340:75-3-530. Appeal process for substantiated findings of child abuse or neglect
(a) Purpose. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), Section 5101 et seq. of Title 42 of the United States Code, requires Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) to provide an appeal process for persons who disagree with a substantiated finding of child abuse or neglect. The appeal process:
(1) provides individuals with a substantiated finding of child abuse or neglect an opportunity for due process;
(2) serves as a quality assurance mechanism to assess findings compliance with child protective services (CPS) standards, per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-3-120 and 340:75-3-130; and
(3) provides substantiated findings review by Child Welfare Services (CWS) personnel not involved in any other stage of the case.
(b) Eligibility criteria.
(1) An individual may be eligible to request an appeal when the individual is a person responsible for the child's (PRFC) health, safety, or welfare, per OAC 340:75-3-120, in an investigation involving abuse or neglect allegations and the investigation results in a substantiated finding regarding the PRFC.
(2) An eligible individual may request a review through the appeal process when:
(A) no deprived petition is filed; or
(B) a deprived petition is filed and the court case is dismissed prior to adjudication.
(3) An individual meeting the requirements in (1) and (2) of this subsection is not eligible for a review through the appeal process when:
(A) other court action is filed or a court order is issued concerning the alleged child abuse or neglect including, but not limited to:
(i) permanent protective orders issued against the PRFC that include the alleged child victim(s); or
(ii) pending or concluded criminal court proceedings; or
(B) another OKDHS program-specific review is pending or was conducted including, but not limited to:
(i) a child death or near-death; or
(ii) any substantiated finding of an out-of-home care investigation completed by a child welfare (CW) specialist or an Office of Client Advocacy investigator.
(c) Tribal investigations not eligible for OKDHS appeal process. The OKDHS appeal process applies only to OKDHS-conducted investigations. Child abuse or neglect investigations by a tribal representative or on tribal land are not eligible for the OKDHS appeal process.
(d) Appeal process procedures. Appeal process procedures are outlined in (1) through (4) of this subsection.
(1) PRFC notification. Upon substantiation of abuse, neglect, or both, the CW specialist notifies the PRFC of the finding by sending Forms 04KI019E, Notification Concerning Finding(s) of Child Abuse/Neglect, and 04KI020E, Request for Appeal of Substantiated Findings of Child Abuse or Neglect, provided the criteria in this Section are met. Forms 04KI019E and 04KI020E are not mailed to the PRFC when case records reflect notification may place family members at risk • 2. When sent, Forms 04KI019E and 04KI020E are:
(A) mailed to last known address within 10-calendar days of substantiation of abuse or neglect; or
(B) sent secure to the PRFC's individually owned and operated personal email address that is not shared with other users within 10-calendar days of abuse or neglect substantiation:
(i) Form 04KI019E informs the PRFC of:
(I) any substantiated child abuse or neglect finding in the investigation; and
(II) the date of the abuse or neglect referral, allegation, and finding without identifying the reporting party.
(ii) Form 04KI020E specifies:
(I) the PRFC may file an appeal by emailing a request to CWS Appeals Program Unit at CWS.AppealsProgramReview@okdhs.org within 15-calendar days from the postmark on the envelope containing Form 04KI020E; or
(II) the PRFC may mail a request to CWS Appeals Program Unit within 15-calendar days from the postmark on the envelope containing Form 04KI020E; and
(III) failure to submit the appeal request within 15-calendar days from the postmark on the envelope containing Form 04KI020E results in the finding becoming final, and the PRFC waives any right to appeal this finding in the future, unless good cause is established per this Section. • 1
(2) Conditions of good cause. A PRFC is granted a review despite failure to make a timely response, provided good cause is established including, but not limited to, severe illness or other disabling condition.
(3) Response to appeal request from PRFC. When the PRFC requests a review within the required time, the Appeals Program Unit responds to the PRFC through written notice within 10-calendar days following receipt of the PRFC's request for review. The Appeals Program Unit notifies the PRFC:
(A) of the right to provide additional information through written statements that must be submitted within 30-calendar days from the postmark on the envelope containing the notification that the appeal was accepted for review;
(B) that failure to submit additional information within 30-calendar days results in a waiver of this right, unless good cause is established per this Section; and
(C) that verification of legal representation must be established when the PRFC requests an attorney be notified of the determination results. Verification is established by a statement of representation on the attorney's official letterhead. • 3
(4) Review Procedure. • 5 Within 120-calendar days following acceptance of the PRFC's timely request for a review, or a late request for a review when good cause was established per this Section, the CWS Appeals Program Unit determines if the substantiated finding of abuse or neglect meets substantiation protocol, per OAC 340:75-3-120.
(A) The decision to uphold, modify, or reverse the original finding of abuse or neglect is determined by reviewing:
(i) Form 04KI003E, Report to District Attorney, that includes Form 04KI030E, Assessment of Child Safety, attachments, and relevant CWS information including CW history and referrals; and
(ii) all written documents submitted by the PRFC.
(B) Per OAC 340:75-3-120, the Appeals Program Unit determines the finding failed to meet the criteria for substantiation based upon a lack of:
(i) credible evidence to support the allegations of child abuse, neglect, or both; or
(ii) documentation by the CW specialist.
(I) When a lack of documentation exists, the Appeals Program Unit sends notification to the district director, approving supervisor, and CW specialist that information is missing and requests the information be added to the report or scanned into the KIDS document management system.
(II) After notification by the Appeals Program Unit, the district director reopens and reassigns the investigation.
