Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Kansas

Date:

Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 38-2223

When any mandated reporter has reason to suspect that a child has been harmed as a result of physical, mental, or emotional abuse or neglect or sexual abuse, the person shall report the matter promptly as provided below. The report may be made orally and shall be followed by a written report if requested.

Content of Reports

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 38-2223

Every report 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 location of the child if other than the child's residence
  • The child's gender, race, and age
  • The reasons the reporter suspects the child may be a child in need of care
  • The nature and extent of the harm to the child, including any evidence of previous harm
  • Any other information that the reporter believes might be helpful in establishing the cause of the harm and the identity of the persons responsible for the harm

When reporting a suspicion that a child may be in need of care, the reporter shall disclose protected health information freely and cooperate fully with the secretary and law enforcement throughout the investigation and any subsequent legal process.

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 38-2223; 22a-242

A mandated reporter who has information relating to the death of a child shall immediately notify the coroner, as provided by § 22a-242.

When a child dies, a law enforcement officer, health-care provider, or any other person having knowledge of the death shall immediately notify the coroner of the known facts concerning the time, place, manner, and circumstances of the death.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Pol. Man. § 1650

When a report is received regarding an infant affected by substance abuse, withdrawal symptoms, or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, Structured Decision Making (SDM) shall be used to guide the initial assessment decision. When criteria are met, the report shall be assigned for further assessment of abuse/neglect with the subtype 'substance-affected infant.' The report shall be assigned for a same-day response.

When a hospital makes a report regarding an infant born or the mother of an infant born with a positive drug toxicology, and criteria is not met to assign the report as a substance-affected infant, the report should be assessed to assign as a 'family in need of assessment' (FINA) with the subtype 'infant positive for substances.' SDM shall be used to guide the initial assessment decision. The assignment determination should focus on the child's situation rather than solely on the substance abuse of the mother. If a determination is made to assign the report as 'infant positive for substances,' the report shall be assigned for a same-day response due to the high-risk infant and to address any immediate needs of the family.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 38-2223

Reports shall be made to the secretary of the Department of Children and Families, except as follows:

  • When the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is not open for business, reports shall be made to the appropriate law enforcement agency. On the next day that DCF is open for business, the law enforcement agency shall report to DCF any report received and any investigation initiated pursuant to § 38-2226. The reports may be made orally or, on request of the secretary, in writing.
  • Reports of child abuse or neglect occurring in an institution operated by the Department of Corrections shall be made to the attorney general or the secretary of the corrections.
  • Reports of child abuse or neglect occurring in an institution operated by the Department for Aging and Disability Services shall be made to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
  • All other reports of child abuse or neglect by persons employed by the Department for Aging and Disability Services or DCF, or of children of persons employed by either department, shall be made to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 38-2230; Pol. Man. §§ 1300; 1310

Whenever any person furnishes the secretary with information that a child appears to be a child in need of care, DCF shall make a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the interests of the child require further action. Whenever practicable, the inquiry shall include a preliminary investigation of the circumstances that were the subject of the information, including the home and environmental situation and the previous history of the child. If reasonable grounds exist to support the allegations of abuse or neglect, immediate steps shall be taken to protect the health and welfare of the abused or neglected child as well as that of any other child under the same care who may be harmed by abuse or neglect. After the inquiry, if the secretary determines it is not otherwise possible to provide the services necessary to protect the interests of the child, the secretary shall recommend to the county or district attorney that a petition be filed.

In policy: An initial assessment is made to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe abuse or neglect exists and immediate steps are needed to protect the health and welfare of the child. An initial assessment is made on all reports received by the agency. Following the initial assessment, the following criteria shall be used to determine whether the report may be completed without further assessment:

  • The child has not been harmed or is not likely to be harmed or endangered.
  • It concerns abuse or neglect that occurred in the past.
  • It fails to provide the information necessary to locate the child.
  • DCF does not have authority to investigate the case. (For example, the report involves a family living on a Native American reservation or military installation.)
  • The incident has been or is being assessed by the department and/or law enforcement.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 38-2226

DCF and law enforcement officers shall have the duty to receive and investigate reports of child abuse or neglect to determine whether the report is valid and whether action is required to protect the child from further abuse or neglect.

