Presentation on theme: "Duty to Report Child Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency in North Carolina Janet Mason Institute of Government The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."— Presentation transcript:
Duty to Report Child Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency in North Carolina Janet Mason Institute of Government The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
How Does the State Respond to Child Maltreatment? Criminal Justice System Focus on offender No reporting requirement Local law enforcement response Criminal court Outcome – conviction and punishment Child Welfare System Focus on child Mandatory reporting County social services response Civil (juvenile) court Outcome – adjudication and protection
Other Reporting Obligations School principal must report immediately to law enforcement when s/he has personal knowledge or actual notice from school personnel that an act has occurred on school property involving certain offenses. G.S. 115C-288(g). “School property” includes any public school building, bus, campus, grounds, recreational area, or athletic field, in the charge of the principal.
Offenses that Principal Must Report –assault resulting in serious personal injury –sexual assault, sexual offense, or rape –kidnapping –indecent liberties with a minor –assault involving use of a weapon –possession of a firearm in violation of law –possession of a weapon in violation of law –possession a controlled substance in violation of law
Other Reporting Obligations School principal must report to district attorney and DSS when (1)child has 10 unexcused absences and (2)principal determines that the parent has not made a good faith effort to comply with the compulsory attendance law. [G.S. 115C-378]
Other Reporting Obligations Physicians and hospitals must report to law enforcement certain kinds of wounds, injuries, or illnesses. G.S. 90-21.20.
How has the child welfare system evolved? Rescue Prevent Placement and Reunify Families Ensure Safety and Strive for Permanence Reporting child abuse and neglect is one component of the larger child welfare/ child protection system.
Critical question for child welfare is: When and how may the state intervene in families for the purpose of child protection? The Juvenile Code is North Carolina’s primary answer to that question. Harm Risk of harm Lack of minimally adequate care Family
Juvenile Code procedures, including the reporting law, apply to children who are harmed or placed at risk by the actions, inaction, or incapability of the parent (or guardian, custodian, or caretaker). They do not apply when harm or risk is created by others – school teachers, strangers, church officials, other children.
Sources of Child Welfare Law and Policy North Carolina Juvenile Code, G.S. Ch. 7B State administrative rules Policy manuals developed by the state Division of Social Services Appellate court decisions …………………………………………………….. Federal funding criteria set out in federal statutes and regulations
When is a report required? Any time you have cause to suspect that a child is an abused juvenile, a neglected juvenile, or a dependent juvenile, as the Juvenile Code defines those terms.
Definitions in the Juvenile Code Set the Limits of State Intervention “Juvenile” “Abused Juvenile” “Neglected Juvenile” “Dependent Juvenile” “Caretaker” “Custodian”
Definitions Govern the DSS Response The County DSS Screens Reports By Asking: If the information given in the report is true, is the child an abused, neglected, or dependent juvenile, within the Juvenile Code definitions?
If the report is screened out, the person who made the report must be notified in writing and may ask for an agency review of that decision.
If the report is accepted, DSS must: (1) make a “prompt and thorough” investigation and determine whether to substantiate the report, or (2) in pilot counties, in some cases, conduct an assessment of family needs and strengths.
The person who made the report (1) must be notified in writing of the result of the investigation and (2) can seek review from the district attorney if DSS does not file a juvenile petition.
Central Registry Collects Reporting Data Only about 1/3 of the reports DSS investigates are substantiated. Of those, only a small number result in the filing of petitions. In most cases, DSS works with the family to address problems and ensure the child’s protection.
Definitions determine: What DSS alleges in a petition; What DSS has burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence; and Whether court can “intervene” in the family. When a case does go to juvenile court:
How does domestic violence relate to child abuse, neglect, and dependency? A few court decisions refer to domestic violence, but only new state DSS policy addresses domestic violence specifically as a factor in child protection.
State DSS Policy Intake will always include screening for domestic violence. A report of domestic violence, without more, will not be accepted for investigation. Reports will be accepted for investigation [or, in Multiple Response System Counties, for family assessment] when information DSS receives includes any of the following:
DSS Will Accept Report When: 1.child is involved or present when violence occurs; or 2.child exhibits behavior indicating fear or anxiety related to the violence; or 3.weapons to threaten or harm any family member are present; or 4.there is an increase in the intensity or frequency of the domestic violence in the home.
DSS Will Substantiate or Find a Need for Services When an Investigation Reveals: 1.child intervening in the domestic violence; 2.established pattern of chronic or severe domestic violence; 3.child exhibits extreme emotional, behavioral, or mental health condition as result of living with domestic violence; 4.coexistence of domestic violence and substance abuse if the latter impedes the adult victim’s ability to assess the level of danger in the home; 5.the adult victim is threatened or injured in the child’s presence; or 6.the adult victim has been hospitalized for injuries resulting from domestic violence.
Deciding Whether to Report Does a Juvenile Code definition definitely or possibly describe this child? Is the child harmed or at risk of harm? Does DSS policy indicate that DSS would or might –accept a report for investigation or assessment? –substantiate or find a need for services following an investigation? Does the child’s situation justify the state’s intervention in a family for purposes of child protection?
The goal in every case is for the child to have a safe, permanent home within a reasonable period of time. A timely report can be the critical first step in achieving that goal.