Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Alaska

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.17.020; 47.17.023

Mandated reporters shall report immediately when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has suffered harm as a result of abuse or neglect.

A person providing, either privately or commercially, film, photo, or visual or printed matter processing, production, or finishing services or computer installation, repair, or other services, or Internet or cellular telephone services who, in the process of providing those services, observes a film, photo, picture, computer file, image, or other matter and has reasonable cause to suspect that it visually depicts a child engaged in sexual conduct described in § 11.41.455(a) shall immediately report the observation, including all information known about the nature and origin of the film, photo, picture, computer file, image, or other matter.

Content of Reports

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.17.025

The department's written report shall include the following:

  • The names and addresses of the child and the child's parents or other persons responsible for the child's care, if known
  • The age and sex of the child
  • The nature and extent of harm to the child from abuse
  • The name, age, and address of the person believed to be responsible for the harm to the child
  • Information that may be helpful in establishing the identity of the person responsible for the abuse

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.17.024

A practitioner of the healing arts involved in the delivery or care of an infant who the practitioner determines has been adversely affected by, or is withdrawing from exposure to, a controlled substance or alcohol shall immediately notify the nearest office of the department of the infant's condition.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.17.020; 47.17.023

Reports of suspected abuse or neglect must be made to the Department of Health and Social Services. If the reporter cannot reasonably contact the nearest office of the department and immediate action is necessary for the well-being of the child, he or she shall make the report to a peace officer. The peace officer shall immediately take action to protect the child and shall, at the earliest opportunity, notify the nearest office of the department.

A person reporting suspected child pornography shall make his or her report immediately to the nearest law enforcement agency.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.17.020; 47.17.025; 47.17.030

The department shall immediately notify the nearest law enforcement agency when the following apply:

  • The department concludes that the harm was caused by a person who is not responsible for the child's welfare.
  • The department is unable to determine either of the following:
    • Who caused the harm to the child
    • Whether the person who is believed to have caused the harm has responsibility for the child's welfare
  • The department concludes that the report involves either of the following:
    • Possible criminal conduct
    • Abuse or neglect that results in the need for medical treatment of the child

A law enforcement agency shall immediately notify the department of the receipt of a report of harm to a child from abuse.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.17.030

The department may, upon receipt of the report, refer the matter to the appropriate health or social services agency if the child resides within the boundaries of a local government. For cases not referred to an agency of a local government, the department shall, for each report received, investigate and take any action, in accordance with law, that may be necessary to prevent further harm to the child or to ensure the proper care and protection of the child.

A local government health or social services agency receiving a report of harm shall, for each report received, investigate and take action, in accordance with law, that may be necessary to prevent further harm to the child or to ensure the proper care and protection of the child. In addition, the agency receiving a report of harm shall forward a copy of its report of the investigation, including information the department requires by regulation, to the department.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Alaska Stat. § 47.17.033

In investigating child abuse and neglect reports, the department may inquire about the criminal records of the parents or of the alleged abuser, including about the existence of a criminal history record involving a serious offense.

The investigation shall be conducted by a person trained to conduct a child abuse and neglect investigation and without subjecting a child to more than one interview about the abuse or neglect, except when new information is obtained that requires further information from the child. If additional interviews are necessary, the additional interviews shall be conducted, to the extent possible, by the same interviewer who conducted the initial interview of the child.

An interview of a child may be audiotaped or videotaped. If the interview concerns a report of sexual abuse of the child by a parent or caregiver, the interview shall be videotaped unless videotaping the interview is not feasible or will, in the opinion of the investigating agency, result in trauma to the child. An interview of a child that is audiotaped or videotaped shall be conducted by a person trained and competent to conduct the interview and conducted at a child advocacy center, if available.

During a joint investigation by the department and a law enforcement agency, the department shall coordinate an investigation of child abuse or neglect with the law enforcement agency to ensure that the possibility of a criminal charge is not compromised.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Alaska Stat. §§ 47.17.025

Upon receipt from any source of a report of harm to a child from abuse, the department shall notify the Department of Law, shall investigate the report and, within 72 hours of the receipt of the report, shall provide a written report of its investigation of the harm to a child from abuse to the Department of Law for review.

Classification of Reports

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.