Cross-Reporting Among Agencies That Respond to Child Abuse and Neglect - Montana

Date: February 2021

Cross-Reporting Between Child Protective Services and Law Enforcement

Citation: Ann. Code § 41-3-202(1)

Upon receipt of a report that a child is or has been abused or neglected, the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) promptly shall assess the information contained in the report and make a determination regarding the level of response required and the timeframe within which action must be initiated.

Upon receipt of a report that includes an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation or if DPHHS determines during any investigation that the circumstances surrounding an allegation of child abuse or neglect include an allegation of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation, DPHHS immediately shall report the allegation to the county attorney of the county in which the acts that are the subject of the report occurred.

If DPHHS determines that an investigation is required, a social worker, the county attorney, or a peace officer promptly shall conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the allegations of abuse or neglect of the child.

Other Reporting Requirements

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 41-3-205; 41-3-109; CFSD Pol. Man. § 305-1

Records, including case notes, correspondence, evaluations, videotapes, and interviews, unless otherwise protected by this section or unless disclosure of the records is determined to be detrimental to the child or harmful to another person who is a subject of information contained in the records, may be disclosed to a department, agency, or organization, including a Federal agency, military enclave, or Indian Tribal organization, that is legally authorized to receive, inspect, or investigate reports of child abuse or neglect and that otherwise meets the disclosure criteria contained in this section.

If a proceeding under this chapter involves an Indian child, as defined in the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), the proceeding is subject to the provisions of ICWA.

In policy: When the Child and Family Services Division takes custody of an Indian child in an involuntary proceeding, the child protection specialist should contact the social services director of the Tribe(s) where the child may be enrolled to alert the Tribal staff that a notice of proceedings has been (or will be) sent on the child and to discuss the child's situation, including custody status, reason for court action, and all pertinent information regarding the child's need for care. The child protection specialist should request assistance for identifying an appropriate placement for the child in accordance with the ICWA.

Either parent, the Indian custodian, and the Indian child's Tribe(s) have the right to intervene and participate in the proceeding. If the Tribe requests intervention, the Tribe's designated representative shall be allowed to fully participate in staff discussions regarding the child's placement and case plan. All proposed plans developed without the designated representative being personally present shall be shared with the Tribe's designated representative prior to implementation by DPHHS staff unless an emergency placement is required.

An ICWA transfer of jurisdiction by an Indian Tribe means specifically that the respective Tribal court assumes all legal authority of the child protection case as well as the accountability and responsibility for the direct social work case management and record keeping. DPHHS will transfer the entire case file, including all case notes, to Tribal authorities upon receipt of a district court order granting the transfer of jurisdiction. Following transfer to Tribal jurisdiction, the case should be closed.