Child Care Investigations responsibilities include:
- Investigating allegations of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
- Working with law enforcement on joint investigations.
- Coordinating with child care regulators to assure the safety, health, and well-being of children in out-of-home care.
Child Care Investigations (CCI) is a division of Child Protective Investigations that investigates child abuse, neglect, and exploitation allegations in licensed and regulated child care operations in the state, including both day care and 24-hour residential care settings, including foster care. CCI closely coordinates with Child Care Regulation (CCR, formerly known as Child Care Licensing), a program of Texas Health and Human Services that regulates and inspects child care.
In a CCI investigation, an investigator may interview child care staff, family members, and others with knowledge to get enough information to determine if abuse, neglect, or exploitation occurred. At the end of the investigation, DFPS makes a ruling on each allegation. This ruling is called a disposition. Dispositions include the following:
- Reason to believe: Abuse or neglect occurred based on a preponderance of the evidence. This means when all evidence is weighed, it is more likely than not that abuse or neglect occurred.
- Ruled out: Staff determines that it is reasonable to conclude that the abuse or neglect has not occurred based on the information available.
- Unable to determine: DFPS concludes that none of the dispositions above is appropriate.
- Administrative closure: DFPS intervention is unwarranted based on information that comes to light after the case is assigned for investigation.
Programs in CCI
Day Care Investigations (DCI)
This program investigates child abuse, neglect, and exploitation in child care homes and centers.
Residential Child Care Investigations (RCCI)
This program investigates child abuse, neglect, and exploitation in operations that provide 24-hour residential child care.
Complex Investigations Division (CID)
This division supports DCI and RCCI by:
- Providing case assistance and consultations on high-risk and complex investigations to ensure child safety and provide guidance while the investigation is open and ongoing.
- Conducting administrative review of investigative findings and provide secondary review and approval for all child fatality investigations and unable-to-determine dispositions, as well as conducting case analysis.
- Developing tools and conducts qualitative case readings to monitor, track, and report measures related to CCI program policy, foster care litigation court orders, and field assessments.
- Making recommendations and provides technical assistance related to policy, training, and ongoing program improvement.
The investigator normally completes the investigation in 30 days, but investigations can sometimes take longer depending on the complexity of the investigation.
Our goal before closing any investigation is to determine if:
- Any child was abused, neglected, or exploited.
- Any child is at risk of future abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- Children are safe at the child care operation.
You can read more about the laws, state rules, and department policy and procedures that apply to CCI at:
- Texas Family Code
- Texas Administrative Code
- Texas Human Resources Code
- Child Care Investigations Handbook
Parent’s Guide to Child Care Investigations
State law requires DFPS to investigate reports of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation. When there is a report of abuse, neglect, or exploitation in a child day care or residential care facility, CCI gathers information from a variety of sources to make sure we are making fair, impartial, and accurate determinations.
When investigating a report, the investigator:
- Interviews the child that may have been abused, neglected, or exploited. The interview with the child must be audio- or videotaped. The interview may be held at any reasonable time and place, including at school or at the child care operation.
- If your child is alleged to have been a victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, the investigator will tell you about the nature of the allegations.
- Interviews other children in care at the child care operation, as well as any adults with pertinent information who may have witnessed the alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation. The investigator gathers general information about the operation, operation’s activities, the classroom, or caregiver.
- If your child is not alleged to have been a victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, but was interviewed to gather general information related to our investigation, the investigator can only provide you with general information about the concerns that led to our investigation.
- Makes a reasonable effort to tell you about any interviews with your children that have taken place within 24 hours after an interview.
CCI investigators are reaching out to you for assistance with our investigation.
Investigators may ask you about your observations of the child care facility or ask your child about the facility, their caregiver, or their peers.
