<<Prev Rule

Texas Administrative Code

Next Rule>>
TITLE 40SOCIAL SERVICES AND ASSISTANCE
PART 19DEPARTMENT OF FAMILY AND PROTECTIVE SERVICES
CHAPTER 707CHILD PROTECTIVE INVESTIGATIONS
SUBCHAPTER AINVESTIGATIONS
DIVISION 1INTAKE, INVESTIGATION AND ASSESSMENT
RULE §707.489How do we respond to reports of child abuse or neglect?

(a) When the Statewide Intake (SWI) division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) receives a report of alleged abuse or neglect of a child, we may respond with any of the following protective interventions, as further described in this section:

  (1) Closure without assignment for investigation following screening;

  (2) Administrative closure;

  (3) An abbreviated investigation;

  (4) A thorough investigation; or

  (5) An alternative response.

(b) Intake closed without assignment for investigation

  (1) SWI screeners may screen out less serious reports of abuse and neglect if they determine after contacting a professional or other credible source that the child's safety can be assured without conducting an investigation or alternative response and the report meets the following criteria:

    (A) the report is assigned a priority other than Priority I;

    (B) there are no alleged victims younger than six; and

    (C) the family does not have an open investigation or alternative response case, and is not receiving services through DFPS.

  (2) Both, SWI screeners and Investigations supervisory staff, may close a report without assigning for investigation if they determine, after contacting collateral sources, that the report is not appropriate for an investigation by us for reasons including:

    (A) the reported information has already been investigated in a case closed before the date of the new intake;

    (B) the investigation is the responsibility of an entity other than the Investigations program;

    (C) the report does not give enough information to locate the child or the child's family, after the staff makes reasonable efforts to find additional locating information based on details in the report; or

    (D) the incident does not meet the statutory definitions of abuse or neglect or the situation does not appear to involve a reasonable likelihood that a child will be abused or neglected in the foreseeable future.

  (3) If the report of abuse and neglect concerns a child in the conservatorship of DFPS, SWI screeners and Investigations supervisory staff may not screen out the report. However, in the following limited circumstances, SWI screeners may screen out such a report if:

    (A) DFPS has previously investigated all current allegations; or

    (B) DFPS lacks jurisdiction to investigate.

  (4) Before making a decision to close a report without assignment for investigation or alternative response, SWI screeners and Investigations supervisory staff must consider the following:

    (A) the behavior of the family, including a review of all relevant prior history the family has with DFPS and any concerning involvement the family has with other agencies, such as law enforcement or service providers;

    (B) the nature of the allegations and other relevant information such as the ages of each child in the home, alleged conditions in the home, and the types and seriousness of any alleged injuries;

    (C) whether an alleged victim made an outcry of abuse or neglect; and

    (D) any additional information obtained from the reporter or collateral sources.

(c) Administrative closure.

  (1) Under certain circumstances, we may administratively close a report which was initially assigned for investigation if we obtain additional information indicating that an investigation is no longer warranted. Criteria we consider when deciding to administratively close an investigation include, but are not limited to, situations in which:

    (A) The allegations have already been investigated by us;

    (B) The allegations have been refuted based on a credible source and all of the following criteria are met:

      (i) There are no previous findings of abuse or neglect against the parent or caregiver in the current investigation or alternative response case;

      (ii) We have not received any subsequent reports of abuse or neglect of any alleged victim, with the exception of reports that involve the same incidents and allegations as in the original report;

      (iii) After contacting a professional or other credible sources with direct knowledge about the child's condition, we have determined that the child's safety can be assured without further assessment, response, services, or assistance; and

      (iv) we determine that no abuse or neglect occurred.

    (C) We do not have jurisdiction to conduct the investigation because:

      (i) Another authorized entity, such as law enforcement or another state agency, has jurisdiction to conduct the investigation;

      (ii) The alleged victim is not a child or was not born alive; or

      (iii) The abuse or neglect, a danger, or risk of abuse or neglect is not occurring in Texas.

    (D) The investigation was initiated on the basis of an anonymous report and after completing any necessary initial tasks, including any required interviews or collateral contacts, we determine that:

      (i) There is no corroborating evidence; and

      (ii) A parent has taken actions to protect the alleged victims from any identified dangers.

