Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Utah

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Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-4a-403

When a mandated reporter has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect, or who observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect, he or she shall immediately notify a peace officer, a law enforcement agency, or the Division of Child and Family Services.

Content of Reports

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-4a-403

The report shall include the reporter's observations of the conditions or circumstances of the child that led to the suspicion that the child was being abused or neglected.

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-4a-405

Any person who has reason to believe that a child has died as a result of abuse or neglect shall report that fact to the following:

  • The local law enforcement agency, who shall report to the county attorney or district attorney
  • The appropriate medical examiner

The medical examiner shall investigate and report his or her findings to the police, the appropriate county attorney or district attorney, the Attorney General's Office, the division, and if the institution making the report is a hospital, to that hospital.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-4a-404

A health-care provider who attends the birth of a newborn child or cares for a newborn child shall report to the division as soon as possible when the provider determines the following:

  • Any of the following applies to the newborn child:
    • The child is adversely affected by the mother's substance abuse during pregnancy.
    • The child has fetal alcohol syndrome or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
    • The child demonstrates drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • The parent of the newborn child or a person responsible for the child's care demonstrates functional impairment or an inability to care for the child as a result of the parent's or person's substance abuse.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-4a-403; Admin. Code R512-200-3

If a peace officer or a law enforcement agency receives a report, the peace officer or law enforcement agency shall immediately notify the nearest office of the division. If the division receives a report, the division shall immediately notify the appropriate local law enforcement agency.

In regulation: The division will maintain a system for receiving referrals or reports about child abuse, neglect, or dependency. The system shall supply workers with a complete previous division history for each child, including siblings; foster care episodes; all reports of abuse, neglect, or dependency; treatment plans; and casework deadlines.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Ann. Code § 62A-4a-409; Admin. Code R512-200-3

The division shall make a thorough preremoval investigation upon receiving either an oral or written report of alleged abuse, neglect, fetal alcohol syndrome, or fetal drug dependency when there is reasonable cause to suspect that a situation of abuse, neglect, fetal alcohol syndrome, or fetal drug dependency exists. The primary purpose of the investigation shall be protection of the child.

In regulation: The division establishes Child Protective Services (CPS) priority timeframes as follows:

  • A Priority 1 response shall be assigned when the child referred is in need of immediate protection.
  • A Priority 2 response shall be assigned when physical evidence is at risk of being lost or the child is at risk of further abuse, neglect, or dependency, but the child does not have immediate protection and safety needs, as determined by the intake checklist.
  • A Priority 3 response shall be assigned when potential for further harm to the child and the loss of physical evidence is low.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 62A-4a-403; 62A-4a-409

The division shall, in addition to its own investigation, coordinate with the law enforcement agency on investigations undertaken by the law enforcement agency to investigate the report of abuse or neglect. If a law enforcement agency undertakes an investigation of a report, the law enforcement agency shall provide a final investigatory report to the division, upon request.

The division shall use an interdisciplinary approach, when appropriate, in dealing with reports of abuse or neglect. For this purpose, the division shall convene appropriate interdisciplinary 'child protection teams' to assist it in its protective, diagnostic, assessment, treatment, and coordination services. A representative of the division shall serve as the team's coordinator and chair. Whenever possible, the team shall include representatives of the following:

  • Health, mental health, education, and law enforcement agencies
  • The child
  • The parent and family support groups unless the parent is alleged to be the perpetrator
  • Other appropriate agencies or individuals

If a report of neglect is based upon or includes an allegation of educational neglect, the division shall immediately consult with school authorities to verify the child's status.

For cases in which law enforcement has or is conducting an investigation of alleged abuse or neglect of a child, the following apply:

  • The division shall coordinate with law enforcement to ensure that there is an adequate safety plan to protect the child from further abuse or neglect.
  • The division is not required to duplicate an aspect of the investigation that, in the division's determination, has been satisfactorily completed by law enforcement.

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 62A-4a-202.3; 62A-4a-203.1

The division's investigation shall include the following:

  • A search for and review of any records of past reports of abuse or neglect involving the same child, any sibling or other child residing in the same household as the child, and the alleged perpetrator
  • For a child who is age 5 or older, a personal interview with the child outside of the presence of the alleged perpetrator
  • If a parent or guardian can be located, an interview with at least one of the child's parents or guardian
  • An interview with the person who reported the abuse unless the report was made anonymously
  • When possible and appropriate, interviews with other third parties who have had direct contact with the child, including school personnel and the child's health-care provider
  • An unscheduled visit to the child's home unless there is a reasonable basis to believe that the reported abuse was committed by a person who is not the child's parent and does not live in the child's home or otherwise have access to the child in the child's home
  • If appropriate and indicated in any case alleging physical injury, sexual abuse, or failure to meet the child's medical needs, a medical examination that is obtained no later than 24 hours after the child is placed in protective custody

Caseworkers shall use evidence-informed or evidence-based safety and risk assessments to guide decisions concerning a child throughout a child protection investigation or proceeding. As part of the safety and risk assessments, the division shall assess at least the following:

  • Threats to a child's safety
  • The protective capabilities of a parent, including the parent's readiness, willingness, and ability to plan for the child's safety
  • A child's particular vulnerabilities
  • Interventions required to protect a child
  • The likelihood of future harm to a child

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Admin. Code R512-200-3

CPS shall respond to reports according to the priority timeframes as follows:

  • For a Priority 1 report, intake will begin to collect information immediately after the completion of the initial contact from the reporter and, as soon as possible thereafter, obtain additional information, staff the referral to determine the priority, notify law enforcement, and assign the case to the CPS worker. The CPS worker has, as a standard, 60 minutes from the time of assignment to initiate efforts to make face-to-face contact with an alleged victim. For a Priority 1R (rural) referral, the worker has, as a standard, 3 hours to initiate efforts to make face-to-face contact if the alleged victim is more than 40 miles away.
  • For a Priority 2 report, intake will begin to collect information as soon as possible after the completion of the initial contact and, as soon as possible, obtain additional information, staff the referral to determine the priority, assign the case to the CPS worker, and notify law enforcement. The CPS worker has, as a standard, 24 hours from the time of assignment to initiate efforts to make face-to-face contact with the alleged victim.
  • For a Priority 3 report, intake will obtain additional information, research data sources, staff the referral as necessary, determine the priority, and notify law enforcement before transferring the case to a CPS worker. The CPS worker will make the face-to-face contact with the alleged victim by the end of the third business day.

Classification of Reports

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 62A-4a-101; 62A-4a-409; 62A-4a-202.3

The division shall make a written report of its investigation that shall include a determination regarding whether the alleged abuse or neglect is supported, unsupported, or without merit. Determinations may be one of the following:

  • 'Supported:' a finding by the division based on the evidence available at the completion of an investigation that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that abuse, neglect, or dependency occurred
  • 'Unsupported:' a finding by the division at the completion of an investigation that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that abuse, neglect, or dependency occurred
  • 'Without merit:' a finding by the division at the completion of an investigation or a judicial finding that the alleged abuse, neglect, or dependency did not occur or that the alleged perpetrator was not responsible for the abuse, neglect, or dependency

The division's determination of whether a report is supported or unsupported may be based on the child's statements alone. Decisions regarding whether a report is supported, unsupported, or without merit shall be based on the facts of the case at the time the report was made.

'Substantiated' or 'substantiation' means a judicial finding based on a preponderance of the evidence that abuse or neglect occurred. Each allegation made or identified in a given case shall be considered separately in determining whether there should be a finding of substantiated. 'Unsubstantiated' means a judicial finding that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that abuse or neglect occurred.