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

Date: February 2021

Cross-Reporting Between Child Protective Services and Law Enforcement

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 37-1-403(c)(1); 37-1-405(a), (b)(1)-(2); 37-1-605(b)(2)

If a law enforcement official or judge becomes aware of known or suspected child abuse through personal knowledge, receipt of a report, or otherwise, such information shall be reported to the Department of Children's Services (DCS) immediately and, where appropriate, the child protective team shall be notified to investigate the report for the protection of the child in accordance with the provisions of this part. Further criminal investigation by such officials shall be conducted appropriately in coordination with the team or DCS to the maximum extent possible.

All cases reported to the juvenile court judge or to State or local law enforcement officers shall be referred immediately to the local director of the DCS county office for investigation.

If the court or law enforcement officer finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child is suffering from illness or injury or is in immediate danger from the child's surroundings and that the child's removal is necessary, appropriate protective action shall be taken.

The DCS county office or the office of the sheriff or the chief law enforcement official of the municipality where the child resides, upon receipt of a report of harm or sexual abuse, shall give notice of the report to the judge having juvenile jurisdiction where the child resides.

If the case appears to involve severe child abuse, including child sexual abuse, the county director of DCS immediately shall notify and consult with the district attorney general where the harm occurred, and the district attorney general may take such action as the district attorney general deems appropriate, including petitioning the court for removal of the child or termination of parental rights.

Other Reporting Requirements

Citation: Admin. Pol. & Proc., § 16.24

DCS shall comply with all rules, regulations, and laws governing the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and make a diligent effort to identify those children/youth and families subject to the act. ICWA requires that cases involving Native American children be heard in Tribal courts if possible and permits a child's Tribe to be involved in State court proceedings.

If, during the first initial contact with the child or family, there is reason to believe that a child or family is Native American heritage, verification of the child or family's status must be confirmed with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and the affiliated Tribe. If it is believed or confirmed that the child or parents are Native American, but the Tribe or registration information is not known, Tribal affiliation must be determined.

Whenever a confirmed Native American child is removed from the physical custody of the child's parent or Native American custodians pursuant to the emergency removal or custody provisions of State law, DCS shall immediately confirm the address and Tribe, if available, of the child.

When a court order authorizing continued emergency physical custody, the petition for that order shall be accompanied by an affidavit containing the following information:

  • The name, age, and last known address of the Native American child
  • The name and address of the child's parents and Native American custodians, if any
  • If such persons are unknown, a detailed explanation of what efforts have been made to locate them
  • The facts necessary to determine the residence of the Native American child and whether the residence is on a Native American reservation
  • If the residence is believed to be on a Native American reservation, the name of the reservation
  • The Tribal affiliation of the child, parents, and/or Native American custodians
  • A specific and detailed account of the circumstances that led to emergency removal of the child
  • If the child is believed to reside on a reservation where the Tribe exercises exclusive jurisdiction over child custody matters, a statement of efforts that have been made and are being made to transfer the child to the Tribe's jurisdiction
  • A statement of the specific actions that have been taken to assist the parents or Native American custodians so the child may safely be returned to their custody

If the Native American child is not returned to the parents or Native American custodians or jurisdiction is not transferred to the Tribe, DCS must promptly commence a State court proceeding for foster care placement. If the child resides on a reservation where the Tribe exercises exclusive jurisdiction over child custody matters, such placement must terminate as soon as the imminent physical damage or harm to the child that resulted in the emergency removal no longer exists or as soon as the Tribe exercises jurisdiction over the case€”whichever is earlier.