a) DEFINITION | b) TAKING A REPORT | c) INVESTIGATING A REPORT
Allegation of Harm #82
The child's person, clothing, or living conditions are unsanitary to the point the child's health may be impaired. This may include infestations of rodents, spiders, insects, snakes, etc., human or animal feces, rotten or spoiled food or rotten or spoiled garbage that the child can reach.
1) Acceptable Reporter/Source
Any person who has reason to believe that a child is living in conditions as defined in section (a) above and that the conditions may be a threat to the child's health may be the Reporter or Source of a CA/N report.
The Reporter/Source has reason to believe that the child is living in the conditions defined in section (a) as the result of disregard of duty or negligence on the part of the child's parent, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child's welfare. (NEGLECT)
3) Factors to Be Considered
A) Child Factors
i) Child's age.
ii) Child's developmental stage.
iii) Child's physical condition.
iv) Child's mental abilities.
B) Incident Factors
i) Severity of conditions.
ii) Frequency of the conditions.
iii) Duration of the conditions.
iv) Chronicity or pattern of similar conditions.
1) Documentation/Evidence Needed to Indicate
A) Documented observations and/or photographs that demonstrate that a child's person, clothing or living conditions are unsanitary to the point that the child's health may be impaired.
B) Specific and thorough identification and documentation of environmental issues which pose harm or significant risk of harm to the child as well as documentation of the parent's disregard and/or failure to correct the situation.
C) Detailed explanatory statements of the victim, perpetrator, witnesses, and any other person with knowledge of the condition have been obtained.
D) 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 Police report when it is received to ensure findings do not conflict with previously documented information received verbally.
E) Apply and document the application of the "factor 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.
F) 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 and Soundex of members of the family 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), assessment of physical condition, and completion of CERAP.
E) Observation of the environment that poses a risk to the child.
F) Interview DCFS or private agency caseworker if a service case is currently open.
G) Contact parents, by phone or in person. 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) Contact alleged perpetrator either in person or by phone.
I) Notify Guardian ad Litem if alleged child victim is DCFS ward or a 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.
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 reasonable cause to suspect that the child victim is exposed to an environment that is unsanitary and /or unhealthy due the parent/caretaker's disregard or negligence; and
iii) the alleged victim is under the age of 18.
B) Apply "Factors to Be Considered" to determine if there is reasonable cause to suspect the environment is unsafe.
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.
4) Required Formal Investigation Interviews
A) In person, individual interview with parents/caretakers.
B) In person, individual interview with alleged offender.
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) Interview all identified witnesses who are reported to have knowledge of the condition of the environment.
F) 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.
G) Interview DCFS or private agency caseworker if service case is currently closed but has been open within the past two years.
H) Interview other community professionals who have first hand knowledge of the conditions leading to the report.
I) For children under the age of 12, interview school teacher or child care provider who has knowledge of the child and/or the level of care provided to the child.
J) Interview primary care physician or physician who has seen child in past six months.
K) 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.
L) Waiver of any of the above contacts must be given by the supervisor and documented on a SACWIS Case Note.
5) Required Medical Documentation and/or Consultations
The worker must ensure that the child receives an immediate medical examination if evidence exists that the child is in need of urgent medical care.
6) Law enforcement/State's Attorney Involvement or Notification
Notification of law enforcement and the State's Attorney is mandatory if protective custody is taken, or if the alleged perpetrator is a paramour.
7) Assessment of "Factors to Be Considered" to Support Case Finding
A) What age is the reported child(ren)?
B) Does the child have a medical condition; behavioral, mental or emotional problem; or disability or handicap which impacts on their ability to seek help or significantly increases a caretakers stress level?
C) Is there a history of similar instances with this child or other children for whom the caretaker has been responsible?
D) What is the severity of the condition? (Identify specifics including infestation of rodents or insects, presence of human or animal feces, and/or presence of rotten or spoiled food and garbage.)
E) Is there a previous history of abuse and/or neglect? (More weight should be given to a documented history and DCFS files used as a basis for identifying history should be reviewed prior to being considered a factor. History described by subjects or collaterals should be viewed in the spirit and light it is presented. )
F) What dynamics are present between the child and the parent? (Identify the child's level of fear of the caretaker. Does the caretaker appear to be concerned about child's welfare and protective. Is there an appropriate parent-child relationship)
G) What is the level of stress/crisis in the home? (Is there a positive home environment or is the environment chaotic?)
H) Is an appropriate support system in place for the child and the caretakers? Are there supportive people in the home?
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) Notify the Guardian ad Litem of the investigative findings 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).