
  3. Present danger is “clearly observable” because there are actions, behaviors, emotions, or out-of-control conditions in the home that can be specifically and explicitly described, and which directly harm the child or are highly likely to result in immediate harm to the child.

In present danger, the dangerous situation:
  • is in the process of occurring (for example, a young child is alone on a busy street);
  • just happened (for example, a child presents at an emergency room with a serious unexplained injury);
  • happens all the time (for example, young children were left alone last night and are likely to be left home alone again tonight or the child will be accessible to a perpetrator upon release from school); or
  • requires an immediate protective action because the alleged abuse or neglect cannot be immediately ruled out and if the allegation is true, the child is in present danger (for example, a child has serious unexplained injuries or there are current allegations of sexual abuse).

Present Danger Conditions
The following conditions describe present danger when they are immediate (endangering a child right now), significant, and clearly observable:
  • child is unsupervised or alone now or on a daily basis, or has been left with a person who is unwilling or unable to provide adequate care, and the child is not capable of caring for himself/herself;
  • caregiver is unable to perform essential parental responsibilities right now or all of the time due to alcohol/substance use, mental health conditions, physical impairment, and/or cognitive limitations;
  • caregiver is unable or unwilling to perform essential parental responsibilities and there is no other appropriate caretaker immediately available;
  • caregiver is out of control and cannot focus or manage his/her behavior in ways to properly perform parental responsibilities;
  • caregiver’s behavior is currently violent, bizarre, erratic, unpredictable, incoherent, or totally inappropriate;
  • caregiver is brandishing weapons, known to be dangerous and aggressive, or is currently behaving in attacking or aggressive ways;
  • dynamics in the household include an adult establishing power, control, or coercion over a caregiver in a way that impairs necessary supervision or care of the child and has caused, or will likely cause, serious harm to the child’s physical, mental or emotional health;
  • caregiver has an extremely negative perception of the child, such as seeing the child as demon possessed; and/or has extremely unrealistic expectations for the child’s behavior;
  • physical conditions in the home are hazardous and immediately threaten a child’s safety, such as exposed live wiring, building capable of falling in, manufacturing of drugs (i.e. drug lab), or exposure to extreme weather;
  • caregiver is subjecting the child to brutal or bizarre punishment such as confined to a cage, tied to an object, locked in a closet, forced feeding, scalding with hot water, burning with cigarettes, etc.;
  • child requires immediate medical attention, and the absence of medical treatment could seriously affect the child’s health and well-being; such as a child who is severely malnourished, dehydrated or failure to thrive (the absence of routine medical care is not a present danger situation);
  • child’s behavior is actively endangering self or others and caregiver cannot or will not control the child’s behavior or arrange or provide necessary care;
  • evidence of recent sexual abuse, the perpetrator currently has access to identified victim, and no protective action is being taken by a non-offending caregiver;
  • injuries such as facial bruises, injuries to the head, or multiple plane injuries; different types of injuries on the child, such as a serious burn and bruising; bruising or injuries to a non-ambulatory child, or immersion burns;
  • severe to extreme maltreatment that is alleged to be occurring in the present (i.e., child has soft tissue injuries which pose a threat to vital organs; broken bones, burns, cuts, and lacerations; vicious beatings; biting; injuries to genitals; constantly being hit; physical torture; oral sex, anal sex, or intercourse; sexual abuse accompanied with physical abuse; bizarre sexual practices; pornography/sexual exploitation; constantly berating, double binding, verbal assault/intimidation; psychological torture such as constant scapegoating, indifference, condemnation, and/or rejections);
  • serious injuries that the caregivers and others cannot or will not explain, or the explanation is inconsistent with the observed or diagnosed injuries or condition;
  • child’s condition is the result of deliberate, preconceived planning or thinking that the caregiver is responsible for and that preceded the child’s serious injuries or condition;
  • child is profoundly fearful of their present home situation, or a particular person living in or having access to the home because of a specific concern of personal threat (this does not include generalized fear or anxiety);
  • there is evidence of abuse or neglect and the caregiver cannot or will not produce the child, refuses access to the child, is likely to flee with the child, or is actively avoiding DCS (such as not allowing others to have contact with the child or moving a child around among relatives, adults or different homes).

Present Danger Planning
If any child in the home is in present danger, the DCS Specialist must implement a present danger plan that controls the present danger prior to leaving the child or family. A present danger plan provides the child(ren) with responsible adult supervision and care so that the child will be safe while the DCS Specialist completes the Family Functioning Assessment, which assesses impending danger and protective capacity. A present danger plan is immediate, short term, and sufficient to control the present danger. These criteria are defined as follows:
  • Immediate means that the plan is capable of controlling the present danger the same day it is created. Before the DCS Specialist leaves the child or family, the present danger plan must be in motion and confirmed.
  • Short term means that the plan only needs to control the particular present danger situations until sufficient information can be gathered and analyzed to determine the need for a longer term safety plan. Present danger plans should be sufficient to control the present danger until the Family Functioning Assessment is complete (including an analysis of impending danger).
  • Sufficient means that the adults who will provide care and supervision to the child(ren) are responsible, available, trustworthy, and capable of fulfilling their responsibilities within the present danger plan. It must be confirmed that the responsible adults are willing to cooperate and emotionally and physically capable of carrying out the protective actions needed to keep the child safe.

The DCS Specialist works with the family to determine what protective action is necessary to control the immediate present danger condition and who, if needed, will serve as the responsible adults to protect the child when the danger threats are present or likely to be present.

If a present danger plan is implemented, the DCS Specialist must inform the parents that they have the right to an attorney and a hearing before a juvenile court judge if they do not agree to an in-home or voluntary present danger plan that is sufficient to control the danger, and the Department chooses to remove the child(ren) from the home and file a dependency petition.

Identifying Responsible Adult(s) to Implement Protective Actions
In order to implement a present danger plan, a responsible adult must be identified who is able to carry out the protective actions. The responsible adult could be a parent/caregiver, another adult who meets the criteria listed below, or a service provider who agrees to be responsible for a protective action. The responsible adult(s) must be present and be able to take action at any time a threat of danger is present.
Engage the family and ask for their assistance in identifying appropriate responsible adults who can assist in ensuring the child’s safety. Obtain information to determine if the responsible adult and members of his/her household (if applicable) are appropriate for this role. Meet in-person with any identified responsible adult to assess his/her ability to be responsible for protective actions. Areas to consider include whether the adult:
  • has demonstrated the ability to protect the child in the past (with or without DCS involvement) while under similar circumstances and family conditions;
  • believes the child’s report of maltreatment and is supportive of the child;
  • is capable of understanding the specific threat to the child and the need to protect the child;
  • displays concern for the child and the child’s experience and is intent on emotionally protecting the child;
  • has a strong bond with the child and he/she is clear the number one priority is safety and well-being of the child;
  • is physically able to intervene and protect the child;
  • does not have significant individual needs that might affect the safety of the child, such as severe depression, lack of impulse control, medical needs, etc.;
  • is emotionally able to carry out a plan and/or to intervene to protect the child (not incapacitated by fear of maltreating person);
  • has adequate knowledge and skill to fulfill caregiving responsibilities and tasks (this may involve considering the caregiver’s ability to meet any exceptional needs that the child might have);
  • has asked, demands, and expects the maltreating adult to follow the conditions of the present danger plan and can assure the plan is effectively carried out;
  • consistently expresses belief that the maltreating person is in need of help and he/she supports the maltreating person getting help (this is the individual’s point of view without being prompted by DCS);
  • while having difficulty believing the other person would maltreat the child, the individual describes the child as believable and trustworthy;
  • has adequate resources necessary to meet the child’s basic needs;
  • is cooperating with the DCS Specialist’s efforts to provide services and assess the specific needs of the family; and
  • does not place responsibility on the child for the problems of the family.

If the responsible adult is a member of the family network or an informal support (is not a licensed out-of-home caregiver or a professional service provider), complete a search for prior AZ DCS involvement and a criminal records check with the Department of Public Safety. Submit the DPS criminal history request to the DPS using the Justice Web Interface (JWA). Submit a G-22 Child Abuse request.

When a person does not have a social security number, the DPS Criminal Records Check shall still be completed using information currently in CHILDS (including assigned pseudo social security numbers). In this situation, additional searches are necessary, including a public records search or information available through local law enforcement.

If the results of the criminal records check are not immediately available, gather information from the prospective responsible adult regarding criminal history, complete a public records check, and contact local law enforcement to complete a records check. Within 24 hours, complete the criminal records check with DPS. If appropriate, request history from out of state child welfare systems (when the responsible adult has resided in another state).

If the safety plan includes the child residing in the home of a responsible adult for any period of time (including a parent, guardian, or custodian or a member of the family network), complete a preliminary kinship assessment, which includes:

If the present danger plan includes the child residing in the home of an unlicensed relative or non-relative follow the procedures in Kinship Care.

If the present danger plan includes the child residing with a parent, guardian, or custodian who resides in a different household from the home of the alleged abuse or neglect, so that the household was not assessed within the Family Functioning Assessment, consider the following:
  • What experience does the parent have with parenting this or other children? Does the parent have knowledge of parenting and child development?
  • Does the parent know and practice positive methods of discipline?
  • What support with the parent require to provide for the child’s needs (medical, behavioral health, dental, special needs, transportation, communicating with professionals, etc.)?
  • How will the parent provide sufficient and appropriate supervision for the child, including after-school or childcare if necessary? (If childcare will be paid for by DCS, include in the case plan.)
  • As appropriate, how is the parent able to assist the child in family time/visitation and other forms of communication with the other parent and siblings?
  • Is the parent willing and able to participate in meetings (TDMs, CFTs, IEPs, etc.)?
  • Does the parent aware that DCS and service providers will visit the home in order to fulfill safety plan oversight and service provision responsibilities?
  • What new expenses are anticipated if the child is placed in the home? Will the parent be able to provide sufficient care for the child without causing financial hardship for the family?
  • Will the parent need services or supports to maintain the child safely in the home? (Include any needed services and supports in the case plan.)

The DCS Specialist maintains responsibility and accountability for the sufficiency and implementation of the present danger plan, which includes oversight to ensure that all responsible parties are carrying out the actions and duties in the plan. The use of a responsible adult does not relieve the DCS Specialist of responsibility for oversight and administration of the present danger plan or continued assessment of the child’s safety. The present danger plan is intended to remain active until information is gathered to either eliminate the need for the present danger plan or create a safety plan due to identified impending danger threats. For the duration of the present danger plan, the DCS Specialist must continually review the adequacy of the protective action(s), and modify the plan when necessary. For effective oversight, the DCS Specialist must have an adequate understanding of the status of the present danger conditions(s) and the sufficiency, feasibility, and sustainability of the protective actions identified; and must anticipate potential crisis situations.

A present danger plan may not be in place for more than 14 days. Within the 14 days, the Family Functioning Assessment must be prioritized in order for the DCS Specialist to complete an analysis of impending danger and determine the need for a safety plan to replace the present danger plan.

Present Danger Plan Options
In-home, combination, and out-of-home present danger plan options are available. The DCS Specialist shall work with the family to identify the least intrusive plan that is sufficient to control the present danger condition(s). For the purposes of this section, “the home” refers to the location where the unsafe child is presently residing and where the danger threats need to be managed; for example, the child may be presently located in the family home, a hospital, a shelter, or other location.

The DCS Specialist works with the family to select one or more of the following present danger plan options, which are listed in order from least to most intrusive:

  • The threatening person leaves the home.
    • This option exists when the DCS Specialist is certain a responsible adult currently living in the home is adamant and committed to maintaining the absence of the threatening person, and the threatening person agrees to leave the home or is removed from the home by law enforcement.
    • The threatening person must remain out of the home throughout the time frame of the present danger plan.
    • This is an in-home present danger plan option.

  • The protective parent and child leave the home and go to a safe environment.
    • This option exists when there is a protective parent who is willing to leave the home of the threatening person, and a safe temporary environment is available throughout the time frame of the present danger plan (such as the home of a relative, or a domestic violence shelter).
    • In order to implement this type of plan, it must be determined that the protective parent will consistently act to keep the child safe.
    • This is an in-home present danger plan option.

  • A responsible adult is in the home at pre-determined specific times.
    • This option works when the safety threat happens at specific times and is predictable in frequency and nature. For example, when the safety threat involves inadequate feeding of a child with medical needs, a responsible and capable adult could come to the home at each meal time.
    • This option exists when a member of the family network, an informal support person, or a professional is available to be in the home periodically, as a responsible adult. This plan must include specificity in terms of when the adult will be in the home, how long the adult will be in the home, under what circumstances, and for what purpose.
    • This option only exists when the parent(s) agree to have the adult in their home at the times specified in the plan.
    • This is an in-home present danger plan option.

  • A responsible adult routinely monitors the home.
    • This option works when the threatening condition is not present at all times. For example, when the safety threat involves a parent who is occasionally incapacitated by depression and then unable to keep the home sufficiently clean, a responsible adult could monitor the mother’s mental health and the home’s condition by making a home visit every day.
    • This option exists when a member of the family network, an informal support person, or a professional is available to routinely monitor the home. “Routinely” must be defined in terms of frequency and circumstance. What is being monitored must be delineated.
    • This option only exits when the parent(s) agree to have the responsible adult monitor the home.
    • This is an in-home present danger plan option.

  • A responsible adult moves into the home seven days a week, 24 hours per day.
    • This option may be the least intrusive when the safety threat is happening at all times, or does not follow a predictable pattern.
    • This option exists when a responsible adult is available to move into the home throughout the time frame of the present danger plan.
    • The option only exists when parent(s) agree to have the adult reside in the home seven days a week, 24 hours per day.
    • This is an in-home present danger plan option.

  • The child is cared for outside the home periodically.
    • This option works when the present danger happens at specific times and is predictable in frequency and nature.
    • This option exists when arrangements can be made so that the child is not at home when the present danger is known to occur. For instance, a father may be protective but cannot be home during the day, so child care is used to separate the child from the present danger posed by the mother’s behavior. Any resource that supports temporary separation is acceptable such as babysitting, recreation programs, staying with a relative or neighbor, and so forth.
    • This option only exits when the parent(s) agree to the arrangements in the plan.
    • This is a combination present danger plan option.

  • The child lives with someone in the family network part-time.
    • This option works when the present danger happens at specific times and is predictable in frequency and nature.
    • This option exists when there is a responsible adult with whom the child can live part-time. For instance, a child might live with grandparents on weekends while the Family Functioning Assessment continues toward completion. This option could be used in combination with the child attending school and an after-school recreation program while living with the parents during the work week.
    • This option only exits when the parent(s) agree to the arrangements in the plan.
    • This is a combination present danger plan option.

  • The child lives with a responsible adult for seven days per week, 24 hours per day.
    • his option may be the least intrusive when the safety threat is happening at all times or does not follow a predictable pattern, and there is no responsible adult who is able and willing to move into the family home seven days per week, 24 hours per day.
    • This option only exists when the parent(s) are willing to voluntarily and temporarily relocate the child from the parents’ home to the home of a responsible adult in the family network, agreed upon by the parent(s) and the DCS Specialist. The parents must also be willing to cooperate to ensure that the child’s medical, educational, and behavioral health needs are met.
    • This option exists when there is a responsible adult in the family network with whom the child can live seven days per week, 24 hours per day, throughout the time frame of the present danger plan.
    • In order to implement this type of plan, the adult must be approved by the DCS Specialist, and the present danger plan must be overseen by the Department.
    • This is an out-of-home present danger plan option.

  • The child is placed in the temporary custody of DCS by a Voluntary Placement Agreement, CSO-1043.
    • This option may be the least intrusive when the safety threat is happening at all times, or does not follow a predictable pattern, and a Voluntary Placement Agreement is necessary because the parent agrees to have the child live temporarily outside of home and there is no responsible adult in the family network, so the child needs to reside with a foster parent.
    • In order to implement this type of plan with a non-licensed caregiver, it must be determined that the proposed adult is responsible, available, has no competing demands, and is trustworthy. Refer to Voluntary Placement for more information.
    • If the child is subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act, refer to Voluntary Placement of an Indian Child for specific procedures.
    • The option only exists when the parent(s) agree to the Voluntary Placement Agreement.
    • This is an out-of-home present danger plan option.

  • The child is placed in the temporary custody of the Department.
    • This is the most intrusive present danger plan and is only used when all other options are explored and not possible or sufficient to control the safety threats long enough to complete the Family Functioning Assessment.
    • This option is necessary when there is present danger and the parents, guardians, or custodians cannot or will not cooperate or participate in a less intrusive present danger plan that would be sufficient to control the safety threats.
    • If a child is taken into temporary custody, the DCS Specialist shall provide written notice (a Temporary Custody Notice) within six hours to the parent or guardian of the child, unless:
    • The parent or guardian is present when the child is taken into custody, then written and verbal notice shall be provided immediately.
    • The residence of the parent or guardian is outside this state and notice cannot be provided within six hours, then written notice shall be provided within twenty-four hours.
    • The residence of the parent or guardian is not ascertainable, then reasonable efforts shall be made to locate and notify the parent or guardian of the child as soon as possible.
    • The Temporary Custody Notice shall list the specific reasons as to why the child is being removed. The notice shall list the specific dangers that caused the determination that the child is unsafe.
    • The Temporary Custody Notice shall list services that are available to the parent or guardian, including a statement of parental rights and information on how to contact the ombudsman-citizens aide's office and an explanation of the services that office offers.
    • The DCS Specialist shall list the date and time of the taking of a child into custody on the Temporary Custody Notice, as well as the name and telephone number of the assigned DCS Specialist and Program Supervisor.
    • A child who is taken into temporary custody must be returned to their parent(s) and/or guardian within seventy-two hours excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays unless a dependency petition is filed.
    • If a child is taken into temporary custody for an examination, the child must be returned within twelve hours unless abuse or neglect is diagnosed. The DCS Specialist will notify the parent(s) and/or guardian if the child will not be returned within the twelve hour time frame.
    • A Team Decision Making meeting should be held within 48 business hours of removal, unless the child is able to return home; the present danger has been resolved; and no impending danger was assessed during the analysis of the Family Functioning Assessment.
    • This is an out-of-home present danger plan option.

Implement the least intrusive present danger plan, given the unique circumstances of the family, including the family’s capacity to ensure child safety.

When a present danger plan is implemented, the DCS Specialist will make concerted efforts to complete the Family Functioning Assessment as quickly as possible and within no more than 14 days of implementing the present danger plan. Complete a written Present Danger Plan (CSO-1034A) form with the family, identified responsible adults, and/ or safety service providers. The plan will describe the specific action(s) that each adult is responsible for to sufficiently control the danger threat(s), when the action(s) are needed, the end date of the present danger plan, the level of contact allowed between the child and each parent/caregiver, and how the DCS Specialist will oversee that the plan is followed and sufficient.

Following the completion of the Family Functioning Assessment, the DCS Specialist will schedule a safety planning Team Decision Making (TDM) meeting to occur within no more than 14 days of implementing the present danger plan, unless the child is able to return home; the present danger has been resolved; and no impending danger was assessed during the analysis of the Family Functioning Assessment. If a TCN was served as part of the present danger plan, a Present Danger TDM must be held within 48 business hours.

Supervisor Consultation
A Program Supervisor must be involved in developing the present danger plan and must approve any present danger plan the DCS Specialist initiates with the family. The DCS Specialist and Program Supervisor ensure the protective actions in the present danger plan are the least intrusive actions that are sufficient to control the present danger condition(s) until the Family Functioning Assessment is complete and it is determined the child is safe or a safety plan is created.

When present danger is identified by the DCS Specialist, a supervisor consultation to review the DCS Specialist’s assessment of present danger is required prior to the DCS Specialist leaving the child/family. During the consultation, the Program Supervisor should evaluate whether the danger is immediate, significant, and clearly observable:
  • Can the DCS Specialist clearly and specifically describe the dangerous family condition, child condition, or individual behavior that is active and currently endangers the child? In what observable ways is the danger actively in the process of placing a child in peril?
  • Can the DCS Specialist clearly and specifically describe how the dangerous condition or behavior is exaggerated, out of control, and/or extreme? Can the DCS Specialist specifically describe how the anticipated harm is significant (could result in pain, serious injury, disablement, grave or debilitating physical health condition, acute or grievous suffering, impairment, or death)?
  • Does the DCS Specialist feel compelled to take action immediately to ensure the protection of the child? If so, what present danger plan options have been considered with the family?

When present danger is identified by the DCS Specialist during a subsequent visit to the home or at any point in the life of the case, a follow up supervisor consultation should be conducted to review the considerations above.

If the present danger plan includes the child living with someone in the family network for seven days per week, 24 hours per day, a service authorization must be entered in CHILDS. The service group is FOSTER CARE, and the service type is 24/7 SAFETY PLN. This service authorization is not matched to a provider.

Documentation
For field investigations, using the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA), document the following:
  • background information in Section I (Background Information);
  • contacts, interviews, and observations in Section II (Interviews with all required parties);
  • assessment and identification of present danger in Section III A (Analysis and conclusion of present danger), as soon as possible and within no more than two work days of interviewing or observing an alleged child victim as follows:
    • Narrative documentation shall include the child’s name; the contact’s date, time, and location; and a description of each child’s environment and condition at the time of the initial contact.
    • If present danger is assessed as occurring at the time of initial contact, document the specific family condition, child condition, or individual behavior and how it meets the criteria of immediate, significant, and clearly observable.
    • Include documentation of the present danger plan developed with the family. Note the date on which the parent/caregiver and, if applicable, the responsible adults were provided with a copy of the present danger plan.

For voluntary or court-involved cases, using the Continuous Child Safety and Risk Assessment (C-CSRA), document:
  • as soon as possible and within no more than two work days of interviewing or observing a child in present danger, the specific family condition, child condition, or individual behavior as observed by the DCS Specialist, in Section II, A,
  • how it meets the criteria of immediate, significant, and clearly observable, in Section II, B, and
  • if applicable, the present danger plan developed with the family, including the date on which the parent/caregiver and, if applicable, the responsible adults were provided with a copy of the Present Danger Plan.

File a copy of the Present Danger Plan (CSO-1034A)in the case record, or include a scanned copy of the Present Danger Plan in CHILDS.

If the child is removed, complete the applicable removal windows in CHILDS.

Supervisor Documentation
For investigations, Program Supervisors will document the supervisory consultation and approval of the Clinical Supervision Decision in Section IV (Clinical Supervision Decision) of the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA). For voluntary or court-involved cases, Supervisors will document the Clinical Supervision Discussion in Section III, A of the C-CSRA.



 

Effective Date: October 25, 2017

Revision History: November 30, 2012; May 31, 2013, July 1, 2013, February 6, 2016, September 22, 2016, June 9th, 2017

Chapter 2: Section 5
Family Functioning Assessment at Investigation

Policy
In response to allegations of abuse or neglect, the Department shall assess, promote, and support the safety of a child in a safe and stable family or other appropriate placement.

An investigation must evaluate and determine the nature, extent, and cause of any condition created by the parents, guardian, or custodian or an adult member of the victim's household that would tend to support or refute the allegation that the child is a victim of abuse or neglect; and determine the name, age and condition of other children in the home.

An assessment of family functioning shall be completed on all cases where a field investigation is completed.

A case cannot be closed when a child is unsafe.

Procedures:
The assessment and management of child safety is initiated during the initial contact with the family and is continued throughout the investigation. The purpose of the Family Functioning Assessment is to gather sufficient and relevant information to make an informed decision about whether the child is safe or unsafe. The Family Functioning Assessment and analysis of information guides the DCS Specialist’s decisions about the child’s safety and what, if any, actions should be taken to protect the child.

Information about family functioning is gathered through interviews, observations, and review of documents (medical, police, school, behavioral health, etc.). The DCS Specialist completes the Family Functioning Assessment by:
  • gathering information on the six domains of family functioning: extent of the maltreatment, circumstances surrounding the maltreatment, child functioning on a daily basis, adult functioning on a daily basis, general parenting practices, and discipline and behavior management;
  • identifying whether there is a threat of danger to any child in the home;
  • assessing each parent/caregivers’ protective capacity to control any threats of danger to the child(ren);
  • applying the five safety threshold criteria to any identified threat of danger; and
  • determining whether each child in the home is safe or unsafe due to impending danger.

A child is unsafe when there is a threat of danger to the child, the child is vulnerable to the threat of danger, and there is not sufficient parent/caretaker protective capacity to manage the danger.

If there is indication a child is unsafe, consult with a DCS Program Supervisor and use the FFA at Investigation Decision Making Guide to assist in determining if the child is safe or unsafe

Gathering Information on the Six Domains of Family Functioning
Once an assessment of present danger is complete, the DCS Specialist shall proceed with the Family Functioning Assessment (FFA) to determine whether any child is unsafe due to impending danger.

The functioning of the following individuals must be assessed during the Family Functioning Assessment and documented in the CSRA:
  • the identified child victim(s);
  • any other child(ren) living in the home of the alleged abuse or neglect;
  • the alleged perpetrator(s);
  • the parent(s), guardian(s), and custodian(s) of the child victim(s) living in the home of the alleged abuse or neglect;
  • parent(s), guardian(s), and custodian(s) of the alleged child victim(s) living in a different household, if the whereabouts can be reasonably determined; and
  • other adults living in the home of the alleged abuse or neglect (including the spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, significant other, etc.) who have caregiving responsibilities.

The DCS Specialist will conduct interviews, in-person observations, and document reviews to gather the following information to assess family functioning, threats of danger, and parent/caregiver protective capacities:

1. Extent of child maltreatment
  • Assess for all types of maltreatment, not just the current allegation(s)
  • Severity of the maltreatment
  • Duration, pattern, progression of the maltreatment
  • Emotional and physical symptoms
  • Specific events, injuries, and circumstances

2. Circumstances surrounding the maltreatment
  • Analysis of previous maltreatment
  • History, duration, chronicity, increase in severity of maltreatment
  • Influences that led to the maltreatment occurring
  • Parent/caregiver’s explanation for maltreatment events or circumstances
  • Parent/caregiver’s openness and truthfulness/response to DCS
  • Contextual issues such as the use of objects, threats, intent, bizarre behavior
  • Parent/caregiver’s acknowledgement of and attitude about the maltreatment

3. Child functioning on a daily basis
  • Child’s explanation of maltreatment or events/circumstances
  • Child’s understanding of family circumstances/conditions
  • Ability to communicate
  • Physical/dental health and healthcare
  • Developmental status (cognitive and physical)
  • School attendance and performance
  • History of being sexually reactive/sexualized behavior
  • Mood, emotion, and mental health including suicidal or homicidal thoughts/behavior
  • Risk-taking behavior (substance use/sexual activity/runaway)
  • Traumatic experiences other than maltreatment (e.g. witnessing violence or major loss)
  • Peer/adult relationships, social outlets/activities,
  • Sleeping arrangements, including assessment of infant’s sleep environment
  • Sibling relationships
  • Child’s perception of relationship with parent(s)
  • Child’s awareness/understanding of drugs and alcohol

4. Adult functioning on a daily basis
  • Income and resource management/employment patterns/housing stability
  • Parent/caregiver’s history of abuse/neglect as a child
  • Trauma history (e.g. sexual, victim of violence, emotionally abused)
  • Criminal behavior/history
  • Problem awareness and problem solving skills
  • Impulse control
  • Physical health and healthcare
  • Mood, emotion, temperament, affect
  • Cognitive ability/intellectual functioning
  • Reality orientation/perception
  • Dependability and maturity
  • Quality of family relationships
  • Coping styles/stress management/ability to meet own emotional needs
  • History of or current domestic violence/power and control cycle (victim or perpetrator)
  • Aggressive or violent behavior/other family violence
  • Mental health (diagnoses, medications, undiagnosed mood or behavior concerns)
  • Substance use (history from first use to current, use of drugs and/or alcohol in childhood home/parent’s perception of effect of substance use on current circumstances)
  • Social relationships/degree of isolation/existence of positive supports
  • Educational history/literacy

5. General parenting practices
  • History of protective behavior
  • Ability to accurately identify threats to child safety or recognize danger
  • Perception of the child
  • Ability to put child’s needs before their own
  • Displays concern for child
  • Emotionally able to intervene to protect
  • Knowledge of child development
  • Tolerance of child
  • Manner of responding to child
  • Expresses love, empathy/sensitivity for child
  • Knowledge and demonstrated skill in parenting
  • Awareness of and rationale for parenting style
  • History of/experience with parenting (this or other child(ren)
  • Cultural practices related to parenting
  • Parent is aligned with the child
  • Adaptive and assertive as a parent/caregiver
  • Understands own protective role and can articulate plan to protect child

6. Discipline and behavior management
  • Methods of discipline
  • Concepts and purpose of discipline
  • Cultural practices related to discipline
  • Emotional state of parent when disciplining
  • Is discipline based on reasonable expectations of the child
  • Self-awareness regarding the effectiveness of disciplinary approaches and parent/caregiver’s reaction(s) toward the child
  • Expectations for child behavior and response
  • Can explain the difference between parenting and discipline

Note: If a joint investigation is being completed with law enforcement during a criminal conduct investigation; at times, law enforcement and/or the alleged maltreating caregiver’s attorney will consent to an interview if the maltreatment “incident” is not discussed. In those instances, the DCS Specialist should refrain from asking questions related to domains 1 and 2 listed above.

