340:75-3-110. Child protective services (CPS) relationship to other entities involved in child abuse and neglect investigations and deprived cases
(a) Other entities' responsibilities for, or regarding child abuse or neglect investigations.
(1) Office of Client Advocacy (OCA).
(A) The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), OCA, per Section 1-9-112 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes (10A O.S. § 1-9-112), is responsible for investigations of allegations of child abuse:
(i) or neglect of the child placed in a DHS facility, or in a public or private residential facility including, but not limited to, jails or detention centers, hospitals, psychiatric facilities and treatment programs, day treatment programs, and licensed or unlicensed residential child care facilities; and
(ii) neglect, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation by a community services worker, per 56 O.S. § 1025.1.
(B) Reports of suspected abuse or neglect of a child are made to the DHS Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline (Hotline) as prescribed in Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:2-3-33.
(C) OCA does not investigate allegations of abuse or neglect of the child in foster homes, specialized community homes, therapeutic foster homes, or kinship home placements.
(2) Child Care Services (CCS). DHS CCS is responsible for implementing the Oklahoma Child Care Facilities Licensing Act, per 10 O.S. §§ 401 through 441 designed to ensure child safety. CCS has concurrent responsibilities with CPS in investigations of alleged physical abuse, sexual abuse, or serious neglect in child care centers and homes. Whenever possible, investigations are conducted jointly by CCS and CPS. This does not include violations of CCS licensing requirements that are referred to CCS.
(3) Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA). OJA investigates allegations of child abuse or neglect in facilities operated per the Oklahoma Juvenile Code.
(b) CPS and inter-agency relationships. CPS functions as a component of the multi-faceted system established to protect children from abuse and neglect that includes law enforcement, the court system, other social services agencies and organizations. CPS is a component of the child welfare (CW) services continuum that includes preventive and protective services, voluntary family-centered services, foster care and placement services, and adoption services.
(c) CPS role. CPS evaluates reports of child abuse or neglect, assesses child safety and the risk of future maltreatment and the need for protective services, and provides and coordinates services.
(d) Law enforcement role. Law enforcement investigates a report of child abuse or neglect as a crime.
(1) Reports that require joint involvement by CPS and law enforcement are conducted as CPS investigations rather than assessments.
(2) Law enforcement identifies and arrests the offender, gathers court-admissible evidence, and protects the integrity of the evidence so the offender can be prosecuted in criminal court.
(3) Law enforcement may:
(A) provide protection to the child, other family members, and the CW specialist during crisis intervention; • 1
(B) place the child into protective custody and authorize immediate medical or behavioral health treatment, when necessary, to protect the child's health, safety, or welfare, per 10A O.S. § 1-4-201; and
(C) release the child to a person designated by the parent when the person responsible for the child (PRFC) was arrested on a charge or warrant for a crime other than child endangerment or child abuse or neglect, per 10A O.S. § 1-4-201.
(e) Child Welfare Services (CWS) joint response with law enforcement. • 2 When law enforcement takes a child into protective custody due to abuse or neglect allegations, CWS is contacted in accordance with the joint response protocol developed, per 10A O.S. § 1-4-201. When possible, CWS responds to the scene where the child's protective custody was assumed.
(1) CWS conducts a safety evaluation at the scene to determine if the child faces a safety threat and, when so, if the child can be protected through placement with relatives or others instead of a DHS foster care placement.
(2) When a determination is made at the scene that the child cannot safely remain in the home, law enforcement and CWS coordinate transportation of the child to a location where DHS believes the child can be protected. DHS utilizes a shelter when other placement options are unavailable or inappropriate.
(4) A child taken into protective custody by law enforcement is not by virtue of a standing order, considered to be in DHS emergency custody upon the child's admission to a shelter. A child cannot be placed in DHS emergency custody until:
(A) CWS has completed a safety evaluation and concluded the child faces an imminent safety threat; and
(B) the court has issued a child-specific emergency custody order.
(f) Restoration of custody to the parent, legal guardian, or custodian when child is in protective custody. When the safety evaluation conducted by CWS indicates the child does not face an imminent safety threat, DHS restores the child to the custody and control of the parent, legal guardian, or custodian, per 10A O.S. § 1-4-201. • 3 Specific county procedures are followed when a child is released from protective custody by the court.
(g) DHS relationship with law enforcement and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI).
