The Use of Safety and Risk Assessment in Child Protection Cases - Hawaii

Date: March 2021

Safety Assessment

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 587A-7; Admin. Code §§ 17-1610-2; 17-1610-17

The following factors shall be fully considered when determining whether a child's family is willing and able to provide the child with a safe family home:

  • Facts relating to the child's current situation, including the following:
    • The child's age, vulnerability, and special needs that affect the child's attachment, growth, and development
    • The child's developmental, psychological, medical, and dental health status and needs
    • The child's peer and family relationships and bonding abilities
    • The child's educational status and setting, and the department's efforts to maintain educational stability for the child in out-of-home placement
    • The child's living situation
    • The child's fear of being in the family home
    • The impact of out-of-home placement on the child
    • Services provided to the child and family
    • Efforts to maintain connections between the child and the child's siblings, if they are living in different homes
  • The initial and any subsequent reports of harm and threatened harm to the child
  • Dates and reasons for the child's out-of-home placement; description, appropriateness, and location of the placement; and who has placement responsibility
  • Facts regarding the alleged perpetrators of harm to the child, the child's parents, and other family members who are parties to the court proceedings, including the following:
    • Birthplace and family of origin
    • The manner in which the alleged perpetrator of harm was parented
    • Marital and relationship history
    • Prior involvement in services
  • Results of psychiatric, psychological, or developmental evaluations of the child, the alleged perpetrators, and other family members who are parties
  • Whether there is a history of abusive or assaultive conduct by the child's family members and others who have access to the family home
  • Whether there is a history of substance abuse by the child's family or others who have access to the family home
  • Whether any alleged perpetrator has completed services in relation to any history identified in the paragraphs above and acknowledged and accepted responsibility for the harm to the child
  • Whether any nonperpetrator who resides in the family home has demonstrated an ability to protect the child from further harm and to ensure that any current protective orders are enforced
  • Whether there is a support system available to the child's family, including adoptive and hanai relatives, friends, and faith-based or other community networks
  • Attempts to locate and involve extended family, friends, and other community networks
  • Whether the child's family has demonstrated an understanding of and involvement in recommended services to provide a safe family home for the child
  • Whether the child's family has resolved identified safety issues in the family home within a reasonable time
  • The assessment made by the Department of Human Services (DHS), which shall include the demonstrated ability of the child's family to provide a safe family home for the child, and recommendations

In regulation: 'Assessment' or 'investigation' is the systematic gathering and evaluation of information about the family for the purpose of making decisions regarding confirmation of child abuse and/or neglect, protection of the child, and services to the family.

DHS shall receive each report alleging abuse or neglect of a child and shall immediately assess the validity of the report, the safety of the child, and the agency response to the report.

Safety Decisions and Safety Planning

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 17-1610-27; 17-1610-28

DHS may provide short-term services to a child and family in accordance with departmental procedures, provided there is a determination of the following:

  • The child may be safely maintained in the home with the provision of services.
  • The family is willing and able to participate in voluntary in-home services.
  • There is a case plan that specifies the responsibilities of the family, a maximum 1-year timeframe for the successful completion of services, and clear consequences if the timeframe is not met.

Voluntary out-of-home intervention services may be offered to the child or family when there is an assessment that the harm or risk to the child requires temporary out-of-home placement of the child.

Risk Assessment

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 17-1610-2; 17-1610-23

The term 'risk assessment' means the collecting and interpreting of information about a child and family that is utilized during the duration of a family's involvement with DHS by the child welfare services social worker in a continual process of evaluating whether there is reasonable, foreseeable risk of harm to the child.

DHS shall assess each accepted report accepted in accordance with departmental procedures. The assessment, which will continue throughout the duration of the case, will determine whether the child has been harmed or is threatened with harm and the action that will be taken by DHS.

DHS shall determine and initiate any needed services necessary to complete the assessment, including, but not limited to, multidisciplinary team consultation; and psychological, psychiatric, psychosexual, or other needed evaluations pursuant to departmental procedures.

Family Strengths and Needs Assessment to Determine Service Needs

Citation: Admin. Code §§ 17-1610-25; 17-1610-26

Based on an assessment of the family, DHS shall determine and initiate assessment and treatment services, including, but not limited to, ohana conferencing; multidisciplinary team consultation; and psychological, psychiatric, psychosexual, or other needed evaluations pursuant to departmental procedures. DHS shall provide appropriate and available services to eligible children and their families subject to the availability of funding and resources.

Services may be provided by DHS staff as well as through community providers.

For all children and families assessed as needing ongoing child welfare casework services, DHS shall develop with the family a case plan. The case plan shall be a written document that, at a minimum, contains the following:

  • A written current assessment of the safety and/or risk of the child based on criteria pursuant to § 587A-7
  • A service that at a minimum contains goals, objectives, services, the responsibilities of parties to the case plan, timeframes, consequences, and a likely date for successful completion of the plan

Ongoing Assessment to Evaluate Progress on the Service Plan

Citation: Admin. Code § 17-1610-25

DHS shall maintain regular contacts with the family and the child for the following purposes:

  • Ensure the safety, well-being, and permanency of the child
  • Monitor and coordinate the family's use of treatment and services that have been made available
  • Evaluate the family's progress toward making the recommended changes

DHS shall obtain periodic written or verbal reports from those persons or agencies providing counseling, treatment, or services to the child and family. The reports shall describe the issues being addressed, the child and family's response to services, recommendations for further treatment needs, and an assessment of the family's ability to provide a safe and nurturing home for the child.

Assessment for Reunification and/or Case Closure

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 587A-7; Admin. Code § 17-1610-45

The court shall consider the likelihood that the current situation presented in the safe family home factors set forth in § 587A-7 will continue in the reasonably foreseeable future.

In regulation: Child welfare casework services shall be terminated when any of the following apply:

  • DHS finds the child is not at risk of harm or threatened harm.
  • Harm or threatened harm is not confirmed after an assessment is completed.
  • Harm or threatened harm is confirmed, but child welfare casework services are not determined necessary to ensure the child's safety.
  • Harm or threatened harm is confirmed, services are successfully completed, and DHS finds that the child is no longer at risk of harm or threatened harm.
  • The maltreater leaves the home permanently and the family is able to protect the child from harm or threatened harm.
  • The child victim leaves the home permanently with parental consent to live with the nonmaltreating parent, other relatives, or friends, and there are no other siblings harmed or threatened with harm.
  • The child has been returned to a safe family home and services have been successfully completed.