Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Arizona

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 13-3620

Any mandated reporter who reasonably believes that a minor is the victim of abuse or neglect shall report immediately to a peace officer, to the Department of Child Safety (DCS), or to a Tribal law enforcement or social services agency for any Indian minor who resides on an Indian reservation. If, however, the report concerns a person who does not have care, custody, or control of the minor, the report shall be made to a peace officer only. Reports shall be made immediately either electronically or by telephone.

Content of Reports

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 13-3620; 8-455

The reports shall contain the following information, if known:

  • The names and addresses of the minor and the minor's parents or the person or persons having custody of the minor
  • The minor's age
  • The nature and extent of the minor's abuse, child abuse, physical injury, or neglect, including any evidence of previous abuse, child abuse, physical injury, or neglect
  • Any other information that the person believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the abuse, child abuse, physical injury, or neglect

The DCS report must include all the following, if available:

  • The name, address, or contact information for the person making the communication
  • The name, address, and other location or contact information for the parent, guardian, or custodian of the child or other adult member of the child's household who is suspected of committing the abuse or neglect
  • The name, address, and other location or contact information for the child
  • The nature and extent of the indications of the child's abuse or neglect, including any indication of physical injury
  • Any information regarding possible prior abuse or neglect, including reference to any communication or DCS report involving the child, the child's siblings, or the person suspected of committing the abuse or neglect

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 13-3620

A health-care professional who, after a routine newborn physical assessment of a newborn infant's health status or following notification of positive toxicology screens of a newborn infant, reasonably believes that the newborn infant may be affected by the presence of alcohol or a drug listed in § 13-3401 shall immediately report this information or cause a report to be made to the department. For the purposes of this subsection, 'newborn infant' means a newborn infant who is younger than 30 days old.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 8-455; 13-3620

DCS shall operate and maintain a centralized intake hotline to protect children by receiving communications concerning suspected abuse or neglect at all times. If a person communicates suspected abuse or neglect to a DCS employee other than through the hotline, the employee shall refer the person or communication to the hotline.

Reports may be received by a peace officer, DCS, or a Tribal law enforcement or social services agency. When reports are received by a peace officer, the officer shall immediately notify the department. Notwithstanding any other statute, when the department receives these reports, it shall immediately notify a peace officer in the appropriate jurisdiction.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 8-455; Admin. Code § R21-3-203

The hotline is the first step in the safety assessment and investigation process and must be operated to do the following:

  • Record communications made concerning suspected abuse or neglect
  • Immediately take steps necessary to identify and locate prior communications and DCS reports related to the current communication using the State central registry and the DCS data system
  • Quickly and efficiently provide information to a law enforcement agency or prepare a DCS report as required by this section
  • Determine the proper initial priority level of investigation based on the report screening assessment

If a communication provides a reason to believe that a criminal offense has been committed and the communication does not meet the criteria for a DCS report, the hotline worker shall immediately provide the information to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

In regulation: If a communication does not meet criteria for a DCS report, the intake specialist shall forward the information or allegations of abuse or neglect to any of the following, as appropriate:

  • The appropriate law enforcement agency concerning a felony criminal offense against a child
  • The DCS Office of Licensing and Regulation if the communication involves a DCS-licensed out-of-home placement
  • The appropriate child protection agency if the child lives in another jurisdiction
  • The appropriate licensing or certifying agency if a child is at a State-licensed or certified child care home or facility
  • The appropriate licensing agency if a child is at a State-licensed behavioral health facility
  • The Department of Economic Security Adult Protective Services if the alleged victim is older than age 18

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Admin. Code §§ R21-4-103; R21-4-104

A DCS investigator shall collaborate with law enforcement when applicable.

In DCS reports containing a criminal conduct allegation, a DCS investigator shall coordinate with law enforcement pursuant to the applicable joint investigative protocol. In DCS reports that do not contain a criminal conduct allegation, a DCS Investigator shall coordinate with law enforcement as appropriate.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 8-456; 8-803; Admin. Code § R21-4-103

After receiving a DCS report from the hotline, an investigator shall make a prompt and thorough investigation. An investigation must evaluate and determine the nature, extent, and cause of any condition created by the parents, guardian, or an adult member of the victim's household that would tend to support or refute the allegation that the child is a victim of abuse or neglect and determine the name, age, and condition of other children in the home.

On initial contact with a parent or guardian under investigation, a DCS worker shall inform the family of the following:

  • The specific complaint or allegation made against that person
  • Information outlining parental rights under State law

In regulation: DCS shall investigate or respond to each report by interviewing or personally observing the alleged child victim; interviewing other children and individuals, including the alleged perpetrator; reviewing documents, including any prior reports concerning the alleged child victim and perpetrator; and using other investigative techniques, as necessary, to gather sufficient information to do the following:

  • Determine whether the child is currently safe or unsafe
  • Support or refute the allegation of abuse or neglect
  • Determine the name, age, and condition of other children in the home
  • Determine whether child safety services are needed

A CPS specialist may interview a child without prior parental consent and may exclude the alleged abuser from participating in an interview with the alleged victim, the victim's siblings, or other children residing in the household.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Admin. Code §§ R21-3-101; R21-3-203

The term 'response time' means the period of time designated by the hotline and begins when a DCS report is assigned to a DCS field unit for investigation and ends when the DCS investigator initiates the investigation by an attempt to make in-person contact with the alleged child victim.

If a communication meets criteria for a DCS report, the intake specialist shall do the following:

  • Enter the DCS report information into the DCS case management information system
  • Assign an appropriate response time, ranging from an immediate response to a response time not to exceed 7 days
  • Immediately transmit the DCS report to the appropriate field unit
  • Inform the reporting source that the information meets criteria for a DCS report, that the report will be sent to a field unit, and provide contact information for the field unit to the reporting source when the identity of the reporting source is known

Classification of Reports

Citation: Admin. Code. §§ R21-3-101; R21-4-105

The term 'finding' means one of the following:

  • DCS has determined during its investigation that probable cause exists to substantiate the allegation of abuse or neglect of a child, and either of the following applies:
    • The specific person responsible has been identified.
    • The specific person responsible has not been identified.
  • DCS has determined during its investigation that the allegation of abuse or neglect is unsubstantiated.
  • After a thorough search, DCS is unable to locate the alleged abused or neglected child.

'Substantiated' means that there is probable cause to believe the child was abused or neglected. 'Unsubstantiated' means that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate that the child was abused or neglected when the finding was entered into DCS case management information system.

After completing an investigation, the DCS investigator or child safety specialist shall propose substantiation if there is probable cause to believe a child was abused or neglected or, if not, shall unsubstantiate the allegation.