Make a report to the DCS Hotline if the information collected reveals:
  • new or previously unreported incidents of abuse or neglect; or
  • possible safety threats in a household that is not included in the current Family Functioning Assessment; or
  • possible safety threats involving an adult or child who is not included in the current Family Functioning Assessment.

If the report to the DCS Hotline involves a household, adult, or child who is not included in the current Family Functioning Assessment, complete a separate FFA to assess the household.

Identifying Threats of Danger to a Child
Impending danger refers to a child being in a continuous state of danger due to caregiver behaviors, attitudes, motives, emotions, and/or situations posing a specific threat of severe harm to a child. Impending danger is often not immediately apparent and may not be active and threatening child safety upon initial contact with a family. Identifying impending danger requires thorough information collection regarding family and parent/caregiver functioning to sufficiently assess and understand how family conditions occur.

In order to determine if a child is in impending danger, the information gathered on the six domains of family functioning must be sufficient to indicate whether a safety threat exists and if so, how it meets all five safety threshold criteria. The safety threats are as follows:
  • Parent, guardian, or custodian leaves child alone or fails to provide adequate supervision and child is not capable of caring for self, or leaves child with persons unwilling or unable to provide adequate care, and as a result, the child is likely to suffer serious or severe harm.
  • Parent, guardian, or custodian deliberately harmed the child, has caused serious or severe harm to the child, or has made a threat to cause serious or severe harm to the child.
  • Parent, guardian, or custodian’s explanation for the child’s injury or physical condition is inconsistent with the observed or diagnosed injury or condition.
  • There is evidence of abuse or neglect and the parent, guardian, or custodian cannot produce the child, refuses access to the child, is likely to flee with the child, or is actively avoiding DCS.
  • Child sexual abuse is suspected and perpetrator access places the child in immediate serious or severe harm.
  • Physical conditions of the home are hazardous and may directly cause serious or severe harm to the child.
  • Child is profoundly fearful of parent, guardian, or custodian, other family members or other people living in or having access to the home.
  • The behavior of a child living in the home threatens serious or severe harm to him/herself or to others and the parent, guardian, or custodian cannot control the behavior or is unwilling or unable to arrange or provide necessary care.
  • Parent, guardian, or custodian’s behavior is violent, bizarre, erratic, unpredictable, incoherent, or totally inappropriate and may cause serious or severe harm to the child.
  • Dynamics in the household include an adult establishing power, control, or coercion over a caregiver in a way that impairs the necessary supervision or care of the child and has caused, or will likely cause, serious or severe harm to the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health.
  • Parent, guardian or custodian is unable to perform essential parental responsibilities due to alcohol/substance use, mental health conditions, physical impairment, or cognitive limitations, and as a result, the child is likely to suffer serious or severe harm.
  • The parent, guardian, or custodian’s involvement in criminal activity or the criminal activity of any other person living in or having access to the home may result in serious or severe harm to the child.
  • Parent, guardian, or custodian has extremely negative perceptions of the child, and/or is hostile when talking to or about the child, and/or has extremely unrealistic expectations for the child’s behavior.
  • Parent, guardian, or custodian has not, cannot, or will not protect a child from serious or severe harm, including harm from other persons living in or having access to the home.
  • Parent, guardian, or custodian is unable or unwilling to perform essential parental responsibilities or to meet the child’s immediate needs for food, clothing, shelter, and/or medical or mental health care, which may result in serious or severe harm to the child.
  • Parent, guardian, or custodian previously threatened the safety of a child and/or caused harm to a child and circumstances indicate the person could cause serious or severe harm to the child.

Assessing Parent/Caretaker Protective Capacities
Protective capacities are personal qualities or characteristics that contribute to vigilant child protection. They are personal and parenting characteristics that specifically and directly can be associated with being protective of one’s children. They are “strengths” that are explicitly associated with one’s ability to perform effectively as a parent/caregiver in order to provide and ensure a consistently safe environment.

Assessment of a parent/caregiver’s capacity to protect a child begins with identifying and understanding how specific safety threats are occurring within the family system. At this point in the assessment process, the DCS Specialist determines whether each parent/caregiver has demonstrated the specific protective capacities associated with the identified threats of danger to a child.

Consider the following behavioral, cognitive, and emotional parental/caregiver protective capacities when gathering information for the Family Functioning Assessment:
  • Behavioral Protective Capacity – Specific action, activity, performance that is consistent with and results in protective vigilance.
  • Cognitive Protective Capacity – Specific intellect, knowledge, understanding, and perception that results in protective vigilance.
  • Emotional Protective Capacity – Specific feelings, attitudes, identification with a child and motivation that results in protective vigilance.

In the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA), indicate whether or not the parent/caregiver(s) have demonstrated protective capacities in each of the following areas:
Behavioral Protective CapacitiesCognitive Protective CapacitiesEmotional Protective Capacities
  • Has a history of protecting
  • Takes action
  • Demonstrates impulse control
  • Sets aside her/his needs in favor of a child
  • Has and demonstrates adequate skill to fulfill caregiving responsibilities.
  • Is adaptive and assertive as a parent/caregiver
  • Plans and articulates a plan to protect the child
  • Is self-aware as a parent/caregiver
  • Is intellectually able to fulfill caregiving responsibilities and tasks
  • Is able to accurately identify threats to child safety or recognize danger
  • Has an accurate perception of the child’s needs
  • Understands his/her protective role
  • Meets own emotional needs
  • Is resilient as a parent/caregiver.
  • Is tolerant as a parent/caregiver.
  • Is emotionally stable
  • Expresses love, empathy and sensitivity toward the child; experiences specific empathy with the child’s perspective and feelings
  • Is positively attached with the child and is clear that the number one priority is the well- being of the child.
  • Is aligned with and supports the child

If the DCS Specialist is unable to assess the parent/caretaker protective capacities due to an inability to locate or a parent’s refusal to participate in the assessment after attempting to engage him/her, indicate unknown for each protective capacity.

Applying the Five Safety Threshold Criteria
Following the identification of a threat of danger to a child, the DCS Specialist shall determine whether the child is in impending danger by applying the following five safety threshold criteria. All five criteria must be met for at least one identified safety threat in order to determine a child is in impending danger.
  • Observable Family Condition: A family condition that endangers a child and is real, can be described and reported, and is evidenced in explicit and unambiguous ways. This does not include suspicion or gut feelings.
  • Vulnerable child: A vulnerable child is dependent on others for sustenance and protection, and/or is exposed to circumstances that she or he is powerless to manage. Vulnerability is judged according to age, physical and emotional development, and ability to communicate needs and seek protection.
  • Unmanaged: The family conditions pose a danger to the child and are unmanaged, without limits or monitoring, and not subject to influence, manipulation or internal power within the family’s control (that is, no one in the family can control the situation). There are insufficient caregiver protective capacities to manage the danger threat.
  • Severity: Severity is the harshness of the effects of maltreatment that would include harm that has just occurred, is occurring now, or could potentially occur in the near future. Severe harm is something that results in serious pain, serious injury, suffering, terror, extreme fear, impairment or death.
  • Imminent: A belief that threats to child safety are likely to become active without delay; a certainty about occurrence within the immediate to near future. This is consistent with a degree of certainty or inevitability that danger and severe harm are possible, even likely outcomes, without intervention.

Note: If a child is a registered member or an eligible member of a Native American Tribe, please refer to Indian Child Welfare for more information as to specific laws pertaining to the assessment, removal, and placement of an Indian child.

At the conclusion of the Family Functioning Assessment, determine the safety threats that are present and explain how each threat meets all five safety threshold criteria. For each safety threat identified, specify the child(ren), adults, and household to which it applies.

Making the Safety Determination – Safe or Unsafe
For each alleged child victim, the DCS Specialist, in consultation with a DCS Program Supervisor, must make a determination as to whether the child is safe or unsafe.
  • A child is safe if there is no threat of danger to the child.
  • A child is safe if an existing threat of danger to the child is being effectively controlled and managed by a parent, guardian, or custodian in the home.
  • A child is unsafe when there is a threat of danger to a child that meets all five safety threshold criteria, including that the parent/guardian does not have sufficient protective capacity to effectively control and manage the danger without DCS intervention and oversight.

Safe
If all of the children subject to the investigation are determined to be safe, the DCS Specialist, in consultation with a DCS Program Supervisor, will identify the appropriate level of services to be provided or recommend to the family. If the case will not remain open for services with the Department, conduct aftercare planning with the family. Refer to Aftercare Planning for more information.

Unsafe
When a child is determined to be unsafe, the DCS Specialist must identify the least intrusive safety plan sufficient to manage the impending danger. See Safety Planning

Assessment of a Child in the Hospital, Incarcerated/Detained, or in Out-of-Home Care
While a child victim is hospitalized, incarcerated, in detention, or in out-of-home care, the Family Functioning Assessment is conducted based on the child’s return home environment.

The FFA is completed on DCS cases and some Young Adult Program (YAP) cases only. The FFA does not need to be completed under the following circumstances:
  • Out-of-Home Caregivers – This includes foster, relative, adoptive or non- custodial parent homes unless the caregiver or any member of the household is identified as an alleged perpetrator in a new report.
  • Action Requests - Communications that do not require an investigation, but may require an action by DCS. These specific communications are contained in the DCS Response System, Prioritizing Reports and Response.
  • Border Cases - A case involving a child whose family does not reside within the United States and the Department’s involvement is limited to returning the child to his/her family in coordination with U.S. Border Patrol and/or ICE and the case is being closed.
  • False (Malicious) Reports - After investigation, evidence indicates the reporting source knowingly and intentionally made a false (malicious) report, and the investigation results in no identified safety concerns or indication of risk. To determine if the reporting source knowingly and intentionally made a false report and should be referred to the County Attorney, refer to Substantiating Maltreatment.
  • Parents are deceased or have had their parental rights terminated, and there is no guardian.

The FFA is not completed for the following case types:
  • Adoption
  • Adoption Subsidy
  • Adoption Registry
  • Guardianship Subsidy
  • ICPC
  • DDD Eligibility
  • IV-E Eligibility
  • Non-DES Eligibility

Documentation
Using the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA), document:
  • information gathered in relation to each of the six domains of family functioning from each case participant contacts;
  • information gathering from collateral contacts and reviewed documents;
  • conclusions about the protective capacities of each parent/caregiver by indicating yes, no, or unknown for each of the 19 protective capacities;
  • the determination of whether each child in the home of the alleged abuse or neglect occurred is safe or unsafe due to impending danger;
  • if it is determined that a child is unsafe, all safety threats that exist and how each of the threats meets all five safety threshold criteria;
  • if it is determined that a child is unsafe, the in-home, combination, or out-of-home safety plan.

If the child is removed, complete the applicable removal windows in CHILDS.

Documentation in the CSRA should be complete within 45 days of investigation assignment.


Supervisors
Through a case file review and/or consultation, the DCS Program Supervisor ensures the DCS Specialist has gathered sufficient information to assess the six domains of family functioning, identify threats of danger to any child in the home, and determine parent/caregiver protective capacities. Through a case file review and/or consultation, the DCS Program Supervisor ensures that the information gathered and documented supports the DCS Specialist’s determination of whether each child is safe or unsafe, including that any identified impending danger safety threats meet all five of the safety threshold criteria.

Supervisors shall document the Clinical Supervision Discussion and approval of the Clinical Supervision Decision in Section IV (Clinical Supervision Decision) of the CSRA, within five days of investigation completion or opening the case for ongoing services.


Effective Date: June 12th, 2017

Revision History: November 30, 2012; May 31, 2013, July 1, 2013, February 6, 2016, September 22, 2016



Chapter 2: Section 6
Substantiating Maltreatment
Policy
The Department shall enter an investigation finding within 45 days of the date that the Department received the initial report information.

The Department shall notify the alleged perpetrator (alleged abuser) and the reporting source (if source is a parent, guardian or custodian) of the investigation finding in writing at one of the following times:
  • when the report is “unsubstantiated”; or
  • when the report is “proposed substantiated perpetrator unknown”; or
  • after the time to request a hearing on a proposed substantiated finding has lapsed without the Department receiving a request for the hearing; or
  • after a final administrative decision has been made on the proposed substantiated finding.

The Department shall advise the parent, guardian or custodian of his or her right to appeal their proposed substantiated finding before entry of the finding into the CHILDS Central Registry and of the right to receive a redacted copy of the report.

If the investigation indicates the probability the reporting source knowingly made a false report, the DCS Specialist shall consult with the Attorney General's Office regarding referral to law enforcement.

Procedures
Making the Investigation Finding “Unable to locate”
If you are unable to complete the investigation because you are unable to find the child victim, refer to Unable to Locate Procedures in Assessment .
  • Were reasonable efforts made to locate the child victim? See procedures in “Efforts to Locate the Child and Family”.
  • Is the location of the identified child victim unknown despite reasonable efforts to locate the child?
  • Is there insufficient evidence to conclude the child was abused or neglected without interviewing or observing the child?

Documentation
Enter a finding of "unable to locate" in the Investigation Allegation Finding Window (LCH048) when:
  • the child victim cannot be located; and
  • there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the child was abused or neglected without interview or observing the child.
  • This finding will remain in CHILDS and is not subject to the appeals process.

Making an Investigation Finding
Consider the following questions in your investigation:
  • Are there facts which support a probable cause finding that abuse or neglect occurred? PROBABLE CAUSE means the information gathered during the investigation would lead a reasonable person to believe that an incident of abuse or neglect occurred, and that the abuse or neglect was committed by the parent, guardian or custodian.
  • Has any parent, guardian or custodian admitted being abusive or neglectful?
  • Did the parent, guardian or custodians have reason to know another person would abuse or neglect the child? How did they know?
  • Did the parent, guardian or custodian allow another person to abuse or neglect the child and fail to take appropriate action? How and when?
  • Did the child provide age appropriate description and details of abuse or neglect?
  • Did the child identify the person who caused the abuse or neglect?
  • Are there any witnesses? What did they see? Did they document what they saw?
  • Did you observe physical or behavioral signs of abuse or neglect? Are these signs consistent with the account provided by the child, witnesses or the alleged abusive parent, guardian or custodian?
  • What do the reports of medical professionals, psychologists or other professionals indicate? If there are conflicting professional opinions, consult with a Multidisciplinary Team (including a physician) with 48 hours.
  • Is there a diagnosis by a medical doctor or psychologist that the child is suffering serious emotional damage as evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or untoward aggressive behavior that is the result of behavior by the parent, guardian or custodian?
  • What do the reports of law enforcement indicate? What forensic evidence has law enforcement provided?
  • To what extent is the information provided by members of the family consistent?

Additional information to be considered in substantiating or unsubstantiating the allegation:
  • Is there a prior history of child abuse or neglect? Does the current report involve the same abusive parent, guardian or custodian and child? Does the current report involve allegations similar in nature to previous reports?
  • Is there a pattern of domestic violence or substance abuse by the child’s caregivers that contributes to the child’s abuse or neglect? Has this been verified by background checks, police contact, verbal reports from caregivers, the child, other collateral contacts or DCS Specialist observation?

Enter a finding of unsubstantiated when the information gathered during the investigation does not support that an incident of abuse or neglect occurred based upon a probable cause standard. This finding will remain in CHILDS.

Determining the credibility of information
Consider the following questions in your investigation:
  • Is the child able to provide consistent descriptions or details about the abuse or neglect? Please consider the child’s age and development.
  • Is the child known by others to be truthful? Again, consider the child’s age and development.
  • Is the information corroborated by other independent evidence?
  • Was the information provided at the same time as the incident or immediately after?
  • Does the information contain sufficient detail?
  • Was the information consistent throughout the investigation?
  • Does the source of information have a motive to lie?
  • Was the information prepared in the official course of business? (i.e. reports from police, emergency medical personnel, physicians).
  • Is the reporting source related to the alleged abusive parent, guardian or custodian or has an interest in the outcome of the investigation?
  • Is the reporting source of the information willing to sign a statement/ affidavit or testify in a court proceeding?

Documentation of Investigation Finding
Using the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA), record all information obtained from persons interviewed, and correspondence received. Describe:
  • the type of abuse or neglect that occurred;
  • physical description or condition of the child;
  • the shape, size, color, location of injuries;
  • the unreasonable risk of harm to the child;
  • physical condition of the home;
  • statements from the psychologist or physician that the child is exhibiting severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal or untoward aggressive behavior which is caused by the parent, guardian or custodian;
  • evidence of sexual activity involving a child;
  • evidence of deliberate exposure of a child to sexual activity;
  • evidence of reckless disregard of whether the child is physically present during sexual activity;
  • evidence of the determination by a health professional that a newborn was exposed prenatally to a drug or substance;
  • evidence of a diagnosis by a health professional that an infant under one year of age with clinical findings consistent with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) or fetal alcohol effects (FAE);
  • evidence that of the use by the mother of a dangerous drug, a narcotic drug or alcohol during pregnancy if the child, at birth or within a year after birth, is demonstrably adversely affected by this use;
  • evidence of unreasonable confinement of a child;
  • the reasons the information obtained and/or the persons providing the information are or are not credible;
  • all facts obtained during the investigation that indicate the original report was made by a person who knew the allegation was false at the time the report was made; and
  • reasons why the perpetrator is unknown.

Use the Documentation Tips tool for guidance on how to fully document the investigation findings.

Enter the finding using the Investigation Allegation Findings Window (LCH048) within 45 days of the date the Department received the initial report information.

Proposing Substantiated
When the information gathered during the investigation supports that an incident of abuse or neglect occurred based upon a probable cause standard consult with and obtain the approval of the supervisor to determine the outcome of the investigation and investigation finding. Consult with the Protective Services Review Team (PSRT) Specialist when there is uncertainty or questions regarding whether the evidence supports the finding.

Remember, PSRT is neutral but is able to advise on the information needed to meet the criteria or on specific wording requirements for substantiation. PSRT cannot advise whether the worker should be substantiating or not. PSRT cannot act as a supervisor regarding substantiation. For additional assistance with substantiation please see the Substantiation Guidelines, CSO-1355.

A person may request copies of their DCS reports and records by completing and submitting a notarized Request for Department of Child Safety Report, CSO-1100A

Documentation
Enter Request Proposed Substantiate using the Investigation Allegation Findings Explain window (LCH242) within 45 days of the date the Department received the initial report information. Upon supervisor approval CHILDS will alert PSRT (Protective Services Review Team).

When entering your Finding Statement, document services offered or provided to the family using the Investigation Allegation Findings Explain window.

This finding is subject to the appeals process and a hearing by the Office of Administrative Hearing (OAH) Administrative Law Judge

The alleged perpetrator can exercise the appeal process if they disagree with the finding. PSRT will notify the alleged perpetrator regarding the findings and how they can appeal the decision.

Proposing Substantiated Pending Dependency Adjudication
Enter a finding of “proposed substantiated pending dependency adjudication” when DCS or a private party file a dependency petition alleging abuse or neglect. Select Proposed Substantiated Pending Dependency Adjudication using the Investigation Allegation Findings Explain window (LCH242) within 45 days of the date the Department received the initial report information. [ARS §8-802(C)(9)]

When DCS files a dependency petition alleging abuse or neglect, and all parties agree that it is a child’s best interest to establish Permanent Guardianship without a dependency adjudication pursuant to A.R.S. § 8-871, notify PSRT providing the dependency petition, order granting permanent guardianship and the DCS report number, document investigation findings and submit a proposed substantiated finding when indicated, as outlined in the above procedures titled, “Documentation of Investigation Finding” and “Proposed Substantiated.

Use the Finding Statement Templates and Finding Statement Examples tools to assist with documenting the Finding Statement. When entering your Finding Statement, document services offered or provided to the family using the Investigation Allegation Findings Explain window.
PSRT
The PSRT will enter the substantiated finding when the court adjudicates the child dependent based on an allegation of abuse or neglect contained in the dependency petition. The DCS Specialist may need to fax, email or interoffice the order adjudicating the child a ward of the court .

PSRT makes good efforts to locate these documents but is unable to always get the documents effectively. The DCS Specialist is responsible for getting the orders to the PSRT.

This finding is not subject to a hearing by the Office of Administrative Hearing (OAH)/ Administrative Law Judge (ALJ ).
Proposing Substantiated Perpetrator Deceased
After an investigation, when the evidence supports that an incident of abuse or neglect occurred based upon a probable cause standard, and the abusive parent, guardian or custodian dies prior to entry of the finding, the DCS Specialist will select Propose to Substantiate Perp Deceased. Enter this finding using the Investigation Allegation Findings Explain window (LCH242) within 45 days of the date the Department received the initial report information. This finding will remain in CHILDS and is not subject to the appeals process. No notification is necessary as the perpetrator is deceased. 

Proposing Substantiated Perpetrator Unknown
  • Has all the evidence been thoroughly considered?
  • After thorough consideration of the evidence, is the perpetrator unknown?
  • Is there unreasonable risk of harm to the child? How?

After an investigation when the information gathered during the investigation supports that an incident of abuse or neglect occurred based upon a probable cause standard and the abusive parent, guardian or custodian cannot be identified. The DCS Specialist will enter a finding of Propose to Substantiate Perp Unknown using the Investigation Allegation Findings Explain window (LCH242) within 45 days of the date the Department received the initial report information.

Determining if the reporting source knowingly made a false report
To determine if the reporting source knowingly made a false report, consider the following questions:
  • Is there a likelihood of financial gain or other benefit to the reporting source?
  • Has the reporting source admitted making a false report? To whom?
  • Has the reporting source made a prior report where the evidence indicated the report to be false?
  • Is there a history of family disputes?
  • Are custody issues being decided concurrently with the report?
  • Was the report made to harass, embarrass, intimidate or harm another?
  • Have statements been made during the investigation which indicate retaliation?

Once you have determined the a reporting source made a false report, consult with the Attorney General’s Office and your supervisor prior to referring a reporting source to law enforcement for knowingly making a false report.

Document a false report by adding the Tracking Characteristic FR (False Report Indicated) on the After Investigation Allegation Finding Detail window.

Providing Written Notification
The DCS Specialist will provide written notification at the conclusion of the investigation at the following times:


Note: This finding will remain in the CHILDS Case Management Information System and is not subject to the appeals process.



File a copy of the notification letters in the case file.

Additional Procedure for DCS Supervisor
Review the case record to ensure that the evidence supports the finding. If additional information is necessary to support the finding, return the case to the DCS Specialist to obtain the additional information. Review and approve or modify the proposed finding within five days of completion of the investigation. For “proposed substantiated” findings or "proposed substantiated pending dependency adjudication", ensure that the Finding Statement and services offered or provided to the family are documented on the Investigation Allegation Findings window.

For “proposed substantiated” findings concerning an out-of-home care provider or child welfare agency, review and approve or modify the proposed finding within one day of completion of the investigation or the case conference.



 

Effective Date: July 31, 2017

Revision History :November 30, 2012, February 21, 2014


Chapter 2: Section 7
Safety Planning
Policy
When the Department concludes a child is unsafe due to impending danger, the Department shall implement a safety plan.

When the Department concludes the child is safe, a safety plan shall not be implemented.

Safety plans shall include actions and services that are the least intrusive to the family, and sufficient to control the identified impending danger safety threats.

The Department shall engage the family and child to the greatest extent possible to develop and implement the safety plan.

The Department maintains responsibility and accountability for the sufficiency of the safety plan and its implementation.

A case cannot be closed when a safety plan is in effect.

Procedures
Safety Planning
When a child is assessed as unsafe, the DCS Specialist will develop and implement a safety plan to control any identified impending danger safety threats.

A safety plan should not be implemented for children assessed as safe. Refer to Opening a Case for Services for information on assessment and service planning for families in which the children are determined to be safe.

A safety plan is a written arrangement between the parent, guardian, or custodian and the Department that establishes how impending danger threats to child safety will be controlled. The safety plan describes safety actions and services that will be implemented to prevent anticipated danger from causing harm to the child. Safety actions are active and intentional efforts made by the Department, the family, or informal or formal supports who will take responsibility for assuring that a child’s basic needs and need for safety are met. Safety services support the completion of safety actions.

Safety plans are not the same as case plans. Safety plans describe actions intended to control danger threats and may contain services to achieve those actions. Case plans include services and supports designed to effect long-term behavioral change by enhancing parental protective capacities.

Safety plans must:
  • control or manage impending danger threats;
  • have an immediate effect;
  • be immediately accessible and available;
  • contain safety actions, and safety services when applicable; and
  • not contain promissory commitments by a parent as a safety action (such as a parent promising not to use drugs or alcohol).

A safety plan is sufficient when it is a well thought-out approach that identifies the most suitable people that will take the necessary actions, at the right times and frequency to control threats of danger to the child(ren) and/or substitute for diminished parent/caregiver protective capacities.

A safety plan must be implemented, active, and continuously managed and monitored by the DCS Specialist. The DCS Specialist must continuously reassess the family conditions and dynamics, and the sufficiency of the plan. The DCS Specialist is responsible for safety plan oversight as long as threats of danger to a child exist and caregiver protective capacities are insufficient to ensure the child is protected in the home.

Safety plans are written arrangements with the parent(s), the responsible adult(s) who will help maintain safety, and the DCS Specialist. To be effective, safety plans must:
  • specify the impending danger safety threat(s) and individually describe how they are uniquely evident within the family;
  • identify how each safety threat(s) will be controlled, including:
    • the responsible adult(s) who will implement each action;
    • the safety action(s) required to control threats of danger;
    • the circumstances under which the responsible adult(s) will perform the safety actions (e.g., location, who else will be there, etc.);
    • other people, such as safety service providers, who will support safety actions;
    • the timeframes when the safety actions will occur (frequency, duration, and exact times and days);
  • be based on an assessment of the suitability of the responsible adults who will implement the safety actions, and include confirmation of their availability and accessibility at the times the threats are present and need controlled; and
  • describe how the DCS Specialist will oversee that the safety plan is being followed and sufficient to maintain child safety, including a communication plan among participants.

Unless there is court involvement, the parents must agree to the safety plan.

In-home Safety Analysis
The determination that a child is unsafe does not always mean that the child must be removed from the home. In some cases, the danger can be sufficiently controlled, and the child can remain in the home, with help and support from family members and/or safety services.

Safety plans can use in-home, out-of-home, or a combination of actions. The DCS Specialist must complete an analysis of whether an in-home safety plan can be implemented by determining the answers to the following questions. If all five criteria are present, an in-home safety plan option can be used. If any of the criteria are not present, a combination or out-of-home safety plan will be implemented.

An in-home safety plan is appropriate when all five of the following questions are answered yes (indicating the criteria is present):
  • Question #1: Is there a combination of safety actions and/or services capable of sufficiently controlling the identified danger threats, and are there sufficient resources within the family network or community to control the identified threats? Safety actions and services to control the safety threats are dependent upon the identified impending danger threat. The safety actions and services must be available to the family at the necessary days, times, and locations, and they must be sufficient to control the identified danger threats. Responsible adults and safety services must be immediately available whenever the danger threats are or could be present.

  • Question #2: Are the parents, guardians, or custodians willing for an in-home or combination safety plan to be implemented and have they demonstrated that they will cooperate with the responsible adults, safety service providers, and safety actions identified in the safety plan? Willing to accept and cooperate refers to the most basic level of agreement to allow a safety plan to be implemented in the home and to participate according to agreed assignments. The parents, guardians, or custodians do not have to agree that a safety plan is the right thing, nor are they required to like the plan; but they must be willing to accept and cooperate with the plan in order for it to be effective.

