Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Idaho

Date: November 2021

Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Idaho Code § 16-1605

A mandated reporter who has reason to believe that a child has been abused, neglected, or abandoned shall report within 24 hours to a law enforcement agency or the Department of Health and Welfare.

Content of Reports

Citation: Idaho Code § 16-1605

The report shall contain a description of the conditions and circumstances that led to making the report.

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Admin. Code §

Each region of the Department of Health and Welfare shall maintain a system for receiving and responding to reports or complaints on a 24-hour-per-day, 7-day-per-week basis throughout the entire region. The region shall advertise the system to the public throughout the region and ensure the accurate recording of as many facts as possible at the time of the report.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Admin. Code §

The department must assign all reports of possible abuse, neglect, or abandonment for safety assessment unless the field office has knowledge or information that discredits the report beyond a reasonable doubt.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Idaho Code § 16-1605; Admin. Code §§; 556; 557

The department shall be informed by law enforcement of any report made directly to it. If the department knows or has reason to know that an adult in the home has been convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct or felony injury to a child in the past or that the child has been removed from the home for circumstances that resulted in a conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct or felony injury to a child, then the department shall investigate.

In regulation: The department is the official child protection agency for responding to situations of reported child abuse, neglect, or abandonment. A respectful, nonjudgmental approach should be the policy for assessments, especially during the initial contact with the family.

Possible abuse, abandonment, or neglect of a child who is known or suspected to be Indian will be reported to appropriate Tribal authorities immediately. If the reported incident occurs off a reservation, the department will perform the investigation. The department also will investigate incidents reported on a reservation if requested to do so by appropriate authorities of the Tribe. A record of any response will be maintained in the case record and written documentation will be provided to the appropriate Tribal authorities.

Reports involving a military family must be reported to the appropriate military family advocacy representative. Abuse, neglect, or abandonment of a child on a military installation falls under Federal jurisdiction.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Admin. Code §

The department's safety and comprehensive assessments must be conducted in a standardized format and utilize statewide assessment and multidisciplinary team protocols. The assessment must include contact with the children involved and the immediate family and a records check for history with respect to child protection issues.

The interview of a child concerning a child protection report must be conducted as follows:

  • In a manner that protects all children involved from undergoing any unnecessary traumatic experience, including multiple interviews
  • By a professional with specialized training in using techniques that consider the natural communication modes and developmental stages of children
  • In a neutral, nonthreatening environment, such as a specially equipped interview room, if available

The family services worker conducting the interview must do the following:

  • Immediately notify the parents being interviewed of the purpose and nature of the assessment
  • Determine if the family is of Indian heritage for the purposes of the Indian Child Welfare Act
  • Interview siblings who are identified as being at risk
  • Not divulge the name of the person making the report of child abuse or neglect

Any assessment of an abuse or neglect report must include at least one collateral interview with a person who is familiar with the circumstances of the child or children involved.

A safety assessment will be completed on each referral assigned for assessment of abuse or neglect, or both. When safety threats are identified in the safety assessment and the case remains open for services, a comprehensive assessment must be completed.

The department may enlist the cooperation of peace officers for phases of the safety assessment for which they have the expertise and responsibility, as consistent with the relevant multidisciplinary team protocol.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Admin. Code §

The level of response required will be based on the following criteria:

  • Priority I: The department must respond immediately if a child is in immediate danger involving a life-threatening or emergency situation. Law enforcement shall be notified and requested to respond or accompany the family services worker.
  • Priority II: A child is not in immediate danger, but allegations of abuse, including physical or sexual abuse, or serious physical or medical neglect are clearly defined in the referral. Law enforcement shall be notified within 24 hours, and the child must be seen by the family services worker within 48 hours.
  • Priority III: A child may be in a vulnerable situation because of service needs that, if left unmet, may result in harm, or a child is without parental care. The child and parent(s) or legal guardian(s) will be interviewed for substantiation of the facts and to ensure that there is no abuse, neglect, or abandonment by parent(s) or legal guardian(s). A family services worker shall respond within 3 days, and the child must be seen within 5 days.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Admin. Code §

Within 5 days following completion of safety assessments, the department will determine whether the reports are substantiated or unsubstantiated.

Child abuse, neglect, or abandonment reports are substantiated by one or more of the following:

  • It was witnessed by a family services worker.
  • A court determines, in an adjudicatory hearing, that a child comes within the jurisdiction of the Child Protective Act.
  • The alleged perpetrator made a confession.
  • The abuse or neglect was corroborated by physical or medical evidence.
  • The abuse or neglect was established by evidence that it is more likely than not that abuse, neglect, or abandonment occurred.

Child abuse, neglect, or abandonment reports are unsubstantiated when they are not found to be substantiated. For intradepartmental statistical purposes, the department will indicate whether the unsubstantiated disposition of the safety assessment was due to insufficient evidence or was an erroneous report.