Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect - Wyoming

Date:

Individual Responsibility to Report

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-205

Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected shall immediately report it to the child protective services (CPS) agency or local law enforcement agency.

Content of Reports

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-206

Reports of child abuse or neglect or of suspected child abuse or neglect made to the local CPS agency or local law enforcement agency shall be followed by a written report by the receiving agency confirming or not confirming the facts reported. The report shall provide to law enforcement, the local CPS agency, and the State judge advocate for the Wyoming Military Department when appropriate, the following, to the extent available:

  • The name, age, and address of the child
  • The name and address of any person responsible for the child's care
  • The nature and extent of the child's condition
  • The basis of the reporter's knowledge
  • The names and conditions of any other children relevant to the report
  • Any evidence of previous injuries to the child
  • Photographs, videos, and x-rays with the identification of the person who created the evidence and the date the evidence was created
  • Any other relevant information

Reporting Suspicious Deaths

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-207

Any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has died as a result of abuse or neglect shall report to the appropriate coroner. The coroner shall investigate the report and submit his or her findings in writing to the law enforcement agency, the appropriate district attorney, and the local CPS agency.

Reporting Substance-Exposed Infants

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

Agency Receiving the Reports

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-206

Reports of child abuse or neglect or of suspected child abuse or neglect made to the local CPS agency or local law enforcement agency shall be conveyed immediately by the agency receiving the report to the appropriate local CPS agency or local law enforcement agency and, if the person responsible for the welfare of a child is a member of the armed forces or if the child is enrolled in the defense enrollment eligibility reporting system of the U.S. Department of Defense, to the State judge advocate for the Wyoming Military Department. The agencies shall continue cooperating and coordinating with each other during the assessment or investigation.

The State agency may establish and maintain a statewide reporting center to receive reports of child abuse or neglect on 24-hour, 7-day-a-week, toll-free telephone number. Upon establishment of the service, all reports of child abuse or neglect may be made to the center, which shall transfer the reports to the appropriate local CPS agency.

Initial Screening Decisions

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-204; Wyo. Rules § 049-0006-2

The CPS agency shall assign a report as follows:

  • For investigation when allegations contained in the report indicate either of the following:
    • Criminal charges could be filed, the child appears to be in imminent danger, and it is likely the child will need to be removed from the home.
    • A child fatality, major injury, or sexual abuse has occurred.
  • For assessment when the report does not meet the criteria above

In regulation: Reports of suspected child abuse or neglect shall be made to any field office of the Department of Family Services or to any law enforcement center at any time. All reports are screened to determine whether the allegations meet the statutory definitions of child abuse/neglect and are within the scope of CPS. The verification process will begin within 24 hours. The department shall check records, including the central registry, to obtain pertinent information, including past department involvement.

The department may make collateral contacts for the purpose of assessing safety, clarifying, or establishing the credibility of the report. Such collateral contacts shall not be considered as initiating an investigation unless the report is subsequently accepted.

A safety assessment will be initiated within 24 hours and completed within 7 calendar days for all accepted reports to determine if the case is appropriate for investigation or assessment. Accepted reports where criminal charges appear unlikely, children do not appear to be in imminent danger, or removal from the home appears unlikely may be assigned for assessment. The case will be referred for investigation if the safety assessment indicates a child is in imminent danger.

Agency Conducting the Assessment/Investigation

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-204; Wyo. Rules § 049-0006-2

The local child protective agency shall receive, assess, investigate, or arrange for investigation, and coordinate investigation or assessment of all reports of known or suspected child abuse or neglect.

In regulation: It is recommended that all investigations be teamed with law enforcement. In addition, the department will immediately contact the appropriate law enforcement agency for assistance and consideration of criminal investigation or other action in cases that include, but are not limited to, the following types:

  • Reports regarding a child who may have died as a result of abuse or neglect
  • Reports in which imminent danger, sexual abuse, or major injury to the child is suspected
  • Situations necessitating the removal of the child from the home

Assessment/Investigation Procedures

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-204; Wyo. Rules 049-0006-2

The representative of the CPS agency shall, at the initial time of contact with the individual subject to a child abuse and neglect investigation or assessment, advise the individual of the specific complaints or allegations made against the individual. A thorough investigation or assessment and report of child abuse or neglect shall be made in the manner and time prescribed by the State agency pursuant to rules and regulations adopted in accordance with the Wyoming Administrative Procedure Act.

In regulation: The assessment process begins when the report of abuse or neglect is accepted. A safety assessment shall be completed for each child and a safety plan initiated when appropriate. The department will complete a family assessment and case plan when services are accepted.

The investigative process begins when the report is accepted. The department and/or law enforcement shall make in-person contact with the alleged victim, alleged perpetrator, and the child's caregivers. The alleged perpetrator shall not be present during the initial interview of the alleged victim. During the initial interview of the alleged perpetrator, the department shall inform the alleged perpetrator, in writing, of the following:

  • A complaint has been received against him or her and the department has the duty to investigate.
  • The investigation may involve law enforcement or the court, if needed, to protect the child from any further abuse or neglect.

A safety assessment shall be completed for each child and a safety plan initiated, when appropriate. A risk assessment also shall be completed for each child.

Timeframes for Completing Investigations

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 14-3-204; Wyo. Rules § 049-0006-2

Within 24 hours after notification of a suspected case of child abuse or neglect, the local child protective agency shall initiate an investigation or assessment and verification of every report.

In regulation: For an assessment, the department shall make in-person contact with the child and family within 7 calendar days. In-person contact may be extended if the caseworker is unable to make contact following good faith efforts.

For an investigation, in-person contact shall be immediately attempted with the alleged victim and/or family when the report alleges any of the following:

  • All complaints involving major injury
  • Complaints involving a child under age 6
  • Complaints involving children who are suffering from acute, untreated medical conditions
  • Complaints alleging children are in immediate need of food
  • Complaints alleging that the parent or caregiver is psychotic, behaving in a bizarre manner, or acting under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Complaints alleging bizarre punishment or torture
  • Complaints alleging that in addition to abuse/neglect, the child is suicidal
  • Complaints involving abandonment
  • Complaints from doctors and hospital emergency rooms concerning children under their care
  • Self-reports from parents who state they are unable to cope and feel they will hurt or kill their children
  • When it is likely the family may flee the area
  • Cases in which the need for protective custody is indicated

Classification of Reports

Citation: Wyo. Rules § 049-0006-2

Upon completion of an investigation of abuse or neglect, the department shall make a final determination in a written report as to whether a child was abused or neglected. This determination shall be based upon whether the information and evidence gathered during the investigation constitutes credible evidence of child abuse or neglect.

Allegations must be determined to be substantiated or unsubstantiated as follows:

  • When credible evidence of abuse or neglect has been determined, the allegation is substantiated.
  • In the absence of credible evidence, the allegations and the investigation shall be unsubstantiated and the investigation closed. Services may be offered.

The department shall substantiate all reports in which a court has accepted a criminal plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or a civil, juvenile, or criminal court has made a finding that the alleged perpetrator committed certain acts that constitute abuse or neglect under these rules.