  • Question #3: Is the home environment calm and consistent enough for an in-home safety plan to be implemented and for responsible adults and/or safety service providers to be in the home safely? Calm and consistent refers to the environment, it’s routine, how constant and consistent it is, its predictability to be the same from day-to-day. The environment must accommodate plans, schedules, and services and be non-threatening to those participating in the safety plan.

  • Question #4: Can an in-home safety plan and the use of in-home safety actions and/or services sufficiently control impending danger without the results of outside professional evaluations (substance abuse, psychiatric/psychological, medical)? This question is concerned with specific knowledge that is needed to understand impending danger threats, caregiver capacity, or behavior or family functioning specifically related to impending danger threats; and whether the absence of such information hinders the DCS Specialist’s ability to know what is required to control threats. Specifically, whether there are gaps in information related to family functioning after the completion of the Family Functioning Assessment, and a clinical evaluation by a professional is needed in order to provide further clarification in identifying specific circumstances related to caregiver capacity and behavior that influenced the identified danger threat(s). Evaluations that are concerned with treatment or general information gathering (not specific to impending danger threats) can occur in tandem with in-home safety plans.

  • Question #5: Do the parents, guardians, or custodians have a suitable place to reside where an in-home or combination safety plan can be implemented? A suitable place to reside refers to (1) a home/shelter exists and can be expected to be occupied for as long as the safety plan is needed, and (2) caregivers live there full time. Home refers to an identifiable domicile. A domestic violence or other shelter, or a friend’s or relative’s home, qualifies as an identifiable domicile if other criteria are met (e.g., expected to be occupied for as long as the safety plan is needed, caregivers live there full time, etc.).

An in-home safety plan may not be appropriate when any of the following are present:
  • Safety threats are so extreme that no safety actions and/or safety services can sufficiently control the danger threats with the child remaining in the home.
  • The nature of the home environment is chaotic, unpredictable, or dangerous.
  • The parent, guardian, or custodian's willingness to accept and cooperate with the responsible adults, safety services providers, and safety actions cannot be confirmed or relied upon into the future.
  • The child is profoundly afraid of a caregiver who continues to live in or have access to the home.
  • An in-home safety plan would violate the child’s victim rights, such as when the non-offending parent does not believe the child’s description of abuse or neglect, placing the child at risk to be coerced.
  • Medical child abuse is suspected (refer to: Investigating Munchausen by Proxy).
  • Any of the aggravating circumstances listed below are present (for more information on aggravating circumstances, refer to: Selecting the Permanency Goal).
    • The child previously was removed, adjudicated dependent due to physical or sexual abuse and, after the adjudication, the child was returned to the parent or guardian and then removed within eighteen months due to additional neglect or abuse.
    • The parent, guardian, or custodian has expressed no interest in reunification with the child.
    • The parent or guardian is suffering from a mental illness or mental deficiency of such magnitude that it renders the parent or guardian incapable of benefiting from the reunification services. This finding shall be based on competent evidence from a psychologist or physician that establishes that, even with the provision of reunification services, the parent or guardian is unlikely to be capable of adequately caring for the child within twelve months after the date of the child's removal from the home.
    • The parent or guardian:
      • committed an act that constitutes a dangerous crime against children as defined in A.R.S. § 13-705; or
      • caused a child to suffer serious physical injury or emotional injury; or
      • the parent or guardian knew or reasonably should have known that another person committed an act that constitutes a dangerous crime against children as defined in A.R.S. § 13-705; or
      • caused a child to suffer serious physical injury or emotional injury.
    • The parent's rights to another child have been terminated, the parent has not successfully addressed the issues that led to the termination, and the parent is unable to discharge his/her parental responsibilities.
    • The child has been removed from the parent on at least two previous occasions, reunification services were offered or provided to the parent/guardian after removal, and the parent/guardian is unable to discharge parental responsibilities.
    • The parent or guardian of a child has been convicted of:
      • a dangerous crime against children as defined in A.R.S. § 13-705; or
      • murder or manslaughter of a child; or
      • sexual abuse, sexual assault or molestation of a child; or
      • sexual conduct with a minor; or
      • commercial sexual exploitation of a minor; or
      • sexual exploitation of a minor; or
      • luring a minor for sexual exploitation.
    • The parent or guardian of a child has been convicted of aiding or abetting or attempting, conspiring or soliciting to commit any of the crimes listed directly above.

The Department may file an In-Home Intervention or In-Home Dependency Petition for court supervision and oversight (See In-Home Intervention and In-Home Dependency Filing).

The Department may work with the parent or guardian to place the child using a Voluntary Placement Agreement (See Voluntary Placement) or take temporary custody of the child and place the child in out of home care, if appropriate, and file an Out-of-Home Dependency Petition (See Out of Home Care).

If an out-of-home safety plan is implemented, the DCS Specialist will schedule and hold a Team Decision Making meeting and discuss the conditions for return (See Team Decision Making and Conditions for Return).

Safety Actions and Safety Services
Safety actions are active and intentional efforts made by the Department, the family, and/or informal or formal supports who will assume responsibility for assuring that a child’s basic needs and need for safety are met.

Safety actions may be carried out by a professional or a paid service provider, a volunteer, a relative, or a person in the family’s network. For example, child care can be provided by a daycare facility or by a church volunteer; and monitoring whether and how parents provide children’s meals can be done by grandmother, a mentor, a service provider, or the DCS Specialist.

Developing a safety plan that is not full time out-of-home placement requires knowledge about other actions or methods that might immediately control threats of danger. The following safety actions and services may help substitute for a parent’s diminished protective capacities:

Practical Resources
These actions and services provide practical help to the family in order to mitigate threats of danger to the child. Examples include:
  • resource acquisition, obtaining financial help, help with basic needs;
  • transportation services;
  • employment assistance; and
  • housing assistance.

Crisis Management
Crisis, in this context, is a perception or experience of an event or situation as horrible, threatening, or disorganizing. The event or situation overwhelms the caregiver’s and family member’s emotions, abilities, resources, and/or problem solving. A crisis for families may not necessarily be a traumatic situation or even in actuality, but a perception of those individuals involved.

Crisis management aims to halt a crisis, return a family to a state of calm, and to solve problems that fuel threats of danger. Appropriate crisis management handles precipitating events or sudden conditions that immobilize parents’ capacity to protect and care for children.
Examples include:
  • crisis intervention;
  • mobilize problem solving;
  • counseling;
  • resource acquisition,
  • obtaining financial help; and
  • help with basic parenting tasks.

Social Support and Connection
These services may be useful with young inexperienced parents who are not meeting basic protective responsibilities; anxious or emotionally immobilized parents; parents needing encouragement and support; parents overwhelmed with parenting responsibilities; and developmentally disabled parents. Services or actions include:
  • friendly visitor (formal or informal supports directly related to purposefully reducing isolation and connecting caregivers to direct support);
  • basic parenting assistance and teaching (focused on essential knowledge and/or skill a caregiver is missing or failing to perform);
  • homemaker services;
  • home management;
  • supervision and monitoring;
  • social networking; and
  • in-home babysitting.

Control or Manage Threatening Behavior
This type of service in a safety plan is concerned with aggressive behavior, passive behavior, or the absence of behavior – any of which can threaten a child’s safety. Activities or services that are consistent with this action can include, for example:
  • in-home health care;
  • supervision and monitoring;
  • stress reduction (actions that can help reduce the stress a caregiver is experiencing);
  • out-patient or in-patient medical treatment;
  • substance abuse intervention, detoxification;
  • emergency medical care; and
  • emergency mental health care.

Separation of Parent and Child
Separation as a safety action may range from one hour, to a few days, to extended out-of-home care. Separation may involve hourly babysitting, temporary out-of-home placement, or both. Besides ensuring child safety, separation may provide respite for parents and children. Separation creates alternatives to family routine, scheduling, and daily pressures. Separation also can serve a supervisory or oversight function. Examples include:
  • planned parental absence from home;
  • respite care;
  • child care;
  • after school care;
  • planned activities for the children;
  • short term out-of-home placement of child for weekends, several days, few weeks; and
  • extended foster care.

Identifying Responsible Adults to Implement Safety Actions
In order to implement a safety plan, a responsible adult must be identified who is able to carry out the required safety actions. The responsible adult could be a parent, guardian, or custodian, another adult who meets the criteria listed below, or a service provider who agrees to be responsible for a safety action. The responsible adult(s) must be present and immediately able to take action at any time a threat of danger is present. Refer to Family Functioning Assessment – Ongoing to determine when a reassessment of child safety and the safety plan shall occur.

Engage the family and ask for their assistance in identifying appropriate responsible adults who can assist control threats of danger to the child. Obtain information to determine if the responsible adult and members of his/her household (if applicable) are appropriate for this role. Meet in-person with any identified responsible adult to assess his/her ability to be responsible for safety actions. Areas to consider include whether the adult:
  • has demonstrated the ability to protect the child in the past (with or without DCS involvement) while under similar circumstances and family conditions;
  • believes the child’s report of maltreatment and is supportive of the child;
  • is capable of understanding the specific threat to the child and the need to protect the child;
  • displays concern for the child and the child’s experience and is intent on emotionally protecting the child;
  • has a strong bond with the child and he/she is clear the number one priority is safety and well-being of the child;
  • is physically able to intervene and protect the child;
  • does not have significant individual needs that might affect the safety of the child, such as severe depression, lack of impulse control, medical needs, etc.;
  • is emotionally able to carry out a plan and/or to intervene to protect the child (not incapacitated by fear of maltreating person);
  • has adequate knowledge and skill to fulfill caregiving responsibilities and tasks (this may involve considering the caregiver’s ability to meet any exceptional needs that the child might have);
  • has asked, demands and expects the maltreating adult to follow the conditions of the safety plan and can assure the plan is effectively carried out;
  • consistently expresses belief that the maltreating person is in need of help and that he or she supports the maltreating person getting help (this is the individual’s point of view without being prompted by DCS);
  • if having difficulty believing the other person would maltreat the child, the individual describes the child as believable and trustworthy;
  • has adequate resources necessary to meet the child’s basic needs;
  • is cooperating with the DCS Specialist’s efforts to provide services and assess the specific needs of the family; and
  • does not place responsibility on the child for the problems of the family.

If the responsible adult is a member of the family network or an informal support (is not a licensed out-of-home caregiver or a professional service provider), complete a search for prior AZ DCS involvement and a criminal records check with the Department of Public Safety. Submit the DPS criminal history request to the DPS using the Justice Web Interface (JWA). Submit a G-22 Child Abuse request.

When a person does not have a social security number, the DPS Criminal Records Check shall still be completed using information currently in CHILDS (including assigned pseudo social security numbers). In this situation, additional searches are necessary, including a public records search or information available through local law enforcement.

If the results of the criminal records check are not immediately available, gather information from the prospective responsible adult regarding criminal history, complete a public records check, and contact local law enforcement to complete a records check. Within 24 hours, complete the criminal records check with DPS. If appropriate, request history from out of state child welfare systems (when the responsible adult has resided in another state).

If the safety plan includes the child residing in the home of a responsible adult for any period of time (including a parent, guardian, or custodian or a member of the family network), complete a preliminary kinship assessment, which includes:

If the safety plan includes the placement of a child in the home of an unlicensed relative or non-relative follow the procedures in Kinship Care.

Within 15 working days of the completed DPS check, require all adult household members to complete a fingerprint based background check. Provide Fieldprint instructions to all adults upon placement consideration or emergency placement. If needed, provide assistance in submitting the fingerprints. Additional Department resources can be provided to assist adults that are unable to submit fingerprints to Fieldprint.
  • A person who is denied a Level One Fingerprint Clearance Card may still be considered as a kinship placement, if the offense preventing approval of the Level One Fingerprint Clearance Card is appealable to the Board of Fingerprinting.
  • The DCS Specialist should gather all relevant information and consult with his/her supervisor for approval to continue placement of the child(ren) in the home.
  • If any adult household member fails to complete the fingerprint based background check, the child cannot be placed in the home.

Note: If a child has been determined to be unsafe due to impending danger in the household where the alleged abuse or neglect has occurred, and an in-home safety analysis reveals that an in-home safety plan cannot be sufficiently managed in that home, and the child is placed with a parent in another household, a safety plan must still be completed. Placement of a child with a parent in another household does not make the safety threshold criteria “unmanaged” less out-of-control in the household where the abuse or neglect occurred.

If the safety plan includes the child residing with a parent, guardian, or custodian who resides in a different household from the home of the alleged abuse or neglect, therefore their household was not assessed during the Family Functioning Assessment, consider the following:
  • What experience does the parent have with parenting this or other children? Does the parent have knowledge of parenting and child development?
  • Does the parent know and practice positive methods of discipline?
  • What support will the parent require to provide for the child’s needs (medical, behavioral health, dental, special needs, transportation, communicating with professionals, etc.)?
  • How will the parent provide sufficient and appropriate supervision for the child, including after-school or childcare if necessary? (If childcare will be paid for by DCS, include in the case plan.)
  • As appropriate, how is the parent able to assist the child in family time/visitation and other forms of communication with the other parent and siblings?
  • Is the parent willing and able to participate in meetings (TDMs, CFTs, IEPs, etc.)?
  • Is the parent aware that DCS and service providers will visit the home in order to fulfill safety plan oversight and service provision responsibilities?
  • What new expenses are anticipated if the child is placed in the home? Will the parent be able to provide sufficient care for the child without causing financial hardship for the family?
  • Will the parent need services or supports to maintain the child safely in the home? (Include any needed services and supports in the case plan.)

Responsible adult in a safety plan who is a qualified patient of medical marijuana
If a potential responsible adult identified in the safety plan is also a qualifying patient, designated caregiver, or cultivator of medical marijuana, the following factors should be addressed in evaluating the person’s suitability, reliability, and ability to control threats of danger to the child(ren):
  • any action taken by the potential responsible adult/placement to ensure any child in the home does not have access to the marijuana;
  • any action taken by the potential responsible adult/ placement to ensure any child in the home is not adversely affected by the patient’s medical use of marijuana;
  • the effects of the “debilitating medical condition” and the medical use of marijuana on the adult’s ability to provide a safe home environment for the child, and meet the child’s placement needs, including transportation to/from appointments, visitation, and other routine activities;
  • any concerns by the adult’s physician about their ability to provide for the child’s safety and well-being (if the adult is a qualifying patient).

Safety Plan Oversight
The DCS Specialist maintains responsibility and accountability for the sufficiency and implementation of the safety plan, which includes oversight to ensure that all responsible parties are carrying out the actions and duties in the plan. The use of a responsible adult does not relieve the DCS Specialist of responsibility for oversight and management of the safety plan or continued assessment of the child’s safety. For the duration of the safety plan, the DCS Specialist must continually review the adequacy of the safety action(s), and modify the plan when necessary. For effective oversight, the DCS Specialist must have an adequate understanding of the status of the safety threats and the sufficiency, feasibility, and sustainability of the safety action(s) identified; and must anticipate potential crisis situations.

Supervisor Consultation
A Program Supervisor must be involved in developing the safety plan and must approve any safety plan the DCS Specialist initiates with the family. The Program Supervisor should confirm that the actions in the safety plan are the least intrusive actions that are sufficient to control the identified impending danger threat(s).

Discuss how the DCS Specialist will continue to provide oversight and management of the safety plan and the plan for continued assessment of the child’s safety.

Documentation
Document the safety plan on the Safety Plan and Safety Plan Signature Page, CS0-1034B. Give a copy of both documents to each parent/caregiver, and any adults who are responsible for carrying out the plan. File a copy of the safety plan in the case record, or include a scanned copy of the safety plan in CHILDS.

If an out-of-home safety plan is created, assess the responsible adult’s home by completing the Family and Home Evaluation found in the Court Document Directory (CT05300).

In CHILDS:
  • Document DPS and DCS checks for all non-licensed responsible adults named in the safety plan in a Key Issue case note type or Section I.B. in the CSRA. Include the individual’s name, his/her relationship to the child, and the name of the Program Supervisor who reviewed the information and approved the individual as a responsible adult named in the safety plan.
  • Document discussions with all non-licensed responsible adults about their ability to use judgment and take actions that will protect the child, and to be present with the child at all times when there are anticipated threats to the child’s safety.
  • Document the essential components of the safety plan in Section III, D (Safety Plan) of the CSRA.
    • Document whether an in-home safety plan, combination, or an out of home safety plan was completed with the family.
    • Document the results of the in-home safety plan analysis in Section IV, D (Safety Plan).
    • If an out-of-home safety plan was completed, the information documented should reflect why an in-home safety plan would be insufficient to manage the identified danger threats.
  • In the C-CSRA, document the safety plan in Section II, C (Safety Decision ).
  • Document the search for relatives in the Locate Efforts case note type.
If the child is removed:
Complete the following windows in CHILDS when a temporary custody notice has been issued:
  • Legal Status
  • Removal Status
  • Removal Settings
  • Placement/Location Directory
DCS Program Supervisors
Document supervisory consultations as described in Providing Strength-Based Supervision.



 

Effective Date: October 25, 2017

Revision History: November 30, 2012, May 31,2013, June 9th, 2017

Chapter 2: Section 7.1
Conditions for Return

Policy
If a child is assessed as unsafe due to impending danger, and an out-of-home safety plan is implemented, the Department shall identify the conditions for return of the child to the parent(s).

The conditions for return shall be provided in writing to the parent(s), guardian(s) or custodian(s), any child age 12 or older, and the out-of-home caregiver.

Progress toward meeting the conditions for return shall be assessed in conjunction with the Family Functioning Assessment-Ongoing and the Family Functioning Assessment-Progress Update.

PROCEDURES
Conditions for return are written statements of specific behaviors, conditions, or circumstances that must exist before a child can return and remain in the home with an in-home safety plan.

The conditions for return are directly connected to the specific reasons why an in-home safety plan could not be put into place. Conditions for return describe the caregivers’ behaviors and family circumstances that would need to exist in order for a sufficient, feasible, sustainable in-home safety plan to be implemented.

The DCS Specialist and Program Supervisor will develop the conditions for return prior to discussing them with the family. The Program Supervisor will approve the conditions for return as part of approving the safety plan. The DCS Specialist and Program Supervisor must ensure the conditions for return are comprehensive and sufficient to address all circumstances preventing the use of an in-home safety plan.

The DCS Specialist will engage with the family to review and discuss the conditions for return. This may happen during the Team Decision Making (TDM) meeting held after a child’s removal. If a TDM meeting is not required or is not held, the DCS Specialist and/or Program Supervisor will review the conditions for return during the case plan staffing, checking for understanding from family and team members. The DCS Specialist reviews the safety plan, including the conditions for return and progress toward meeting the conditions for return, with the parents and the Program Supervisor at least monthly.

Conditions for return should not be developed for any parent, guardian, or custodian whose whereabouts are unknown at the time of the Family Functioning Assessment. Once the missing parent, guardian, or custodian is located, a full assessment shall be completed and, if an out-of-home safety plan remains necessary, conditions for return will be developed at that time.

Conditions for return should not be developed for any parent, guardian, or custodian with whom reunification will not be pursued due to aggravating circumstances of abuse or neglect, or whose child(ren) have a permanency goal other than reunification.

At any time the safety plan is reassessed, the DCS Specialist and Program Supervisor will assess whether current circumstances still indicate the need for an out-of-home safety plan, and whether any or all of the conditions for return have been met.

When the in-home safety analysis indicates that a sufficient, feasible, and sustainable in-home safety plan can be implemented, the DCS Specialist will engage with the family and service team to develop a reunification transition plan. For more information on reunification planning, see Family Reunification.

When the conditions for return are met and a child is able to return to the home of a parent, guardian or custodian with an in-home safety plan, the family’s DCS ongoing services case will remain open until the children are determined to be safe with no need for a safety plan (threats of danger are no longer present or a parent, guardian, or custodian has demonstrated an enhancement of identified diminished protective capacity to consistently manage all threats of danger).

Identifying the Conditions for Return
Prior to identifying the conditions for return, the DCS Specialist and Program Supervisor identify, discuss, and analyze:
  • how each identified impending danger threat is manifested in the family;
  • the safety threshold criteria, particularly the observable and specific family condition and the out of control nature of the threat;
  • caregiver protective capacity, attitude, and awareness; and
  • the potential for threatening caregivers or persons to leave the home.

The DCS Specialist and Program Supervisor should consider the following questions when determining specific conditions for return to the family:
  • Why was an out-of-home safety plan originally necessary (i.e., caregiver behaviors that were violent or out-of-control, there are safety issues with the home environment, and/or lack of resources or support within the family network)?
  • Are the child(ren) fearful of returning home? Is an in-home safety plan feasible considering the child(ren)’s current emotional needs?
  • Are there adequate services and/or supports (responsible adults) that can substitute for all diminished caregiver protective capacities to control the impending danger within the home? What are those services/supports?
  • What level of supervision is necessary to ensure child safety?
  • At what times or days, or under what circumstances must responsible adults or safety services be available to ensure child safety?
  • Do the stated conditions for return address all of the issues that made an out-of-home safety plan necessary?
  • If the stated conditions for return are met, will a sustainable in-home safety plan be possible?
  • Do the stated conditions for return include conditions related to the parent demonstrating the willingness and consistent ability to support an in-home safety plan?
  • Will meeting the stated conditions for return confirm the parent is willing and able to continue working toward completion of the case plan and identified treatment goals?

Development of the Conditions for Return
Conditions for return describe what the particular family’s behaviors, conditions, and circumstances will look like when all five of the in-home safety analysis questions are answered yes, and there are responsible adults and/or safety services who can substitute for the parent/caregiver’s diminished protective capacity, so that threats of danger are consistently controlled.

To develop the written statements of conditions for return, consider each of the five in-home safety analysis questions. For any question answered no, document the specific reason(s) why it was and continues to be answered no.

Question #1: Is there a combination of safety actions and/ or services capable of sufficiently controlling the identified danger threats, and are there sufficient resources within the family network or community to control the identified threats?
Safety actions and services to control the safety threats are dependent upon the identified impending danger threat. The safety actions and services must be available to the family at the necessary days, times, and locations, and they must be sufficient to control the identified danger threats. Responsible adults and safety services must be immediately available whenever the danger threats are or could be present.

Condition for return statements associated with the sufficiency of resources should reflect what would need to be different in comparison to what was determined to require an out-of-home safety plan. The written conditions should describe:
  • The specific safety actions and/or services that would need to be in place to control safety threats in the home.
  • The level of effort necessary to manage behavior and/or provide social connections and/or provide basic parenting assistance etc. (identify what).

Question #2: Are the parents, guardians, or custodians willing for an in-home or combination safety plan to be implemented and have they demonstrated that they will cooperate with the responsible adults, safety service providers, and safety actions identified in the safety plan?
Willing to accept and cooperate refers to the most basic level of agreement to allow a safety plan to be implemented in the home and to participate according to agreed assignments. The parents, guardians, or custodians do not have to agree that a safety plan is the right thing, nor are they required to like the plan; but they must be willing to accept and cooperate with the plan in order for it to be effective.

Conditions for return statements associated with a caregiver’s lack of acceptance and willingness to participate in developing an in-home safety plan should reflect what would need to be different in comparison to what was determined to require an out-of-home safety plan. For example:
  • Caregiver is open to having candid discussion about the reason for a safety plan and what the safety plan would involve regarding child safety.
  • Caregiver expresses genuine remorse about (specific maltreatment) toward child and is willing to discuss the need for a safety plan.
  • Caregiver expresses a genuine interest in doing what is necessary to have the child return to the home.

Question #3: Is the home environment calm and consistent enough for an in-home safety plan to be implemented and for responsible adults and/or safety service providers to be in the home safely?
Calm and consistent refers to the environment, it’s routine, how constant and consistent it is, its predictability to be the same from day-to-day. The environment must accommodate plans, schedules, and services and be non-threatening to those participating in the safety plan.

Conditions for return statements associated with the home environment should reflect what would need to be different in comparison to what was determined to require an out-of-home safety plan. For example:
  • Specific individuals (identify and describe what was problematic about certain people being in the home and threatening to child safety) no longer reside in the home and the caregiver’s commitment to keeping them out of the home is sufficiently supported by in-home safety actions and/or services.
  • Caregiver no longer expresses or behaves in such a way that reasonably will disrupt an in-home safety plan (describe specifically what would be different that was preventing an in-home safety plan), expresses acceptance of the in-home safety plan and concern for child; and safety actions and/or services are sufficient for monitoring and managing caregiver behavior as necessary.
  • Specific triggers for violence in the home are understood and recognized by caregivers, and the responsible adults and/or in-home safety service providers can sufficiently monitor and manage behavior to control impulsivity and prevent aggressiveness.

Question #4: Can an in-home safety plan and the use of in-home safety actions and/or services sufficiently control impending danger without the results of outside professional evaluations (substance abuse, psychiatric/psychological, medical)?
This question is concerned with specific knowledge that is needed to understand impending danger threats, caregiver capacity, or behavior or family functioning specifically related to impending danger threats; and whether the absence of such information hinders the DCS Specialist’s ability to know what is required to control threats. Specifically, whether there are gaps in information related to family functioning after the completion of the Family Functioning Assessment, and a clinical evaluation is needed in order to provide further clarification in identifying specific circumstances related to caregiver capacity and behavior that influenced the identified danger threat(s). Evaluations that are concerned with treatment or general information gathering (not specific to impending danger threats) can occur in tandem with in-home safety plans.

Conditions for return statements associated with a caregiver’s capacity should reflect the information needed from an evaluation in order to fully assess family functioning, including information necessary to understand what is contributing to the manifestation of impending danger. The additional information gathered from the evaluation(s) may result in the need to reassess and revise the safety plan and/or the conditions for return. Although a diagnosis or clinical condition of a caregiver may not be immediately available, the DCS Specialist should still identify observable behaviors and/or circumstances that must be controlled or managed in order for an in-home safety plan to be successful. For example:
  • Caregiver has participated in the recommended evaluation(s) and the results provide sufficient information to understand how the danger threat(s) manifest within the family.
  • Caregiver demonstrates increased emotional stability and/or behavioral control (describe specifically what would be different) to the point where an in-home safety plan and safety management can assure child safety.
  • Caregiver is demonstrating progress toward (describe specifically what would need to be different; e.g., stabilizing emotionally; increased control of behavior) to the extent that in-home safety services can be sufficient and immediately available for effectively managing caregiver behavior.
  • There are responsible adults and/or sufficient safety service resources available and immediately accessible to compensate for a caregiver’s cognitive limitations and provide basic parenting assistance at the level required to assure that the child is protected and has his or her basic needs met.
  • There are sufficient responsible adults and/or safety service resources available and immediately accessible to compensate for a caregiver’s physical limitation by providing basic parenting assistance to assure the child’s basic needs are met.

Question #5: Do the parents, guardians, or custodians have a suitable place to reside where an in-home or combination safety plan can be implemented?
suitable place to reside refers to (1) a home/shelter exists and can be expected to be occupied for as long as the safety plan is needed, and (2) caregivers live there full time. Home refers to an identifiable domicile. A domestic violence or other shelter, or a friend’s or relative’s home, qualifies as an identifiable domicile if other criteria are met (e.g., expected to be occupied for as long as the safety plan is needed, caregivers live there full time, etc.).

Conditions for return statements associated with a caregiver’s residence should reflect what would need to be different in comparison to what was determined to require an out-of-home safety plan. For example:
  • Caregiver has a reliable, sustainable, consistent residence in which to put an in-home safety plan in place.
  • Caregiver maintains the residence and there is confidence that the living situation is sustainable.
  • Caregiver demonstrates the ability to maintain a sustainable, suitable, consistent residence (describe specifically on an individual case by case basis what would be a sufficient demonstration of a caregivers ability to maintain an adequate place to reside and implement an in-home safety plan).

Supervisors
If the conclusion of the Family Functioning Assessment-Investigation and the in-home safety plan analysis results in a decision that an out-of-home safety plan is necessary to sufficiently manage child safety, the DCS Specialist, with guidance of the Program Supervisor, will document what is required in order for an in-home safety plan to be established and the child(ren) returned home (conditions for return).

The Program Supervisor will participate in identifying the conditions for return with the DCS Specialist. All conditions for return statements must be approved by a Program Supervisor prior to providing a written copy to the family.

