Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Kentucky

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.030

Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to believe that a child is abused or neglected shall immediately make an oral or written report, by telephone or otherwise.

A mandated reporter shall file a written report within 48 hours of the original report, if requested.

Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to believe that a child is a victim of human trafficking shall immediately cause an oral or written report to be made to a local law enforcement agency, the Department of Kentucky State Police, the cabinet or its designated representative, or the Commonwealth's attorney or the county attorney by telephone or otherwise. This subsection shall apply regardless of whether the person believed to have caused the human trafficking of the child is a parent, guardian, fictive kin, person in a position of authority, person in a position of special trust, or person exercising custodial control or supervision.

Content of Reports

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.030; Admin. Reg. Tit. 922, § 1:330(2)

The written report shall contain the following:

  • The names and addresses of the child and the child's parents or other persons exercising control or supervision over the child
  • The child's age
  • The nature and extent of the child's alleged dependency, neglect, or abuse, including any previous charges of dependency, neglect, or abuse to the child or any siblings
  • The name and address of the person allegedly responsible for the abuse or neglect
  • Any other information that the reporter believes may be helpful

In regulation: When receiving a report, cabinet staff or designee shall attempt to elicit from the reporter as much information about the child's circumstances, as possible, including the following:

  • Specific information as to the nature and extent of the abuse, neglect, dependency, female genital mutilation, or human trafficking
  • The cause of the abuse, neglect, or dependency
  • The location of the child and family
  • Knowledge or suspicion of a previous incident
  • Identifying information regarding a witness to the alleged incident that resulted in the child's condition
  • An action taken by the reporting person, if applicable
  • Present danger or threat of danger to the child or cabinet staff

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

Citation: Admin. Reg. Tit. 922, § 1:330(5)

The cabinet shall investigate a report of child fatality or near fatality alleged to be the result of abuse or neglect. If there is a surviving child in the care of the alleged perpetrator, the cabinet shall determine the safety of the surviving child through immediate assessment in accordance regulation.

If a child fatality or near fatality allegedly due to abuse or neglect occurs, cabinet staff shall immediately notify the service region administrator or designee.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 214.160(2)-(7)

Any physician attending a pregnant woman may perform a screening for alcohol or substance dependency or abuse, including a comprehensive history of such behavior. Any physician may administer a toxicology test to a mother under the physician's care within 8 hours after she has delivered a baby to determine whether there is evidence that she has ingested alcohol or a controlled substance or if she has obstetrical complications that are a medical indication of possible use of any such substance for a nonmedical purpose.

Any physician attending a mother may administer to each newborn infant born to that mother a toxicology test to determine whether there is evidence of prenatal exposure to alcohol or a controlled substance, if the attending person has reason to believe, based on a medical assessment of either patient, that the mother used any such substance for a nonmedical purpose during the pregnancy.

The circumstances surrounding any positive toxicology finding shall be evaluated by the attending person to determine if abuse or neglect of the infant shall be reported to the State's child protective services agency.

An infant affected by substance abuse withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder shall be reported to the State's child protective services agency in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 5106a.

No prenatal screening for alcohol or other substance abuse or positive toxicology finding shall be used as prosecutorial evidence. No person shall conduct or cause to be conducted any toxicological test pursuant to this section on any pregnant woman without first informing her of the purpose of the test.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.030(2)

Reports may be made to a local law enforcement agency, the Department of Kentucky State Police, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or its designated representative, the Commonwealth attorney, or the county attorney.

In regulation: In accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 5106a(b)(2)(B)(i), the cabinet shall accept reports of alleged child abuse, neglect, or dependency made pursuant to § 620.030.

A 24 hour on-call response system and the child abuse hotline, for the receipt of emergency reports after normal office hours, shall be made available to those in a community who may have information regarding child abuse, neglect, or dependency, or human trafficking of a child.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.040; Admin. Reg. Tit. 922, § 1:330

Based upon the allegation in the report, the cabinet shall immediately make an initial determination as to the risk of harm and immediate safety of the child. Based upon the level of risk determined, the cabinet shall investigate the allegation or accept the report for an assessment of family needs and, if appropriate, may provide or make referral to any community-based services necessary to reduce risk to the child and to provide family support. A report of sexual abuse or human trafficking of a child shall be considered high risk and shall not be referred to any other community agency.

In regulation: The cabinet shall investigate or conduct an assessment upon receipt of a report that alleges abuse or neglect of a child by a caregiver that may result in harm to the health and safety of a child. If a report does not meet the criteria for investigation or an assessment, the cabinet shall not accept the report for investigation or assessment but shall refer the caller to a community resource that may meet family needs.

The following criteria shall be used to identify reports not requiring a child protective services investigation or assessment:

  • The victim is age 18 or older at the time of the report.
  • There is insufficient information to locate the child.
  • The problem described does not meet the statutory definitions of abuse, neglect, or dependency.
  • The report concerns a child who is injured but does not allege the injuries were the result of abuse or neglect.
  • The report concerns custody changes, custody-related issues, or lifestyle issues, without allegations of abuse, neglect, or dependency.
  • The report concerns corporal punishment appropriate to the age of the child, without an injury, mark, bruise, or substantial risk of harm.
  • The report alleges spouse abuse to a married youth who is younger than age 18.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.040

If the report alleges abuse or neglect by someone other than a parent, guardian, fictive kin, person in a position of authority, person in a position of special trust, or person exercising custodial control or supervision, or the human trafficking of a child, the cabinet shall immediately notify the commonwealth or county attorney and the local law enforcement agency or the State police.

