a) DEFINITION | b) TAKING A REPORT | c) INVESTIGATING A REPORT
Allegation of Harm #10/60
Substantial risk of physical injury means that the parent, caregiver immediate family member, other person residing in the home, or the parent's paramour has created a REAL AND SIGNIFICANT DANGER of physical injury which would likely cause disfigurement, death or impairment of physical health or loss or impairment of bodily functions. (ABUSE)
This allegation of harm is to be used when the type or extent of harm is undefined but the total circumstances lead a reasonable person to believe that the child is in substantial risk of physical injury. This allegation of harm also includes incidents of violence or intimidation directed toward the child which have not yet resulted in injury or impairment but which clearly threaten such injury or impairment (ABUSE); or placing a child in an environment which is injurious to their health and welfare. (NEGLECT)
NOTE: If, during the course of the investigation, a specific allegation of harm is identified, the appropriate allegation shall be added and a determination made on all of the allegations. If another allegation is determined to be more appropriate, that allegation should be utilized and the risk unfounded.
NOTE: NEGLECT STATEMENT
If, during the course of the investigation, a specific allegation of harm is identified, the appropriate allegation shall be added and a determination made on all the allegations. If the living circumstances of the family lead the investigator to consider temporary protective custody, the Allegation #76 (Inadequate Food), #77 (Inadequate Shelter), #78 (Inadequate Clothing) or #82 (Environmental Neglect) must be added and a determination made as to whether services to meet these basic needs will alleviate the need for temporary protective custody.
Examples of incidents or circumstances that place a child at substantial risk of physical injury include, but are not limited to, the following:
Incidents of Maltreatment
· Choking the child. (ABUSE)
· Smothering the child. (ABUSE)
· Pulling the child's hair out. (ABUSE)
· Violently pushing or shoving the child into fixed or heavy objects. (ABUSE)
· Throwing or shaking a smaller child. (ABUSE)
· Other violent or intimidating acts directed toward the child that cause excessive pain or fear. (ABUSE)
· Situations that place a child at substantial risk of harm due to an injurious environment in the home. (NEGLECT)
Note: A specific incident must be specified and meet the real and significant danger criteria.
· Domestic violence in the home when the child's health or safety has been threatened, as evidenced by a past history of violence, or uncontrolled behavior. (NEGLECT)
· A perpetrator of child abuse who has been court ordered to remain out of the home returns home and has access to the abused child. (ABUSE)
· Anyone living in the home has a documented history of violence toward children.
· The circumstances surrounding the death of one child provides reason to believe that another child is at real and significant danger of physical injury. (NEGLECT)
· Anyone in the home exposes the child to an environment which significantly affects the health and safety based on the use, sale or manufacturing of illegal drugs. (NEGLECT)
· Parent's or caretaker's or anyone in the home whose mental illness and behavior pose a significant danger to the child's health and safety. (NEGLECT) To indicate an allegation based on this factor, the investigator must rule out Dependency as defined in the Juvenile Court Act as the presenting problem.
· A court has adjudicated a parent unfit and the parent has not completed services which would correct the conditions which led to the court finding.
INCIDENTS OR CIRCUMSTANCES THAT IN AND OF THEMSELVES DO NOT CONSTITUTE RISK OF HARM
Failure to follow a service plan does not in and of itself constitute an allegation of Substantial Risk.
· Use of physical corporal punishment in and of itself does not constitute an allegation of Substantial Risk.
· Birth of baby to families involved with the Department does not in and of itself constitute a significant risk of harm or the presence of a real and significant danger.
1) Acceptable Reporter/Source
Any person who has reason to believe that a child is at substantial risk of physical injury may be the Reporter/Source of a CA/N report.