The Program Supervisor will confirm the conditions for return are directly connected to the specific reasons/justification from the in-home safety plan analysis and the reasons why an in-home safety plan could not be put into place at the conclusion of the Family Functioning Assessment and/or maintained as a part of ongoing safety management.

Documentation
Document the conditions for return on the Safety Plan and Safety Plan Signature Page, (CS0-1034B). Following Program Supervisor approval, copies are to be provided to the parents, guardians, or custodians; any child age 12 or older; the out-of-home caregivers; and any adults or service providers who are responsible for carrying out identified safety actions and/or services. Place a copy in the electronic or hard copy/case file.




Effective Date: June 9th, 2017

Revision History:

Chapter 2 Section 8 - Team Decision Making 
Policy
The Department will convene the appropriate type of Team Decision Making (TDM) meeting under the following circumstances:

Present Danger TDM:
  • The Family Functioning Assessment and impending danger determination have not been completed, and
  • child has been removed as a protective action in a present danger plan (including when a Temporary Custody Notice (TCN) and/or Notice of Removal has been served, or a parent has signed a Voluntary Placement Agreement.

Safety Planning TDM:
  • The Family Functioning Assessment has been completed and a determination has been made that the child is unsafe due to an impending danger threat; and
    • an in-home safety plan has been implemented; or
    • a child has been removed as a safety action in a safety plan (including when a TCN and/or Notice of Removal has been served, or a parent has signed a Voluntary Placement Agreement); or
  • a previously developed in-home or out-of-home safety plan may be insufficient to control the danger threat(s) and may need to be revised.

Placement Stabilization TDM:
  • There is potential for placement disruption; or
  • an unplanned placement change has occurred for a child in out-of-home placement.

Permanency Planning TDM:
  • The permanency goal may need to change; or
  • a child will begin the reunification transition to his/her family.

Age of Majority TDM:
  • a youth in care is within 6 months of turning 18;
  • a young adult age 18 through 20 is participating in a plan for continued voluntary foster care, and wants to exit the program or is in substantial non-compliance with their case plan; or
  • a young adult is participating in a plan for continued voluntary foster care and is within 30 days of turning 21.

Hold the Age of Majority TDM within no more than seven days 7 of learning that the youth wants to exit the program or is in non-compliance, excluding weekends and holidays.

A Present Danger TDM meeting is not required when:
  • the present danger plan is that the child lives with a responsible adult for seven days per week, 24 hours per day (a Safety Planning TDM meeting would be held within 14 days of implementing this plan, unless the child is determined to be safe);
  • a Temporary Custody Notice (TCN) has been served, but the child is returned to the parent, guardian or custodian because the child is determined to be safe within the 72 hour time frame;
  • a TCN has been served for no more than 12 hours, to obtain an examination of a child by a medical doctor or psychologist; or
  • only DCS staff and service providers are present.

A Safety Planning TDM meeting is not required when:
  • a present danger TDM meeting was previously held and at the conclusion of the Family Functioning Assessment;
    • the present danger plan is sufficient to control identified impending danger threats and will become the safety plan with no changes to safety actions, safety services, or responsible adults; or
  • a private dependency petition has been filed and the Department agrees with the allegation, placement and/or court orders;
  • only DCS staff and service providers are present.

A Placement Stabilization TDM meeting is not required when:
  • a child is served through a Child and Family Team (CFT); or
  • any planned placement is made through a CFT.

The Department will ensure the TDM meeting is a strengths-based decision making process to engage the family network in addressing the safety, placement, and permanency of children. This is a collaborative process involving the Department, the family (custodial and non-custodial parents and the child age 12 and older, when appropriate), family supports, (relatives, friends, community members), and partnering agencies including, as applicable, tribal representatives, behavioral health providers, and other service providers involved with the family.

Procedures
Team Decision Making Meetings (TDM)
The purpose of a team decision making meeting is to make decisions surrounding the safety, stability, and permanency of a child at critical points in a case. The meeting is intended to be a collaboration between the Department, parents, child(ren), family, support persons, service providers, and applicable community members to determine the best environment for the child that will achieve continued safety, as well as determine the level of intervention the Department may continue to have with the family, if any.

The following individuals should be invited to the meeting by the DCS Specialist:
  • parent (s), including step-parents;
  • guardian(s);
  • mental health professionals, therapists/counselors, or other service providers;
  • tribal or consulate representatives;
  • youth (12 years and older) should attend if able, and if appropriate (consider victim’s rights and child/youth's level of functioning);
  • kinship caregivers and/or foster parents;
  • Juvenile Probation Officers

The following individuals may be invited to the meeting by the parents, guardians, or child(ren):
  • any support persons identified by the family such as:
    • boyfriend/girlfriend;
    • relatives;
    • friends, neighbors, caregivers or babysitters;
    • members of the family’s faith/spiritual community;
    • school contacts such as teachers, principals, counselors;
    • siblings;
  • military command;
  • potential kinship caregivers/ placements

All Team Decision Making meetings will be facilitated by a trained facilitator. The TDM facilitator’s role is to guide group discussion surrounding the safety and/or permanency of the child(ren) involved in a DCS case. The facilitator will also strive to reach group consensus that the recommended plan is the least restrictive and in the best interest of the child(ren).

Meeting Types
Present Danger TDM meeting occurs when the Family Functioning Assessment and impending danger determination have not been completed, and a child has been removed as a protective action in a present danger plan, including when:
  • a Temporary Custody Notice (TCN) and/or Notice of Removal has been served and a child has been physically removed from the custody of the parent, guardian, or custodian as a protective action in a present danger plan; or
  • a Voluntary Placement Agreement has been implemented as a protective action in a present danger plan; or
  • the Department requested a court ordered pick-up and the child(ren) have been located and placed in the temporary physical custody of the Department; and
  • the Family Functioning Assessment has not been completed so that a determination of impending danger has not been made.

Safety Planning TDM meeting occurs:
  • the Family Functioning Assessment has been completed, and a determination has been made that the child is unsafe due to an impending danger threat; and
    • an in-home safety plan has been implemented; or
    • a child has been removed as a safety action in a safety plan (including when a TCN and/or Notice of Removal has been served, or a parent has signed a Voluntary Placement Agreement);
  • the present danger plan is expiring, unless the Family Functioning Assessment has resulted in a determination that the child is safe (the TDM meeting must occur before the present danger plan expires);
  • a previously developed in-home or out-of-home safety plan may be insufficient to control the danger threat(s) and may need to be revised; or
  • within no less than 30 days from the expiration of a 90 Day Voluntary Placement Agreement, and/or the parent’s request to rescind the Voluntary Agreement, unless the Department has determined the child is safe.

Safety Planning TDM meeting may also be held when:
  • a private dependency petition has been filed and the Department disagrees with the allegation, placement and/or court orders; or

Placement Stabilization TDM meeting occurs when:
  • there is potential for placement disruption; or
  • an unplanned placement change occurs for a child in out-of-home placement.

Reunification/ Permanency Planning TDM meeting occurs when:
  • there may be a recommendation for a change in the permanency goal;
  • there may be a recommendation for a concurrent permanency goal; or
  • a child will begin the reunification transition to their family.

An Age of Majority TDM Meeting occurs when:
  • a youth in care is within 6 months of turning 18;
  • a young adult age 18 through 20 is participating in a plan for voluntary foster care and wants to exit the program or is in substantial non-compliance; or
  • a young adult is participating in a plan for continued voluntary foster care and is within 30 days of turning 21.

Hold the Age of majority TDM within no more than seven days of learning that the youth/young adult wants to exit the program or is in substantial non-compliance, excluding weekends and holidays.

Scheduling the TDM Meeting
The DCS Specialist will request a TDM meeting by completing and submitting the Team Decision Making Referral (CSO-1102) to the Program Supervisor within 24 hours of an event or circumstance that requires a Present Danger or Safety Planning TDM meeting, excluding weekends and state holidays.

The Program Supervisor or designee will schedule TDM meetings as follows:
  • Schedule the Present Danger TDM meeting to be held within 48 hours of removal excluding nights, weekends and state holidays.
  • Schedule the Safety Planning TDM meeting as expeditiously as possible, but no later than seven calendar days of determining that a child is unsafe. In the interim, if a safety threat has been identified, a safety plan must be in place. When a Family Functioning Assessment has been completed, and an out-of-home safety plan has been implemented and a TCN and/or Notice of Removal has been served, schedule the TDM within 48 hours of removal, excluding weekends, and state holidays.
  • Schedule the Placement Stabilization TDM meeting to be held within 48 hours of disrupted placement excluding weekends and holidays. For potential disruptions, the meeting should be held as expeditiously as possible, but no later than 72 hours.
  • Schedule the Permanency Planning TDM meeting before the permanency goal is changed. For reunification TDMs, the meeting is to be scheduled and held prior to transitioning the child to his/her family.
    • Prior to scheduling a Permanency Planning TDM meeting, the DCS Specialist will discuss Permanency Planning with the assigned Assistant Attorney General.
  • Schedule the Age of Majority meeting within six months of the youth turning 18; within 30 days of the youth turning 21; and, for potential program disruption/ discharge, as expeditiously as possible, but no later than 72 hours.
  • Provide the date, time, and location of the meeting to the DCS Specialist.

TDM Meetings involving Criminal Conduct Allegations
If the child is part of a case where the report alleges criminal conduct, or the case involves an ongoing criminal investigation, or current or pending prosecution, communication between the DCS Specialist, Law Enforcement, and the OCWI Investigator (if applicable), should occur prior to holding the TDM meeting. The DCS Specialist should also communicate with the Duty or assigned Assistant Attorney General (AAG) before the TDM meeting is held. If attempts have been made to contact Law Enforcement and detailed messages have been left, the TDM meeting may be held without prior communication with Law Enforcement.

Do not discuss the criminal conduct allegation(s) during the TDM meeting.

The following questions should be discussed with Law Enforcement and the Duty AAG prior to the TDM meeting:
  • What is the purpose of the TDM meeting (possible topics of discussion)?
  • Are there participants who should be excluded from the TDM meeting? If so, why?
  • Should Law Enforcement or an AAG be included in the TDM meeting? If so, why?
  • Are there any specific topics that should not be discussed at the TDM meeting? If so, what and why?

If any admission of personal responsibility occurs during the TDM meeting or further information is obtained about the allegations, the DCS Specialist will immediately notify and provide the information to the AAG and Law Enforcement to assist in the criminal investigation and prosecution.

The child victim and the alleged perpetrator will not be in the same room or on the phone together during a TDM meeting when the case involves:
  • criminal conduct allegations or domestic violence;
  • an ongoing criminal investigation;
  • current or pending criminal prosecution; or
  • the child victim feels threatened or unsafe.

Key Roles and Responsibilities
The family, DCS Specialist, Program Supervisor and TDM Facilitator are all responsible for ensuring decisions made during the TDM meeting ensure child safety. However, the final decision regarding child safety and the safety plan is the responsibility of the DCS Specialist and his/her Supervisor.

Key Roles and Responsibilities – DCS Specialist

The family, DCS Specialist, Program Supervisor and TDM Facilitator are all responsible for ensuring recommendations made during the TDM meeting ensure child safety. However, the final decision regarding child safety and the safety plan is the responsibility of the DCS Specialist and his/her Supervisor.

Key Roles and Responsibilities – DCS Specialist
The DCS Specialist:

  • Ensures that the safety decision is discussed and understood and that the placement is the least restrictive, least intrusive required to reasonably ensure child safety, and consistent with policy as follows:
    • In-Home
    • In-Home Safety Plan
    • Combination Safety Plan
    • In-Home Intervention
    • In-Home Dependency
    • Out-of-Home
    • Out-of-Home Safety Plan
    • Voluntary Placement Agreement
    • Out-of-Home Dependency.
  • Is knowledgeable of, and skilled in, the application of Department policy regarding child safety assessment, safety planning and risk assessment.
  • Reviews the need for a TDM meeting with the DCS Supervisor.
  • In consultation with the family, identifies participants or other individuals who need to attend the TDM meeting.
  • Informs participants (including incarcerated parents) of the date, time, and location of the TDM meeting.
  • Explains the purpose of the TDM meeting to the family prior to the meeting.
  • If applicable, arranges for a language interpreter or any ADA special accommodations for a participant.
  • If applicable, arranges transportation for the parent, guardian, custodian or child to attend the TDM meeting.
  • Identifies the parent’s, guardian’s or custodian's Protective Capacities that may control the safety threat and strengths that may mitigate risk.
  • To the fullest extent possible, ensures that family history/kinship information is gathered prior to or during the TDM meeting.
  • Identifies formal and informal supports available to the family to assist in ensuring child safety.
  • Is prepared to make a placement recommendation that ensures child safety, including a recommendation for legal custody.
  • Specifies the authorized level of contact and visitation between the child and the parent, guardian or custodian, and the child and any siblings in out-of-home care.
  • Implements or follows-up with any identified tasks.
  • Identifies the current or last school the child is attending or attended, whether or not the child is on an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 Accommodation Plan.
  • When a child has been removed as a protective action in a present danger plan, and comprehensive information to complete the assessment of child safety has not been obtained, summarizes the current case status; and articulates the immediate, significant, and clearly observable condition that places the child in present danger; and identifies actions that can control the present danger threat.
  • When a child has been removed as a safety action in a safety plan, articulates the outcome of the assessment of child safety, how the information collected directly supports the identification of a safety threat, and the specific actions and supports that are needed to ensure the safety plan is sufficient, including:
    • what specific family condition creates the safety threat;
    • who is creating the safety threat;
    • if there is a non-offending parent, what has been his/her role or capacity to control the safety threat or has he/she been unable to do so;
    • when does the safety threat occur;
    • what precipitates the safety threat;
    • what is the intensity, frequency, duration and pervasiveness of the safety threat; and
    • why an in-home or combination safety plan will or will not ensure the child’s safety.
  • If a child has been determined to be in impending danger and an out-of-home safety plan has been established, identifies the conditions for return with the program supervisor, then discusses them with the family.
  • For the placement stabilization of a child, summarizes the current case status; articulates the cause of the potential or actual placement disruption; articulates what actions are needed to stabilize and preserve the current or next placement; and articulates the outcome of the current assessment of child safety and risk as it relates to the biological parent(s).
  • For the permanency planning of a child, summarizes the current case status; articulates why reunification is no longer an option; articulates what actions are needed to identify a long term permanency resource or connection for the child; and articulates the outcome of the current assessment of child safety and risk as it relates to the biological parent(s).
    • Prior to scheduling a Permanency Planning TDM meeting, the DCS Specialist will discuss Permanency Planning with the assigned Assistant Attorney General.
  • For the reunification of a child to his/her family:
    • What is the present situation?
    • Have all risks and/or safety threats that brought the child into placement been reduced/ eliminated? How?
    • Are there any other issues or concerns that have been identified or need to be addressed?
  • For an age of majority, summarizes the current case status; articulates the reason for the potential or actual program discharge; articulates what actions are needed to successfully transition into adulthood.
  • If any admission of personal responsibility occurs during the TDM meeting or if additional information obtained about the current allegations or possible new allegations of abuse or neglect, the DCS Specialist should immediately notify and provide information to the AAG.

Key Roles and Responsibilities – DCS Program Supervisor
The DCS Program Supervisor:
  • Ensures that the safety decision is discussed and understood and that placement is least restrictive, least intrusive required to reasonably ensure child safety and consistent with policy as follows:
    • In-Home
    • In-Home Safety Plan
    • Combination Safety Plan
    • In-Home Intervention
    • In-Home Dependency
    • Out-of-Home
    • Out-of-Home Safety Plan
    • Voluntary Placement Agreement
    • Out-of-Home Dependency
  • Is knowledgeable of and skilled in the application of Department policy regarding family functioning assessment, safety planning and risk assessment.
  • Schedules or designates another person to schedule the date, time and location of the TDM meeting.
  • Reviews case circumstances and discusses the identified safety threat with the DCS Specialist prior to the TDM meeting.
  • Attends the TDM meeting or identifies a designee to attend:
    • when requested by the DCS Specialist and/ or family;
    • when requested by the TDM Facilitator;
    • when the DCS Specialist is a new employee within 6 months of hire date;
    • at his/her discretion; or
    • when a case has been identified as high profile.
  • As necessary, participates in the case presentation at the TDM meeting.
  • Is prepared to make decisions regarding child safety and placement including recommendations for legal custody in the event general agreement among the team to support recommendations cannot be obtained.
  • Is prepared to make decisions regarding the authorized level of contact and visitation between the child and the parent, guardian, or custodian and the child and any siblings in out-of-home care.
  • Ensures that the DCS Specialist implements or follows-up with any identified tasks.
  • Ensures that the DCS Specialist contacts the Assistant Attorney General, as required.

Key Roles and Responsibilities – TDM Facilitator
The TDM Facilitator:
  • Ensures that the safety decision is discussed and understood and that placement is the least restrictive, least intrusive required to reasonably ensure child safety and consistent with policy.
  • Is knowledgeable of and skilled in the application of Department policy regarding child safety assessment, safety planning and risk assessment.
  • Identifies any other individual who should attend the TDM meeting.
  • Convenes and sets ground rules for the TDM meeting.
  • Facilitates the TDM meeting through a solution-focused process, managing conflict.
  • Ensures that all individuals are allowed to speak during the TDM meeting by eliciting information from all participants.
  • Attends to the quality and thoroughness of information provided and guides the process to ensure that missing information is obtained and/or conflicting information is reconciled.
  • In “plain language” and in the primary language of the parent, guardian or custodian, summarizes agreements, communicates agreements to participants and provides a written summary report to participants outlining decisions and identified tasks within one business day (see Limited English Proficiency).

Notification of the TDM Meeting
The DCS Specialist will:
  • Have a conversation with the parent, guardian or custodian, and the child (age 12 and older) regarding the safety threat(s) and the reason for the TDM meeting.
  • Invite the parent (custodial and non-custodial parents including all alleged fathers), guardian or custodian and encourage the family to bring support persons (family, friends, relatives, community members, special friends/ connections, if applicable, tribal representative, etc.) to the TDM meeting.
  • For parents who cannot attend in-person (e.g. resides out-of-the-area, out-of-state, are incarcerated, etc.), to the fullest extent possible, arrange for his/her participation telephonically.
  • Identify persons with whom the family has or will have contact (e.g. service providers, community partners, etc.) and invite them to the TDM meeting.
  • If possible, provide a copy of the Team Decision Making (CSO-1088A) pamphlet to the parent, guardian or custodian prior to the TDM meeting.
  • If possible, provide a copy of the Team Decision Making (A Guide for Teens, CSO-1085A) to any child age 12 and older prior to the TDM meeting.
  • Notify the Assigned AAG of all TDM meetings involving cases where a dependency petition has been filed with the Juvenile Court.
  • Discuss with the Duty AAG TDM meetings even if a dependency petition has not been filed if:
    • the child is part of a case where the report alleges criminal conduct or the case involves an ongoing criminal investigation or a current or pending prosecution; or
    • the TDM meeting is being held on a case in which a Dependency Petition was dismissed within the previous six (6) months; or
    • the DCS Specialist and Program Supervisor wish to consult about legal options for a case.

If a Dependency Petition is filed, send a copy of the TDM Summary Report to the Duty AAG.

As appropriate, the TDM Facilitator/ DCS Specialist will invite:
  • the AZ Families F.I.R.S.T. representative;
  • the Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) network representative

Attorney Participation
Criminal Defense Attorneys
The DCS Specialist shall inform the parent that if an attorney is representing him/her in a criminal proceeding, a criminal court order is required for the criminal defense attorney to attend the TDM meeting. If a court order is obtained, the criminal defense attorney can attend the TDM meeting, but should not be allow to question any of the TDM participants, except for his/her client.

Dependency Attorneys
The parent's or child's attorney may attend the TDM meeting; however no substantive legal issues should be discuss with the attorney at any time or in his/her presence. Substantive legal issues include, but are not limited to, the factual or legal basis for the removal, any criminal conduct allegations, the grounds for termination, or the sufficiency of the evidence. Privileged information such as attorney-client information, or confidential (private) information such as criminal history record information obtained from Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) or addresses also cannot be discussed. The role of the parent's or child's attorney should be minimal and must only focus on safety planning. He/she cannot be considered as a possible safety monitor or as a placement for the child. He/she should not be allowed to question the TDM participants except for his/her client.

The allegations of abuse and/or neglect should not be discussed in the TDM meeting or with the attorney outside the TDM meeting.

If an attorney for any participant is expected to attend the TDM meeting:
  • obtain the attorney’s name and phone number,
  • ask the participant whether or not the attorney has been retained to represent him/her and in what capacity (e.g. is the attorney representing the participant in a dependency or criminal proceeding);
  • confirm with the participant whether or not the attorney plans to attend and/or participate in the TDM meeting;
  • inform the participant that if an attorney is representing him/her in a criminal proceeding involving the DCS matter, a Criminal Court Order is required for the attorney to attend and/or participate in the TDM meeting; and,
  • Notify the Duty or Assigned Assistant Attorney General.

For an Age of Majority TDM meeting, attorneys representing the parent or child in the Dependency are encouraged to attend to assist in the development of the decision making process. The DCS Specialist should notify the AAG prior to the TDM meeting if an attorney for the parent or child plans on attending.

Present Danger TDM Meeting
Decisions that Are Made
The following decisions may be made at a present danger TDM meeting:
  • decisions regarding child safety and placement of the child in-home or in out-of-home care, including recommendations for legal custody and services;
  • the level of authorized contact and visitation between child and parent and child and any siblings in out-of-home care (if applicable); and
  • identification of any information to be gathered after the TDM meeting, in order to complete the Family Functioning Assessment and make a determination of impending danger.

Expectations of the DCS Specialist
The DCS Specialist will summarize the current case status including:
  • the immediate, significant and clearly observable family condition that places the child in present danger;
  • any actions that can control threats of danger and/or the reason an in-home or combination present danger plan will or will not ensure the child’s safety;
  • name and DOB of the child and the child’s parents;
  • current report allegations and any information collected to date about the allegations and findings;
  • child’s current condition and location;
  • child’s maternal and paternal relatives;
  • current Present Danger Plan, if applicable;
  • prior DCS history including any pattern of behavior that affects child safety;
  • if the child is placed with a family member, including a person who has a significant relationship with the child:
    • complete an assessment of the caregiver’s suitability, reliability and ability to ensure child safety including the completed Responsible Adult Checklist;
  • any court order that denies or restricts contact, custody or visitation of the child by the parent, guardian or custodian or any other person in the home; and
  • any outstanding order of protection against the parent, guardian or custodian or any other person living in the home.

For the TDM Facilitator
Introduction
  • explain that the purpose and goal of the TDM meeting is to obtain general agreement to support decisions and recommendations regarding child safety, placement, legal custody, contact and visitation (if applicable) and services; however, DCS is ultimately responsible for child safety decisions regardless of whether general agreement is achieved or not;
  • explain that information shared during the TDM meeting is confidential, but that there are certain limitations to this confidentiality; including the information may be used for case planning purposes and in court proceedings; shared with Law Enforcement (if applicable); and in completion of the investigation of the current (or subsequent) report of child abuse or neglect;
  • have each participant introduce himself/herself stating his/her role and relationship to child, family and case;
  • provide “ground rules” for TDM meeting; and
  • inquire and respond to any questions regarding the purpose and format of the TDM meeting.

Current Situation
  • In “plain language” and in the primary language of the parents, guardians or custodians, the DCS Specialist and/or the parents, guardians or custodians will be asked to give his/her account:
    • of the precipitating event that led to the child’s removal including the immediate, significant and clearly observable family condition that placed the child in present danger and
    • of any present danger plan initiated with the family in order to control the present danger

Assessment of the Situation
All participants will be asked to provide information and perspective about the situation including:
  • safety threats or concerns, if known;
  • risks, if known;
  • family strengths including protective capacities that may mitigate safety threats, if known,
  • formal and informal supports available to assist the family to ensure child safety,
  • current and past services, if applicable;
  • past history; and
  • any current stressors.

Develop Ideas
Brainstorm and identify behavioral changes necessary to address the immediate, significant and clearly observable family condition that places the child in present danger or, if applicable, that control and manage the identified safety threats.
  • These Ideas may be in the following areas:
    • returning the child(ren) home;
    • placement;
    • legal custody;
    • a Present Danger Plan—actions to control the present danger threat to child safety;
    • if applicable, a Safety Plan to control and manage the impending danger safety threat; or
    • services focused on changing caregiver and/ or child behavior, if applicable.

Reach a Decision
  • Strive to reach general agreement to support decisions/ recommendations regarding:
    • child safety, placement, recommendations for legal custody and services;
    • the level of authorized contact and visitation between the child and parent, and the child and any siblings in out-of-home care, if applicable;
    • If general agreement to support the decision/ recommendation with all team members cannot be reached, the DCS Specialist and Supervisor are ultimately responsible for the child’s safety and the Present Danger Plan or Safety Plan, if applicable.
  • The Present Danger Plan must focus on child safety and be developed in the least intrusive, least restrictive manner and consistent with policy requirements.
  • If the child is placed with a family member including a person who has a significant relationship with the child complete an assessment of the caregiver’s suitability, reliability and ability to ensure child safety including the completed Safety Monitor Checklist.

Recap/ Evaluation/ Closing
  • Summarize decisions made regarding child safety, placement, recommendations for legal custody and services.
  • Ensure everyone understands their responsibilities and deadlines.
  • Ask if there are any questions and ensure they are answered, if possible.

Contingency Planning
The Contingency Plan is an alternative plan (or a “back-up” plan) to ensure child safety. It describes what will occur if the agreed upon Present Danger Plan or Safety Plan cannot be implemented within five (5) business days of the TDM meeting.

A Contingency Plan may be appropriate:
  • when a responsible adult (substitute caregiver) has concerns about his/her ability to fulfill the terms of the Protective Action or, if applicable, Safety Plan,
  • if the completion of background checks and home assessments for kinship placements may be denied, or
  • to resolve pending legal issues such as change of custody

Safety Planning TDM Meeting
Decisions that Are Made
  • The following decisions may be made at the safety planning TDM meeting:
  • decisions regarding child placement and services, including recommendations for legal custody and services; and
  • the level of authorized contact and visitation between child and parent, and child and any siblings in out-of-home care, if applicable.

Expectations of the DCS Specialist
The DCS Specialist will be prepared to summarize the current case status including:
  • name and DOB of the child and the child’s parents;
  • current report allegations and any information collected to date about the allegations;
  • child’s current condition and location;
  • child’s maternal and paternal relatives;
  • status of the investigation including the outcome of the family functioning assessment;
  • status of progress made during any participation in voluntary services;
  • prior DCS history including any pattern of behavior that affects child safety;
  • if the child is placed with a family member including a person who has a significant relationship with the child:
    • complete an assessment of the caregiver’s suitability, reliability and ability to ensure child safety including the completed Responsible Adult Checklist.
  • any court orders that denies or restricts contact, custody or visitation of the child by the parent, guardian or custodian or any other person in the home; and
  • any outstanding order of protection against the parent, guardian or custodian or any other person living in the home.

For the TDM Facilitator
Introduction
  • explain that the purpose and goal of the TDM meeting is to obtain general agreement to support decisions/ recommendations regarding child safety, placement, legal custody, contact and visitation (if applicable) and services; however, DCS is ultimately responsible for child safety decisions regardless of whether general agreement is achieved or not;
  • explain that information shared during the TDM meeting is confidential, but there are certain limitations to this confidentiality; including the information may be used for case planning purposes and in court proceedings; shared with Law Enforcement (if applicable); and in completion of the investigation of the current (or subsequent) report of child abuse or neglect;
  • have each participant introduce himself/herself stating his/her role and relationship to child, family and case;
  • provide “ground rules” and agenda for TDM meeting; and
  • inquire and respond to any questions regarding the purpose and format of the TDM meeting.

Current Situation
  • The DCS Specialist and/or the parents, guardians or custodians and other participants (if applicable) will be asked to give his/her account of the precipitating event that brought the child and family to the attention of DCS;
  • In “plain language” and in the primary language of the parent, guardian or custodian, the DCS Specialist describes:
    • the safety threats that cause the child to be unsafe due to impending danger—the specific and observable family condition that is creating the safety threat; and,
    • the Safety Plan or any action that will ensure the child’s safety including potential responsible adults to manage the safety actions.

