Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - New Hampshire

Date:

Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:30

A mandated reporter shall immediately make an oral report to the Department of Health and Human Services by telephone or otherwise, followed within 48 hours by a written report, if requested by the department.

Content of Reports

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:30

The report shall contain the following, if known:

  • The name and address of the child and the person responsible for the child's welfare
  • The nature and extent of the child's injuries, including any evidence of prior injury
  • The identity of the person suspected of being responsible for the abuse or neglect
  • Any other information that might be helpful in establishing the neglect or abuse or that may be required by the department

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 132:10-f

When a health-care provider suspects that an infant has been abused or neglected pursuant to § 169-C:3, the provider shall report to the department of health and human services in accordance with § 169-C:29. If the infant has a plan of safe care developed under § 132:10-e, a copy of the plan shall accompany the report.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:30

Reports are made to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Initial Screening Decisions

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 169-C:38; 169-C:38-a

The department shall immediately, by telephone or in person, refer to the local law enforcement agency all cases in which there is reason to believe that any person under age 18 has been any of the following:

  • Sexually molested or exploited
  • Intentionally physically injured so as to cause serious bodily injury
  • Physically injured by other than accidental means so as to cause serious bodily injury
  • A victim of a crime

A written report shall be made to the law enforcement agency within 48 hours, with the exclusion of Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. A copy of this report shall be sent to the office of the county attorney.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice shall jointly develop a standardized protocol for the interviewing of victims and the investigation and assessment of cases of child abuse and neglect. The protocol shall seek to minimize the impact on the victim. The protocol also shall be designed to protect the rights of all parties affected and specifically address the need to establish safe and appropriate places for interviewing children.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:34

For each report it receives, the department shall promptly perform a child protective investigation to determine the following:

  • The composition of the family or household, including the following:
    • The name, address, age, sex, and race of each child named in the report
    • Any siblings or other children in the same household or in the care of the same adults
    • The parents or other persons responsible for the welfare of the children
    • Any other adults in the same household
  • Whether there is probable cause to believe that any child in the family or household is abused or neglected, including a determination of the following:
    • Harm or threatened harm to each child
    • The nature and extent of present or prior injuries, abuse, or neglect, and any evidence thereof
    • The person or persons apparently responsible for the abuse or neglect
  • The immediate and long-term risk to each child if the child remains in the existing home environment
  • The protective treatment and ameliorative services that appear necessary to help prevent further child abuse or neglect and to improve the home environment and the parents' ability to adequately care for the children

At the first contact in person, any person investigating a report of abuse or neglect on behalf of the department shall verbally inform the parents of a child suspected of being a victim of abuse or neglect of the specific nature of the charges and that they are under no obligation to allow a social worker or State employee on their premises or surrender their children to interviews unless that social worker or State employee is in possession of a court order to that effect. Upon receiving such information, the parent shall sign a written acknowledgement indicating that the information required under this paragraph was provided by the person conducting the investigation. The parent and department shall each retain a copy of the acknowledgment.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:34

If it appears that the immediate safety or well-being of a child is endangered, the family may flee or the child disappear, or the facts otherwise so warrant, the department shall commence an investigation immediately after receipt of a report. In all other cases, a child protective investigation shall be commenced within 72 hours of receipt of the report.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 169-C:3

Effective January 1, 2022: Reports may be classified as follows:

  • A 'founded report' is a report for which the department finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the child who is the subject of such report is abused or neglected.
  • An 'unfounded report' is a report for which the department determines that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate a finding that the child is abused or neglected.
  • A 'screened-out report' is a report that the department has determined does not rise to the level of a credible report of abuse or neglect and is not referred for assessment.
  • A report that is 'unfounded but with reasonable concern' is a report for which the department determines that there is probable cause to believe the child was abused or neglected, but for which there is insufficient evidence to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the child was abused or neglected.