2334. Interviewing Subjects or Family Assessment Response Participants

Approval:  Jennifer Strus, Assistant Secretary

Original Date: 

Revised Date:  March 31, 2017

Policy Review:  March 31, 2021


Purpose

To provide direction for Children’s Administration (CA) caseworkers in interviewing Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation subjects or Family Assessment Response (FAR) participants who have allegedly abused or neglected a child.

Scope

This policy applies to CA staff.

Laws

RCW 26.44.030  Reports -- Duty and authority to make -- Duty of receiving agency -- Duty to notify -- Case planning and consultation -- Penalty for unauthorized exchange of information -- Filing dependency petitions -- Investigations -- Interviews of children -- Records -- Risk assessment process

Policy

  1. The CA caseworker or Division of Licensed Resources/Child Protective Services (DLR/CPS) investigator must:
    1. Conduct individual and face-to-face interviews of each subject or FAR participant. If he or she refuses to be interviewed, consult with the supervisor and document in FamLink.
    2. If the subject or FAR participant cannot be located, continue efforts to locate until:
      1. The interview occurs, or
      2. Reasonable efforts to locate have been exhausted.  See Guidelines for Reasonable Efforts to Locate Children or Parents on the CA intranet.
    3. Follow the Washington State federally recognized tribe’s Memorandum of Understanding when interviewing a subject or FAR participant who is affiliated with a federally-recognized tribe.
    4. Prior to the interview
      1. Review all the allegations, child abuse or neglect (CA/N) history and available information to prepare for the interview and ensure all the allegations are fully investigated or assessed.
      2. Coordinate interviews of physical abuse, sexual abuse or criminal neglect of a child with law enforcement or another forensic interviewing specialist per county child abuse investigation protocols.
      3. Refer to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) policy when working with a subject or FAR participant with LEP. If the caseworker is bilingual and has passed the required DSHS Bilingual Skills Test(s)/Assessment, he or she may conduct the child abuse interview in the child’s language per DSHS Administrative Policy 18.82 located on the DSHS intranet.
      4. If domestic violence (DV) is alleged or suspected, conduct separate interviews of the subject, parent, caregiver, each child in the household and witness, if applicable.
      5. The DLR/CPS investigator must also:
        1. Interview subjects separately.
        2. Notify foster parents about the Foster Intervention Retention and Support Team (FIRST) program.
      6. If a parent or caregiver requests to audio or video record a meeting, inform the parent that CA staff does not consent to audio or video recording of meetings or discussions. Discontinue the meeting or conversation if the parent refuses to cooperate. If a meeting is discontinued, inform the supervisor immediately and document in FamLink.
    5. During the interview
      1. Inform the subject or FAR participant of all CA/N allegations at the initial contact except when child safety may be jeopardized. Maintain the confidentiality of the referrer.
      2. Provide information about the subject’s rights, including a right to respond to the allegations.
      3. Gather relevant and sufficient information to assess present danger, and complete the safety and risk assessments to determine:
        1. If there are safety threats.
        2. How the child and family are functioning.
        3. Level of risk to the child in his or her environment.
        4. The subject or FAR participant’s accessibility to the child.
      4. Conduct universal DV screening per the DV policy, and document the information in FamLink.
      5. Additional requirements
        1. A caseworker must follow the Indian Child Welfare Manual Chapter 3. Inquiry and Verification of Child’s Indian Status
        2. The FAR worker must also:
          1. Explain the FAR pathway.
          2. Review and upload signed FAR agreement in FamLink.
          3. The CPS or DLR/CPS investigator must also provide information about making and appealing investigation findings.
    6. After the interview
      1. Document the interview, including whether the subject or FAR participant was unavailable or unwilling to be interviewed, by either:
        1. Near verbatim documentation any time an alleged perpetrator makes statements regarding the alleged serious physical or sexual abuse. Information that does not include discussion of the allegations may be summarized.
        2. Upload in FamLink a copy of any near verbatim documentation obtained by a law enforcement officer.
      2. Obtain permission from the parent, legal guardian, or caregiver before taking a photograph of his or her home or items inside the home. Caseworkers may take photographs of conditions or items outside the home and in public view without permission. See Photograph Documentation policy.
      3. Make a report to intake when any child on an open case is believed to be at imminent risk of serious harm or there is a new allegation of child abuse or neglect (CA/N).
      4. If during the subject interview, the subject or FAR participant provides information about a crime against a child or a vulnerable adult and the caseworker believes the child or vulnerable adult is in danger, the caseworker must call 911 and make a law enforcement report. If the child or vulnerable adult is not believed to be in danger, the caseworker will make a report to intake or Adult Protective Services.
  2. The supervisor must confirm all alleged subjects or FAR participants were interviewed, and the allegations of CA/N were addressed and documented in FamLink. If the subject or FAR participant was not interviewed, ensure the case documentation includes the reason why the interview did not occur and efforts to locate, if applicable.

Forms

On the CA intranet:

  • Notification to Parents form DSHS 16-219
  • CPS Temporary Custody Notification form DSHS 09-731
  • Consent form DSHS 09-412
  • Background Check Authorization DSHS 09-653