Assessment of the Situation
All participants will be asked to provide information and perspective about the situation including:
  • safety threats or concerns;
  • any identified risk factors;
  • the parent, guardian or custodian's Protective Capacities that may control the safety threat and strengths that may mitigate risk;
  • formal and informal supports available to assist the family to ensure child safety,
  • current and past services, if applicable;
  • past history;
  • stressors; and
  • any recommendations regarding safety and placement.

Develop Ideas
Brainstorm and identify behavioral changes necessary to control and manage the identified safety threats.
These ideas may be in sthe following areas:
  • Safety Plan development including actions to control and manage the safety threats;
  • legal custody;
  • placement;
  • services focused on changing caregiver behavior, if applicable.

Reaching a Recommendation
  • Identify areas of agreement.
  • Strive to reach general agreement to support decisions/ recommendations regarding:
    • Child placement, legal custody recommendation, and services.
    • The level of authorized contact and visitation between the child and parent, guardian or custodian, and the child and any siblings in out-of-home care if applicable.
    • f general agreement to support the decision/ recommendation with all team members cannot be reached, the DCS Specialist and Supervisor are ultimately responsible for the safety plan.
  • The safety plan should be the least intrusive, least restrictive required to control threats of danger to the child(ren), and consistent with policy requirements.
  • If an out of home safety plan is developed, the conditions for return must be discussed in the TDM meeting, consistent with policy requirements.
  • If a responsible adult is identified, the DCS Specialist must assess the caregiver’s suitability, reliability and ability to ensure child safety prior to placement including the completed Responsible Adult Checklist.

Recap/ Evaluation/ Closing
  • Summarize decisions made regarding child safety, placement, recommendations for legal custody and services.
  • Ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities and deadlines.
  • Ask if there are any questions and ensure that they are answered, if possible.

Contingency Planning
The Contingency Plan is an alternative plan (or a “back-up” plan) to control threats of danger to the child. It describes what will occur if it is determined after the TDM that the agreed upon safety plan cannot be implemented.

A Contingency Plan may be appropriate:
  • when a responsible adult (substitute caregiver) has concerns about his/her ability to fulfill the terms of the safety plan over a long-term basis;
  • if the completion of background checks and home assessments for kinship placements may be denied; or
  • to resolve pending legal issues such as change of custody.

Placement Stabilization TDM Meeting
Decisions that Are Made
The following decisions will be made at the change of placement TDM meeting:
  • a decision regarding the cause of potential placement disruption and a plan to determine if services can preserve the placement;
  • a decision regarding respite or short-term placement and a developed plan to transition the youth back to the original placement developed; or,
  • if Placement cannot be preserved and a new placement type is identified; a transition plan will be developed in the TDM meeting.

For the TDM Facilitator
Introduction
• ground rules
• confidentiality
• consensus-based however the agency owns the decision
• current situation
• What is the cause of the potential placement disruption?
• What actions are needed to stabilize and preserve the placement?

Assessment of the Situation
  • safety treats or concerns in placement (not the parents' home)
  • identified risk factors
  • the caretakers protective capacities that may control the safety threats and strengths that may mitigate risk
  • formal and informal supports of the caretaker's family/child
  • current and past services to support placement and child
  • past history

Develop Ideas
  • brainstorming
  • discussion of services/supports to preserve placement and their feasibility for the child
  • discussion of other placement options that could best support and keep the child safe

Reach a Recommendation
  • implementing services/ supports
  • explore placement options
  • identify areas of agreement
  • come to team agreement to support decision/ recommendation including legal custody

Recap/ Evaluation/ Closing
  • summarize the decision
  • complete the TDM Summary Report

Permanency Planning TDM Meeting (including reunification)
Decisions that Are Made
The following recommendations should be considered at the Reunification/ Permanency Planning TDM meeting:
  • child has been returned and should remain with family
  • child should be returned to the family
  • child should remain out of the home
  • case plan goal remain Reunification;
  • case plan goal should change to Adoption*;
  • case plan goal should change to Permanent Guardianship*;
  • case plan goal should change to Independent Living.

*Prior to scheduling the TDM the DCS Specialist should hold a Permanency Conference with the assigned Assistant Attorney General.

For the TDM Facilitator
Introduction
  • ground rules
  • confidentiality
  • consensus-based however the agency owns the recommendation

Current Situation
  • What is the present situation?
  • Have all safety threats/ risks that brought the child into placement been reduced/ eliminated? How?
  • Why is reunification no longer an option?
  • What actions are needed to identify a long term placement resource and connections for the child?

Assessment of the Situation (Barriers to Permanency)
  • safety threats or concerns
  • identified risk factors
  • strengths and supports in the family/child
  • all individuals in the home and/or having access to the child been assessed for risk factors
  • The present level of risk to the child (determine is the risk level is acceptable)
  • address living conditions, child care, finances, health care and other issues that may not have been addressed
  • review supports that are in place
  • address all other issues or concerns that have been identified
  • behavioral changes made/ maintained by the parent that would support reunification

Develop Ideas
  • brainstorming
  • discuss permanency options and their feasibility for the child
  • discuss the services that have been completed and what services that are continuing

Reach a Recommendation
  • explore placement options
  • identify areas of agreement
  • come to team agreement to support decision/ recommendation including legal custody

Recap/ Evaluation/Closing
  • summarize the decision
  • complete the TDM Summary Report

Age of Majority TDM meeting
Decisions That Are Made
The following decisions may be made at the Age of Majority/ Program Disruption/ Discharge TDM meeting.
  • Whether the youth should remain in foster care under a Voluntary Foster Care Agreement.
  • Supports for the youth to allow him or her to succeed under the Voluntary Foster Care Agreement.
  • Whether a Voluntary Foster Care Agreement should be terminated.
  • A plan for discharge when the youth exits foster care.

For the TDM Facilitator
Introduction
  • ground rules
  • confidentiality
  • consensus-based however the agency owns the recommendation

Current Situation
  • A youth in care is within 6 months of turning 18 and the plan for adulthood must be developed.
  • A youth is in Voluntary Foster Care for Independent Living and wants to exit the program or is non-compliant with the case plan.
  • A youth is in Voluntary Foster Care for Independent Living and is within thirty (30) day of turning 21 and a Discharge Plan must be developed.

Assessment of the Situation
  • determine the youth's strengths
  • identify the concerns the team has about the youth's transition into adulthood
  • determine the services/supports/placement needed to increase the likelihood of a successful transition into adulthood

Develop Ideas
  • brainstorming
  • discussion of services/supports/placement to help the youth have a successful transition into adulthood
  • if the recommendation is discharge, determine the process for youth to re-enter care

Reach a Recommendation
  • implement services/supports/placement
  • identify areas of agreement
  • come to team agreement to support decision/recommendation

Recap/ Evaluation/ Closing


Management Review
A request for a management review should not be initiated simply because of a lack of general agreement, but rather when DCS staff including the TDM Facilitator who attends the entire meeting disagrees that the decision:
  • does not ensure child safety;
  • is not in compliance with state and federal law;
  • is not in compliance with Department policy requirements;
  • is not the least restrictive, least intrusive placement decision required to reasonably ensure child safety.

The Management Review will be completed in the following order of preference:
  1. the Program Manager, and OCWI Regional Manager
  2. the Program Administrator, and OCWI Deputy Chief
  3. the Deputy Director of Field Operations and OCWI Chief

Whenever possible, the intent to request a Management Review should be stated at the TDM meeting. The reason for the Review shall be explained to the participants. The TDM Facilitator will first contact the Program Manager, if available, if not available, the TDM facilitator shall contact the Program Administrator. If neither are available and a final approval is needed, the TDM facilitator shall contact the Deputy Director of Field Operations. The TDM Facilitator will state the reason for the review. The DCS Specialist and Supervisor will be given the opportunity to share his/her opinion about the reason for the review. The Management Level Reviewer may ask for additional information prior to making a decision.

Documentation
The TDM Facilitator will:
  • Complete the TDM Summary Report within one business day.
  • Request the written translation of the TDM Summary Report in the parent, guardian or custodian's primary language, if applicable.
  • Provide a written copy of the TDM Summary Report to all participants.
  • Provide a copy of the TDM Summary Report including the Signature Sheet for the case record.

The TDM Facilitator will add the TDM Report into a Case Conference case note.



 

Effective Date: August 28th, 2017

Revision History: April 1, 2013, November 30, 2012, September 20, 2013, June 12th, 2017


Chapter 2: Section 9
Emergency Removal
Policy
If a child requires a medical or psychological examination to diagnose abuse or neglect; or if a child is in present or impending danger, the Department shall provide emergency intervention to ensure the child's safety.

A child may be taken into temporary custody by the Department if temporary custody is clearly necessary to protect the child because probable cause exists to believe that the child is suffering serious physical or emotional injury that can only be diagnosed by a medical doctor or psychologist.

The Department shall engage the child's family to the greatest extent possible in planning for voluntary interventions that minimize Department intrusion while ensuring the safety of the child.


Procedures
Temporary Custody
Temporary custody of the child may be necessary if:
  • the child has been assessed to be in present or impending danger and a less intrusive safety plan option will be insufficient to manage the safety threat(s), or
  • a child requires a medical or psychological examination to diagnose abuse or neglect.

A child who is taken into temporary custody for medical or psychological diagnosis must be returned within 12 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, unless the examination reveals abuse or neglect.

Any child taken into temporary custody must be returned to the parent within 72 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, unless a dependency petition is filed when he/she is taken into temporary emergency custody because:
  • the child is a victim of abuse or neglect; or
  • it is determined that the child will imminently become a victim of abuse or neglect; or
  • the child was physically injured or permitted to enter or remain in any structure or vehicle in which volatile, toxic or flammable chemicals are found or equipment is possessed by any person for the purpose of manufacturing a dangerous drug; or
  • the child was reported by DCS to be a missing child at risk of serious harm.

Refer to Present Danger Planning and Assessment and Safety Planning for more information.

Engage the child's family to the greatest extent possible in discussions about the child's safety and planning for voluntary interventions that minimize intrusion in the life of the family.

When taking temporary custody of a child, the DCS Specialist:
  • advises the parent or guardian of the specific reasons why the child is being taken into temporary custody;
  • requests the names, locations, and contact information of adult relatives of the child;
  • requests the names, locations, and contact information for significant others in the family network;
  • asks about the child’s medical (including allergies), educational, social, behavioral health, nutritional, and developmental needs;
  • obtains prescription medication(s) and the child’s clothing;
  • explains to the child what is happening, in a developmentally appropriate manner and in a private area, if possible, including:
    • why the child is being removed,
    • what the child can expect will happen in the next few hours to the next few days,
    • when the child will next see or speak to the parent(s), if known; and
    • if the child is part of a sibling group that will be separated, where the siblings will be and when the child will next see or speak to them; and
  • gives the child an opportunity to ask questions.

See below for additional information regarding Obtaining the Child’s Medical Information.

Temporary Custody for Examination
When the DCS Specialist suspects that abuse or neglect has occurred, a child can be taken into temporary custody for up to 12 hours for an immediate examination by a medical doctor or psychologist. After the examination, the child must be returned to the custody of the parent or guardian unless the examination reveals abuse or neglect. The DCS Specialist will notify the parent(s) and/or guardian if the child will not be returned within the twelve hour time frame.

When the DCS Specialist suspects that abuse or neglect has occurred, but a physician or other medical personnel is unable to confirm the abuse or neglect, or the DCS Specialist has received differing or conflicting medical opinions from the same or different physicians regarding the diagnosis or specific medical finding(s), the case, including all medical opinions should be reviewed within 48 hours with:
  • a physician who has substantial experience and expertise in child abuse and neglect diagnosis, or
  • a multidisciplinary team (including a physician who has substantial experience and expertise in child abuse or neglect diagnosis, any attending physician, the DCS Specialist and the DCS Supervisor).

Base intervention on the most serious diagnosis if a multidisciplinary team or expert medical consultation is unavailable.

If a multidisciplinary team or expert medical consultation is unavailable in your area, consult with a Program Supervisor and have Program Supervisor or Program Manager contact the CMDP Medical Director at 602-351-2245. Otherwise, follow your Regional Operating Procedures to request assistance in arranging for expert medical consultation.

Notice of Temporary Custody
If a child is taken into temporary custody when the caregiver is not present, the DCS Specialist must attempt to notify the parent, guardian, or custodian immediately either in person or by phone.

If a child is taken into temporary custody, provide the parent, guardian, or custodian with verbal and written notification of the removal within six hours unless one of the following circumstances exists:
  • The parent or guardian is present when the child is taken into custody. In this case, written and verbal notice shall be provided immediately.
  • The parent or guardian resides or is incarcerated out-of-state and notice cannot be provided within six hours. In this case, provide written notice within twenty-four hours.
  • The address and location of the parent or guardian is not known. In this case, locate and notify the parent or guardian of the child as soon as possible.
    • Make reasonable efforts to obtain the parent or guardian’s address by contacting relatives, friends, and/or employers.
    • If the address cannot be obtained, initiate a search for missing parent with the Arizona Parent Locator Service. Refer to Finding Missing Parents, Relatives and Other Significant Persons.

Notify the parent, guardian, or custodian in writing by delivering or express mailing the Temporary Custody Notice, CSO-1000A, and A Guide to the Department of Child Safety, CSO-1010. If it is necessary to notify the parent, guardian or custodian at his/her place of employment and he or she is not available, discreetly leave your name, phone number and Department name, and request a return call.

The Temporary Custody Notice shall list the specific danger threat(s) that are the reason for temporary custody.

The Temporary Custody Notice shall list services that are available to the parent or guardian, including a statement of parental rights and information on how to contact the ombudsman-citizens aide's office and an explanation of the services that office offers.

The DCS Specialist shall list the date and time when the child was taken into custody on the Temporary Custody Notice, as well as the name and telephone number of the assigned DCS Specialist and Supervisor. The DCS Specialist will explain to the family what will happen next and when they can expect to hear from the DCS Specialist again.

If serving the parent/ guardian in-person, have them sign the Temporary Custody Notice. If they refuse, write “Refuses to Sign” on the signature line.

If available, write the date, time, and place of the Preliminary Protective hearing on the Temporary Custody Notice.

If the date, time, and place of the Preliminary Protective Hearing are not available at the time the Temporary Custody Notice is served, provide written notice of this information to the parent or guardian within 24 hours of filing the dependency petition.

DCS Specialists must send a copy of the Temporary Custody Notice, to:
  • any divorced, non-custodial parent, regardless of the specific arrangements of the divorce agreement; and
  • any man alleged to be the child's father, whether or not his name appears on the birth certificate and whether or not allegations that he is the father are confirmed.

Notice of Removal
If the child was removed from a setting other than the home of a parent, guardian, or custodian, complete the Notice of Removal, CSO-1039.Give one copy to an appropriate individual at the place of removal. Proceed with verbal and written notice of parents, guardians or custodians.

The following reasons may require removal of a child without caregiver knowledge:
  • immediate need for medical or psychological examination;
  • provision of emergency out-of-home placement due to present danger to the child; or
  • identity or whereabouts of caregiver are unknown.

Emergency Removal of Siblings
The child's sibling shall also be taken into temporary custody only if reasonable grounds independently exist to believe that temporary custody is clearly necessary to protect the child from suffering abuse or neglect. If siblings are removed, the DCS Specialist must make every possible attempt to place them together.

Obtaining the Child's Medical Information
Obtain medical information about the child from the parent, guardian, or custodian including:
  • whether the child has a medical need or chronic illness that requires special care or treatment; and
  • the name and telephone number of the child's physician.

If possible, obtain the parent's, guardian's, or custodian's authorization to provide emergency medical care for the child. If the parent, guardian or custodian refuses or is unavailable, consult with a supervisor regarding authorization for procedures.

If the child has a medical need or chronic illness, make reasonable efforts to contact the child's physician or the physician who most recently examined or treated the child to:
  • confirm the diagnosis of the medical need or chronic illness, and
  • obtain information on the daily care and treatment required to meet the child's medical need or chronic illness.

Safe Haven
A Temporary Notice and a Notice of Removal shall be left with a Safe Haven provider if the name and address of the parent is unknown. Obtain a medical examination for a newborn left at a Safe Haven that is not a hospital or outpatient treatment center.

Supervisor Approval
Supervisor approval is required prior to taking temporary custody of any child. In emergency situations, a child may have to be removed without prior consultation if failure to do so would be a danger to the child.

If emergency removal of a child is necessary and prior consultation with a supervisor is not possible, notify the supervisor within two hours if the removal occurred during regular working hours or by 8:30 a.m. the next morning if removal occurred after regular hours.

Placement in Kinship Care
During instances of emergency removal of a child, placement with kin is the preferred option. Ask the parent, guardian, or custodian to identify the child's grandparents, great-grandparents, adult siblings of whole or half-blood, aunts, uncles, first cousins and persons who have a significant relationship with the child. See Locating Missing Parent & Families; and Relative Search Best Practice Guide.

To assess the appropriateness of a relative or kin for emergency placement, refer to Present Danger Assessment and Planning.

Emergency Removal of Court Wards
If a child who is already in the temporary custody of the Department or is already adjudicated dependent must be removed from their current placement due to emergency circumstances, the DCS Specialist shall provide a Notice of Removal to the current placement of the child and make reasonable attempts to notify the parents/guardians of the child. The DCS Specialist should inquire about any family or kin who may be an option for placement.

If an emergency situation exists, a Team Decision Making meeting or Child and Family Team meeting shall be scheduled within 48 hours of the disrupted placement. Within 10 days of an emergency removal, a motion for removal using the CT01700 (Motion for Change of Physical Custody, Removal and/or Case Plan) must be submitted to the juvenile court.

Documentation
File one copy of the Temporary Custody Notice, and/or the Notice of Removal, in the hard copy record.

Provide each parent, guardian, and custodian a copy of the Temporary Custody Notice and/ or Notice of Removal

Provide one copy of the Temporary Custody Notice, to the juvenile court judge.

File one copy of the Temporary Custody Notice, and/or the Notice of Removal, in the hard copy record.

Provide one copy of the Temporary Custody Notice to the juvenile court judge.

Complete the following windows in CHILDS when a temporary custody notice has been issued:
  • Removal Status
  • Removal Settings
  • Legal Status

Document the safety plan and placement in Section III of the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA) and the Placement/Location Detail window.

Document the following in Section II of the CSRA:
  • verbal and written notification of and reason for the child's removal to the parent, guardian, or custodian;
  • a parent, guardian's or custodian's response to the Temporary Custody Notice;
  • reasonable efforts to contact with the child's physician or the physician who most recently examined or treated a child who has a medical need or chronic illness, and
  • the daily care and treatment required to meet the child's medical need or chronic illness.

Document the results of the emergency DPS criminal history records check, Central Registry and CHILDS Case Management Information System check in Section I of the CSRA.

File one copy of the notice of the date, time and place of Preliminary Protective hearing in the hard copy record if the date, time and location of the hearing was not available at the time the Temporary Custody Notice was served.

Submit the Report to the Juvenile Court for Preliminary Protective Hearing and/or Initial Dependency Hearing as described in Court Reports. This report must be submitted to the juvenile court not later than the day before the hearing.

In addition, fill out and append the Verification, CT04600, found in the Court Document Detail. Submit the Verification to the Attorney General's Office for filing with the dependency petition.

Document the child's out-of-home placement using the Service Authorization Request and Service Authorization Provider Match windows and by following the procedures outlined in Placement Needs of Children in Out-of-Home Care.

Document the child's medical need or chronic illness, examination and child's physician information using the Medical Condition, Practitioner Detail and Examination Detail windows.




Chapter 2: Section 4.6
Children at Imminent Risk of Removal: Reasonable Candidate

Policy
For each child with a case plan of Remain with Family, the Department shall determine whether it is reasonable to believe the services described in the case plan are necessary to prevent the child's imminent removal from the home and placement in out- of-home care.

A child is considered at imminent risk of removal from his/her home if:
  • The Department anticipates the child's impending entry into out-of-home placement; and
  • Reasonable efforts are needed to prevent the child's removal.

The following children are not to be considered as potential candidates for out-of-home placement and do not need to be assessed for imminent risk of removal:
  • Currently removed from the home;
  • On a trial home visit with an open removal date;
  • Over the age of eighteen years of age.

The Department shall review whether the child is at imminent risk of removal no less than every six months while the case is open and the child remains in the home.

Procedures
Imminent Risk of Removal
To determine if a child is at imminent risk of removal, analyze the information gathered with the Family Functioning Assessment (FFA) and give full consideration to the following situations:
  • FFA determines the child to be unsafe but an in-home or combination safety plan has been implemented to ensure child safety; or
  • FFA determines the child as safe but high risk factors are identified.

A child is more likely to be at imminent risk of removal when:
  • In-Home Dependency has been filed;
  • In-Home Intervention is provided;
  • High and moderately high risks have been identified that require intervention; or
  • Intensive in-home services are provided to assist in addressing potential safety threats.

A child is unlikely to be considered at imminent risk of removal when:
  • No risks have been identified as needing intervention; or
  • The risks identified for the family are determined to be low to moderate.

For children with a case plan goal of Remain with Family, describe the services to prevent a child from entering foster care and document in the family centered case plan, which is developed jointly with the family. The case plan and documentation must clearly show that the case is being actively managed to maintain the child at home and to prevent placement of the child in out of home care.

Review the child’s risk for imminent placement in out- of- home care no less than every six months while the case is open, and the child remains in the home. This review shall occur as part of the regular reassessment of the child's safety, risk, and case plan. At the time of review, if the child is still considered to be at imminent risk of removal, staff the decision with the DCS Specialist 's Supervisor and document the justification.

Documentation
Select Yes/No as to whether, “absent effective preventative services, foster care is the planned arrangement for the child” when the case plan goal Remain with Family is selected.

Document the initial determination and when applicable, the re-determination, should a child remain a candidate for foster care after six months in the case plan.

Document the justification for the initial determination or re-determination for each child using the Case Staffing case note type.



 

Effective Date: February 18,2016

Revision History: November 30, 2012

Chapter 2: Section 11.1
Family Functioning Assessments Involving Substance Exposed Newborns
Policy
The Department shall investigate all reports alleging that a newborn infant has been prenatally exposed to alcohol or a controlled legal or illegal substance.

The Department shall collaborate with health care professionals, and local substance abuse assessment and treatment providers when available, to assist in the investigation, assessment, and delivery of quality services for infants who have been prenatally exposed to alcohol or a controlled legal or illegal substance, and their families.

The Department shall develop an Infant Care Plan for newborn infants who were prenatally exposed to alcohol or a controlled substance by the mother, and children up to one year old diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Procedures
In addition to policy and procedures specified in Initial Contact and Conducting Interviews, and the Family Functioning Assessment at Investigation complete the following:
  • Gather information concerning the medical condition of the newborn, including any complications from the substance exposure, the discharge status and instructions (where applicable), and any recommendations for follow-up medical care.
  • If available, obtain documentation by the health care professional(s) about the newborn infant’s prenatal substance exposure including:
    • clinical indicators in the prenatal period including maternal and newborn infant presentation;
    • information regarding history of substance abuse or use by the mother;
    • medical history; and
    • toxicology results and/or other laboratory test results on the mother and the newborn infant.
  • Obtain information from the health care professional(s) regarding their observations of the parental responsiveness to the newborn, visitation, feeding, understanding of the newborn’s special needs, or any other information to assist in the safety assessment and development of the Infant Care Plan.
  • Obtain the hospital discharge plan and recommendations from the health care professional about post-discharge infant care and medical follow-up.
  • If the newborn is hospitalized at the time of the report, visit the newborn’s home environment prior to the newborn’s discharge. If it is not possible to visit the home prior to discharge, visit the home on the day of the newborn’s discharge.
  • If the newborn is hospitalized at the time of the report, advise the health care professional that an assessment of the newborn’s safety in the home environment is being completed and request he/she notify DCS prior to the newborn’s discharge from the hospital.
  • Obtain the name(s) and contact information of the health care professional(s) who will provide routine health care for the newborn, and any recommended special medical care. Contact the child’s health care professional(s) to verify that newborn follow-up appointments have been scheduled and attended.
  • Ask the newborn’s health care professional about potential impacts of breast feeding on the newborn’s health if the mother is using .prescribed or non-prescribed drugs.
  • Gather information on the six domains of family functioning, as described in Family Functioning Assessment at Investigation. In addition, gather the following information to assess family functioning, threats of danger, and parent/caregiver protective capacities in a family with a substance exposed newborn:
    • Parent/caregiver’s history of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns that would place the parent/caregiver at risk for post-partum depression.
    • Parent/caregiver’s history of substance use, including types, frequency, and amount of drugs used.
    • Parent/caregiver’s history of substance exposed newborn births
    • Parent/caregiver’s history of participation in substance abuse treatment services and other prevention or intervention services.
    • Parent/caregiver’s perception of his/her caretaking role and responsibilities.
    • Parent/caregiver’s plan to meet the newborn’s basic needs for shelter clothing, medical care, etc.).
    • Parent/caregiver’s proposed feeding plan for the newborn.
    • Parent/caregiver’s ability to purchase baby formula or obtain formula through the Arizona WIC Program in order to meet the newborn’s nutritional needs.
    • Whether tobacco is smoked in the home, and plans to discontinue use.
    • Identification of the proposed caretakers of the newborn on a daily basis and when the mother is unavailable, and the parent/caregiver’s knowledge of each caregiver’s ability to provide safe care to the newborn.
    • Sleeping arrangements, including assessment of whether the infant has a safe sleep environment. If multiple births, ensure separate safe sleep environments for each infant.
    • Parent/caregiver’s history of parenting, including parenting of siblings in the past or currently.
    • Parent/caregiver’s knowledge of child development and behavior management, including the adequacy and accuracy of this information.
  • If needed, consult with a community and/or contracted substance abuse treatment professional to gain clinical expertise and advice regarding severity of drug usage, signs and symptoms, behavioral indicators, and motivation for treatment.
  • Some parents may be engaged in Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) to control an opioid addiction. The MAT program should include the use of medications, such as Methadone or Buprenorphine, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of the parent/caregiver substance abuse disorder. To determine if a parent/caregiver is appropriately engaged in MAT, ask the parent/caregiver to sign a Release of Information with their provider. Talk to the provider to find out:
    • How long has the parent/caregiver been engaged in MAT?
    • Does the parent/caregiver’s treatment plan include counseling and behavioral therapies to address their substance use disorder?
    • Is the parent/caregiver compliant with their treatment plan and are they consistently participating in the program?
    • Does the parent/caregiver receive random urinalysis testing?
    • Is the parent/caregiver receiving regular dosages of their medication?
    • o Can the Provider share a monthly progress report of the parent/caregiver’s participation with the DCS Specialist?
  • Check in regularly with the MAT provider throughout the Family Functioning Assessment process, and, if the case remains open, throughout the life of the case, to assure the parent remains compliant and no additional safety issues have been identified.
  • For infants suspected of having Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, obtain as soon possible or within one year:
    • documentation of the diagnosis by a health professional indicating clinical findings consistent with FASD;
    • the child’s medical records; and
    • the health professional’s recommendations for services for the child.

Provide the Safe Sleep flyer to the parent/caregiver and review it with them. Visit the home to observe the sleeping conditions of the child and discuss any observed risks. If needed, make referrals to community resources.

Developing the Infant Care Plan
Develop an Infant Care Plan (DCS-1262) for the newborn infant who was prenatally exposed to alcohol or substance use by the mother, or child up to one year old diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Actively involve the parents/caregivers, the infant’s health care professionals, the parent’s/caregiver’s substance abuse treatment service providers, MAT providers, out-of-home care providers, and supportive adults identified by the parents/caregivers (if applicable) to develop the Infant Care Plan.

The Infant Care Plan describes the services and supports that will be provided to ensure the health and well-being of the infant, and addresses the substance abuse treatment needs of the parent or caregiver. Each plan addresses the following areas:
  • substance abuse treatment needs of the parents/caregivers;
  • medical care for the infant;
  • safe sleep practices;
  • knowledge of parenting and infant development;
  • living arrangements in the infant’s home;
  • child care; and
  • social connections.

If a case involving a substance exposed newborn is opened for ongoing services, oversee the implementation of the Infant Care Plan by observing, discussing, and assessing the child’s status indicators and participation with health care providers during monthly in-person contacts with the child and the child’s caregiver.

If a parent has been referred to substance abuse treatment or other services, oversee the sufficiency of the services by observing, discussing, and assessing the parent’s progress and participation in services during monthly in-person contacts with the parent and through communication with the parent’s service provider(s).