The Reporter/Source must have reason to believe that the incident/circumstances, which create the risk of harm, resulted from the following:
A) A direct action of the parent, caregiver, immediate family member, other person residing in the home, the parent's paramour, or other person responsible for the child's welfare. (ABUSE)
B) The failure of the parent, caregiver, immediate family member, other person residing in the home, the parent's paramour, or other person responsible for the child's welfare to make reasonable efforts to stop an action by another person which resulted in substantial risk of harm to the child. (ABUSE)
C) Placing a child in an environment that is injurious to their health and welfare. (NEGLECT)
3) Factors to Be Considered
Whether there is real and significant danger sufficient to justify the taking of a report is determined by the following factors (All factors need not be present to justify taking the report. One factor alone may present sufficient danger to justify taking the report):
A) The child's age
B) The child's medical condition, behavioral, mental or emotional problems, developmental disability, or physical handicap, particularly as it relates to his or her ability to protect himself or herself.
C) The severity of the occurrence.
D) The frequency of the occurrence.
E) The alleged perpetrator's physical, mental and/or emotional abilities, particularly as it relates to his or her ability to control his or her actions.
F) The dynamics of the relationship between the household members and the child.
G) The alleged perpetrator's access to the child.
H) The previous history of indicated abuse or neglect.
I) The current stresses/crisis in the home.
J) The presence of other supporting persons in the home.
Note: The narrative of the CANTS I must document the real and significant danger which has been identified to justify the taking of the report as well as the factors that have a bearing on the decision.
1) Required Documentation/Evidence to Support Finding
A) Secure evidence that a person responsible for a child's welfare has created a real and significant danger of physical harm which is likely to cause death, disfigurement, impairment of physical or emotional health, or loss or impairment of any bodily function. Or, evidence that incidents of violence or intimidation have been directed toward the child which have not yet resulted in injury or impairment but which clearly threaten such injury or impairment; or placing a child in an environment which is injurious to their health and welfare. (NEGLECT) The specific incident or set of circumstances that created the risk must be documented along with a justification that the incident rose to the level of substantial risk. If sufficient evidence is present apply "Factors To Be Considered".
B) If previous investigations are used to support current finding, the files must be read to insure evidentiary value.
C) If police have conducted an investigation, the final finding must be obtained and documented. If the police report is not available, a case note must be included indicating the report has been requested along with documentation of the verbal statements. The supervisor must review the police report when it is received to ensure findings do not conflict with previously documented information received verbally.
D) Apply and document the application of the "Factors to Be Considered". Each factor should be assessed as to relevance to the specific case and that assessment should be documented on a SACWIS Case Note or other form designed for this purpose.
E) Waiver of any of the above must be given by the supervisor and documented on a SACWIS Case Note
2) Requirements for Initial Investigation
A) Data check, LEADS check, and Soundex of household members and other subjects regularly frequenting or living in the home.
B) Thoroughly read and review prior investigations.
C) Interview reporter, source and OPWI identified in the current report or related information.
D) In person, individual interview with alleged child victim(s) and completion of CERAP.
E) In person or phone interview with law enforcement, if police have had contact on current report. This contact is to help establish the need to move to formal investigation phase.
F) Interview DCFS or private agency caseworker if a service case is currently open.
G) In person, individual interview with parent/caretakers. Parents should be contacted on the same day as contact with child victim(s) if at all possible. If CERAP is marked unsafe, parents must be interviewed immediately to ensure the child's safety, and the formal investigation must be commenced.
H) Interview alleged perpetrator either in person or by phone.
I) Notify Guardian ad litem if alleged child victim is DCFS ward or ward of the court (e.g., a child home with a parent under an order of protection).
J) Waiver of any of the above contacts must be given by the supervisor and documented on a SACWIS Case Note.
K) Household members substance abuse.
3) Requirements for Proceeding to Formal Investigation
A) A formal investigation must be commenced if:
i) the CERAP is marked unsafe; or
ii) there is a determination that the child victim may have been placed in a situation which would lead a reasonable person to suspect that the child is in substantial risk of physical injury or in an environment which is injurious to their health and welfare; and
iii) the alleged victim is under the age of 18.
B) Apply "Factors to be Considered" to determine if sufficient reasonable cause exists to move to a formal investigation.
C) The decision to proceed to a formal investigation must be made within 14 days from the receipt of the report and documented on a SACWIS Case Note. Because the nature of DCFS investigations is intrusive to families, careful consideration should be given as to the necessity to move to a formal investigation. The use of corporal punishment in and of itself does not constitute the basis for investigation.
4) Requirements for Formal Investigation
A) In person, individual interview with parents/caretakers.
