Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Oklahoma

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, § 1-2-101

Every person having reason to believe that a child younger than age 18 is a victim of abuse or neglect shall report the matter immediately to the Department of Human Services. Reports shall be made to the hotline. Any allegation of abuse or neglect reported in any manner to a county office shall immediately be referred to the hotline by the department.

Every school employee who has reason to believe that a student under age 18 is a victim of abuse or neglect shall report the matter immediately to the department and local law enforcement. Reports to the department shall be made to the hotline. Any allegation of abuse or neglect reported in any manner to a county office shall immediately be referred to the hotline by the department. Every school employee who has reason to believe that a student age 18 or older is a victim of abuse or neglect shall report the matter immediately to local law enforcement.

Content of Reports

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, § 1-2-101

Every physician, surgeon, other health-care professional, or midwife making a report of abuse or neglect or examining a child to determine the likelihood of abuse or neglect and every hospital or related institution in which the child was examined or treated shall provide, upon request, copies of the results of the examination; copies of the examination on which the report was based; and any other clinical notes, x-rays, photographs, and other previous or current records relevant to the case to law enforcement officers conducting a criminal investigation into the case and to employees of the department conducting an investigation of alleged abuse or neglect in the case.

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, §§ 1-2-101; 1-2-102; 1-1-105

Every physician, surgeon, or other health-care professional involved in the prenatal care of expectant mothers or the delivery or care of infants shall promptly report to the department instances in which an infant tests positive for alcohol or a controlled dangerous substance. This shall include infants who are diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Whenever the department determines there is a child that meets the definition of a drug-endangered child or a child has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome and the referral is accepted for investigation, the department shall investigate the allegations and shall not limit the evaluation of the circumstances to an assessment.

Whenever the department determines an infant has been diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome or a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, but the referral is not accepted for investigation, the department shall develop a plan of safe care that addresses both the infant and affected family member or caregiver. The plan of safe care shall address, at a minimum, the health and substance use treatment needs of the infant and affected family member or caregiver.

The term 'drug-endangered child' means a child who is at risk of suffering physical, psychological, or sexual harm as a result of the use, possession, distribution, manufacture, or cultivation of controlled substances, or the attempt of any of these acts, by a person responsible for the health, safety, or welfare of the child. This term includes circumstances wherein the substance abuse of the person responsible for the health, safety, or welfare of the child interferes with that person's ability to parent and provide a safe and nurturing environment for the child.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, § 1-2-101

The department shall establish a statewide centralized hotline for the reporting of child abuse or neglect to the department. Any allegation of abuse or neglect reported in any manner to a county office shall immediately be referred to the hotline by the department.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 340, § 75-3-200

All reports are screened to determine whether allegations meet the definition of child abuse or neglect and are within the scope of a Child Protective Services (CPS) assessment or investigation. If the allegations are not appropriate for CPS, the reporter may be given an explanation why an assessment or investigation will not be conducted and, if appropriate, where a referral may be made to assist the family.

Intervention is limited to current situations as the CPS focus is on identifying and protecting children who are presently at risk or will be at risk if safety measures are not put in place. When a report alleges abuse or neglect that is not recent, information is obtained to determine if there is reason to believe that the child or other children may be presently at risk or in present danger. When information does not indicate a child is presently at risk or in present danger, CPS intervention may not be warranted.

When a report is received that is not appropriate for CPS and services are needed, the worker may make a referral within the department, to outside resources, or both, for emergency food, shelter, medical services, or counseling.

CPS will assign an accepted report for assessment or investigation as follows:

  • An assessment is conducted when a report meets the abuse or neglect guidelines and does not constitute a serious and immediate safety threat to a child.
  • An investigation is conducted when any of the following apply:
    • A report meets the abuse or neglect guidelines and constitutes a serious and immediate threat to the safety of a child.
    • There have been three or more reports accepted for assessment or investigation regarding the family.
    • The family has been the subject of a deprived petition.
    • The child has been diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome or is a drug-endangered child.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, §§ 1-2-102; 1-2-105

Upon receipt of a report that a child may be abused or neglected, the department shall conduct a safety analysis. If the department determines that a person responsible for the child's health, safety, or welfare or to provide protection for the child does not appear to be responsible for the alleged abuse or neglect, the department shall immediately make a referral, either verbally or in writing, to the appropriate local law enforcement agency for the purpose of conducting a possible criminal investigation.