Review and reassess the Infant Care Plan during case plan staffings, Child and Family Team meetings, and whenever there is indication that the child’s health or health care needs resulting from prenatal substance exposure have changed. Update the Infant Care Plan if indicated and distribute to the parent/caregiver and other team members.

In ongoing services cases, development and oversight of the Infant Care Plan may end when:
  • the infant is at least 3 months old and will remain in an out-of-home placement that is consistently meeting all of the infant’s medical, developmental, social and emotional needs;
  • the infant has turned one year of age (ensure any on-going medical, developmental or other needs of the child are met through the DCS Case Planning process); or
  • DCS is closing the ongoing services case prior to the infant turning one year of age, and
    • has met with the protective parent, the child’s health care provider, and other service providers (e.g. home visitors) to update the plan;
    • has ensured that anticipated future needs of the infant are addressed in the plan; and
    • has developed the Aftercare Plan including additional referrals for the family not addressed in the Infant Care Plan.

If a case involving a substance exposed newborn will close at investigation, review the Infant Care Plan with the protective parent, guardian, or custodian; the child’s health care provider; the parent’s substance abuse assessment or treatment provider (if applicable); other services providers (e.g. Home Visitors); and any other adults who have a role in the plan to determine that each person is able and willing to consistently and reliably implement the actions described in the Infant Care Plan. During the Aftercare Planning discussion with the parents and caregiver’s, discuss and provide a copy of the Infant Care Plan.

Determining the Need for Ongoing Services
Complete a Family Functioning Assessment (FFA) to determine whether the infant is unsafe due to impending danger, following the policies and procedures in Family Functioning Assessment at Investigation.

A newborn infant who has been prenatally exposed to alcohol or a controlled legal or illegal substance, or is demonstrating withdrawal symptoms resulting from controlled substances, is considered vulnerable to abuse or neglect. The overall substance use by the parent (including prenatal drug use, whether prescribed or not) and the parents’ ability to perform essential parental responsibilities must be considered in the assessment of the newborn’s safety.

If the child is assessed as unsafe due to impending danger, immediately implement a Safety Plan following the policies and procedures in Safety Planning. A case cannot be closed when a child is assessed as unsafe.

If the child is assessed as safe, consider the following to determine whether the case should be opened for ongoing services:
  • Does the parent/caregiver have diminished protective capacities that impact his/her ability to consistently and reliably follow the Infant Care Plan?
  • Does the family need services to strengthen protective factors, in order to reduce the risk of future abuse or neglect (assess the family’s protective factors following the policies and procedures in Aftercare Services?
  • What is the likelihood that the parent and/or caregiver will consistently and reliably follow the Infant Care Plan without Department and/or court oversight, including plans for routine and specialized infant health care, use of safe caregivers, participation in parental substance abuse treatment (if applicable), and other actions listed in the Infant Care Plan? Consider parent/caregiver history and behavior such as:
    • history of SEN reports,
    • follow through with the newborn screening medical appointment,
    • follow through with current substance abuse assessment recommendations (if applicable),
    • history of participation in treatment services offered in the past (if applicable), stability of his/her current living arrangement,
    • demonstrated ability to consistently and reliably meet his/her own needs for housing, medical care, nutrition, etc.,
    • demonstrated understanding of the Infant Care Plan.

Does the parent/caregiver recognize the problem and is he/she motivated to make necessary behavioral changes? Identify the family’s needs for agency and/or court oversight, following the policies and procedures in Opening a Case for Services; In-Home Intervention; and In-Home Dependency Filing.

Referring for Substance Abuse Assessment and Treatment Services
Following the policies and procedures in Adult Behavioral Health & Substance Abuse Services, refer the parent, guardian, or custodian(s) to Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. (AFF). Provide the parent with a copy of the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. (CSO-1118) and encourage the parent’s participation in substance abuse treatment, if recommended, in order to achieve behavioral changes and improve family functioning

For more information on coordination substance abuse treatment services, see Roles and Responsibilities in the Coordination of SEN Cases.

If the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T provider or other substance abuse resource informs the DCS Program Supervisor that the family has refused or discontinued treatment, reassess the family member’s substance abuse treatment needs, and the level of Department and court oversight.

If the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T provider or other substance abuse resource reports a new allegation of abuse or neglect, ask the provider to make a report to the Child Abuse Hotline.

Determining when to Close an Ongoing Services Case Involving a Substance Exposed Newborn
To determine when it is appropriate to close an ongoing services case involving a substance exposed newborn, determine whether the parent:
  • understands the care necessary to help the newborn overcome the effects of the substance use, and reliably acts to provide necessary care;
  • has taken steps to change or control the behavior or conditions that placed the child in impending danger, and whether these steps are sufficient to determine the child is safe from impending danger;
  • is involved with extended family members, community support networks, or service providers who will help the family maintain these changes over time; and
  • understands the Infant Care Plan and knows how and where to access help if additional needs for health care or substance abuse treatment arise in the future.

Prior to closing the case, complete an Aftercare Plan as described in Aftercare Services.

Documentation
Document the outcome of the Family Functioning Assessment using the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA).

Document the Infant Care Plan. Obtain signatures from the parents and out-of-home caregivers and file a copy in the hard copy record.

Document the Aftercare Plan (CSO-1349). Obtain signatures from the parents and file a copy in the hard copy record.


Effective Date: June 30th, 2017

Revision History: November 30, 2012


Chapter 2: Section 11.2
Investigating Munchausen by Proxy
Policy
Reports alleging that the parent, guardian or custodian is suspected of causing or exaggerating a child’s illness require a prompt response and safety assessment. Primary consideration shall be given to the safety and well-being of the child.

Reports of suspected causation or exaggeration of a child’s illness; excessive or unnecessary health care utilization; symptom or condition falsification; medical abuse; or Munchausen by Proxy (MBP) may require an immediate and specific protective action to ensure the child’s safety.

A present danger assessment of all siblings in the home with the caregiver must be completed to determine whether a protective action is needed to ensure their safety.

Once the child’s safety has been assured, to the extent practicable, a multidisciplinary team (MDT) should be consulted to assist in further investigation, assessment, and case planning and management of the case.

Procedures
To determine if there is reason to suspect Pediatric Condition Falsification (PCF), consider if one or more of the following questions are true:

PCF Related Indicators
  • Does the child have a history of unexplained or unexpectedly difficult to treat medical, developmental or psychiatric symptoms or illnesses?
  • Does the child have a history of very frequent visits to doctors, clinicians or therapists of any type, hospitalizations, medical procedures or surgeries?
  • Is the child more disabled or less functional than one would expect for the reported diagnosis?
  • Have the child’s healthcare providers reported discrepancies with the history reported by the parent, guardian or custodian and clinical assessments?

Suspected Perpetrator Indicators
  • Does the parent, guardian or custodian:
    • have an intense desire to maintain close relationships with the clinical staff (physicians, clinicians or therapists of any type), or regularly engage in conflicts with staff regarding diagnostic and treatment decisions?
    • request or demonstrate unusual acceptance of recommendations for invasive, and/or painful procedures?
    • fail to express relief when presented with negative (normal) test findings?
    • appear to have more of an interest in the medical, developmental or psychiatric conditions than in the child’s well-being?
    • insist on performing procedures or routine care in the hospital?
    • demonstrate a strong resistance to having the child discharged from medical care?
    • report numerous dramatic or life-threatening events?
  • Has the parent, guardian or custodian confessed to exaggerating or inducing illness in the child?
  • Has Pediatric Condition Falsification previously been suspected or confirmed?
  • Is there (direct or circumstantial) evidence that the parent, guardian or custodian falsified illness in the child?

Parent-Child Relationship Indicators
  • Does the parent, guardian or custodian demonstrate excessive attention towards the child in the form of enmeshment, overprotection, restriction of activities and relationships?
  • Do older child victims behave similarly as the suspected parent, guardian or custodian (reporting symptoms, wanting clinical interventions, etc.)?
  • Do younger child victims appear to have a passive tolerance of painful procedures?
  • Has a child reported illness fabrication, coaching by a parent, guardian or custodian, being given unknown medications or other concerning information?
  • Have video surveillance tapes revealed that the parent, guardian or custodian is neglectful or abusive of the child when others are not present?
  • Do symptoms occur only when the suspected parent, guardian or custodian is present or within a few hours after they leave? (see the “Separation Section” of Munchausen by Proxy Fact Sheet)
  • Does separation of the child from the suspected parent, guardian or custodian result in a decrease of symptoms or disability in the child?
  • Does the child’s illness respond to standard medical treatment when away from the suspected parent, guardian or custodian?

Family Indicators
  • Does another family member have a history of unexplained or unexpected difficult to treat medical, developmental or psychiatric symptoms or illnesses?
  • Does another family member have a history of frequent visits to the doctors, clinicians or therapists of any type, hospitalizations, medical procedures or surgeries?
  • Is another family member more disabled or less functional than one would expect for the reported diagnosis?
  • Has there been a sibling death due to sudden infant death syndrome, unclear reasons or due to symptoms similar to the suspected victim?
  • Is there a reported history of physical or sexual abuse in suspected parent, guardian or custodian’s family of origin?

Implementation
The DCS Specialist and his/her Supervisor should begin to identify and convene the multidisciplinary team (MDT) as soon as practicable after determining that the report involves a caregiver who is suspected of placing the child in present or impeding danger by causing or exaggerating his/her illness or symptoms.

The MDT participants may vary depending on the specific circumstances and needs of the case. Reasonable efforts should be made to include the DCS Specialist and his/her supervisor, the assigned Assistant Attorney General, a medical specialist who is familiar with child abuse and neglect, and a mental health specialist who is familiar with factitious disorders on the MDT. Depending on the nature of the case, other team members may include law enforcement, visitation supervisors, probation officers, clinicians treating the various family members including the child’s Primary Care Physician (PCP) and/or others.


Investigation
Follow the procedures for investigating child abuse and/or neglect as described in Chapter 2 including Section 3 (Interviews), Section 4 (Child Safety and Risk Assessment) and Section 5 (Substantiated Maltreatment).

An immediate protective action must be taken to protect the child where the caregiver’s suspected behavior(s) places the child at risk for invasive medical tests or interventions; potentially unneeded medications; physical or emotional abuse; harmful neglect; and/or death.

A present danger assessment of all siblings must be completed, as it may be necessary to take a protective action to ensure their safety.

Interview family members and other persons with knowledge of the family, to obtain a detailed social history on all children, parents, guardians or custodians, and other significant family members. If possible, interview persons separately, but one right after the other, so that there is little or no time for family members to coordinate their answers.

Consult with the Assistant Attorney General to identify a mental health specialist who is familiar with factitious disorders.

In most suspected Pediatric Condition Falsification (PCF) cases, placing the child with a relative or family friend is not a safe option.

If considering placement with a non-abusive parent, extended family member or other significant person as a safety monitor or placement, carefully assess the perspective caregiver’s ability and willingness to protect the child from the suspected parent, guardian or custodian, including his or her perception of whether the suspected abuse did or could have occurred. You must also consult with a mental health specialist who is familiar with factitious disorders when assessing placement with the non-abusive parent, a relative or significant person as a safety monitor.

The child’s placement must be one in which the parent, guardian or custodian does not have unsupervised contact with the child and does not have the ability to influence daily care or medical treatment of the child.

Gather relevant information with guidance and direction from a mental health specialist who is familiar with factitious disorders, if one is available, qualified health professional(s) and/or reporting source. Relevant information may include the following:
  • The diagnoses of and treatment being provided to the parent, guardian or custodian if he/she is being treated by a clinician.
  • Medical and other clinical records (from clinicians, hospitals, clinics, laboratories, emergency services, home health agencies and health insurance companies) including birth records for the suspected victim and all siblings who have been under the care of the suspected parent, guardian or custodian. You may need to enlist the assistance of the CMDP Medical Director to obtain these records, especially from health insurance companies.
    • Medical facilities often keep separate records for clinic visits, emergency Department visits, hospitalizations, and home visits. Consequently, it is important to ask for all records.
    • In the requests for records, specifically request inclusion of nursing notes and notes from mental health professionals.
    • If concerning behavior was recorded via video or audiotape, the record request should also include a copy of these recordings.
    • If falsification during pregnancy is suspected, it may also be necessary to request prenatal outpatient and inpatient records for the mother in addition to birth records.
  • School records
    • Record of visits to the school nurse, telephone logs, attendance records, and Individual Education Plans (IEP) reports should be requested.

Contact and Visitation
Assess the danger of the parent, guardian or custodian’s contact with the child. Ensure that visitation, including visitation in a hospital setting, is closely supervised by one or more persons who are familiar with PCF and have been instructed to observe all physical contact between the parent, guardian or custodian and the child and to monitor all communication. Contact the Assistant Attorney General if the parent’s behavior during visitation causes a concern for the child’s safety.

Strict guidelines are needed for visitation and contact. Frequency of visitation and contact depends on the nature of the case. It is imperative that the child feel safe during visitation and contact with the suspected parent, guardian or custodian. Use the following guidelines to develop a visitation and contact plan:
  • All visitations should be closely monitored in a neutral location by one or more persons familiar with the safety concerns in the case.
  • The parent, guardian or custodian cannot discuss the case or health-related issues, including diet, with the child.
  • The parent, guardian or custodian should not give the child anything that the child can consume (such as food, drinks, candy, gum, or medicine) or anything the child can put in their mouth (pacifiers, etc.).
  • Ointments or other topical agents cannot be applied to the child by the parent, guardian or custodian.
  • All conversation must be audible to the monitor.
  • All physical contact, activities and gifts must be developmentally and socially appropriate.
  • Diaper changing should not be excessive.
  • Clothing changes should be restricted when excessive or inappropriate.
  • Telephone calls must be monitored.
  • Letters and cards must be read by the monitor prior to being shared with the child.
  • Audio and video recording and photographing the child are prohibited.

Case Management
Case planning includes obtaining an assessment and recommendations from the mental health specialist regarding critical decisions including diagnosis, treatment, visitation guidelines and reunification.
  • Obtain an independent, non-treating expert to conduct the assessment for suspected Pediatric Condition Falsification and the evaluation of associated psychopathology (such as Factitious Disorder).

A Primary Care Physician (PCP) who is familiar with PCF should be assigned by the Comprehensive Medical and Dental Program (CMDP) to manage and coordinate the ongoing care of the child while in the care, custody and control of the Department. This person may also participate in the MDT.

In order to meet the acute and ongoing needs of the child and family, ensure open and regular communication with the MDT and, to the extent practicable, consult with the team when any changes are made to the case plan, including changes to the permanency goal, placement, visitation and service provision.
  • The MDT should include the assigned DCS Specialist , Supervisor, the Assistant Attorney General, the mental health specialist who is familiar with factitious disorders, clinicians treating the various family members, visitation supervisors, the safety monitor and/or child’s caregiver.
  • Depending on the nature of the case, the MDT may include law enforcement, the child’s guardian ad-litem, CASA or tribal representative, if applicable.
  • Team members should be provided with relevant information regarding any diagnosis; treatment recommendations and progress; outcome of visitation/ contact and services provided; and progress towards achieving the permanency goal.
  • The team may be convened to discuss:
    • Unexpected increases in symptoms, visitation problems, or other acute issues.
    • Increase in concerning symptoms and other clinical issues should also be communicated to the assigned PCP and/or other clinicians.
    • When any change is considered related to the placement, visitation, service provision, ongoing assessment of safety and risk, evaluation of progress in obtaining the permanency goal and change in the permanency goal.
  • Consider holding conference calls and/or meetings with the team monthly or less frequently depending on the needs of the case.

On an ongoing basis, obtain relevant records to monitor the ongoing physical and emotional status of the child including medical, psychological and/or school records as appropriate.

As necessary, consult with the Assistant Attorney General regarding any court action required to expedite gathering of medical records, to restrict or deny visitation, or to compel the suspected parent, guardian or custodian or other family members to participate in assessment or treatment services.

Documentation
For investigations, document outcomes of the assessment including collaboration and consultation with members of the MDT in Section II of the Child Safety and Risk Assessment.

For ongoing, document contacts including collaboration and consultation with the members of the MDT in case notes.

If the child is removed:
Complete the following windows in CHILDS when a temporary custody notice has been issued:
  • Legal Status
  • Removal Status
  • Removal Settings
Document the search for relatives in the Locate Efforts case note type.



Effective Date::November 30, 2012

Revision History:



Chapter 2: Section 11.3
Investigations Involving Allegations of Criminal Conduct
Policy
The Department shall investigate all reports containing criminal conduct allegations of child abuse with the appropriate law enforcement agency.
The Office of Child Welfare Investigations shall assess, respond to or investigate all criminal conduct, which shall be a priority, but not otherwise exercise the authority of a peace officer, pursuant to ARS 8-471.

The Department shall coordinate investigations with law enforcement according to protocols established with the appropriate municipal or county law enforcement agency when one or more of the following circumstances exist:
  • The report alleges or the investigation indicates that the child is or may be the victim of a criminal conduct;
  • The report alleges or the investigation indicates that the child is a victim of sexual abuse.
  • The report alleges or the investigation indicates that the child is a victim of commercial sexual exploitation or sex trafficking.
  • Law enforcement is conducting a criminal investigation of the alleged child abuse and neglect or an investigation is anticipated.

If during the course of an investigation, the investigator determines that a criminal offense (a felony crime committed against a child by someone other than their parent, guardian, custodian or adult member of their household) may occurred, the investigator shall immediately provide the information to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

If during the course of an investigation, the investigator determines that abuse or neglect not previously reported is present, the investigator shall immediately provide the information to the Child Abuse Hotline.

As soon as possible but in no more than 24 hours, any child who is identified as a sex trafficking victim shall be reported to law enforcement for entry into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.
In instances of criminal conduct against a child, the Department shall protect the victim's rights of the child.

Procedures
Criminal Conduct and the OCWI Criteria
Criminal conduct allegations require a joint investigation with the law enforcement entity of the jurisdiction where the allegations reportedly occurred. Prior to conducting interviews with the family, contact local law enforcement where the incident occurred and coordinate investigative efforts and interviews according to an appropriate interview sequence designated by the assigned law enforcement agent. Each county has different protocols for Joint Investigations; these protocols may be accessed at Joint Investigation Protocols.

Joint Investigations are a partnership with law enforcement requiring clear role delineation. The roles and responsibilities of law enforcement and DCS personnel are different.

When a communication is received at the Child Abuse Hotline and meets the statutory criteria for a child abuse or neglect report, and the allegations include criminal conduct, a tracking characteristic of criminal conduct will be applied, see DCS Criminal Conduct Hotline Screening Guide, CSO-1365. In Maricopa and Pima counties, the Hotline assigns the report directly to OCWI. In all other counties, the Hotline assigns the report to the local DCS Supervisor for assignment.

For reports in Maricopa and Pima Counties, the Child Abuse Hotline will notify OCWI via telephone of reports with criminal conduct allegations that are a response time 1. Upon receipt of a report with criminal conduct allegations, the OCWI Manager, or designee, shall review the report using the Criminal Conduct Assessment Guidelines, CSO1366 to determine the level of OCWI involvement, following the timelines indicated in the guidelines. Should the OCWI Manager, or designee, determine that OCWI Assessment is the appropriate level of involvement; they shall complete the OCWI Criminal Conduct Assessment Form, CSO-1347. The completed form shall be emailed to the appropriate DCS Supervisors, Program Specialist and Program Manager within the designated timeframes as well as create an OCWI Investigation case note and attach the form to the case note. If there is a disagreement with the assessment decision, the involved parties shall follow the conflict resolution process immediately.

If the OCWI Manager, or designee, determines that the report will be assigned for investigation, the OCWI Investigator shall respond and complete the investigation according to policy and procedure.

Protocols for Joint Investigation
Coordinate the investigation with the identified law enforcement agency prior to making contact with the family. Coordination requires a shared, cooperative approach and ongoing consultation, collaboration, and communication. Joint investigations include:
  • developing a plan to complete the investigation;
  • responding with law enforcement;
  • communicating openly and frequently to discuss the status of the case; and
  • obtaining and sharing information in a timely manner, particularly at the following critical communication points:
  • completion of interviews;
  • filing of a dependency petition;
  • prior to the return of the child victim to the home or at any time during the life of the case;
  • prior to the return of an alleged perpetrator to the home at any time during the life of the case;
  • re-assessment of safety to include a possible change in the safety plan or a change in placement; and
  • disclosure of information about the criminal conduct.

Initiate the investigation within the assigned Standard Response Time.

If law enforcement is not able to respond jointly within the response time requirements established for the Department, explain to the law enforcement agency that the Department is proceeding with its investigation of child safety.

When a child is identified as a victim in a report alleging criminal conduct, protect the child victim against harassment, intimidation, and abuse, such as not allowing the alleged abusive person or any other person to threaten, coerce, or pressure the child victim, or to be present during interviews, family meetings, or other Departmental actions with the child victim.

Prior to report closure, contact law enforcement to verify there are no additional steps needed by the Department and ask if law enforcement is pursuing prosecution.

Interviewing a Child at School
If interviewing the child at school and there is a joint investigation, criminal conduct allegation, or law enforcement involvement, the Department or law enforcement must have parental permission, a court order/warrant, or exigent circumstances to conduct the interview. Exigent circumstances means a child has suffered or will imminently suffer abuse or neglect, and it is reasonable to conclude the child will be in danger if the child returns home. Interview the child to assess the child's safety and determine if the child is or will be a victim of abuse or neglect.

For these circumstances, limit the interview to 20 minutes and ask who, what, where, when questions to determine whether the child has suffered or will imminently suffer abuse or neglect, and whether the child will be in danger if the child returns home that day. Assess for child safety only. Do not conduct a full interview with the child. If denied access to the child, notify the Program supervisor and contact the Attorney General's Office.

Photographing
If a child has visible injuries and/or visible indicators of neglect, arrange to have the child photographed, preferably by law enforcement, a Child Advocacy Center, or a medical professional; and at the same time as a medical evaluation to reduce the number of times the child is examined. If these personnel are not available, photograph the child by depicting the child's entire body and face, not just the external manifestation of abuse. The Department shall not take photographs of a child’s genitals. Photographs should include a ruler and color bar where possible. Label each photograph with the child's name, date of photograph, date of birth, name of DCS Specialist, and name of the person taking the picture. Photographs of children can be taken without permission of the parent, guardian or custodian.


Informing Parent, Guardian or Custodian of Rights
Persons under investigation by the Department have specific rights in addition to any rights afforded in a law enforcement investigation or criminal proceeding. Inform all persons of their rights in a Department investigation, even when law enforcement has informed a parent, guardian, or custodian of their rights with regard to a criminal investigation (Notice of Duty to Inform). During a criminal conduct investigation, the Department is required to disclose the allegations, but statute allows the Department to withhold details that would compromise an ongoing investigation.

Criminal Conduct or New Allegations Disclosed During the Investigation
If during the course of an investigation, evidence suggests there is a new allegation or that a new allegation might be criminal conduct, the DCS Supervisor should then contact an OCWI Manager regarding these new allegations and the OCWI Manager will complete an assessment. The DCS Specialist should contact the appropriate law enforcement agency and document the new allegation after investigations findings.
If during the course of the investigation, evidence indicates that a felony criminal offense perpetrated by someone other than a parent, guardian, or custodian or other adult member of the child's home has been committed, the investigator shall contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Team Decision Making
Follow all policies in Chapter 2, Section 8: Team Decision Making, if the child is part of a case where the report alleges criminal conduct or the case involves an ongoing criminal investigation or current or pending prosecution, communication between the DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator, and Law Enforcement should occur prior to holding the TDM meeting. The DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator should also communicate with the Duty or assigned Assistant Attorney General (AAG) before the TDM meeting is held.

The following questions should be discussed with Law Enforcement, and the Duty or assigned AAG prior to the TDM meeting:
  • What is the purpose of the TDM meeting (possible topics of discussion)?
  • Are there participants who should be excluded from the TDM meeting? If so, why?
  • Should Law Enforcement or an AAG be included in the TDM meeting? If so, why?
  • Are there any specific topics that should not be discussed at the TDM meeting? If so, what and why?

If there are concerns that a TDM meeting may compromise the criminal investigation, the DCS Program Manager or OCWI Regional Manager will discuss the issues with the assigned Supervisor/Manager to determine whether or not to hold the TDM meeting.

The child victim and the alleged perpetrator will not be in the same room or on the phone together during a TDM meeting when the case involves:
  • criminal conduct allegations or domestic violence;
  • an ongoing criminal investigation;
  • current or pending criminal prosecution; or
  • the child victim feels threatened or unsafe.

No discussion regarding the criminal conduct allegation is to occur at any point during the TDM meeting.

Safeguarding Case Records
The Department's case records are confidential and shall not be released, except as specified by law. Information received from the OCWI, including the OCWI documentation within the CHILDS case record, is DCS information and subject to the same confidentiality protection afforded all DCS information.

The Department is not required to release information when such release would cause a specific, material harm to a Department of Child Safety or criminal investigation or when such release would likely endanger the life or safety of any person. If the Department releases information, it must take reasonable precautions to protect the identity and safety of the reporting source.

If it is believed that the release of records may harm a criminal investigation, the OCWI Investigator (or the DCS Specialist in a case not involving the OCWI) will contact the County Attorney's Office. If the County Attorney agrees that the disclosure of information would cause a specific, material harm to the criminal investigation, the County Attorney must provide DCS with written documentation supporting his/her assertion.

Conflict Resolution
If at any times there is a disagreement with a decision to remove a Criminal Conduct tracking characteristic or assessment decision, the DCS Supervisor and/or OCWI Manager may elevate the issue through their chain of command to seek resolution. The escalation process is as follows:
  • DCS Supervisor and OCWI Manager
  • DCS Program Manager and OCWI Regional Manager
  • DCS Program Administrator and OCWI Deputy Chief
  • DCS Deputy Director and OCWI Chief

Documentation
The DCS Specialist or OCWI Investigator will use the CSRA to document the investigation as outlined Chapter 2 Section 4 of the policy manual.




 

Effective Date: October 30th, 2017

Revision History: July 1, 2013, January 14, 2015


Chapter 2: Section 11.4
Investigations Involving Immigrant Children
Policy
In responding to a report concerning a foreign national child, including a child who is believed to be undocumented, in addition to the taking the actions described in Interviews, the Department shall communicate with the applicable Consulate to obtain information to assist in:
  • Verifying the child’s nationality;
  • Identifying and locating the child’s parent(s);
  • Identifying and assessing placement options for the child (if applicable); and
  • Identifying resources for the child and the family that would assist in safely maintaining the child in the home.

When consulting with the Attorney General’s Office to file an out-of-home dependency petition concerning a child believed to be a foreign national child, including a child who is believed to be undocumented, the DCS Specialist shall provide information to assist with notification to the appropriate consulate.

If a child is a lawful permanent resident (holder of a green card), a visitor on a temporary visa, or an undocumented person, when an out-of-home dependency petition is filed, there is a duty to notify the applicable consular post. For consular notification purposes, a child reported to be born in a foreign country may be assumed to be a foreign national.

This policy does not apply to those considered to be United States citizens in the following situations:
  • Children who are born in the United States;
  • Children who have one parent who is undocumented and another parent who is a United States citizen; or
  • An abandoned child who is under age five (5).

Procedures
In responding to reports of a foreign national child, including a child who is believed to be an undocumented child, as part of the assessment of child safety, the DCS Specialist will communicate with the applicable Consulate, including providing identifying information concerning the family, for the purposes of:
  • Verifying the child’s nationality;
  • Identifying and locating the child’s parent(s);
  • Identifying and assessing placement options for the child (if applicable); and
  • Identifying resources for the child and the family that would assist in safely maintaining the child in the home.

If the child is a Mexican National, to determine which Mexican Consulate office to contact, refer to the Fact Sheet – Mexican Consulates in Arizona and their County to locate the office responsible for the geographical area where the child resides.

Any information regarding the family that is received from the consular official should be considered in assessing the child’s safety.

