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H.B. 257






Sponsor: Matt Throckmorton

             6      This act requires the Division of Child and Family Services to follow the same investigative
             7      requirements for both preremoval and postremoval investigations of child abuse or neglect.
             8      This act affects sections of Utah Code Annotated 1953 as follows:
             9      AMENDS:
             10          62A-4a-202.3, as last amended by Chapters 274 and 321, Laws of Utah 2000
             11          62A-4a-409, as last amended by Chapters 274 and 321, Laws of Utah 2000
             12      Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
             13          Section 1. Section 62A-4a-202.3 is amended to read:
             14           62A-4a-202.3. Investigation -- Substantiation of reports -- Child in protective
             15      custody.
             16          (1) When a child is taken into protective custody in accordance with Sections
             17      62A-4a-202.1 and 78-3a-301 , the Division of Child and Family Services shall immediately initiate
             18      [a post-removal] an investigation of the circumstances of the minor and the facts surrounding his
             19      being taken into protective custody.
             20          (2) The division's [post-removal] investigation shall include, among other actions
             21      necessary to meet reasonable professional standards:
             22          (a) a search for and review of any records of past reports of abuse or neglect involving the
             23      same child, any sibling or other child residing in that household, and the alleged perpetrator;
             24          (b) with regard to a child who is five years of age or older, a personal interview with the
             25      child outside of the presence of the alleged perpetrator, conducted in accordance with the
             26      requirements of Subsection (7);
             27          (c) an interview with the child's natural parents or other guardian, unless their whereabouts

             28      are unknown;
             29          (d) an interview with the person who reported the abuse, unless anonymous;
             30          (e) where possible and appropriate, interviews with other third parties who have had direct
             31      contact with the child, including school personnel and the child's health care provider;
             32          (f) an unscheduled visit to the child's home, unless the division has reasonable cause to
             33      believe that the reported abuse was committed by a person who does not:
             34          (i) live in the child's home; or
             35          (ii) have access to the child; and
             36          (g) if appropriate and indicated in any case alleging physical injury, sexual abuse, or failure
             37      to meet the child's medical needs, a medical examination. That examination shall be obtained no
             38      later than 24 hours after the child was placed in protective custody.
             39          (3) The division may rely on a written report of a prior interview rather than conducting
             40      an additional interview, if:
             41          (a) law enforcement has previously conducted a timely and thorough investigation
             42      regarding the alleged abuse or neglect and has produced a written report;
             43          (b) that investigation included one or more of the interviews required by Subsection (2);
             44      and
             45          (c) the division finds that an additional interview is not in the best interest of the child.
             46          (4) (a) [With regard to both pre- and post-removal, the] The division's determination of
             47      whether a report is substantiated or unsubstantiated may be based on the child's statements alone.
             48          (b) Inability to identify or locate the perpetrator may not be used by the division as a basis
             49      for determining that a report is unsubstantiated, or for closing the case.
             50          (c) The division may not determine a case to be unsubstantiated or identify a case as
             51      unsubstantiated solely because the perpetrator was an out-of-home perpetrator.
             52          (d) Decisions regarding whether a report is substantiated, unsubstantiated, or without merit
             53      shall be based on the facts of the case at the time the report was made.
             54          (5) The division should maintain protective custody of the child if it finds that one or more
             55      of the following conditions exist:
             56          (a) the minor has no natural parent, guardian, or responsible relative who is able and
             57      willing to provide safe and appropriate care for the minor;
             58          (b) shelter of the minor is a matter of necessity for the protection of the minor and there

             59      are no reasonable means by which the minor can be protected in his home or the home of a
             60      responsible relative;
             61          (c) there is substantial evidence that the parent or guardian is likely to flee the jurisdiction
             62      of the court; or
             63          (d) the minor has left a previously court ordered placement.
             64          (6) (a) Within 24 hours after receipt of a child into protective custody, excluding weekends
             65      and holidays, the Division of Child and Family Services shall convene a child protection team to
             66      review the circumstances regarding removal of the child from his home, and prepare the testimony
             67      and evidence that will be required of the division at the shelter hearing, in accordance with Section
             68      78-3a-306 .
             69          (b) Members of that team shall include:
             70          (i) the caseworker assigned to the case and the caseworker who made the decision to
             71      remove the child;
             72          (ii) a representative of the school or school district in which the child attends school;
             73          (iii) the peace officer who removed the child from the home;
             74          (iv) a representative of the appropriate Children's Justice Center, if one is established
             75      within the county where the child resides;
             76          (v) if appropriate, and known to the division, a therapist or counselor who is familiar with
             77      the child's circumstances; and
             78          (vi) any other individuals as determined to be appropriate and necessary by the team
             79      coordinator and chair.
             80          (c) At that 24-hour meeting, the division shall have available for review and consideration,
             81      the complete child protective services and foster care history of the child and the child's parents
             82      and siblings.
             83          (7) After receipt of a child into protective custody and prior to the adjudication hearing,
             84      all investigative interviews with the child that are initiated by the division shall be audio or video
             85      taped, and the child shall be allowed to have a support person of the child's choice present. That
             86      support person may not be an alleged perpetrator.
             87          (8) The division shall cooperate with law enforcement investigations regarding the alleged
             88      perpetrator.
             89          (9) The division may not close an investigation solely on the grounds that the division

