Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Connecticut

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 17a-101b; 17a-101c; 17a-101h

An oral or electronic report shall be made by a mandated reporter as soon as practicable but no later than 12 hours after the mandated reporter has reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child has been abused or neglected or placed in imminent risk of serious harm. An oral report shall be made by telephone or in person to the Commissioner of Children and Families or a law enforcement agency. An electronic report shall be made in a manner prescribed by the commissioner. A mandated reporter who makes an electronic report shall respond to further inquiries from the commissioner made within 24 hours of the report.

No later than 48 hours after making an oral or electronic report, a mandated reporter shall submit a written report to the commissioner. When a mandated reporter is a staff member of a public or private institution or facility that provides care for the child or public or private school, the reporter also shall submit a copy of the written report to the person in charge of such institution, school, or facility. In the case of a report concerning a school employee holding a certificate, authorization, or permit issued by the State Board of Education, a copy of the written report also shall be sent by the Commissioner of Children and Families to the Commissioner of Education. In the case of an employee of a facility or institution that provides care for a child that is licensed by the State, a copy of the written report also shall be sent by the commissioner of to the executive head of the State licensing agency.

A person reporting child abuse or neglect shall provide any person authorized to investigate with all information related to the investigation that is in the possession or control of the reporter, except as expressly prohibited by State or Federal law.

Content of Reports

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 17a-101d

All oral and written reports shall contain the following, if known:

  • The names and addresses of the child and the child's parents or other persons responsible for the child's care
  • The age and gender of the child
  • The nature and extent of the child's injuries, maltreatment, or neglect
  • The approximate date and time the child's injuries, maltreatment, or neglect occurred
  • Any information about previous injuries or maltreatment to the child or the child's siblings
  • The circumstances in which the maltreatment came to be known to the reporter
  • The name of the person suspected to be responsible for the maltreatment
  • The reasons the person is suspected of causing the maltreatment or neglect
  • Any information concerning any prior cases in which the person has been suspected of causing an injury, maltreatment, or neglect of a child
  • Whatever action, if any, was taken to assist the child

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 17a-101b

If the commissioner receives a report that a child has died, the commissioner shall, within 12 hours of receipt of the report, notify the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 17a-102a

A health-care provider involved in the delivery or care of a newborn who, in the estimation of such provider, exhibits physical, neurological, or behavioral symptoms consistent with prenatal substance exposure; withdrawal symptoms from prenatal substance exposure; or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder shall notify the department of such condition in the newborn. The notice shall be made in a form and manner prescribed by the commissioner and in addition to any applicable reporting requirements pursuant to chapter 319a. On and after January 15, 2019, such notice shall include a copy of the plan of safe care created pursuant to the guidelines developed pursuant this section.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 17a-101b; 17a-103a

An oral report made pursuant to this subsection shall be made by telephone or in person to the commissioner or a law enforcement agency. If a law enforcement agency receives an oral report, it shall immediately notify the commissioner.

Within 12 hours of receipt of the report, the commissioner must notify the appropriate law enforcement agency when the commissioner receives a report alleging sexual abuse or serious physical abuse, including, but not limited to, any of the following:

  • A child has died.
  • A child has been sexually assaulted.
  • A child has suffered brain damage or loss or serious impairment of a bodily function or organ.
  • A child has been sexually exploited.
  • A child has suffered serious nonaccidental physical injury.

The commissioner shall establish and operate the telephone Careline for child abuse and neglect that shall be dedicated to receiving reports of child abuse or neglect and to providing information concerning child abuse or neglect. The Careline shall accept all reports of child abuse or neglect regardless of the relationship of the alleged perpetrator to the child who is the alleged victim and regardless of the alleged perpetrator's affiliation with any organization or other entity in any capacity. The commissioner shall classify and evaluate all reports pursuant to the provisions of § 17a-101g.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 17a-101g

Upon receiving a report of child abuse or neglect in which the alleged perpetrator is a person who is responsible for the child's health, welfare, or care; given access to the child; or entrusted with the care of the child, the commissioner shall cause the report to be classified and evaluated immediately. If the report contains sufficient information to warrant an investigation, best efforts shall be made to commence an investigation of a report concerning an imminent risk of physical harm to a child or other emergency within 2 hours of receipt of the report and to commence an investigation of all other reports within 72 hours.

A report classified by the commissioner as lower risk may be referred for family assessment and services. Any such report may thereafter be referred for standard child protective services if safety concerns for the child become evident. A report referred for standard child protective services may be referred for family assessment and services at any time if the department determines there is a lower risk to the child.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 17a-101g; 17a-101h

The child protective services investigation shall be conducted by the Department of Children and Families. If the report is a report of child abuse or neglect in which the alleged perpetrator is not a person specified above, the commissioner shall refer the report to the appropriate local law enforcement authority.

For reports classified as lower risk, the commissioner may establish a program of family assessment response whereby the report may be referred to appropriate community providers for family assessment and services without an investigation or at any time during an investigation, provided there has been an initial safety assessment of the circumstances of a family and child and criminal background checks have been performed on all adults involved in the report.

Any person authorized to conduct an investigation of abuse or neglect shall coordinate investigatory activities in order to minimize the number of interviews of any child and share information with other persons authorized to conduct an investigation of child abuse or neglect, as appropriate. The commissioner shall obtain the consent of parents or guardians or other persons responsible for the care of the child to any interview with a child, except that such consent shall not be required when the department has reason to believe such parent or guardian or other person responsible for the care of the child or member of the child's household is the perpetrator of the alleged abuse or neglect or that seeking such consent would place the child at imminent risk of physical harm.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 17a-101g

The investigation shall include a home visit at which the child and any siblings are observed, if appropriate; a determination of the nature, extent, and cause or causes of the reported abuse or neglect; a determination of the person or persons suspected to be responsible for such abuse or neglect; the name, age, and condition of other children residing in the same household; and an evaluation of the parents and the home. The report of the investigation shall be in writing. The investigation also shall include, but not be limited to, a review of criminal conviction information concerning the person or persons alleged to be responsible for the abuse or neglect and previous allegations of abuse or neglect relating to the child or other children residing in the household or relating to family violence.

In response to an accepted family assessment report, the department shall conduct a comprehensive family assessment that shall include a safety and risk assessment and an assessment of family strengths and needs. The assessment shall include personal interviews with the child and the child's parent or primary caregiver, an evaluation of the home environment, and the performance of criminal background checks on all adults residing in the same household. The assessment may include, as appropriate, personal interviews with other children or adults residing in the same household as well as any other caregivers, family members, and collateral contacts. In conducting the assessment, the department shall consider the age and vulnerability of the child, family functioning, family history of abuse and neglect, and family history of involvement with the department. The department shall, upon securing any necessary releases, request any relevant out-of-State history of child abuse or neglect involving any adults residing in the same household.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 17a-101g

If the report contains sufficient information to warrant an investigation, the commissioner shall make the commissioner's best efforts to commence an investigation of a report concerning an imminent risk of physical harm to a child or other emergency within 2 hours of receipt of the report and shall commence an investigation of all other reports within 72 hours of receipt of the report. The department shall complete any such investigation no later than 33 business days after the date of receipt of the report.

Classification of Reports

Citation: State Agency Regs. § 17a-101k

The term 'individual responsible' means a person substantiated by the department, after an investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect, as a perpetrator of abuse or neglect.

The term 'substantiated' means that the department has found after investigation of a report that there is reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred and that a specific person is the individual responsible for an act or acts of child abuse or neglect. 'Substantiation' means the designation given by the department to a report of alleged child abuse or neglect that has been substantiated after investigation.