B) In person, individual interview with alleged perpetrators.
C) In person, individual interview with all other adults and verbal children of the victim's household. Non-verbal children must be observed.
D) In person, individual interview with all other adults and verbal children of the perpetrator's household. Non-verbal children must be observed.
E) Observation of environment where maltreatment occurred.
F) Interview physicians directly involved with the treatment of the reported incident.
G) Interview all identified witnesses who are reported to have knowledge of the incident.
H) If the family or the subjects identify two or more possible collateral contacts, at least two must be interviewed either by phone or in person. This includes character witnesses.
I) Interview DCFS or private agency caseworker if service case is currently closed but has been open within the past two years.
J) Interview other community professionals who have first hand knowledge of the incident or circumstances that created the substantial risk.
K) For children 12 and under, interview school teacher or child care provider who has knowledge of the child and/or the level of care provided to the child.
L) Interview primary care physician or physician who has seen the victim within the past six months if past history of maltreatment is alleged.
M) Interview child protective services in other states in which the family members have resided in the previous five years. If history of maltreatment is uncovered, attempts must be made to gather abuse/neglect history for an additional five years.
N) Waiver of any of the above contacts must be given by the supervisor and documented on a SACWIS Case Note.
5) Required Medical Information and/or Consultations
A) Workers must ensure that the child victim receives an immediate medical exam if evidence exists the child is in need of urgent medical care.
B) Medical records of current treatment/diagnosis and relevant past treatment.
C) Clinical consultation to match potential risk with a potential cause (etiology) if nature of the potential harm is unknown or contested.
6) Law Enforcement/State's Attorney Notification and Involvement
A) The State's Attorney shall be notified if the child is taken into protective custody or when the alleged perpetrator is a paramour.
B) The State's Attorney shall be notified if the current report constitutes a second, or more, indicated report of abuse.
7) Assessment of "Factors to Be Considered" to Support Case Finding
A) What are the ages of the involved children?
B) Does the victim have a medical condition; behavioral, mental or emotional problem; or disability or handicap which impacts on his or her ability to seek help or herself or significantly increases the caretaker's stress level?
C) Is there a pattern of similar instances with this child or other children for whom the caretaker has been responsible?
D) What is the severity of the incident?
E) What is the location of potential harm? Corporal punishment does not in and of itself constitute abuse.
F) Was an instrument used on the victim? (The use of an instrument does not in and of itself constitute an indicated finding but must be considered with other factors.)
G) Is there a previous history of abuse and/or neglect? The history shall be verifiable through official record documentation or substantial corroboration by other credible sources.
H) What dynamics are present between the victim and the parent? (Identify the child's level of fear of the caretaker. Does the caretaker appear to be concerned about the child's welfare and protection? Is there an appropriate parent-child relationship?
I) What is the level of stress/crisis in the home? (Is there a positive home environment or is the environment chaotic?)
J) Is an appropriate support system in place for the victim and the caretakers? Are there supportive people in the home?
K) Domestic Violence:
i) History of past incidents of domestic violence.
ii) Nature of domestic violence (yelling and screaming vs. physical contact or injury).
iii) Use of weapons.
iv) Level of involvement of kids (i.e., present, attempting to intervene, out of immediate area).
v) Ability of the victim of domestic violence to use a support system.
L) Information Concerning Mental Health Issues
i) Presence of or nature of clinical diagnosis.
ii) Is the nature of the illness such that medication controls inappropriate or harmful behaviors? If so, what is the level of medication compliance?
iii) Hallucinations or delusions which negatively involve the child and/or caretakers ability to provide minimum care.
iv) History of psychiatric hospitalizations.
v) Treatment and treatment compliance history.
vi) Assessment of parenting ability based on past parenting history.
M) Caretaker's or other household members substance misuse.
8) Notification of Findings
A) Verbally notify the family of the recommended finding.
B) Verbally notify the mandated reporter of the recommended finding.
C) With parental consent, notify collateral contacts that were interviewed if the case is unfounded.
D) For indicated cases, notify the Guardian ad Litem if the victim is a DCFS ward or a ward of the court (e.g., a child home with a parent under an order of protection).