(1) DHS coordinates the child abuse and neglect investigation with law enforcement, when appropriate. DHS does not relinquish investigative responsibility when law enforcement requests that DHS not interview certain persons or delay the DHS investigation. Instead, DHS develops a plan with law enforcement to ensure the DHS child safety responsibilities are fulfilled without interfering with the criminal investigation. • 2
(2) The DHS Director or designee has the authority to request a criminal investigation by OSBI or another law enforcement agency, per 10A O.S. § 1-2-105, when it is reasonably believed that criminally injurious conduct including, but not limited to, physical or sexual abuse of a child occurred. • 4
(h) District attorney's (DA) role in deprived matters. It is the DA's responsibility to determine if the information obtained during the CPS investigation warrants filing a petition alleging the child to be deprived. • 5
(i) The DA's role in criminal prosecutions. DHS makes recommendations to the DA regarding deprived proceedings but not for criminal prosecution. The DA has the responsibility to decide if criminal charges are filed against the alleged perpetrator of child abuse and neglect. The CPS investigation recommendation is limited to the action necessary for child safety.
(j) Child's attorney's role. In deprived proceedings, the attorney appointed for the child is independent of and not selected by the DA, the child's parent, legal guardian, or custodian, per 10A O.S. § 1-4-306. In criminal actions brought under Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the child victim may be appointed an attorney, per 21 O.S. § 843.7.
(1) The child's attorney represents the child's expressed interests unless the child is very young, unable to express an interest, or incapable of judgment and meaningful communication. When the child is unable to express an interest or lacks judgment, the attorney formulates and presents a position that serves the best interests of the child using objective criteria outlined in 10A O.S. § 1-4-306, rather than relying solely on the attorney's life experience or instinct.
(2) The child's attorney meets with the child as soon as possible after appointment and, except for good cause, prior to any hearing in the deprived proceeding. DHS provides the child's attorney access to reports, records, information relevant to the case, and the child's parent, legal guardian, or custodian's examination reports. Per Oklahoma Administrative Code 340:75-6-48.1, the attorney is advised of the child's location and the best way to contact the child. • 6
(k) Guardian ad litem's role. Per 10A O.S. § 1-4-306, the court appoints, after a deprived petition is filed and upon the request of the child, child's attorney, DHS, or another party to the deprived action, a guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate (CASA) to objectively advocate for, and investigate matters concerning the child's best interests. The guardian ad litem or CASA makes reports and recommendations to the court and conducts interviews with parents, legal guardian, custodian, foster parents, providers, CW specialists, and others with case knowledge. • 7
(l) Judge's role in deprived matters. Per 10A O.S. § 1-4-201, the judge may, upon application by the DA, issue a court order to place the child in emergency custody when the child is in need of immediate protection due to an imminent safety threat. After a deprived petition is filed, the judge hears the evidence presented during the adjudication hearing and decides if the child is adjudicated a deprived child. When the child is adjudicated deprived, the judge decides if the child is placed in the custody of the PRFC, a relative, DHS, or another agency, and may order the PRFC and child to participate in a court-ordered individualized service plan.
(m) Judge's role in child custody or visitation proceedings. When a judge, during a proceeding concerning child custody or visitation, determines there is evidence of abuse or neglect of the child, 10A O.S. § 1-4-201 requires the court to refer the allegations to DHS for an assessment or investigation. The referring court may also enter an order to have the child taken into emergency custody when evidence indicates the child is in surroundings that endanger his or her health, safety, or welfare. • 8
INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF 340:75-3-110
1.Law enforcement notification.Child Welfare Services (CWS) notifies law enforcement as soon as possible when the child welfare (CW) specialist determines:
(1) a child, the CW specialist, or other person needs immediate protection to prevent physical harm;
(2) a child is found in a situation dangerous to the child's health, safety, or welfare;
(3) a child's health or condition warrants medical or behavioral health evaluation, examination, or treatment and the person responsible for the child's (PRFC) health, safety, or welfare is unavailable or unwilling to obtain the needed care;
(4) the act of abuse or neglect caused serious injury to the child;
(5) sexual abuse appears likely to have occurred based on initial interviews or on the basis of the sexual abuse report when there are allegations of physical trauma resulting from sexual abuse; or
(6) a child who was placed in protective custody has a sibling in imminent danger.
2.(a) Coordinating investigations with law enforcement.When efforts to coordinate the investigation with law enforcement are unsuccessful:
(1) the district director is notified;
(2) assistance from Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Legal Services is requested when needed; and
(3) the coordination efforts are documented on Form 04KI003E, Report to District Attorney.
(b) Notification to law enforcement of a crime.
(1) CWS notifies law enforcement at any time during the child abuse or neglect investigation when a criminal investigation appears warranted.
(2) The CW specialist verbally notifies law enforcement of the potential crime and submits written notification using Form 04CP002E, Notification to Law Enforcement Agency of Child Abuse or Neglect Report.
