Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - North Carolina

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-301

A mandated reporter who has cause to suspect that a child is abused, neglected, or dependent shall report the case to the Department of Social Services in the county where the child resides. The report may be made orally, by telephone, or in writing.

Content of Reports

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-301

The report shall contain information as is known to the reporter, including the following:

  • The name and address of the child and the child's parent(s), guardian, or caregiver
  • The age of the child
  • The names and ages of other children in the home
  • The present whereabouts of the child, if not at the home address
  • The nature and extent of any injury or condition resulting from abuse or neglect
  • Any other information that the reporter believes might be helpful in establishing the need for protective services or court intervention

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

Citation: Gen. Stat. §§ 7B-301; 7B-302

A mandated reporter who has cause to believe that a child has died as a result of maltreatment shall report the case to the department.

The department shall immediately ascertain if other children are in the home and in need of protective services or immediate removal from the home.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-301

Reports shall be made to the Department of Social Services in the county where the child resides.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-302

When a report of abuse, neglect, or dependency is received, the department shall make a prompt and thorough assessment using either a family assessment response or an investigative assessment response in order to ascertain the facts of the case, the extent of the abuse or neglect, and the risk of harm to the juvenile and determine whether protective services should be provided or the complaint filed as a petition.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-302

When a report of abuse, neglect, or dependency is received, the department shall conduct the assessment or investigation.

In performing any duties related to the assessment of the report or the provision or arrangement for protective services, the department may consult with any public or private agencies or individuals, including the available State or local law enforcement officers who shall assist in the assessment and evaluation of the seriousness of any report of abuse, neglect, or dependency when requested by the department.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-302; Admin. Code Tit. 10A, § 70A.0106

The assessment and evaluation shall include a visit to the place where the child resides, except when the report alleges abuse or neglect in a child care facility. When a report alleges abuse or neglect in a child care facility, a visit to the place where the child resides is not required. When the report alleges abandonment, the assessment shall include a request from the department to law enforcement officials to investigate through the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons and other national and State resources whether the child is a missing child.

In regulation: When a report is received, the county director shall check the county agency's records and the State central registry to ascertain if any previous reports have been made concerning the alleged child victim.

The county director shall make an investigation to assess the following:

  • Whether the specific environment in which the child is found meets the child's need for care and protection
  • The facts regarding the existence of abuse, neglect, or dependency
  • The nature and extent of any injury or condition resulting from abuse, neglect, or dependency
  • The risk of harm to and need for protection of the child

There shall be face-to-face interviews with the alleged child victim, the parent or caregiver, the alleged perpetrator, and any person who has information about the condition of the child. The investigation shall include a visit to the place where the child resides.

The county director shall implement a structured decision-making process that includes assessments of the immediate safety and future risk of harm to the child and the family's strengths and needs. In addition, there shall be documentation of an assessment of all the information obtained during the investigation, any safety response plan, and the case decision.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Gen. Stat. § 7B-302

When the report alleges abuse, the director shall immediately, but no later than 24 hours after receipt of the report, initiate the assessment. When the report alleges neglect or dependency, the director shall initiate the assessment within 72 hours following receipt of the report. When the report alleges abandonment, the director shall immediately initiate an assessment, take appropriate steps to assume temporary custody of the child, and take appropriate steps to secure an order for nonsecure custody of the child.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 10A, §§ 70A.0107; 70A.0108

A report is considered 'found' when an investigation reveals the presence of abuse, neglect, or dependency. A report is considered 'not found' when a thorough investigation does not reveal abuse, neglect, or dependency.