  (2) If an investigation has been open for more than sixty days after the date of the intake, the supervisor must administratively close the investigation if all the following criteria are met:

    (A) There are no previous findings of abuse or neglect against the parent or caregiver in the current investigation or alternative response case;

    (B) We have not received any additional reports of abuse or neglect of any alleged victim, with the exception of reports that involve the same incidents and allegations as in the original report;

    (C) After contacting a professional or other credible sources with direct knowledge about the child's condition, the supervisor determined that the child's safety can be assured without further investigation, response, services, or assistance;

    (D) No abuse or neglect occurred;

    (E) Closing the case would not expose the child to undue risk of harm; and

    (F) The program director reviews and determines that administratively closing the case is appropriate.

  (3) Exception. Notwithstanding the criteria in subparagraph (B) of paragraph 1 of this subsection, if we have made contact with the alleged victim or alleged perpetrator, the investigation is not eligible for administrative closure under subparagraph (B). However, the case may still be eligible for other types of administrative closure or abbreviated rule out, if applicable.

(d) Abbreviated investigation with a disposition of "ruled out".

  (1) Cases assigned for investigation may be handled with an abbreviated investigation with findings of "ruled out", if we determine that no abuse or neglect has occurred and the child's safety can be assured without further investigation, response, services or assistance. We may submit an investigation as an abbreviated rule out, which does not require completing the formal risk assessment tool, when all of the following criteria in addition to any other criteria defined policy are met:

    (A) There are no previous findings of abuse or neglect against the parent or caregiver in the current investigation or alternative response case;

    (B) We have not received any subsequent reports of abuse or neglect of any alleged victim unless the new report involves the same incident(s) and allegation(s) under investigation; and

    (C) The reporter is not anonymous.

  (2) We must at a minimum perform the following tasks before submitting the investigation as an abbreviated rule out:

    (A) Interview and visually inspect each alleged victim;

    (B) Interview at least one parent or other person with primary or legal responsibility for each alleged victim;

    (C) Complete a safety assessment and document whether any noted dangers are controlled by protective actions that have been or will be taken by the child's parent or other person with primary or legal responsibility for the child; and

    (D) Conduct any required home visit.

(e) Thorough investigation.

  (1) Except as provided in subsection (f) of this section and division 2 of this subchapter (relating to Alternative Response), we must complete a thorough investigation if we obtain information indicating that:

    (A) There are dangers to the child because of abuse or neglect;

    (B) Risk of abuse or neglect is indicated; or

    (C) Based on information in the report and any initial contacts, it is impossible to determine whether or not there are dangers to the child because of abuse or neglect or whether risk of abuse or neglect is indicated.

  (2) Before closing a thorough investigation, we must at a minimum perform the following tasks:

    (A) Interview each alleged victim child;

    (B) Interview at least one of the parents or other person with primary or legal responsibility for the victim child;

    (C) Interview each alleged perpetrator;

    (D) Interview other individuals who have information that is relevant or potentially relevant to the report of abuse or neglect;

    (E) Complete a safety assessment and document whether any noted dangers are controlled by protective actions that have been or will be taken by the child's parent or other person with primary or legal responsibility for the child, unless the investigation relates to a deceased child and there is no other child in the home; and

    (F) Assess the risk of future abuse or neglect, unless the investigation relates to a deceased child and there is no other child in the home.

(f) Alternative response. An alternative response is a protective intervention governed by division 2 of this subchapter and Texas Family Code, §261.3015, that involves an assessment of the family, including a safety assessment, and provision of necessary services and supports. Alternative response does not result in a formal finding of abuse or neglect or the designation of a perpetrator.

(g) Exceptions to required interviews. We are not required to conduct an interview to close an abbreviated or thorough investigation as described in subsections (c) and (d) of this section if we exhaust all reasonable efforts to conduct the interview but are unable to do so because:

  (1) The person to be interviewed is unable to be interviewed because of age or other exceptional circumstance;

  (2) The person to be interviewed, the person's parent or other legal guardian, or the attorney representing the person refuses to permit the interview;

  (3) The alleged perpetrator has been arrested or is under investigation by a law enforcement agency and the interview would interfere with the investigation or violate the alleged perpetrator's rights; or, the alleged perpetrator is detained and the jail, prison, or other detention facility in which the alleged perpetrator is detained will not permit the interview; or

  (4) The person to be interviewed has been interviewed by another entity and we accept the substitute interview. If the person, the person's parent or other legal guardian, or the attorney representing the person requests that the person also be interviewed by us, the investigator must conduct one supplemental interview.


Source Note: The provisions of this §707.489 adopted to be effective July 15, 2020, 45 TexReg 4780; amended to be effective September 22, 2022, 47 TexReg 6250

Link to Texas Secretary of State Home Page | link to Texas Register home page | link to Texas Administrative Code home page | link to Open Meetings home page