In situations where a dependency petition is filed for a child who is reasonably believed to be undocumented the DCS Specialist shall make diligent efforts to verify the child’s status. Actions taken include, but are not limited to:
  • Requesting information from the child, if possible, and any available source to determine date and location of the child’s birth;
  • Obtaining identifying information about the child’s parents/legal guardians;
  • Contacting the applicable Consulate for the geographical area where the child was taken into temporary custody to assist in verifying the child’s and parents’ nationality; and
  • Following your region’s operating procedure for obtaining birth certificates.
  • Provide the following information to the Attorney General’s office if filing an out-of-home dependency petition:
  • name of the child;
  • date and location of the child’s birth, if known;
  • mother’s full maiden name,
  • father’s name;
  • names of guardians or custodians;
  • name, address and phone numbers of the assigned DCS Specialist and DCS Unit Supervisor;
  • date the child was taken into DCS custody; and
  • information obtained during any previous contact with the applicable Consulate.

Collaboration with the Mexican Consulate

After a dependency petition is filed on an undocumented child, collaboration shall occur with the applicable Consul after the Consul has responded to official notification by the Attorney General’s Office. Collaboration activities include inviting the consul to court, FCRB proceedings, and case planning meetings.

The DCS Specialist is to cooperate with requests by the applicable Consulate to interview, visit and otherwise communicate with children in DCS custody who are Nationals of their respective country. Before the visit or interview is arranged, the DCS Specialist will contact the child’s court-appointed attorney or guardian ad litem regarding the request by the applicable Consulate to interview, visit or communicate with the child. Visits and access by the applicable Consulate should be consistent with the best interests of the child, or as ordered by the Court.

The DCS Specialist should request from the Consulate:
  • Assistance with obtaining official copies of birth certificates that are certified for authenticity; and
  • Names of appropriate agencies within the country that can assist in:
    • identifying relatives or other placement options, and
    • conducting necessary background checks and home studies.

Documentation
Using the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA) document the following in Section II,
  • Efforts to obtain information regarding the child’s nationality and family history, and
  • Responses or questions of the applicable Consulate and any information provided to them.

Any consultation with the AAG shall be documented in the Case Notes window under AG Contact



Effective Date: November 30, 2012

Revision History:

Arizona Department of Child Safety: Policy and Procedure Manual
Chapter 2: Section 11.5
Investigation Involving Licensed and Unlicensed Foster Homes
Policy
Procedures governing investigations of reports concerning an out-of-home placement are aimed at ensuring the health and safety of children while respecting the rights of providers.

All reports of abuse or neglect concerning an out-of-home care provider shall be investigated by DCS. This includes investigations of reports involving the following placement settings:
  • unlicensed non-relatives;
  • unlicensed relatives;
  • licensed family foster homes;
  • certified adoptive homes; and
  • DES certified child care homes.

Procedures
Coordinate with the child’s DCS Specialist , OLR and the licensing agency/specialist in order to clarify the allegations and the investigation process.

Within six hours, in emergency situations where the child has been removed, provide the out-of-home care provider with the Notice of Removal, CSO-1039.

If the temporary custody of the provider’s child is clearly necessary to prevent abuse or neglect and the provider is present when the child is taken into temporary custody, verbal and written notice (Temporary Custody Notice) must be provided immediately. If the provider is not present at the time of removal, the DCS Specialist must attempt to notify the provider immediately either in-person or by phone. The Temporary Custody Notice must be served within six hours of removal. For more information on providing notice of temporary custody, see Providing Emergency Intervention.

Also, notify the following individuals within 24 hours of the removal:
  • the child’s DCS Specialist and/or Supervisor;
  • the out-of-home care provider’s licensing agency/specialist and/or supervisor, if applicable;
  • the Office of Licensing and Regulations representative, if applicable;
  • the Regional Program Administrator or designee; and
  • the Assistant Attorney General, if applicable.

Follow the procedures outlined in Placement Stability for Children in Out-Of-Home Care if the licensed foster parent disagrees with the removal of the child and requests a case conference.

For Reports Alleging Criminal Conduct
Conduct the investigation in accordance with protocols established with the appropriate municipal or county law enforcement agency (see Chapter 2: Section 3- Interviews ).

Contact the following individuals:
  • DCS Specialist and/or Supervisor for each child in the home.
    • The child’s DCS Specialist will notify the child’s parent or legal guardian and the child’s attorney and/or guardian ad litem and CASA if applicable of the report
  • the Office of Licensing and Regulations (OLR), by email at DCSFHGHReportsSWCentral@azdes.gov , if applicable;
  • the DES Office of Licensing, Certification, and Regulation for Child Developmental Homes under DDD, by email at DDDNotificationsFromDESAgencies@azdes.gov., if applicable; and
  • the out-of-home care provider’s licensing agency/specialist and/or supervisor, including public or private licensing agencies, verbally or by email, if applicable.

For Non-Criminal Conduct Allegations
Notify the following individuals of the report:
  • DCS Specialist and/or Supervisor for each child in the home.
    • The child’s DCS Specialist will notify the child’s parent or legal guardian and the child’s attorney and/or guardian ad litem and CASA if applicable of the report.
  • the Office of Licensing and Regulations (OLR), by email atDCSFHGHReportsSWCentral@azdes.gov , if applicable;
  • the DES Office of Licensing, Certification, and Regulation for Child Developmental Homes under DDD, by email at DDDNotificationsFromDESAgencies@azdes.gov, if applicable;
  • the out-of-home care provider’s licensing agency/specialist and/or supervisor, including public or private licensing agencies, verbally or by email, if applicable, and
  • the out-of-home care provider.

Notify the out-of-home care provider within six hours when a child has been interviewed

Investigation Finding

Follow the procedures found in Substantiating Maltreatment to determine the investigation finding.

The finding and tracking characteristic (if applicable) should be entered in the Investigation Allegation Findings window and/or Investigation Tracking Characteristic Findings window within 45 days of the date that the Department received the initial report information.

If the findings indicate that the report is unsubstantiated:
  • Notify each child’s DCS Specialist and/or Supervisor, the out-of-home care provider and other staff of the finding with eight working hours;
    • The child’s DCS Specialist will notify the child’s parent or legal guardian and the child’s attorney and/or guardian ad-litem and CASA if applicable of the investigative findings within eight working hours.
  • Provide written notification of the investigation findings to the alleged perpetrator within three working days
  • Provide written notification to OLR by email at DCSFHGHReportsSWCentral@azdes.gov of the investigation findings and any licensing concerns within three working days
  • Inform the out-of-home care provider’s licensing agency/ specialist of any licensing concerns within three working days.
  • Complete the written report of the investigation and findings within ten working days after completion of the investigation.

If the Department intends to propose substantiation of the report:
Verbally notify each child’s DCS Specialist and/or Supervisor, the out-of-home care provider and other staff of the proposed substantiated finding with eight working hours of completing the investigation;
  • The child’s DCS Specialist will notify the child’s parent or legal guardian and the child’s attorney and/or guardian ad-litem and CASA if applicable of the investigative findings within eight working hours.

Within five working days after completing the investigation, convene a case conference that includes the following
  • the out-of-home care provider;
  • the investigating DCS Specialist and Supervisor;
  • each child’s DCS Specialist and Supervisor;
  • the out-of-home care provider’s licensing agency/ specialist and supervisor;
  • the Office of Licensing, Certification and Regulations representative;
  • the Assistant Attorney General responsible for licensing;
  • the Regional Program Administrator or designee; and
  • other staff member, law enforcement or attorneys as necessary.

The out-of-home care provider may bring a person representing his or her interests. The provider must waive his or her right of confidentiality prior to this person's participation in the case conference. Personally identifying information shall not be disclosed to persons not authorized to receive information pursuant to ARS §8-807.

At the case conference:
  • Discuss the proposed substantiated investigation findings
  • Discuss and determine any agency recommendations regarding licensing.
  • Provide the out-of-home care provider an opportunity to discuss the findings of the DCS investigation and licensing issues.

Be aware of the following responsibilities for follow-up:
  • If the case conference results in a licensing recommendation other than revocation, OLR/ Family Home Licensing liaison sends the licensed out-of-home provider a letter discussing any licensing issues within three days of the case conference.
  • If the recommendation of the case conference is to revoke the license of a provider, OLR may offer the provider the option of voluntary withdrawal from the program.
  • If revocation is required, the OLR Program Administrator or designee sends the provider a letter within four weeks of the case conference, after consultation with an Assistant Attorney General
  • If the case conference confirms a proposed substantiated finding, enter the finding and/or tracking characteristic if applicable in the Investigation Allegation Findings window and /or Investigation Tracking Characteristic Findings window within one day of the case conference.

Documentation
In addition to the requirements for documentation of DCS investigations, described above, document the following in Section II of the Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA):
  • notification of each child's parent(s) or legal guardian, DCS Specialist and/or supervisor, OLR and the out-of-home care provider’s licensing agency/ specialist and/or supervisor of the report; and
  • the opening conference with the out-of-home care provider or the reason that the conference did not occur.

If the child is removed:
Complete the following windows in CHILDS when a temporary custody notice has been issued:
  • Legal Status
  • Removal Status
  • Removal Settings
Document the search for relatives in the Locate Efforts case note type.

If the report is unsubstantiated:
  • Document the verbal and written notification of parent(s), legal guardian, out-of-home care provider and staff of the finding;
  • Send a copy of the confidential written report of the investigation to each child's DCS Specialist , OLR, the out-of-home care provider’s licensing agency/ specialist and/or supervisor and the Regional Program Administrator; and
  • File the original report in the hard copy record.

If the Department intends to substantiate the report:
  • Send a copy of the confidential written report of the investigation to each child's DCS Specialist , OLR, the out-of-home care provider’s licensing agency/ specialist and/or supervisor and the Regional Program Administrator; and
  • File the original report in the hard copy record.



 

Effective Date: November 30, 2012

Revision History:

Chapter 2: Section 11.6
Investigation of Group Care
Policy
The Department shall investigate reports of child abuse and neglect in congregate care facilities licensed by the Department of Child Safety, Department Economic Security and the Department of Health Services. Congregate care facilities are child welfare agencies including shelters and group homes licensed by the Department of Child Safety and Department of Economic Security, and Level I residential treatment centers and Level II and III behavioral health facilities licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

All reports of child abuse and neglect concerning congregate care facilities shall be investigated by a DCS Specialist. The investigation shall be coordinated with the licensing authority, the child placing agency(s) and, as appropriate, the licensed congregate care facility.

The investigation of allegations of criminal conduct behavior shall be investigated jointly with law enforcement, according to protocols established with the appropriate county law enforcement agency. Joint investigations may be initiated on other cases as determined necessary by the DCS Specialist and Supervisor.

Procedures
All investigations of abuse or neglect in a congregate care facility shall be conducted in accordance with the Department’s investigation policies and procedures except as specifically set forth below.

When conducting investigations of alleged physical abuse occurring in congregate care facilities, an Investigator or Specialist must comply with policies set forth in Initial Contact and Conducting Interviews Family Functioning Assessment at Investigation, Present Danger Assessment and Planning, and Substantiating Maltreatment, unless all of the following criteria are met:
  1. The alleged victim presents with no visible evidence of the alleged offense (i.e. bruises, marks, lacerations, or abrasions)
  2. The alleged victim has no injuries discovered during medical imaging (i.e. X-Rays, MRI, CT Scan)
  3. There is no indication or information that additional children living within, or previously within the group home have relevant information regarding the alleged physical abuse.
  4. The OCWI Chief, Deputy Chief, or Program Administrator have approved.

If the above criteria are met, an Investigator or Specialist is not required to interview all children living in the group home at the time of the alleged physical abuse. They must, however, determine and document the name, age and current condition of those children. In doing so, the investigator may use the assigned on-going case manager’s Family Functioning Assessment. The Investigator or Specialist shall document, in the CSRA, the date contact was made, the case identification number pertaining to those contacts, and the complete name of the DCS Specialist who completed the contact.

Coordinate investigation of criminal conduct allegations with law enforcement, according to protocols established with the appropriate county law enforcement agency. More information can be found in Conducting Interviews.

Complete the Unusual Incident Report (DCS-1125) and route according to the form’s instruction as applicable. See (Quality Assurance; Unusual Incidents) for specific instructions and procedures for completing and routing the Unusual Incident Report.

Identify the licensing authority and contact person for the facility, and the child placing agency(s) for the alleged victim.

Notifications

For criminal conduct allegations, notification must be made in accordance with protocols established with the appropriate municipal or county law enforcement agency.

For all other allegations and unless otherwise indicated, make every attempt to notify the following as soon as possible but no later than the next business day of receipt of the report:
  • the licensing authority,
  • the child victim’s placing agency(s) or assigned case manager(s), if known,
  • the facility’s administrator or designee (unless an unannounced visit is necessary), and
  • the identified child victim’s parent or guardian if the child is placed by the child’s parent or guardian, if known.

Provide an opportunity for the licensing authority representative and the identified child victim’s placing agency(s) to participate in the investigation. As appropriate, provide an opportunity for the facility’s administrator or designee to cooperate with the investigation.

Guidelines for the conduct of the investigation

The investigation process should be a collaborate effort through ongoing communication among all involved agencies.

The congregate care facility:
  • will be informed of the investigation and nature of the allegation and be informed of staff and children who will be interviewed, except when the administrator is the alleged abusive person or when prior notice may jeopardize the safety of the child;
  • may seek legal counsel at any time during the investigation process;
  • have the opportunity to present and discuss information relevant to the investigation before a finding is made;
  • will be given a status report on the progress of an investigation not completed within 45 days of the date that the Department received the initial report information.; and
  • may receive a redacted copy of the summary of the investigation.

Visits will be coordinated with the facility to minimize disruption whenever possible. If the visit is unannounced, notify the agency administrator or designee immediately upon arrival.

Investigative techniques may vary depending upon the nature of the report and the congregate care setting. Investigations include gathering or reviewing information that is pertinent to the allegation being investigated. Information may include but is not limited to:
  • the facility’s policies and procedures;
  • the child victim’s specific records including daily log sheets, progress notes, therapeutic notes, medical reports, incident reports, restraint reports, video monitor tapes;
  • any prior allegation and outcome of an investigation of child abuse or neglect concerning the alleged perpetrator;
  • the licensing and accreditation records including any corrective action plans or enforcement action; and
  • the alleged perpetrator’s staff record.

The DCS Specialist may examine and photograph the facility’s physical structure as warranted.

Coordination with other agencies throughout the investigation

Throughout the investigation process, maintain contact and exchange information with the:
  • licensing authority,
  • child victim’s placing agency(s) or assigned case manager(s),
  • facility’s administrator or designee, and
  • child’s parent or guardian if the child is placed by the parent or guardian.

Ensure that information pertinent to child safety and well-being are communicated to the above persons. Provide contact information for the DCS Specialist and Supervisor in order to facilitate communication.

Finding

Follow the procedures found in Substantiating Maltreatment to determine the investigation finding.

The finding and tracking characteristic (if applicable) should be entered in the Investigation Allegation Findings window and/or Investigation Tracking Characteristic Findings window within 45 days of the date that the Department received the initial report information.

Closing the Investigation

Every attempt should be made to complete the investigation within 45 days. Consult with the Supervisor if the investigation is expected to remain open for more than 45 days.

Complete a summary of the investigation that includes the following:
  • the name of alleged victim and alleged perpetrator,
  • each allegation investigated,
  • the names of all the persons interviewed,
  • all documents reviewed,
  • summary of the information gathered,
  • the finding,
  • concerns and/or recommendations regarding the facility’s ability to assure the protection of the children in placement.
    • The concerns and/or recommendations should relate directly to the specific allegations and/or safety and well-being of children placed in the facility.

Within 15 working days of the investigation closure, provide a redacted copy of the summary of the investigation to the:
  • licensing authority,
  • child victim’s placing agency(s) and assigned case manager(s); (The assigned DCS Specialist may receive an un-redacted copy of the summary.)
  • the facility’s administrator or designee; if the administrative head is the alleged perpetrator, send the summary to the administrative supervisor and/or facility's board of directors, and
  • the child victim’s parent or guardian if the child is placed by the parent or guardian.

For DES licensed facilities: if concerns regarding a licensing standard are noted, the Office of Licensure and Certification (OLCR) will follow its protocols to address such concerns.

For DHS licensed facilities: if concerns regarding a licensing standard are noted, the, DHS will follow its protocols to address such concerns.

Status Communications Concerning Physical Injury or Sexual Conduct between Children

Follow the procedures as described above. Gather information to answer the following questions:
  • Was the child placed in out-of-home care due to physical or sexual abuse?
  • Does the child have a history of sexually acting out behavior or sexual conduct with another child?
  • Does the child have a history of inflicting physical injury to another child?
  • Was the facility aware of the child’s history of physical injury or sexual conduct with another child?

Discuss the information gathered with the Supervisor. Determine whether the physical injury or sexual conduct between children was the result of inadequate supervision based on the following questions:
  • Was the facility aware or informed of the child’s history of inflicting physical injury to or sexual conduct with another child?
  • What efforts were made by the facility to adequately supervise the children in the facility?
  • What efforts were made to assist the facility in supervising the children?
  • Make a report to the Child Abuse Hotline when physical injury or sexual conduct between children was the result of inadequate supervision, or when there are other indicators of neglect or abuse.





Effective Date: June 23rd, 2017

Revision History: November 30, 2012

 




 Chapter 2: Section 11.7
Investigation Involving Department of Child Safety Employees
Policy
The Department shall conduct investigations involving reports of abuse or neglect of a child by a Department employee and/or reports alleging an employee's child is the victim of abuse or neglect in a manner to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the employee and ensure the safety of the child. A Department employee as referenced in this policy includes all employees of the Department and the Protective Services Section of the Attorney General’s Office.

The Department shall refer any report alleging the abuse or neglect of a child by an employee or any report alleging an employee's child is the victim of abuse or neglect directly to the Regional Program Administrator of the region where the primary caretaker resides.

The Department requires each employee to notify his/her immediate supervisor that s/he has been identified as a subject of child abuse or neglect; this is a condition of continuing employment with the Department.

Procedures
Hotline
If a participant has been identified as an employee, which includes any parent, guardian or custodian:
• Search CHILDS in Person Directory and check for a Y under Staff;
• Search the State Employee Directory book at http://ebook.state.az.us/ or http://ibook.state.az.us/;
• Search the internal regional employee lists;
• Search CHILDS under Staff Management, Staff Registry; and
• Search email address book in Outlook.

All communications regarding employees are confidential, including all reports, status, second source, additional information and licensing issue communications regarding an employee.
The Intake Specialist taking an employee communication discusses the communication as needed directly with the Hotline Program Manager maintaining the strictest confidence and does not discuss the communication with any other Department employee.

If it is determined an incoming communication pertains to an employee:
• Notify the Child Abuse Hotline Administrator;
• Identify the employee’s PID(s) in the person directory window;
◦ Do not use the staff person PID or source person PID if the employee’s role is a mandated reporter;
◦ If a participant or provider PID already exists, use that PID;
◦ Create a new participant PID for the employee only, entering the employee's date of birth, not the social security number, address or phone number .
• If the communication meets report criteria, enter the communication type, “Report on DCS;"
• In the narrative, indicate which individual is the employee and include the employee's social security number, address, and phone number in the Family Composition section;
• If the communication meets report criteria, assign and disposition the report to the Regional Program Administrator . If there is an employee report flag on an existing case, the Intake Specialist may not link the communication; and
• If criminal conduct exists, do not send the email notification to the OCWI; the Child Abuse Hotline Administrator completes this step.

To limit access to employee reports in CHILDS, the Child Abuse Hotline Administrator:
  • If necessary, verifies employee status.
  • Links the communication to the existing case if applicable.
  • Flags the case as “Employee Rpt" in the LCH416 window as follows:
    • If there is an existing case, search and select the case from the Case Directory (LCH056) window;
    • If there is not an existing case, dispositions the report for investigation first and assigns to the Regional Program Manager. After the report is assigned and case created, the case will be flagged as "Employee Rpt;"
  • Provides necessary explanation in the text box of this window;
  • If the report is a Response Time 1, immediately notifies the Regional Program Administrator of where the report is assigned and the Deputy Director of Field Operations and follow-ups with an email notification;
  • If the report is a Response Time 2, 3, or 4, notifies the following individuals via email:
    • Regional Program Administrator where the report is assigned;
    • Regional Program Administrator of the employee, if different than the region assignment;
    • Chief of the OCWI if criminal conduct allegations exists;
    • Chief of the OCWI if the employee is employed with the OCWI; and
    • Deputy Director of Field Operations;
  • • Includes in the email notification the following information:
    • Date and Time Report Received:
    • Case Name or Report Name;
    • Case ID or Report #;
    • Case Status: (open/ closed/ priors);
    • Criminal Conduct Allegations: (yes or no);
    • Regional Assignment: Regional Program Manager of where the report is assigned;
    • Employee's office: (if known); and
    • Narrative: (Cut and paste the narrative from CHILDS).
  • If only a communication is taken, notifies the Deputy Director of Field Operations if law enforcement needs to be contacted or if a potential personnel infraction has occurred.

When a report is received on a foster parent who is also an employee, take as employee report and keep the information. Indicate in the narrative the employee is a foster parent.

If a communication is received from a source whose complaint is regarding the performance of an employee, do not enter into CHILDS. After determining the source does not have concerns about the welfare of children, the Intake Specialist may:
  • Refer the caller to the appropriate DCS Supervisor, Program Manager or OCWI Manager if s/he has not already informed that person of the concern;
  • Refer to the DCS Family Advocate at 602-364-0777;
  • Refer to a Intake Supervisor if the concern is immediate or the caller cannot be referred to the DCS Supervisor, Program Manager, Family Advocate, or the OCWI Manager; and/or
  • The Intake Supervisor or Intake Specialist notifies the Child Abuse Hotline Administrator via email. Child Abuse Hotline Administrator forwards the information to the appropriate Regional Staff and/or DCS Administration or the Chief and the Deputy Chief of Programs of the OCWI.

If a communication is received after the employee leaves employment, the Hotline Program Manager unflags all communications and case as "Employee Rpt" in the LCH416 window.


Investigation of Employee Reports
The Child Abuse Hotline Administrator sends an e-mail to the Deputy Director of Field Operations with notification of the report of a Department employee. The Deputy Director of Field Operations develops a plan of action for the investigation of the report, including report assignment and coordination with the OCWI if applicable.

If upon investigation, a report is found to involve an employee, the receiving DCS Supervisor notifies his/her Regional Assistant Program Manager who notifies the Regional Program Manager. The Regional Program Manager informs the Deputy Director of Field Operations.

If a DCS Supervisor is concerned about any perceived conflict, he/she may consult with the Program Manager or Regional Program Administrator.

To limit access to employee reports, whenever the Regional Program Manager determines the report to involve an employee:
  • Contact CHILDS, the Child Abuse Hotline Administrator, or the Intake Program Manager to flag the case as “Employee Rpt” in the LCH416 window and provide the necessary explanation in the text box of this window;
  • Notify the Deputy Director of Field Operations about the report following email notification format above. Also notify the following individuals if applicable:
    • If the employee works in another region within DCS or at OCWI, notify the employee's Regional Program Administrator or the Chief of the OCWI;
    • If criminal conduct allegations exist, notify the Chief of the OCWI;
  • Notify the Child Abuse Hotline Administrator to:
    • Add an Additional Information communication to the original report with information, such as, the employee's social security number, address, and phone number;
    • Delete the social security number, address, and phone number from the Person Detail window; and/or
    • Flag all other associated communications.

The Deputy Director of Field Operations may request that another region or local office outside the geographical area of the employee’s place of residence investigate the report. The employee is not to be notified of the report nor shall confidential information be released without the written consent of the alleged abusive caretaker.

If another region or local office is requested to investigate the report, the Program Manager or Regional Program Administrator responds within 24 hours of the request to confirm s/he can complete the investigation or to request additional information. The assigned investigator completes the Child Safety and Risk Assessment in CHILDS and all other required CHILDS windows, including the investigation allegation findings, according to DCS Policy.




 

Effective Date: July 1, 2013

Revision History: November 30, 2012


Chapter 3: Section 1
Opening a Case For Services 
Policy
Based on the results of the safety assessment/investigation and the results of the Child Safety & Risk Assessment , the Department shall determine whether to
  • close the case
  • offer voluntary services or
  • open a case for ongoing services.

If the case is going to be open for ongoing services the worker must determine if the services can be provided through a voluntary relationship with DCS, if a petition for in-home intervention is sufficient or if an In home or Out of Home Dependence Petition must be filed.

The existence of present or future risk of harm to any child in the family unit and if services and supports can mitigate the identified risks are the primary factors for Child Safety Specialists to consider when determining whether a case should be open for ongoing services.

Procedures
Deciding Whether or Not To Close A Case or Open for Services

To determine whether to close a case following investigation and assessment, consider these questions
  • Are there no safety threats or critical risk factors that are severe enough to warrant ongoing Department involvement to assure safety of the child?
  • Does the family refuse to participate in voluntary services and are there no safety threats or critical risk factors severe enough to warrant a dependency action?
  • Are some risk factors present, but the family has acknowledged them and is receiving support and services from extended family or community resources?
  • Has the family moved and its whereabouts are unknown and have reasonable efforts to locate the family been made?

If the case is to be closed:
  • Obtain management approval when severe or serious injury to a child has been substantiated.
  • Refer the family to any community resources that may be able provide support or services, if need arises, now or in the future.
  • Make certain that the family knows that they can contact DCS in the future if they need help.

Case to be closed and DCS Specialist is considering a referred to Families F.I.R.S.T. consider these additional questions

  • Are there prior DCS reports in which substance abuse contributed to child abuse or neglect?
  • Is there a history of prenatal substance abuse? How long?
  • Are there current or prior reports of prenatal substance exposure to newborns (under 30 days of age) or to an infant (from birth up to one year of age)?
  • Has substance abuse treatment been provided in the past? If so, who participated and how long?
  • Is the family willing to participate in the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. Program?
    • Will participation in the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. Program reduce risk factors and enable the child to reside safely in the home without continued Department involvement?
  • If the decision is made that a case cannot be closed then it must be open for services.

If the decision is made that a case cannot be closed then it must be open for services


To determine whether to open a case for voluntary services
After completing the Child Safety and Risk Assessment .
  • Are there unresolved safety threats or critical risk factors contributing to subsequent reports? If so,
  • Does the parent agree that these safety threats or critical risk factors exist and is the family willing to work with the agency to resolve the issues?
  • Does the family require services to address potential abuse or neglect issues that they cannot access without DCS involvement?
  • Are there services that the Department could provide on a voluntary basis (either directly or through referral to a community agency) to help the family address the safety threats or critical risk factors which led to the child's abuse and neglect?

If the answers to the above questions are yes, open a case for Voluntary Services

To determine whether to provide in-home services, consider these questions:
  • If the family is unwilling to accept services voluntarily or appears unable to benefit from voluntary services, are there grounds for a dependency action?
  • If the child is currently in the parent's, guardian's or custodian's home, can he or she remain there safely with the continuation or provision of services or supports?
  • If the child is not currently at the parent's, guardian's or custodian's home, can he or she return home safely with a safety monitor in place and the provision of additional services or supports?

If no services or supports can ensure the child's safety at home at the present time, then out-of-home care must be provided.

Implementation
In offices in which Department of Child Safety Investigation is separate from Ongoing Services, transfer the case as soon as possible, but no later than 45 days after receiving the case for investigation.

If the case is not transferred within 30 working days and a case plan staffing is due within ten working days, the investigation worker shall conduct the staffing prior to the transfer.

Inform the client about the transfer, identifying the new case manager, if assigned.

All cases that are closed at investigation must be closed within 60 days of receipt of the report. The CSRA, the Investigation Allegation Findings window and/or Investigation Tracking Characteristic Findings window must be completed within 45 days of the date the Department received the initial report information

Closing a Case When a Referral is Made to Families F.I.R.S.T
Prior to closing a case which has been referred to the Arizona Families F.I.R.ST. Program:

  • Ensure that the completed PS-067, Referral for Services, has been sent to the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. Provider,
  • Forward a copy of the PS-067 to the Substance Abuse Treatment Program Specialist at Site Code 940A.
  • Obtain the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. provider notification that the family refused to participate in substance abuse treatment. This notification should be received within five (5) days from the date of the referral to the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. provider, or
  • Obtain the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. provider notification that the family accepted and completed a service plan for substance treatment. (This notification should be approximately fourteen (14) days from the date of the referral to the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. Program provider).
  • Obtain supervisory approval for case closure when substance abuse contributed to the substantiation of prior reports of severe or serious injury or neglect.

