HCS/HB 143 - This act modifies the provisions relating to hotline calls received and investigations of suspected child abuse or neglect conducted by the Children's Division within the Department of Social Services.
HOTLINE CALLS AND INVESTIGATIONS
The act requires each hotline and division case worker and the circuit manager of the county where an investigation occurs that involves a case of a child's death or serious injury to receive a preliminary evaluation by the division to determine if a performance assessment to assess if the worker's or manager's ability to competently perform his or duties is required. If an assessment is required, it shall be completed within three days of the child's death.
The Children's Division is also required to review a case when three or more calls regarding the same child are made to the hotline within a 72-hour time period to determine if the calls meet the criteria and statutory definition for a child abuse and neglect report to be accepted. The review shall include contacting the hotline caller or callers to collect information if the calls meet the criteria for harassment. A hotline worker is required to instruct an individual to call 911 when a child may be in immediate danger.
Division workers responding to a child abuse and neglect investigation are prohibited from calling prior to a home visit or leaving a business card, pamphlet, or other similar identifying information at a residence if (1) no person is present at the time of home visit and the alleged perpetrator resides in the home or the child's safety may be compromised if the alleged perpetrator becomes aware of the visit; (2) the alleged perpetrator becomes aware of the attempted visit; or (3) the family has a history of domestic violence of fleeing the community.
If the alleged perpetrator is present during the visit, a division worker responding to or investigating a child abuse and neglect report shall provide written material to the alleged perpetrator informing the person of his or her rights regarding the visit, including the right to contact an attorney. The alleged perpetrator shall be given a reasonable amount of time, not to exceed five minute, to read the material or have the material read to him or her before the visit commences. This requirement shall not apply in a case where the child faces an immediate threat or danger or if the person responding to or investigating a report feels threatened or in danger or physical harm.