The cabinet need not notify the local law enforcement agency or the State police or county attorney or Commonwealth's attorney of reports made under this subsection unless the report involves the human trafficking of a child, in which case the notification shall be required.

If the cabinet or its designated representative receives a report of abuse by a person other than a parent, guardian, fictive kin, person in a position of authority, person in a position of special trust, or other person exercising custodial control or supervision of a child, it shall immediately notify the local law enforcement agency or the State police and the Commonwealth's or county attorney of the receipt of the report and its contents, and they shall investigate the matter. The cabinet or its designated representative shall participate in an investigation of noncustodial physical abuse or neglect at the request of the local law enforcement agency or the State police. The cabinet shall participate in all investigations of reported or suspected sexual abuse or human trafficking of a child.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 620.040; 620.050; Admin. Reg. Tit. 922, § 1:330

Based upon the level of risk determined, the cabinet shall investigate the allegation or accept the report for an assessment of family needs and, if appropriate, may provide or make referral to any community-based services necessary to reduce risk to the child and to provide family support. A report of sexual abuse or human trafficking of a child shall be considered high risk and shall not be referred to any other community agency.

To the extent practicable and when in the best interests of a child alleged to have been abused, interviews with the child shall be conducted at a children's advocacy center.

Upon receipt of a report, the cabinet shall initiate a prompt investigation or assessment of family needs, take necessary action, and shall offer protective services toward safeguarding the welfare of the child. The cabinet shall work toward preventing further dependency, neglect, or abuse of the child or any other child under the same care, and preserve and strengthen family life, where possible, by enhancing parental capacity for adequate care of the child.

In regulation: An initial determination is conducted to evaluate risk factors to determine immediate safety and risk of harm to decide whether to proceed with an investigation or a family-in-need-of-services assessment.

An assessment consists of the collection and analysis of information to inform decision-making about or service provision to a child or a family, including the following:

  • An observable threat or threatening condition to the child's safety
  • A factor present that increases the likelihood of child abuse, neglect, or dependency
  • Child or family strengths and protective capacities

The cabinet shall not undertake an investigation or assessment for a report of abuse or neglect allegedly perpetrated by a noncaregiver, except for a report of human trafficking or female genital mutilation.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.040; Admin. Reg. Tit. 922, § 1:330(3)

The cabinet shall, within 72 hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays, make a written report to the commonwealth's or county attorney and the local law enforcement agency or the State police concerning the action that has been taken on the investigation.

In regulation: The cabinet shall have face-to-face contact with the child or, in the case of a child fatality, initiate the investigation within 4 hours if a report meets the following criteria:

  • It includes a child who is either of the following:
    • The alleged victim of a fatality or near fatality
    • A surviving child in the care of the alleged perpetrator of a child fatality or near fatality
  • It involves a child who is under age 4 or unable to communicate verbally or nonverbally
  • It indicates a high risk of harm to the child due to any of the following:
    • Physical abuse
    • Supervision neglect
    • Sexual abuse, and the alleged perpetrator has access to the child or the perpetrator's access to the child is unknown by the reporting source

The cabinet shall have face-to-face contact with the child within 24 hours if a report indicates a high risk of harm to the child or alleges the child is the victim of human trafficking or female genital mutilation.

If the report of child abuse, neglect, or dependency indicates a moderate risk of harm to a child, the cabinet shall have face-to-face contact with the child within 48 hours after acceptance of the report.

If the report of child abuse, neglect, or dependency indicates a low risk of harm to a child, the cabinet shall have face-to-face contact with the child within 72 hours after acceptance of the report.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Admin. Reg. Tit. 922, § 1:330(1), (10)

Reports shall be classified as follows:

  • A report shall be 'substantiated' when there is the following:
    • An admission of abuse, neglect, or dependency by the person responsible
    • A judicial finding of child abuse, neglect, or dependency
    • A preponderance of evidence that abuse, neglect, or dependency was committed by the caregiver
  • A report shall be 'unsubstantiated' when there is insufficient evidence, indicators, or justification present for substantiation of abuse, neglect, or dependency.

The cabinet shall use the statutory definitions of 'abused or neglected child' in determining if an allegation is substantiated. A finding of an investigation or assessment shall be based upon both of the following:

  • Information and evidence collected by the cabinet during the report's investigation or assessment
  • A condition that is present, rather than an action taken to remediate an issue or concern pertaining to a child's health, safety, or welfare

At the completion of an investigation or assessment involving a caregiver, the cabinet shall make one of the following findings:

  • Unsubstantiated child abuse or neglect
  • Substantiated child abuse or neglect
  • Child fatality or near fatality related to abuse or neglect
  • Unable to locate the child
  • Services needed for the child or child's family, which may include a dependent child
  • No finding
  • Closed, which may include completed service provision

At the completion of an investigation involving human trafficking or female genital mutilation of a child by a noncaregiver, the cabinet shall make a finding of confirmed, not confirmed, or unable to locate the child.