If DCF and officers determine that no action is necessary to protect the child but that a criminal prosecution should be considered, the case shall be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

As part of any investigation, DCF or the law enforcement agency that is conducting the investigation shall visually observe the child who is the alleged victim of abuse or neglect. In the case of a joint investigation, DCF and the law enforcement agency shall both visually observe the child who is the alleged victim of abuse or neglect. All investigation reports shall include the date, time, and location of any visual observation of a child.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Pol. Man. §§ 2010; 2020

Investigatory activities may vary from case to case based on the specifics of the case and will commonly involve the following activities:

  • Searching child abuse, criminal, and sex offense history records
  • Interviewing the reporter and witnesses (if any) to the alleged maltreatment
  • Interviewing the child victim, the child's parents and other caregivers, and the suspected perpetrator
  • Visiting the scene of the alleged maltreatment and documenting relevant environmental information
  • Obtaining relevant records from the department, law enforcement, medical practitioners, or other relevant entities
  • Making and documenting behavioral observations such as the appearance and effect of witnesses and alleged perpetrators when presented with questions or information about the alleged maltreatment; the child's behavior in the presence of caregivers or the alleged perpetrator; the type and quality of interaction of family members; statements; or behaviors of any person that indicate truthfulness or lying; any mental, emotional, or physical impairment of any other child or adult; behaviors indicating alcohol or other drug use, etc.

Assessments may involve the following activities:

  • Evaluating the quality and sufficiency of the evidence and the plausibility of explanations for the harm
  • Considering alternative explanations for the injury
  • Evaluating contributing factors
  • Considering abuse, criminal, and sex offense histories that indicate potential danger to the child
  • Reaching a tentative conclusion whether the alleged maltreatment occurred
  • Assessing whether there is serious harm, likelihood of serious harm, or immediate danger to the child
  • Considering alternative protection actions if necessary
  • Assessing lasting safety
  • Considering available community-based services or prevention services and make a referral in the best interests of the child and family

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Pol. Man. § 1521

Reports shall be assigned either a same day or 72-hour response time according to the following criteria:

  • Same Day: When there is reason to believe that a child has been seriously harmed or is in immediate serious danger, including any of the following situations:
    • Alleged abuse or neglect of a child under age 1
    • Any child with current marks or bruises
    • A life-threatening situation for a child of any age, including a child who is currently engaging in self-harming behaviors
    • Sexual abuse, including human trafficking, of a child when the alleged perpetrator has access
    • A child without minimal care to prevent serious physical injury
    • A child who expresses fear of returning home
    • A child in protective custody of law enforcement
    • An imminent concern that a parent may seriously harm the child
  • 72 Hours: Any allegation or suspicion of abuse or neglect not assigned a same day response

In any case in which evidence may be lost through delay, such as bruises or body fluids, DCF should promptly respond or arrange for law enforcement or medical personnel to document the child's condition or environment.

If a report is accepted for FINA, the report shall be assigned a 7 working-day response, with the following exceptions:

  • A child currently in protective custody of law enforcement shall be assigned a same-day response.
  • Reports involving an infant positive for substances shall be assigned as a same-day response.
  • A report in which the child currently is engaging in self-harming behaviors, and the parents are aware and are requesting services to address the behaviors shall be assigned a same-day response.
  • A child under age 1 shall be assigned a 72-hour response, excluding an infant born positive for substances.
  • A report that contains allegations a pregnant woman is using substances shall be assigned with a 72-hour response time.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Pol. Man. § 2502

Reports may be classified as follows:

  • Unsubstantiated: A reasonable person weighing the facts or circumstances would conclude it is more likely than not (preponderance of the evidence) the alleged perpetrator's actions or inactions do not meet the statutory definition of abuse or neglect.
  • Affirmed: A reasonable person weighing the facts and circumstances would conclude it is more likely than not (preponderance of the evidence) the alleged perpetrator's actions or inactions meet the statutory definition of abuse or neglect.
  • Substantiated: A substantiated case finding shall meet the following criteria:
    • Physical/sexual/emotional abuse, physical/medical neglect, lack of supervision, and/or abandonment of a child has been affirmed.
    • A determination is made that the perpetrator's actions, behaviors, or omissions meet at least one of the following criteria:
      • There was an intent to commit the act that resulted in harm.
      • A reasonable person would have anticipated harm would occur to the child.
      • The harm was a result of failure or refusal to protect the child.
    • There was serious harm, injury, or deterioration to the child; or there was a likelihood of or endangerment of serious harm, injury, or deterioration to the child.
    • A verified pattern of continuing, repeated, or progressively more severe behavior that indicates abuse or neglect exists.

When the criteria are met, a substantiated case finding shall be considered. A substantiated case finding results in the perpetrator's name being placed on the central registry.