2350. Audio Recording

Approval:   Connie Lambert-Eckel, Acting Assistant Secretary

Original Date:  April 1, 2004

Revised Date: July 1, 2018

Policy Review: July 1, 2023


Purpose

To provide guidance to staff on recording and retaining child interviews and retention of voicemail messages for evidentiary purposes. This policy also provides the agency response when parents or others want to record discussions or meetings with Children’s Administration (CA) staff.

Scope

This policy applies to CA staff.

Laws

RCW 13.50.010  Definitions—Conditions when filing petition or information—Duties to maintain accurate records and access—Confidential child welfare records.

RCW 26.44.035  Response to complaint by more than one agency-Procedure-  Written records.

RCW 26.44.180  Investigation of child sexual abuse—Protocols—Documentation of agencies' roles.

RCW 26.44.185  Investigation of child sexual abuse-Revision and expansion of protocols-Child fatality, child physical abuse, and criminal child neglect cases.

RCW 70.125.030  Definitions.

RCW 74.14B.010  Children’s services workers-Hiring and training.

Policy

  1. Audio Recording of Child Physical Abuse or Sexual Abuse Interviews
    The CA caseworker must:
    1. Successfully complete specialized training which meets the RCW 74.14B.010 requirements for conducting interviews with children who are allegedly physically or sexually abused.
    2. Caseworkers and investigators must comply with the county protocol and collaborate with law enforcement and others on the investigation, per the protocol, and on coordinating the interview of children who have been seriously physically or sexually abused. Follow local protocol when a child abuse interview is conducted by law enforcement, a child advocacy center, another agency or forensic interviewer. If CA staff are present during a child abuse interview conducted by another agency or individual pursuant to a local protocol, CA equipment may be used to make an audio recording of the interview if the protocol permits.
    3. Follow 2333. Interviewing a Victim and Identified Child Interview policy.
    4. Make reasonable efforts to audio record child interviews when there is:
      1. A child protective services (CPS) investigation of physical or sexual abuse allegations.
      2. A CPS Family Assessment Response (FAR) to a physical abuse allegation, and the child is being interviewed without their parent present due to concerns that child safety would be compromised if their child was present.
    5. Use near verbatim documentation when conducting the interview and audio recording is not possible or appropriate due to any of following:
      1. The child:
        1. Is too young or developmentally unable to verbally communicate.
        2. Refuses to participate if the interview is audio recorded.
        3. Demonstrates emotional distress or discomfort about being audio recorded.
      2. The joint CPS/law enforcement investigation team agrees it is not appropriate.
      3. Another agency is conducting and documenting the interview and CA will request a copy of the interview.
    6. Prior to the interview:
      1. If the child interview takes place after the initial face-to-face (IFF) and child safety will not be compromised, ask the parent or legal guardian for permission before conducting the child interview.
      2. If the parent or legal guardian allows the interview, seek permission to audio record the interview. If the parent refuses, document the interview as near verbatim.
      3. Permission from the parent or legal custodian to the interview is not necessary when the child has been placed in protective custody or is in the care and custody of CA.
      4. Follow local office procedures to request a qualified interpreter when the child is Limited English Proficiency (LEP). The interpreter is included in the audio recording. If the caseworker is bilingual and has passed the required DSHS Bilingual Skills Test(s)/Assessment, they may conduct the child abuse interview in the child’s language per DSHS Administrative Policy 18.82.
      5. Obtain the child’s verbal consent to audio record if the child is developmentally able to consent. If the child refuses to be audio recorded, use near verbatim documentation.
    7. During the audio recorded interview
      1. Begin the interview by recording:
        1. Caseworker name and role.
        2. Date, time and location of the interview
        3. Child’s full name.
        4. Verbal consent from the child, and permission to audio record.
        5. Whether the child wants a third party present. If so, record the name and job title or role of the third party.
      2. Re-ask the child during the interview if it’s okay to continue talking or if the child wants a break.
      3. Record the name and role of anyone entering or exiting the room, and the time the interview is concluded.  After the child leaves the room, the caseworker will record observations of the child’s emotional and physical state during the interview process.
    8. After the interview
      1. Store all CA audio recordings, and audio recordings provided to CA from law enforcement or a contracted provider in the case file or, when compatible, upload into FamLink within ten calendar days of the completion of the interview. 
      2. Summarize the contents of the audio recording in a case note. Document as applicable:
        1. The name of the interviewer.
        2. The name of the agency providing the copy of the recording.
        3. Name of the child.
        4. Date, time and location of the interview.
        5. Third parties present for the interview.
        6. Child’s statements in regarding the allegations of CA/N.
      3. Follow office procedures when requesting a transcription of the audio recording if any of the following conditions apply:
        1. A child reports CA/N during an interview.
        2. A dependency proceeding is planned or in process.
        3. A law enforcement agency, including a prosecuting attorney, requests a transcript.
        4. An individual having a legal right to do so requests disclosure of file materials.
        5. An interview is part of a Division of Licensed Resources (DLR-CPS) investigation and there is a founded finding.
      4. Document near verbatim interviews in FamLink and include questions establishing a voluntary interview and the child's responses, including:
        1. The child’s permission for the interview.
        2. Whether the child wants a third party or anyone else present.
        3. Date, time and location of the interview.
        4. The child’s emotional and physical state during the
      5. If CA staff receive a request for a copy of or to listen to an audio recording of a child interview, CA staff must:
        1. Determine if the request is a public disclosure or discovery request. If the request concerns dependency or tort litigation the caseworker must consult with the assigned AAG to determine if the request is a discovery request.
        2. If the request is a public disclosure request, then immediately forward it to the CA Public Disclosure Coordinator per the 13722 Public Records Request – Responsibility of all CA Staff policy.
        3. If the request is a discovery request, then follow chapter 13700 Record Accuracy, Privacy and Disclosure policies. If the request seeks release of or access to an audio or video recording of a child interview, consult with the assigned AAG or attorney for your office before providing the recording
  2. If a parent or caregiver requests to audio or video record a meeting, inform the parent that CA staff do 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.
  3. If retaining a voicemail from a parent or caregiver for evidentiary purposes, complete the following:
    1. Retain the entire message. Do not make any edits or alterations and upload into FamLink. For help, contact HELP300@DSHS.WA.GOV.
    2. If audio recording of voicemail is not possible, use near verbatim documentation of the entire voicemail message.

Resources

Located on the CA intranet

  • The Quick Reference Guide to Audio Recording CPS Child Interviews
  • Interview Protocols
  • Child Abuse Interviewing and Assessment Alliance Training
  • Law Enforcement Protocols by office