|(a) The purpose of an Administrative Review of Investigation
Findings (ARIF) is to provide an informal review process for a person
who has been designated as a perpetrator or victim/perpetrator of
child abuse or neglect as specified in §700.512(b)(2) or (3)
of this title (relating to Conclusions about Roles).
(b) To be eligible, the designated perpetrator must
request an ARIF, in writing, within 45 days after receiving notice
of the findings of the investigation.
(c) A person is not entitled to an ARIF for a finding
of abuse or neglect if a court of competent jurisdiction has already
issued a ruling consistent with that specific finding.
(d) Except as provided in subsection (f) of this section,
Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) must within 45
days after the date on which a request for an ARIF is received:
(1) conduct the ARIF; or
(2) notify the requestor that the request has been
denied because the requestor is not eligible for an ARIF, as specified
in this section.
(e) After a designated perpetrator submits a written
request for an ARIF, a resolution specialist will contact the requestor
to schedule the review. If the resolution specialist is unable to
make contact with the requestor and the requestor does not respond
to the attempts to make contact within 30 days of the initial attempt,
DFPS will not proceed with the review and the requestor waives his
or her right to an ARIF. If the requestor subsequently contacts DFPS
after the above-specified timeframe, the resolution specialist may
reschedule the review if the resolution specialist determines good
reason existed for exceeding the timeframe.
(f) DFPS may postpone an ARIF when there is a pending
civil or criminal suit or an ongoing criminal investigation relating
to the same acts or omissions involved in DFPS's finding of abuse
or neglect. If DFPS decides to postpone the ARIF, the resolution specialist
will notify the requester in writing within 45 days after the request
for an ARIF was received. The notification will indicate the length
of time of the delay or specify that the requester may notify DFPS
when the court case has been completed or the criminal investigation
has been closed, as appropriate. The resolution specialist will review
the requester's eligibility for an ARIF after the delay. If the requester
is determined eligible for an ARIF, it must be conducted within 45
days from notification of the completion of the suit or criminal investigation
that caused the postponement.
(g) The ARIF is conducted by a DFPS employee (the "resolution
specialist ") who was not involved in the investigation and did not
directly supervise the investigation. The ARIF is an informal review
in which the participants may appear, make statements, provide relevant
written materials, and ask questions. The requestor has the right
to bring a legal representative and a support person to the review.
The support person may not participate in the review. If the designated
perpetrator is a minor, the parent or guardian may also speak on the
minor's behalf during the review. Any witnesses for the requestor
must submit their statements in writing to the resolution specialist.
(h) The resolution specialist may review the investigation
case record, ask questions, and gather other relevant information.
The formal rules of evidence do not apply and the review does not
include formal witness testimony. The resolution specialist may consider
all allegations relating to the investigation, including allegations
that were "reason-to-believe," "unable-to-determine," or "ruled-out"
at the conclusion of the investigation, and the evidence gathered
during the investigation and the ARIF process. The resolution specialist
must confirm that decisions of "reason-to-believe" are supported by
a preponderance of the evidence.
(i) After completing the ARIF, the resolution specialist
must timely issue a written decision that upholds, reverses, or alters
the original investigation findings. The resolution specialist only
reviews and issues a written decision on findings pertaining to the
requestor. An original finding of "reason-to-believe" for abuse or
neglect may be upheld, or may be reversed to a finding of either "unable-to-determine"
or "ruled-out." A finding may be altered with respect to the type
of abuse or neglect found to have occurred. For example, an original
finding of "reason-to-believe" for "physical abuse" of a child may
be altered to a finding of "reason-to-believe" for "neglectful supervision"
of the child.
(j) If the resolution specialist's decision reverses
or alters any of the original investigation findings, DFPS must change
its records regarding the outcome of the investigation to reflect
the resolution specialist's decision.
(k) Notwithstanding anything in this section, if an
individual is entitled to an administrative hearing before the State
Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), DFPS may, at its sole discretion,
waive the conduct of an ARIF and proceed directly to the SOAH hearing.