Documentation
Prior to case closure or transfer, ensure that the following windows are completed:
  • Child Safety and Risk Assessment
  • Joint Investigation Detail (if applicable)
  • Report Detail
  • Investigation Detail
  • Investigation Allegation Findings
  • Investigation Tracking Characteristic Findings
  • Determination of Case Status

Enter the finding and tracking characteristic if applicable in the Investigation Allegation Findings window and/or Investigation Tracking Characteristic Findings window within 45 days of the date that the Department received the initial report information.

Document the results of the investigation within 45 days of receipt of the report in the Child Safety and Risk Assessment

Supervisors document the results of the supervisor consultation in Child Safety and Risk Assessment

Document the determination of case status by completing the Determination of Case Status window.

Update CHILDS to reflect any changes in the case status.

File a copy of the PS-067 in the hard copy record.

File the notification from the Arizona Families F.I.R.S.T. Provider in the hard copy case record.




 

Effective Date: November 30, 2012

Revision History:



Chapter 3: Section 2-Family Centered Case Planning and Reassessment of the Case Plan
Policy
The Department shall facilitate an individualized, written, family centered case plan, consistent with the requirements of federal and state law for every child, youth, and family receiving ongoing services from the Department.

The Department shall develop a proposed case plan as part of the Preliminary Protective/ Initial Court Hearing Report for in-home and out-of-home cases when limited information is available. The proposed case plan shall include:
  • Permanency goal and expected date of achievement;
  • Concurrent goal and expected date of achievement, if applicable; and
  • Visitation plan.

The Department may propose a case plan of “undetermined” when the Department is considering severance, such as when there are aggravating circumstances; the Department is still required to include services in the plan until relieved by the Court.

The Department requires the following case plan components for all case plans other than a proposed case plan:
  • Permanency Goal
  • Concurrent Goal
  • Placement Type
  • Reasons Why DCS Is Involved With Your Family
  • Desired Family Behaviors
  • Services to Help the Family
  • Child's Needs, Supports, and Services (medical, educational, and psychological)
  • Educational Stability
  • Young Adult/ Independent Living
  • Visitation Plan
  • Out- of- Home Care
  • Adoption
  • Case Plan Agreement

The Department shall conduct a case plan staffing and create the case plan:
  • Within 60 days of the case being identified to receive voluntary in-home services; or
  • Within 60 days of the child(ren)'s removal from home; or
  • Within 10 working days of a child's placement with a Voluntary Placement Agreement.

The Department shall conduct a case plan staffing and reassess the case plan:
  • At least every 6 months; and
  • At specified key decision points in the life of a case, including when a change in the permanency goal is considered or there is a significant change in case circumstances.

The Department shall involve the family receiving DCS services and members of the service team in the development of the case plan and invite them to the case plan staffing. If the parents are unwilling or unable to participate in the case plan development, the Department must document its efforts to engage the parents in the process.

For children age 14 years and older, the Department shall develop the case plan in consultation with the youth and include:
  • The child's education, health, visitation, and court participation rights;
  • The right to receive a credit report annually, if available; and
  • A signed acknowledgment that the child was provided these rights and that they were explained in an age-appropriate way.


Procedures
Develop a proposed case plan as part of the Preliminary Protective/Initial Court Hearing Report for in- home (intervention and dependency cases) and out-of home dependency cases. Develop a proposed case plan when limited information is available and revise during the process of creating a case plan with the family and service team through a case plan staffing.

Case Plan Components
Develop a Permanency Goal for all children with an expected date of achievement. See Selecting the Case Plan Goal.

Develop a Concurrent Goal for all children placed in out -of-home care with a case plan goal of family reunification where the prognosis of achieving family reunification is unlikely to occur within 12 months of the child's initial removal. See Concurrent Planning.

Designate a Placement Type for children placed in out-of-home care. Placement type options include: Kinship, Foster Home, Group Home, Residential Treatment, Detention, Runaway, and Other.

Summarize the identified safety threats and risk factors that require Department intervention as identified in the most recent Child Safety and Risk Assessment (CSRA) or Continuous Child Safety and Risk Assessment (C-CSRA) under Reasons Why DCS is Involved With Your Family.

Describe Desired Family Behaviors for all parents, guardians, or custodians with a case plan goal of Remain with Family or Family Reunification. See Services and Supports to Achieve Permanency.

Case plans:
  • Are time-limited, behaviorally specific, attainable, relevant, and understandable to all;
  • Focus on both family and individual behavioral changes (objectives), which are directly linked to the identified safety threats;
  • Include desired behavioral changes supported by specific and measurable tasks, services, and action steps needed to successfully achieve the goals;
  • Include tasks and action steps that family members, the DCS Specialist (CSS), providers, and other service team members are willing and able to do to achieve goals; and
  • Include an ongoing assessment of whether services are effective in enhancing protective capacities and changing behaviors.

Behavioral case plans:
  • — Directly and explicitly link to the safety assessment and identified safety threats and high risks;
  • — Clearly explain what needs to change in order for the children to be safe, in behavioral terms that families can fully understand;
  • — Identify specific interventions and actions to address and facilitate the changes in behavior necessary for children to be safe and to reduce high risk;
  • — Include an ongoing assessment of whether services are effective in enhancing protective capacities and changing behaviors;
  • — Consider the family’s self-identified strengths and leverage these to motivate and produce behavioral change; and
  • — Should be viewed by the family as achievable.

The desired behavioral changes indicate the positive behaviors or conditions that will result from the change.

List the Services to Help the Family for all parents, guardians, or custodians with a case plan goal of Remain with Family or Family Reunification when the Department determines that there exists a present or future risk of harm to any child in the family and services may mitigate that risk. Services must be tailored to meet the specific needs of the family, and include services for the out-of-home caregivers where appropriate, to prevent removal of the child and/or reunify the family. See Services and Supports to Achieve Permanency.

Describe the Child’s Needs, Supports and Services for children placed in out-of-home care to ensure that child's medical, educational, and psychological needs are addressed. Include the most recent information available regarding the child's needs and the identified services to address the needs.
  • Medical
    • Name and address of the child’s health care providers;
    • Record of child's immunizations;
    • Known medical problems;
    • Known medication; and
    • Health information.
  • Educational
    • Address of the child’s school;
    • Educational status including child’s grade level;
    • Academic performance;
    • Special education services if applicable;
    • Attendance; and
    • Relevant education information.
  • Psychological/ Behavioral Health
    • Name and address of the child's behavioral health care providers;
    • Behavioral health diagnosis;
    • Behavioral health medications; and
    • Behavioral health information.

For children age 14 years and older, document in the case plan developed with the youth:
  • The rights of the child to education, health, visitation, and court participation; and
  • The right to receive a credit report annually, if available, and to receive assistance resolving any inaccuracies.

Have the youth sign the Notice of Rights, which acknowledges that the child was provided their rights, and the rights were explained in an age-appropriate manner.

Describe Educational Stability for school-aged children placed in out-of-home care. School-aged children are entitled to remain in their original school even when they move to a foster placement in a different school district, to the extent feasible, unless it is against the parent or guardian wishes. When remaining in the original school is not feasible, the Department works with the school district to enroll the child in a new school to meet his/her education needs. See Education for Children in Out of Home Care.

Attach the most recent Key Issue case note regarding Educational Stability, which documents the following:
  • Efforts made to keep the child in his/her home school;
  • Why it is not in the child's best interest to remain in the home school;
  • Any delay in enrolling the child in school; and/ or
  • Any delay in transferring the child's educational records to the new school.

Designate Young Adult/ Independent Living for Children with a permanency goal of Independent Living. See Independent Living Services and Supports.

Describe the Visitation Plan for children placed in out-of-home care. See Services and Supports to Achieve Permanency.

Include the following information for children placed in Out-of-Home Care:
  • Services and supports provided to the out-of-home caregiver to help him/her meet the child's needs or, when applicable, achieve a concurrent permanency goal or goal other than family reunification;
  • Description of how the placement for the child is in the least restrictive (most family-like) setting available;
  • Document that the placement has been provided the Out of Home Care Provider Statement of Understanding, which contains information about the "reasonable and prudent parent" standard.
  • Description of how the placement is in close proximity to the home of the parent(s) when the case plan goal is reunification;
  • How at least one of the child's caregivers speaks the same language as the child; and
  • Description of how the placement is consistent with the best interests and special needs of the child.

For children with a permanency goal or concurrent goal of Adoption, include actions taken to identify an adoptive family. See Selecting the Adoptive Family.

Case Plan Staffing
Engage the parent, guardian, custodian, and, if applicable, child in the shared planning process to develop a family-specific case plan focused on the identified goal(s), safety threats, risk factors, and child specific needs and services. Work in partnership with families, natural supports, and providers to identify the family’s strengths and needs in order to achieve safety, permanency, and well-being.

Schedule the case plan staffing around the needs of parents, out-of-home care providers, and children.

Invite the following service team members to participate in the case plan staffing:
  • Parents;
  • Child, if age 12 years or older (See Notice of Rights for Children and Youth in Foster Care, CSO-1141);
  • Extended family members;
  • Out-of-home care provider;
  • Licensing worker of out-of-home care provider;
  • Service providers working with the family, such as the parent aide;
  • Tribal social service representative;
  • Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA);
  • Child's and/or parent's Regional Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA) case manager;
  • Child's attorney and/or guardian ad-litem;
  • Parent's attorney and/or guardian ad-litem; and
  • Assistant Attorney General assigned to the case.

Inform youth who are age 14 years or older that they may invite two individuals selected by the child who are not the DCS Specialist or the foster parent to the case plan staffing. It is permissible to reject an individual selected by a youth to be a member of the case planning team at any time if there is good cause to believe that the individual would not act in the best interests of the child. One individual selected by a youth to be a member of the child’s case planning team may be designated to be the child’s adviser and, as necessary, advocate, with respect to the application of the reasonable and prudent parent standard to the child.

Invitees may also include:
  • Other significant individuals with whom the child may be placed or who have knowledge of or an interest in the welfare of the child;
  • DCS Specialist 's supervisor;
  • School personnel;
  • Law enforcement personnel including probation and parole officers; and
  • Other DCS personnel or contracted staff.

Inform service team members who cannot attend in person to the case plan staffing that they may provide a written report, a verbal report, or participate by conference call.

Review and discuss all components of the case plan. Ensure that the reasonable and prudent parent standard is discussed, and that the case plan includes information of each child's opportunity to regularly participate in age or developmentally appropriate activities.

Provide a copy of the case plan to all members of family and the service team, whether or not they attend the case plan staffing within 5 days of completing the case plan staffing.

Reassessment of Case Plan
Review the case plan during the case plan staffing at least every six months, and when there is a change in permanency goal or when there is a significant change in family circumstances to determine whether:
  • Service(s) successfully addressed the identified safety or risk factors;
  • The same service(s) or intervention(s) shall be continued for a specified period of time;
  • Service(s) or intervention(s) shall be changed; or
  • No available service or intervention will enable the parent to adequately address the safety or risk factors within a time frame that meets the needs of the child, and a change in permanency goal should be considered.

Allow the family and involved professionals to have the opportunity to contribute to the revision of the case plan. Facilitate open communication regarding goals, services, and expectations documented in the case plan.

Assess the progress made to address the concerns identified in the last CSRA or C-CSRA, and complete a C-CSRA at the time of case plan reassessment. Use information gathered through written reports or evaluations and during contacts with the parents, the child, extended family members, the out- of-home provider, and other service team members to determine the revisions to be made to the case plan.

Provide a copy of the revised case plan to all members of the family and service team within 5 days of the case plan staffing being completed.

Confirm services have been initiated as scheduled, and are addressing the needs of the family.

Document the Case Plan Agreement for all case plans. The signature sheet is an acknowledgment that the CSS reviewed the case plan with the family and participants.
Ask the parties in attendance at the case plan staffing to sign the case plan agreement, and note whether they agree or disagree with the plan. Regardless of the participants' response, the signed agreement is considered the permanent plan for services and supports toward the case plan goal.






 Chapter 3: Section 2.1
Selecting the Permanency Goal
Policy
For cases with court involvement, the Department shall specify a permanency goal in the child's case plan and submit to the court for approval. For cases without court involvement, the Department shall specify the permanency goal, as agreed upon by the family and service team members, in the child’s case plan.

The Department's preference for selecting the permanency goal shall be as follows, unless the court finds that aggravating circumstances exist:
  • Remain with Family;
  • Family Reunification;
  • Adoption;
  • Permanent Guardianship;
  • Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA); goal options include:
  • Independent Living; and
  • Long Term Foster Care

For children receiving out-of-home care services, the initial case plan goal shall be Family Reunification unless aggravating circumstances, or other compelling reasons to refrain from pursuing Family Reunification, exist. The Department shall seek to reunify families when the parent has successfully addressed safety threats and/or mitigated risk factors that prevented the parent, guardian, or custodian from caring for the child safely without the Department's involvement.

The Department shall recommend to the court that the permanency goal be changed from Family Reunification to another option and that reasonable efforts to reunify the family not be provided when a case plan staffing determines that:
  • Reunification services are contrary to the child's best interests;
  • Aggravating circumstances exist; or
  • No available services or interventions will enable the family to address the safety and risk factors that prevent the child from living safely at home within a time frame that meets the needs of the child.

Aggravating circumstances relieving the Department of efforts to provide reunification services to the child and child's parent(s) include the following:
  • The child previously was removed, adjudicated dependent due to physical or sexual abuse and, after the adjudication, the child was returned to the parent or guardian and then removed within eighteen months due to additional neglect or abuse;
  • A party to the action provides a verified affidavit that states that a reasonably diligent search failed to identify and locate the parent within three months after the filing of the dependency petition or the parent has expressed no interest in reunification with the child for at least three months after the filing of the dependency petition;
  • The parent or guardian is suffering from a mental illness or mental deficiency of such magnitude that it renders the parent or guardian incapable of benefiting from the reunification services. This finding shall be based on competent evidence from a psychologist or physician that establishes that, even with the provision of reunification services, the parent or guardian is unlikely to be capable of adequately caring for the child within twelve months after the date of the child's removal from the home;
  • The parent or guardian:
    • Committed an act that constitutes a dangerous crime against children as defined in A.R.S. § 13-705; or
    • Caused a child to suffer serious physical injury or emotional injury; or
    • The parent or guardian knew or reasonably should have known that another person committed an act that constitutes a dangerous crime against children as defined in A.R.S. § 13-705; or
    • Caused a child to suffer serious physical injury or emotional injury;
  • The parent's rights to another child have been terminated, the parent has not successfully addressed the issues that led to the termination, and the parent is unable to discharge his/her parental responsibilities;
  • After a finding that the child is dependent:
    • The child has been removed from the parent on at least two previous occasions;
    • Reunification services were offered or provided to the parent/guardian after removal; and
    • The parent/guardian is unable to discharge parental responsibilities;
  • The parent or guardian of a child has been convicted of:
    • A dangerous crime against children as defined in A.R.S. § 13-705; or
    • Murder or manslaughter of a child; or
    • Sexual abuse, sexual assault or molestation of a child; or
    • Sexual conduct with a minor; or
    • Commercial sexual exploitation of a minor; or
    • Sexual exploitation of a minor; or
    • Luring a minor for sexual exploitation; or
    • The parent or guardian of a child has been convicted of aiding or abetting or attempting, conspiring or soliciting to commit any of the crimes listed directly above.

APPLA as the permanency goal may only be considered for children age 16 years and older and when family reunification, adoption, or permanent guardianship have been actively pursued by the Department and the goal is not attainable prior to the child reaching the age of majority.

The Department shall not change the permanency goal previously approved by the court or discontinue reunification services unless ordered by the court. Pending court approval of a change in the case plan goal, the Department shall increase efforts to implement the concurrent plan. See Concurrent Planning.

Procedures
Selecting the Permanency Goal
Select a permanency goal consistent with the Department's preferences (as listed in Policy), the needs of the child, and aggravating circumstances. Consider any specific directions from the court, and input from the parents, guardians or custodians, and child (age 12 years or older) and other service team members.

When selecting the permanency goal for the child, seek to maintain and support the child's relationship to his or her biological parents, extended family members, and other individuals with whom the child has an emotional attachment.

Aggravating Circumstances
Consult with a supervisor and the Assistant Attorney General to determine if there is sufficient documentation to recommend that the court relieve the Department of providing reunification services.

If certain aggravating circumstances are present the court may, after a hearing, relieve the Department of its duty to provide reunification services. If the court finds reunification services are not required, the court shall order an appropriate case plan and enter orders as necessary to achieve the case plan goal.

Compelling Reasons
Document a Compelling Reason why terminating the parent’s rights is not in the child's best interest and the permanency goal will not be changed when:
  • The child is a ward of the court; and
  • Committed to the care, custody, and control of the Department and has been in out-of-home care for a cumulative total period of 15 of the most recent 22 months; and
  • The Department concludes that termination of parental rights (TPR) is not in the child's best interest. The compelling reason must explain why TPR is not required or is not in the child’s best interest, such as:
    • The child does not consent to adoption,
    • The permanency goal is permanent guardianship, which does not require TPR, or
    • The parent is terminally ill.

Remain with Family as the Permanency Goal
Select a permanency goal of Remain with Family if the child is to stay with his/her family and the case is open for ongoing, in-home services. Determine if services can be provided through a voluntary relationship with the Department, if a petition for In-Home Intervention is sufficient, or if an In Home Dependency petition must be filed.

See additional information regarding in home services and case planning:
  • Opening a Case For Services;
  • Voluntary In-Home Services;
  • In Home Intervention;
  • In Home Dependency Filing; and
  • In-Home Dependency Services.

Family Reunification as the Permanency Goal
Select a permanency goal of Family Reunification for children receiving out-of-home care services, unless aggravating circumstances exist. See Family Reunification Services.

Adoption as the Permanency Goal
Select a permanency goal of Adoption when all other permanency options (including remaining with the family) have been reviewed and:
  • The Court has determined the child to be an abandoned infant;
  • Aggravating circumstances exist;
  • The Court has relieved the Department of providing reunification services;
  • Family reunification is not in the child's best interest;
  • A child's parent substantially neglected or willfully refused to remedy the circumstances that caused the child to be in an out-of-home placement and the child has been a ward of the court, committed to the care, custody and control of the Department and has been in out-of-home care for:
    • Six (6) months for children under 3 years; or
    • Nine (9) months children 3 years or over
  • Child is a ward of the court, committed to the care, custody and control of the Department and has been in out-of-home care for a cumulative total period of 15 of the most recent 22 months, unless:
    • The Department did not comply with court ordered reasonable efforts by providing services that would enable the child to return home safety, or
    • There is a compelling reason that termination of parental rights is not in the child's best interest, and the reason is documented in the case plan.

Termination of parental rights either by consent (relinquishment) or by court order is necessary for every child in the care, custody and control of the Department who has a case plan goal of Adoption. See Terminating Parental Rights.

Permanent Guardianship as the Permanency Goal
Select a permanency goal of Permanent Guardianship when family reunification and adoption are unlikely and/or a compelling reason not to terminate parental rights exist. See Permanent Guardianship.

APPLA/Independent Living as the Permanency Goal
For children age 16 years old and older, select a permanency goal of Independent Living when family reunification, adoption, or permanent guardianship are not achievable prior to the child reaching the age of majority. A permanency goal of APPLA does not preclude the Department from providing services that will support family reunification or adoption. APPLA as a permanency goal shall not be recommended for children who have regular, unsupervised visitation with their parent(s). See Independent Living Services and Supports.

APPLA/Long Term Foster Care as the Permanency Goal
For children age 16 years and older, select a permanency goal of Long Term Foster Care only when family reunification, adoption, and permanent guardianship are not in the best interest of the child, the child is expected to remain in out-of-home care at least until the age of 18 years, and the current placement has made a commitment to continue as a permanent supportive adult in that child's life. See Long Term Foster Care

Continue to undertake efforts to place the child permanently with a parent, relative, or in a guardianship or adoptive placement. Communicate with the out-of-home caregiver to ensure that the caregiver follows the reasonable and prudent parent standard, and the child has regular opportunities to engage in age or developmentally appropriate activities. Document these activities at each 6-month periodic review hearing and permanency hearing.

Regional Program Administrator or Designee: Document approval of a Long Term Foster Care using the Case Note window.





Chapter 3: Section 2.2 Concurrent Planning
Policy
Concurrent permanency planning shall occur for all children in out-of-home care with a permanency goal of family reunification where the prognosis of achieving family reunification is unlikely to occur within 12 months of the child’s initial removal.

An assessment of the prognosis of family reunification shall be completed within 45 days of the child’s initial removal.

If there is a poor prognosis for reunification, a planned set of concurrent planning activities will be implemented to ensure that potential or identified alternate caregivers are prepared to care for the child on a permanent basis if needed. These concurrent planning activities will assist in selecting the final concurrent permanency goal.

Within six months of actively working with the family on both the reunification plan and concurrent planning activities, a final concurrent permanency goal must be established.

Procedures
Implementation
Ensure that a thorough Child Safety Assessment and Family Strengths and Risks Assessment have been completed. Review the family’s strengths, protective capacities, resources, and prognosis indicators. This information will be used to complete an assessment of the likelihood of family reunification.

Complete the Reunification Prognosis Assessment Guide for both parents no later than 45 days from the child's initial removal.

When the Reunification Prognosis Assessment Guide is completed and the prognosis of achieving family reunification is assessed as unlikely to occur within 12 months of the child’s initial removal, a planned set of concurrent planning activities will be implemented to ensure:
  • identification and assessment of potential caregivers;
  • placement of the child with suitable caregivers; and
  • that the caregivers are prepared to care for the child on a permanent basis if needed.

At critical decision points in the life of the case (initial and subsequent case plan staffings; progress review, case plan reassessment, etc.), discuss and stress the importance of permanency with the parents, and inform the parents:
  • of all available alternatives to achieve permanency for the child, including family reunification through successful change in behaviors or conditions that caused the child to be unsafe or at risk of future maltreatment; consent to adoption; consent to guardianship; and adoption through termination of parental rights;
  • that if significant progress toward the behavioral changes listed in the case plan is not made by the time of the Permanency Hearing, the Department may recommend, or the court may order the permanency goal be changed from family reunification to another permanency goal, such as adoption, permanent guardianship, or independent living as another planned permanent living arrangement.

As appropriate considering the child's age and developmental capacity, and for all children age 12 or older, at critical decision points in the life of the case (initial and subsequent case plan staffings; progress review; case plan reassessment; etc.) ensure the child is:
  • informed of his/her role and rights in participating in the case plan and court proceedings;
  • informed about the Department's goal of achieving permanency for the child in a safe home;
  • informed of all available alternatives to achieve permanency for the child, including family reunification through the parent’s successful change in behaviors or conditions that caused the child to be unsafe or at risk of future maltreatment; consent to adoption; consent to guardianship; and adoption through termination of parental rights;
  • made aware that individualized services addressing the reasons for child protective involvement are made available to families;
  • informed about their parents' activities and progress toward reunification, unless returning home is not a possibility;
  • helped to identify significant adults with whom relationships should be maintained; and
  • encouraged to maintain optimal contact with the birth family and kin, or others with whom the child has a close relationship. It will be up to the DCS Specialist and the child to determine what optimal connection with their birth family will look like including frequency of visits; visitation on special occasions; letter writing and sharing of pictures; e-mailing; etc.

Encourage the participation of parents, children, and, when appropriate, extended family members in the concurrent permanency planning process.

Once a need for concurrent permanency plan has been identified, the DCS Specialist will:
  • simultaneously and actively pursue the Family Reunification plan; and
  • implement a planned set of concurrent planning activities including:
  • interviewing the child, parents, grandparents, other extended family members and other persons who have a significant relationship with the child to identify potential permanent caregivers for the child;
  • assess potential caregivers for the child by completing the assessment procedures in Kinship Care;
  • ensure that all potential caregivers and all adult household members are fingerprinted for a criminal records check;
  • ensure that a Central Registry check is completed on all potential caregivers and all adult household members;
  • ensure that the identified caregivers are aware of the need for concurrent planning and the child’s need for a permanent placement in the event that reunification is not achieved;
  • transition the child into the home of the identified caregivers if the child is not already placed;
  • encourage the caregivers to pursue foster home licensing;
  • provide services to support the child’s placement with the caregivers; and
  • if a potential caregiver(s) has not been identified, complete an exhaustive search for such a home, following the procedures as outlined in Finding Missing Parents and Families Also see, Relative Search Best Practice Guide for best practice options; if available in your area, consider convening a family meeting such as TDM, FGDM, CFT, etc.;
  • if a potential permanent caregiver is located out-of-state, initiate the home study process via ICPC;
  • if an exhaustive search for potential permanent caregivers has been completed and no potential placement has been identified, or all identified potential caregivers have been ruled out, consider placement of the child with other resource families who:
    • are willing to work toward reunification, and
    • if necessary, provide a permanent home for the child if reunification is not achieved.

When the identity and whereabouts of the parents are known, provide written notification of the concurrent planning activities to the parents. If the parents were not available or missing, a copy of the case plan including concurrent planning activities should be provided to the parent’s attorney and to the parents at the earliest opportunity. If the child is subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act, provide a copy of the plan to the child’s and parent’s tribe, and the child’s Indian custodian.

The identification and assessment of alternate caregivers for a concurrent case plan of adoption shall only include individuals with whom the permanency plan of adoption can be finalized.

During contacts with the parent, continue to:
  • stress the importance of permanency for the child;
  • discuss all available alternatives to achieve permanency for the child, including family reunification through successful participation in services, consent to adoption, consent to guardianship, and adoption through termination of parental rights; and
  • review progress toward the behavioral changes listed in the case plan.

Consider a progress review of the services and supports to achieve reunification every three months. Modify the services and supports with the parent as necessary.

Within six months of actively working with the family on both the reunification plan and concurrent planning activities, a final concurrent permanency goal must be established.

Based on the circumstances of the case and consistent with the child’s best interests, select the concurrent permanency goal as follows:
  • adoption;
  • permanent guardianship; may only be selected as concurrent permanency goal when:
    • adoption is remote or termination of parental rights is not in the child’s best interests;
    • adoption has been fully explored and ruled-out; and
    • the Program Manager has reviewed and approved this concurrent permanency plan;
  • Independent Living may only be selected as a concurrent permanency plan when:
  • adoption has been fully explored and ruled-out;
  • permanent guardianship has been fully explored and ruled-out; and
  • the Regional Program Administrator or designee has reviewed and approved this concurrent permanency plan.
At critical decision points in the life of the case (each case plan staffing; progress review; case plan reassessment; etc.), reassess the prognosis for successfully achieving family reunification using Reunification Prognosis Assessment Guide, review and revise as needed the concurrent permanency plan and the related services and supports.

When the identity and whereabouts of the parents are known, provide written notification of the concurrent case plan to the parents. If the parents were not available or missing, a copy of the case plan including concurrent planning activities should be provided to the parent’s attorney and to the parents at the earliest opportunity.

Documentation
Using the Case Notes window, document discussions with each parent and child regarding the importance of permanency, the available alternatives to achieve permanency, and the possibility the permanency goal may change if significant progress toward the behavioral changes is not made by the time of the Permanency Hearing.

When a concurrent goal is identified, document the concurrent permanency goal for each child using the Case Planning Permanency Goal tab of the Child Safety Assessment, Family Strengths and Risks Assessment and Case Planning Process in CHILDS.

Document the concurrent planning activities (supports and services) to support the concurrent permanency plan using the Child(ren) Needs tab, Concurrent Goal in the Child Safety Assessment, Family Strengths and Risks Assessment and Case Planning Process in CHILDS.

Document the reassessment and any modifications to the concurrent planning activities (supports and services) for the concurrent case plan using the Progress Review section of the Child Safety Assessment, Family Strengths and Risks Assessment and Case Planning Process in CHILDS.

Document written notification to the parents of the concurrent permanency plan by obtaining their signature on the Case Plan Agreement page of the case plan and/or by filing a copy of the written correspondence to the parents in the hard copy case record.

Document the search for a potential permanent kinship foster family home as described in Finding Missing Parents, Relatives and Other Significant Persons.

Document the assessment of a potential permanent kinship foster family home as described in Providing Kinship Care Services.

DCS Supervisor:
Document the review and approval of the initial and subsequent assessments of the prognosis for achieving family reunification using theReunification Prognosis Assessment Guide



 

Effective Date: November 30, 2012

Revision History: