340:75-3-220. Investigation protocol
Purpose of investigation. The purpose of Child Protective Services (CPS) is to protect children and provide services to the family, as opposed to a focus on criminal prosecution and punishment. The CPS investigation provides for direct involvement with the family, problem identification, service provision, and the development of a helping relationship. Pursuant to Section 1-2-105 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes (10A O.S. § 1-2-105), Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) responds promptly to a report of child abuse or neglect by initiating an assessment of the family or investigation of the report per OKDHS priority guidelines. The investigation process includes gathering information:
(1) about the reported allegations and family dynamics that jeopardize the child's safety; and
(2) to assess the protective capacity of the family.
INSTRUCTIONS TO STAFF 340:75-3-220
1.Investigation protocol.The investigation protocol is followed closely and sequentially during each investigation, unless a modification for good cause is approved and documented by the child welfare (CW) supervisor.
(1) Persons interviewed, in order, are:
(A) each alleged victim;
(B) each sibling;
(C) each person responsible for the child's (PRFC) health, safety, or welfare, including the custodial and noncustodial parents;
(D) each alleged perpetrator, unless referred to law enforcement as a third-party perpetrator;
(E) collaterals; and
(F) professional consultants.
(2) Diligent attempts are made to first conduct interviews privately and separately.
2.Interview purpose.An interview's main purpose is to:
(1) obtain information to determine if the child was abused or neglected;
(2) assess family functioning to determine safety;
(3) determine the PRFC's protective capacities;
(4) provide information regarding the steps that will be taken and what the family can expect; and
(5) express interest in helping the family resolve problems identified as safety threats.
3.Alleged child victim interviews.
(1) When there is more than one alleged victim, the CW specialist attempts to interview each child individually and apart from the siblings or parents.It may be necessary to have an older sibling or other significant person present to obtain information from some children.If so, that person is reminded of the interview's confidential nature and asked to remain as unobtrusive as possible.
(2) An interview's purpose is to obtain information regarding the alleged abuse or neglect and child, parent, and family functioning, including:
(A) what happened;
(B) when and where the alleged abuse or neglect occurred;
(C) the child's current condition;
(D) other effects of abuse or neglect;
(E) the PRFC's and family's behaviors that indicate the presence or absence of protective capacities;
(F) information and knowledge from the reporter of the alleged abuse or neglect, including any reporters of subsequent referrals that had a screened-out disposition decision with the screened-out allegations addressed in the open report;
(G) information and knowledge from persons who have both professional and personal contact with the family regarding family dynamics and alleged abuse or neglect; and
(H) information for each of the six key questions from Form 04KI030E, Assessment of Child Safety, to provide an indication of how the family functions and whether or not a potential safety threat exists.
4.Interviewing siblings.When one child in the family is at risk, any sibling may be at risk.When not at risk of physical harm, the sibling remains adversely affected by family conditions.The sibling often has important information regarding the reported allegations and the family's dynamics.
(1) All siblings are observed and an attempt is made to talk to each verbal sibling.Interaction is initiated with non-verbal siblings to determine each child's functional level.
(2) The CW specialist's discussion with the siblings, as with the alleged child victim, is directed at determining if the siblings were victims of abuse or neglect.
(3) Corroboration of the child victim's statements is also an objective of the discussion with the siblings.
(4) The same principles for interviewing the child victim apply to interviewing the siblings.Refer to Instructions to Staff (ITS) # 3 of this Section.
5.Interviewing the PRFC.When the perpetrator of abuse or neglect is unclear, it is important to evaluate each custodial and non-custodial parent and anyone performing a parenting role in the household.
(1) The relationship between the adults in the household and any parent living outside of the household is evaluated.
(2) Determining the PRFC's willingness and ability to protect the child is critical.
(3) The presence of any stress factors in the home, such as financial difficulties or lack of support systems, is evaluated with each PRFC to determine if there are contributing factors to abuse or neglect in the home.Contributing factors include:
(A) domestic violence;
(B) substance use or abuse;
(C) poverty; and
(D) health issues.
(4) The nature of the report and the concern for each child is discussed with each PRFC.
(5) The noncustodial parent is entitled to the same information as the custodial parent and diligent efforts are made to locate and interview the noncustodial parent during the initial stages of the investigation.Exceptions may be made when the non-custodial parent poses a threat.
(6) The CW specialist:
(A) informs the noncustodial parent of the situation and gathers any critical information; and
(B) when the noncustodial parent denies paternity or never saw the child, verifies that there is no record of child support, per Oklahoma Administrative Code 340:75-6-31.5.
(7) The interview with the PRFC is directed toward assessing the PRFC's capacity to protect the child related to the alleged abuse or neglect and includes:
(A) the PRFC's description of what happened;
(B) the PRFC's response to the incident and Child Protective Services intervention;
(C) the PRFC's capacity to protect the child;
(D) exploration of the presence of violence in the home, including violence between adult household members;
(E) exploration of the presence of stress factors in the home, such as financial difficulties or lack of support systems; and
(F) information for each of the six key questions from Form 04KI030E to provide an indication of how the family functions and if a potential safety threat exists.
(8) When the PRFC's identity or whereabouts is unknown, the CW specialist prepares an interview page for the PRFC on Form 04KI003E, Report to District Attorney, detailing:
(A) why the PRFC's identity or whereabouts is unknown; and
(B) the efforts made to identify or locate the PRFC.
6.Interviewing the alleged perpetrator.The alleged perpetrator is interviewed last, as this allows the CW specialist to question the perpetrator with the facts and information obtained.
(1) The same information is obtained from the perpetrator as from the non-perpetrating PRFC as it relates to the alleged abuse or neglect.
(2) Additional information obtained from the perpetrator includes the prospect for acknowledging the problem and accepting responsibility to resolve the problem.
7.Interviewing collaterals.Families may not always provide factual information during the investigation because of fear of the assessment process or lack of awareness about family concerns.Medical reports, information from school personnel or other persons closely involved with the family, psychological evaluations, police reports, photographs, and other similar material provide the CW specialist with a means for balancing the subjective aspects of information gathering and observing.
(1) Collaterals are interviewed to ensure thorough investigation and assessment of risk to the child.
(2) Collaterals who are minors are not interviewed without first obtaining the minor's parental consent.
(3) The CW specialist seeks collateral sources who know the family best and contacts a minimum of two personal collaterals with pertinent, unbiased information regarding the family, in addition to any professional collaterals who have pertinent information about the family including, but not limited to, law enforcement, school personnel, medical professionals, mental health providers, and others.
(4) The specific nature of the alleged abuse or neglect or details of the allegations are not given to persons outside of the immediate family.
(5) The CW specialist documents the information on each collateral interview page of Form 04KI003E, indicating the relationship of the collateral to the subject child.
(6) The CW specialist contacts the reporter of the alleged abuse or neglect and any reporters of subsequent referrals that had a screened-out disposition decision with the screened-out allegations addressed in the open report as collaterals.