(c) Joint response system between CWS and law enforcement.The system for joint response is utilized when a child is taken into protective custody by law enforcement or when law enforcement requests CWS respond to the scene in regards to a child's safety and, includes:
(1) designating CWS staff to serve as contact persons for law enforcement;
(2) the CW specialist conducting a safety evaluation at the scene to determine if the child can be protected through a safety plan with an identified caretaker without the need for DHS to seek an emergency custody order to place the child in foster care; or
(3) the CW specialist conducting a safety evaluation at the law enforcement office, the local CWS office, or other location as agreed upon with law enforcement within 23 hours, when:
(A) the CW specialist is unable to respond to the scene in a reasonable time period;
(B) exigent circumstances exist and law enforcement must act immediately without CWS participation; or
(C) there are other circumstances where it is not feasible or advisable for the CW specialist to respond to the scene;
(4) coordination between law enforcement and CWS for transportation of the child to a location where CWS believes the child can be protected.When the child is in emergency DHS custody, and it is safe to do so, CWS transports.CWS staff is authorized to provide transportation of the child when indicated, per Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-1-32.A shelter is only utilized when the home of a relative, or foster home is not immediately available or is inappropriate; and
(5) a request by the CW specialist to the district attorney (DA) for application for emergency custody when the child cannot be restored to the custody of the parent, legal guardian, or custodian and the safety evaluation determines the need for emergency custody of the child. Form 04CP008E, Child Protective Services – Affidavit, is completed and presented to the DA when requesting emergency custody.
(d) Report of abuse or neglect by someone other than the PRFC.Refer to Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:75-3-400 for reports of abuse or neglect by someone other than the PRFC.
3.Restoration of custody to the parent, legal guardian, or custodian when the child is in protective custody.Following a safety evaluation, when DHS determines the child in protective custody does not face an imminent safety threat, the child is restored to the custody and control of only the child's parent, legal guardian, or custodian.
4.(a) When to request an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) or other law enforcement criminal investigation.An OSBI or other law enforcement criminal investigation may be warranted in an open CWS case, when:
(1) local law enforcement or the DA's office does not have the available local resources to investigate the criminally injurious conduct and has not requested OSBI or other law enforcement assistance;
(2) the physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect is serious, per OAC 340:75-3-120;
(3) the alleged perpetrator of the abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect is an unknown caregiver or there is more than one caregiver; and
(4) CWS does not have the investigative resources or information to determine who abused the child and is unable to ensure the child's safety.
(b) Procedures for requesting an OSBI criminal investigation.When an OSBI investigation appears warranted, the:
(1) CW specialist and supervisor consult with the district director, who:
(A) reviews the matter;
(B) consults with the DA to determine if the DA requested or will request OSBI or other law enforcement assistance; and
(C) notifies the regional deputy director when the DA declines to request OSBI or other law enforcement assistance; and
(2) regional deputy director notifies the Child Protective Services (CPS) Programs Unit.The CPS Programs Unit reviews the request and initiates the DHS Director request for a criminal investigation by OSBI or other law enforcement agency, when appropriate.
5.Recommendations to the DA.Consultation, coordination, and a good working relationship with the DA are essential to ensure effective communication regarding the child's protection needs.
(1) The CW specialist submits the DHS recommendation in writing regarding the need for court intervention even when the DA verbally indicates a deprived petition may not or will not be filed.
(2) The CW specialist recommends emergency custody of the child by submitting Form 04CP008E to the DA when the child is in danger and no available resource can be activated to prevent harm.
(3) The CW specialist uses Form 04KI003E to:
(A) recommend a deprived petition and court intervention; or
(B) report the finding for each investigation, except when the finding is reasonable parental discipline.
6.Child's attorney.The CW specialist consults with the child's attorney to enhance the child's well-being, when possible.
7.Guardian ad litem or court-appointed special advocate (CASA).The CW specialist and the guardian ad litem or the CASA coordinate and cooperate with each other to ensure the best services are provided for the child.
8.Child custody or visitation proceedings.
(1) When the referring court places the child in DHS custody, the information is documented on Form 04KI001E, Referral Information Report, and an investigation is immediately assigned as a Priority I, per OAC 340:75-3-400.
(2) When the referring court makes a report of abuse or neglect, the information is documented on Form 04KI001E and an investigation is assigned per OAC 340:75-3-400.DHS submits the completed investigation to the DA and referring judge within 30-calendar days of the referral date.
9.Guardianship or power of attorney.When a relative or non-relative caretaker is granted guardianship or power of attorney and a referral was assigned regarding the parent, legal guardian, or custodian alleging abuse, neglect, or both, a complete and thorough safety evaluation of the child referenced in the assigned report is required in the home of the legal guardian or person having power of attorney.All PRFCs, including parents, are included in the safety assessment.Assurances are obtained from the person having power of attorney or guardianship to immediately notify the CW specialist when the power of attorney or guardianship was revoked or modified.