             90      investigator is unable to locate the child, until all reasonable efforts have been made to locate the
             91      child and family members. Those efforts include:
             92          (a) visiting the home at times other than normal work hours;
             93          (b) contacting local schools;
             94          (c) contacting local, county, and state law enforcement agencies; and
             95          (d) checking public assistance records.
             96          Section 2. Section 62A-4a-409 is amended to read:
             97           62A-4a-409. Investigation by division -- Temporary protective custody -- Preremoval
             98      interviews of children.
             99          (1) The division shall make a thorough pre-removal investigation upon receiving either
             100      an oral or written report of alleged abuse, neglect, fetal alcohol syndrome, or fetal drug
             101      dependency, when there is reasonable cause to suspect a situation of abuse, neglect, fetal alcohol
             102      syndrome, or fetal drug dependency. The primary purpose of that investigation shall be protection
             103      of the child.
             104          (2) The preremoval investigation [may include inquiry into the child's home environment,
             105      emotional, or mental health, nature and extent of injuries, and physical safety] shall include the
             106      same investigative requirements described in Section 62A-4a-202.3 .
             107          (3) The division shall make a written report of its investigation. The written report shall
             108      include a determination regarding whether the alleged abuse or neglect was substantiated,
             109      unsubstantiated, or without merit.
             110          (4) (a) The division shall use an interdisciplinary approach whenever possible in dealing
             111      with reports made under this part.
             112          (b) For this purpose, the division shall convene appropriate interdisciplinary "child
             113      protection teams" to assist it in its protective, diagnostic, assessment, treatment, and coordination
             114      services.
             115          (c) A representative of the division shall serve as the team's coordinator and chair.
             116      Members of the team shall serve at the coordinator's invitation, and whenever possible, the team
             117      shall include representatives of health, mental health, education, law enforcement agencies, and
             118      other appropriate agencies or individuals.
             119          (5) In any case where the division supervises, governs, or directs the affairs of any
             120      individual, institution, or facility that has been alleged to be involved in acts or omissions of child

             121      abuse or neglect, the investigation of the reported child abuse or neglect shall be conducted by an
             122      agency other than the division.
             123          (6) If a report of neglect is based upon or includes an allegation of educational neglect the
             124      division shall immediately consult with school authorities to verify the child's status in accordance
             125      with Sections 53A-11-101 through 53A-11-103 .
             126          (7) When the division has completed its initial investigation under this part, it shall give
             127      notice of that completion to the person who made the initial report.
             128          (8) Division workers or other child protection team members have authority to enter upon
             129      public or private premises, using appropriate legal processes, to investigate reports of alleged child
             130      abuse or neglect.
             131          (9) With regard to any interview of a child prior to removal of that child from his home:
             132          (a) except as provided in Subsection (9)(b) or (c), the division shall notify a parent of the
             133      child prior to the interview;
             134          (b) if a child's parent or stepparent, or a parent's paramour has been identified as the
             135      alleged perpetrator, the division need not notify a parent of the child prior to an initial interview
             136      with the child;
             137          (c) if the perpetrator is unknown, or if the perpetrator's relationship to the child's family
             138      is unknown, the division may conduct a minimal interview, not to exceed 15 minutes, with the
             139      child prior to notification of the child's parent;
             140          (d) in all cases described in Subsection (9)(b) or (c), a parent of the child shall be notified
             141      as soon as practicable after the child has been interviewed, but in no case later than 24 hours after
             142      the interview has taken place;
             143          (e) a child's parents shall be notified of the time and place of all subsequent interviews
             144      with the child; and
             145          (f) the child shall be allowed to have a support person of the child's choice present. That
             146      support person:
             147          (i) may include, but is not limited to, a school teacher or administrator, guidance
             148      counselor, or child care provider; and
             149          (ii) may not be a person who is alleged to be, or potentially may be, the perpetrator.
             150          (10) In accordance with the procedures and requirements of Sections 62A-4a-202.1
             151      through 62A-4a-202.3 and 78-3a-301 , a division worker or child protection team member may take

             152      a child into protective custody, and deliver the child to a law enforcement officer, or place the child
             153      in an emergency shelter facility approved by the juvenile court, at the earliest opportunity
             154      subsequent to the child's removal from its original environment. Control and jurisdiction over the
             155      child is determined by the provisions of Title 78, Chapter 3a, and as otherwise provided by law.
             156          (11) With regard to cases in which law enforcement has or is conducting an investigation
             157      of alleged abuse or neglect of a child:
             158          (a) the division shall coordinate with law enforcement to ensure that there is an adequate
             159      safety plan to protect the child from further abuse or neglect; and
             160          (b) the division is not required to duplicate an aspect of the investigation that, in the
             161      division's determination, has been satisfactorily completed by law enforcement.

Legislative Review Note
    as of 1-18-01 10:27 AM

A limited legal review of this legislation raises no obvious constitutional or statutory concerns.

Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel

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