The department shall determine the military status of parents whose children are subject to abuse or neglect. If the department determines that a parent or guardian is currently serving on active duty in the United States military, the department shall notify a U.S. Department of Defense family advocacy program that there is an investigation into the parent or guardian. The department shall forward a report of its assessment or investigation and findings to the appropriate military law enforcement entity.

The investigation of a report of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse or both sexual abuse and serious physical abuse shall be conducted, when appropriate and possible, using a multidisciplinary team approach. Law enforcement and the department shall exchange investigation information.

The department may request an investigation be conducted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation or other law enforcement agency in cases where it reasonably believes that criminally injurious conduct including, but not limited to, physical or sexual abuse of a child has occurred.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, §§ 1-1-105; 1-2-105; 1-2-106

An assessment is a comprehensive review of child safety and an evaluation of family functioning and protective capacities that is conducted in response to a child abuse or neglect referral that does not allege a serious and immediate safety threat to a child.

An investigation is a response to an allegation of abuse or neglect that involves a serious and immediate threat to the safety of the child, making it necessary to determine the following:

  • The current safety of a child and the risk of subsequent abuse or neglect
  • Whether child abuse or neglect occurred and whether the family needs prevention- and intervention-related services

Any county office of the department receiving a child abuse or neglect report shall promptly respond to the report by initiating an investigation of the report or an assessment of the family in accordance with priority guidelines established by the department. The primary purpose of the investigation or assessment shall be the protection of the child.

The investigation or assessment shall include a visit to the home of the child unless there is reason to believe that there is an extreme safety risk to the child or worker. The visit shall include an interview with and examination of the subject child and any other child in the home. The investigation or assessment may include an interview with the parents of the child or any other person responsible for the health, safety, or welfare of the child.

The investigation or assessment may include a medical, psychological, or psychiatric examination of any child in the home.

At the initial time of contact with a person responsible for the health, safety, or welfare of a child who is the subject of an investigation, the department shall advise the person of the specific complaint or allegation made against the person.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 340, § 75-3-200

The department prioritizes reports of alleged child abuse or neglect based on the severity and immediacy of the alleged harm to the child and assigns a response time, as follows:

  • Priority I reports: A Priority I report indicates the child is in present danger and at risk of serious harm or injury. Allegations of abuse and neglect may be severe and conditions extreme. The situation is responded to immediately, the same day the report is received.
  • Priority II reports: Priority II is assigned to all other reports. The response time is established based on the vulnerability and risk of harm to the child. Priority II assessments or investigations are initiated within 2 to 10 calendar days from the date the report is accepted for assessment or investigation.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 10A, § 1-1-105

The results of an investigation may be classified as follows:

  • Substantiated: The department has determined, after an investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect and based upon some credible evidence, that child abuse or neglect has occurred. When child abuse or neglect is substantiated, the department may recommend either of the following:
    • Court intervention if the department finds the health, safety, or welfare of the child is threatened
    • Child abuse and neglect prevention- and intervention-related services for the child, parents, or persons responsible for the care of the child if court intervention is not determined to be necessary
  • Unsubstantiated: The department has determined after an investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect that insufficient evidence exists to fully determine whether child abuse or neglect has occurred. If child abuse or neglect is unsubstantiated, the department may recommend, when determined to be necessary, that the parents or persons responsible for the care of the child obtain child abuse and neglect prevention- and intervention-related services.
  • Ruled out: A child protective services specialist has determined after an investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect that no child abuse or neglect has occurred.