Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Indiana

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-33-5-4

A mandated reporter who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect shall immediately make an oral or written report to the Department of Child Services or a local law enforcement agency.

Content of Reports

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-33-7-4

The department shall make a written report of a child who may be a victim of child abuse or neglect no later than 48 hours after receipt of the oral report.

Written reports must be made on forms supplied by the administrator. The written reports must include, if known, the following information:

  • The names and addresses of the child and the child's parents, guardian, custodian, or other person responsible for the child's care
  • The child's age and sex
  • The nature and apparent extent of the child's injuries, abuse, or neglect, including any evidence of prior injuries of the child or abuse or neglect of the child or the child's siblings
  • The name of the person allegedly responsible for causing the injury, abuse, or neglect
  • The source of the report
  • The name of the person making the report and where the person can be reached
  • The actions taken by the reporting source, including the following:
    • Taking of photographs and x-rays
    • Removing or keeping of the child
    • Notifying the coroner
  • The written documentation required by § 31-34-2-3, if a child was taken into custody without a court order
  • Any information concerning the time and circumstances related to the child becoming a missing child, including the child's last known location, if the report concerns a missing child
  • Any other information that the director requires by rule or the person making the report believes might be helpful

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-33-7-5; 31-33-7-6

A copy of the written report of the local child protection service shall immediately be made available to the coroner for the coroner's consideration in a case involving death. Upon receiving a written report, the coroner shall accept the report for investigation and report the findings to the following:

  • The appropriate law enforcement agency
  • The prosecuting attorney
  • The department
  • The hospital if the institution making the report is a hospital

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: DCS Child Welf. Pol., Ch. 3, § 08

The department will accept a report of suspected child abuse or neglect when the report indicates that a child is born with fetal alcohol syndrome; neonatal abstinence syndrome; or with any amount of controlled substance, a legend drug, or a metabolite of a controlled substance or legend drug in the child's body, including the child's blood, urine, umbilical cord tissue, or meconium.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-33-7-1; 31-33-7-2

The department shall arrange for receipt, on a 24-hour, 7-day per week basis, of all reports of suspected child abuse or neglect. To carry out this section, the department must use a phone access system for receiving calls that is standardized among all counties. The department shall adopt rules under § 4-22-2 for the administration of this section.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-33-8-1

If a report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect is received from a judge or prosecutor requesting the department to initiate a child protection assessment, the department shall initiate an assessment in accordance with this section. If a report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect is received from medical personnel, school personnel, a social worker, law enforcement officials or personnel, judiciary personnel, or prosecuting attorney personnel, the department shall forward the report to the local office to determine if the department will initiate an assessment in accordance with this section.

If the department believes that a child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm, the department shall initiate an onsite assessment immediately, but no later than 1 hour, after receiving the report. If the safety or well-being of a child appears to be endangered or the facts otherwise warrant, the assessment shall be initiated regardless of the time of day.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 31-33-8-2; 31-33-8-6; 31-33-8-1

Upon the receipt of a report of known or suspected child abuse, the department shall contact the law enforcement agency in the appropriate jurisdiction.

The law enforcement agency, with the department, shall conduct an immediate onsite investigation of the report if the law enforcement agency has reason to believe that an offense has been committed. The law enforcement agency shall investigate the alleged child abuse or neglect in the same manner that the law enforcement agency conducts any other criminal investigation.

The department shall promptly make a thorough assessment upon either the oral or written report. The primary purpose of the assessment is the protection of the child.

If a report alleges abuse or neglect and involves a child care ministry that is exempt from licensure, the department and the appropriate law enforcement agency shall jointly conduct an investigation. The investigation shall be conducted under the requirements of §§ 31-33-8-1 and 31-33-8-2(b).

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-33-8-7

The department's assessment, to the extent that is reasonably possible, must include the following:

  • The nature, extent, and cause of the known or suspected child abuse or neglect
  • The identity of the person allegedly responsible for the child abuse or neglect
  • The names and conditions of other children in the home
  • An evaluation of the parent, guardian, custodian, or person responsible for the care of the child
  • An evaluation of the home environment and the relationship of the child to the parent, guardian, custodian, or other persons responsible for the child's care
  • All other data considered pertinent

The assessment may include the following:

  • A visit to the child's home
  • An interview with the child
  • A physical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of any child in the home

If a parent, guardian, or custodian of a child who is the subject of a substantiated investigation of abuse or neglect is an active-duty member of the military, the department shall notify the U.S. Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program of the assessment concerning the child of the active-duty member of the military upon request.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-33-8-1

The department shall initiate an immediate and appropriately thorough child protection assessment of every report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect the department receives. Assessment timeframes are as follows:

  • If the department believes that a child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm, the department shall initiate an onsite assessment immediately, but no later than 2 hours, after receiving the report.
  • If the report alleges a child may be a victim of child abuse, the assessment shall be initiated immediately, but no later than 24 hours after receipt of the report.
  • If reports of child neglect are received, the assessment shall be initiated within a reasonably prompt time, but no later than 5 days, with the primary consideration being the well-being of the child who is the subject of the report.
  • If the immediate safety or well-being of a child appears to be endangered or the facts otherwise warrant, the assessment shall be initiated regardless of the time of day.
  • If the report alleges that a child lives with a parent, guardian, or custodian who is married to or lives with a person who has been convicted of neglect of a dependent or a battery offense or is required to register as a sex or violent offender, the department shall initiate an assessment within a reasonably prompt time, but no later than 5 days after the receipt of the report, with the primary consideration being the well-being of the child who is the subject of the report.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Ann. Code § 31-33-8-12

Upon completion of an investigation, the department shall classify reports as substantiated or unsubstantiated.