(III) The assigned CW specialist adds the additional information to the report within 15-calendar days of the reassignment and sends notification to the Appeals Program Unit when completed.
(IV) The Appeals Program Unit reconsiders the PRFC's appeal with the additional information and upholds, modifies, or reverses the finding as appropriate.
(C) The Appeals Program Unit enters a modified finding in KIDS, when appropriate.
(i) When the substantiation finding is appropriate, but the allegation in KIDS is incorrect, the Appeals Program Unit ensures the inappropriate allegation is marked as an improper entry and the correct allegation is added with the substantiated finding.
(ii) Forms 04KI019E, Notification Concerning Finding(s) of Child Abuse/Neglect, and 04KI020E, Request for Appeal of Substantiated Findings of Child Abuse or Neglect, are mailed to the PRFC with the corrected allegations with the substantiated finding.
(D) The Appeals Program Unit provides written notification or secure email notification to the personal email address individually owned and operated by the PRFC and not shared with other users of the final determination of the finding within 120-calendar days following acceptance of the PRFC's request for a review to the:
(i) PRFC who requested the review;
(ii) district director;
(iii) regional deputy director;
(iv) CW supervisor;
(v) CW specialist;
(vi) tribe, when applicable; and
(vii) Child Care Services, when applicable.
(E) When the finding is reversed, the district attorney's office in the county where the finding originated is notified by district staff. • 6
INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF 340:75-3-530
1. Notification of right to appeal substantiated finding to person responsible for the child's (PRFC) health, safety, or welfare.
(1) When to send right to appeal notification to PRFC. After an investigation with a substantiated finding is approved by the child welfare (CW) supervisor, the CW supervisor ensures Forms 04KI019E, Notification Concerning Finding(s) of Child Abuse/Neglect, and 04KI020E, Request for Appeal of Substantiated Findings of Child Abuse or Neglect, are sent within 10-calendar days to each PRFC identified during the investigation.
(2) How to send appeal notification to the PRFC. KIDS generates Forms 04KI019E and 04KI020E. The PRFC's address populates to Form 04KI019E designed to display the PRFC's address in a window envelope. Forms 04KI019E and 04KI020E are mailed.
(3) When the CW specialist is able to obtain the individually owned and operated personal email address of a PRFC that is not a shared email address, and the PRFC indicates he or she is willing to receive the Form 04KI019E, Notification Concerning Finding(s) of Child Abuse/Neglect, via email instead of mail, the Forms 04KI019E and 04KI020E can be emailed to the PRFC with the following provisions, the:
(A) message is sent via secure email as described by Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES);
(B) message is sent to the PRFC's email address with a read receipt request; and
(C) CW specialist documents the date and time they receive notice that the email was read as a contact in KIDS in the investigation; and
(4) Email correspondence is not authorized for shared email accounts or professional or work email accounts. When the client does not have a personal email address that the PRFC alone monitors, the forms are sent by mail.
2. Justification for not providing appeal notification. Justification for not sending Forms 04KI019E and 04KI020E is documented in KIDS Contacts screens..
3. Response to appeal request from an Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) employee who was the subject of an investigation. In lieu of a review by the Appeals Program Unit, an OKDHS employee may request a review by programs staff. A request for review by programs staff is submitted in writing at the time of the appeal request. The review by program staff is comprised of a programs:
(2) supervisor; and
(3) field representative.
4. Appeal notification to Child Welfare Services (CWS) staff. When the Appeals Program Unit accepts a PRFC request for review, notification of the acceptance is provided to the CW specialist assigned to the investigation, CW supervisor, district director, and regional deputy director.
5. Review procedures.
(1) The CWS Appeals Program Unit reviews the accepted appeal to determine if the substantiated finding of abuse or neglect meets substantiation protocol, per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-3-120.
(A) The CWS Appeals Program Unit reviews and determines to uphold, modify, or reverse the original finding of abuse or neglect.
(B) When applicable due to the case's complexity, the appeal is reviewed by a Continuous Quality Improvement/Quality Assurance (CQI/QA) program field representative or designee for concurrence.
(C) When there is non-concurrence between the two reviews, the appeal is reviewed by a CWS program administrator for final recommendation or final determination, per OAC 340:75-3-530.
(D) When the Appeals Program Unit modifies a finding that is subsequently appealed, the review and determination are made by a CWS program administrator.
(2) When an appeal determination conducted by the Appeals Program Unit does not concur with the companion in-home appeal determination conducted by Child Protective Services (CPS), per OAC 340:75-3-500 Instructions to Staff, the final decision is made by the CQI/QA and CPS program administrators.
6. Final determination regarding investigation finding.
(1) The Appeals Program Unit notifies the appellant, district director, regional deputy director, CW specialist assigned to the investigation, CW supervisor, and appropriate programs staff of the final determination regarding if the substantiated finding is upheld, modified, or reversed.
(2) After the final determination is complete, district staff notifies the district attorney when the finding is reversed.
(3) The CW specialist prints the final determination email, files the email in the CWS case record and, when applicable, in the resource record, and scans the email and stores it in the document management system (DMS).
7. Record retention. Sections 1-101 through 1-6-103, 1-6-107, and 1-2-108 of Title 10A of Oklahoma Statutes require:
(1) records and correspondence to and from the appellant, the appellant’s attorney, or both, and original photographs, or black and white copies of photographs, be retained in DMS. The records and correspondence are reviewed on an annual basis with duplicate and ancillary materials destroyed when no longer required for administrative purposes; and
(2) substantive records are retained by OKDHS permanently.