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

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law §§ 413(1); 415

Mandated reporters shall immediately make an oral or electronic report to the statewide central register when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected by a person responsible for that child's care. Oral reports shall be followed by written reports within 48 hours.

Content of Reports

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 415

Written reports shall be made in a manner prescribed and on forms supplied by the commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services and shall include the following information:

  • The names and addresses of the child and the child's parents or other person responsible for the child's care
  • The child's age, sex, and race
  • The nature and extent of any injury, abuse, or maltreatment, including any evidence of prior injuries, abuse, or maltreatment to the child or the child's siblings
  • The name of the person or persons alleged to be responsible for causing the injury, abuse, or maltreatment, if known
  • Family composition
  • The source of the report
  • The name and contact information of the person making the report
  • Actions taken by the reporting source
  • Any other information that the reporter believes may be helpful or required by regulation

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 418

Any mandated reporter, including workers of the local child protective service agency or an official of the State agency responsible for investigation of a report of abuse or maltreatment of a child in residential care, who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has died as a result of abuse or maltreatment shall report that fact to the appropriate medical examiner or coroner.

The medical examiner or coroner shall accept the report for investigation and shall issue a preliminary written report of his or her findings within 60 days of the date of death, absent extraordinary circumstances, and his or her final written report promptly to the police, the appropriate district attorney, the local child protective service, the Office of Children and Family Services, and, if the institution making the report is a hospital, the hospital. The office shall promptly provide a copy of the preliminary and final reports to the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Soc. Serv. §§ 415

Oral reports shall be made to the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment unless the appropriate local plan for the provision of child protective services provides that oral reports should be made to the local child protective service.

The central register shall be capable of receiving telephone calls alleging child abuse or maltreatment, immediately identifying prior reports of child abuse or maltreatment, and monitoring the provision of child protective services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To effectuate this purpose, but subject to the provisions of the appropriate local plan for the provision of child protective services, there shall be a single statewide telephone number that all persons, whether mandated by the law or not, may use to make telephone calls alleging child abuse or maltreatment and that all persons so authorized by this title may use for determining the existence of prior reports in order to evaluate the condition or circumstances of a child. In addition to the single statewide telephone number, there shall be a special unlisted express telephone number and a telephone facsimile number for use only by persons mandated by law to make telephone calls, or to transmit telephone facsimile information on a form provided by the commissioner of Children and Family Services, alleging child abuse or maltreatment, and for use by all persons so authorized by this title for determining the existence of prior reports in order to evaluate the condition or circumstances of a child.

Any telephone call made by a mandatory reporter containing allegations that, if true, would constitute child abuse or maltreatment shall constitute a report that shall be immediately transmitted orally or electronically by the Department of Social Services to the appropriate local child protective service for investigation.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 427-a

Any social services district may, upon the authorization of the Office of Children and Family Services, establish a program that implements differential responses to reports of child abuse and maltreatment.

The criteria for determining which cases may be placed in the assessment track shall be determined by the local department of social services, except that reports including any criminal allegations such as a sex offense, including prostitution, incest, or child pornography; assault of a child; murder or manslaughter; child abandonment; or severe, repeated abuse or neglect shall not be included in the assessment track of a differential response program.

For all cases included in the family assessment and services track, the following apply:

  • Reports taken at the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment shall be transmitted to the appropriate local child protective service.
  • A social services district shall, consistent with the criteria for the program, identify those reports that are initially eligible to be included in the family assessment and services track.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law §§ 422; 423; 427-a

Whenever a telephone call to the statewide central register is received by the department, and the department finds that the person allegedly responsible for abuse or maltreatment of a child cannot be a subject of a report but believes that the alleged acts or circumstances against a child described in the telephone call may constitute a crime or an immediate threat to the child's health or safety, the department shall convey by the most expedient means available the information contained in such telephone call to the appropriate law enforcement agency, district attorney, or other public official empowered to provide necessary aid or assistance.

Every local department of social services shall establish a child protective service within the department with the responsibility to conduct investigations of reports of child maltreatment.

For those reports that are included in the family assessment and services track, the social services district shall conduct the family assessments.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law §§ 424; 427-a

Upon receipt of a report, each child protective service shall commence, within 24 hours, an appropriate investigation that shall include the following:

  • An evaluation of the environment of the child named in the report and any other children in the same home
  • A determination of the risk to such children if they continue to remain in the existing home environment
  • A determination of the nature, extent, and cause of any condition enumerated in the report
  • The names, ages, and conditions of other children in the home
  • After seeing to the safety of the child or children, notify the subjects of the report and other persons named in the report in writing of the existence of the report and their respective rights

When the social services district determines that a case is appropriate to be included in the family assessment and services track, the district's activities shall include, at a minimum, the following:

  • The provision of written notice to each parent or caregiver explaining that it is the intent of the social services district to meet the needs of the family without engaging in a traditional child protective services investigation
  • An examination, with the family, of the family's strengths, concerns, and needs
  • Where appropriate, an offer of assistance that shall include case management that is supportive of family stabilization
  • The planning and provision of services responsive to the service needs of the family
  • An ongoing joint evaluation and assessment of the family's progress including periodic assessments of risk to the child

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law §§ 424; 427-a

Each child protective service shall do the following:

  • No later than 7 days after receipt of the initial report, send a preliminary written report of the initial investigation, including evaluation and actions taken or contemplated, to the central register
  • Determine, within 60 days, whether the report is 'indicated' or 'unfounded'

For reports assigned to the family assessment and services track, the social services district shall be responsible for ensuring that the children are safe in their homes. A safety assessment shall be commenced within 24 hours of receipt of the report and completed within 7 days.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Soc. Serv. Law § 412

Reports of investigations shall be classified as follows:

  • A report shall be 'unfounded' unless either of the following applies:
    • An investigation commenced on or before December 31, 2021, determines that some credible evidence of the alleged abuse or maltreatment exists.
    • An investigation commenced on or after January 1, 2022, determines that a fair preponderance of the evidence of the alleged abuse or maltreatment exists.
  • A report shall be 'indicated' if either of the following applies:
    • An investigation commenced on or before December 31, 2021, determines that some credible evidence of the alleged abuse or maltreatment exists.
    • An investigation commenced on or after January 1, 2022, determines that a fair preponderance of the evidence of the alleged abuse or maltreatment exists.