If your child may have been abused, neglected, or exploited, the investigator may:
- Ask to audio- or videotape the interview with your child
- Ask to visually examine your child for any visible injuries or bruises
- Photograph any visible injuries or bruises
- Ask you to take your child to an interview at a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)
- Ask you to take your child to a specialized medical exam, such as a sexual abuse examination, an x-ray, or MRI
- Ask about any medical or mental health care your child received due to the incident or allegations and copies of those records
Please cooperate with your investigator in taking these steps which are authorized by law to complete the investigation. DFPS, including CCI, is required by law to keep all information confidential, and that is especially true for any recording, photo, or other records of your child. Confidential information can be shared outside of DFPS in only very specific situations (as required by law and described in 40 TAC §707.769), such as when law enforcement is involved to raise criminal charges against a perpetrator.
No. CCI is responsible for investigating child care that is subject to licensing and regulation by state law. If a child cannot remain in the care of a child care operation due to an immediate safety concern, CCI staff contact the child’s parent or guardian of the need to pick up the child.
If your child is an alleged victim in an investigation, CCI needs to gather evidence to come to a determination about the allegations. A photo of the injuries, or lack thereof, and a recording of the interview are objective details that allow us to make an appropriate determination in our investigation.
State and federal laws require DFPS to keep investigation records confidential from the public. DFPS can share information with the people who were investigated, the parent or guardians of the alleged victim, and individuals with a business need such as law enforcement, courts, and involved attorneys. If your child was interviewed as a collateral witness during the investigation, you are entitled to the portion of the investigation record related to your child.
After the investigation has completed, you can request a copy of the investigation record unless:
- Releasing the information would jeopardize an ongoing criminal investigation or the child’s safety, or
- Court proceedings are pending and DFPS’ lawyer determines the information cannot be shared at this time.
You can get the form to request a copy of the DFPS record involving your child from your local DFPS office or online.
When an investigation is completed, CCI will notify the parents or guardians of alleged victims of the results of the investigation.
CCI also notifies Child Care Regulations of the outcome of the investigation. As the licensing and regulatory agency, Child Care Regulations is responsible for taking action against a child care operation’s license or permit regarding any violations of minimum standards, as well as determining whether an alleged perpetrator of abuse, neglect, or exploitation is allowed to work at any child care operation in the future.
State law requires DFPS to tell law enforcement agencies about all reports of alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation. The law enforcement agency decides whether to do a criminal investigation. This is separate from the DFPS investigation. You can contact the local law enforcement agency to ask about a criminal investigation or to file a police report if you have any concerns about potential criminal behavior occurring at the child care operation.
CCI does not file lawsuits regarding the parent-child relationship. However, you have the right to consult with a lawyer at any point in the investigation at your own expense.
DFPS employees are prohibited by law from giving legal advice.
Caregiver’s Guide to Child Care Investigations
In a CCI investigation, CCI reviews CCR’s historical information about the child care facility, alongside the facts CCI has gathered during the investigation, to inform the investigation disposition. The investigation findings, and any observations of the facility, are shared with CCR. CCR files the information with the facility’s regulatory history and determines if any regulatory actions are necessary.
CCR may conduct an investigation of a report of minimum standards violations. If CCR learns information that indicates a child may have been abused, neglected, or exploited, CCR reports this concern to DFPS so that CCI can conduct an investigation into the abuse, neglect, or exploitation allegations.
Anyone that believes a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been affected by abuse or neglect is required to make a report, as required by the Texas Family Code (§261.101). Failing to make a report of abuse or neglect, including the intent to conceal the abuse or neglect, is a criminal offense (TFC §261.109). Employers may be liable for taking adverse employment action against an employee who makes a report of abuse or neglect in good faith (TFC §261.110).
Information about what constitutes abuse, neglect, and exploitation can be found at the following:
- Legal Definitions of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in the Texas Family Code (TFC §261.001)
- Definitions of Types of Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in DFPS rules for Child Care Investigations in the Texas Administrative Code (40 TAC §§707.787-801)
Yes. DFPS is required by law to investigate reports of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation, and CCI is the division of DFPS that conducts these investigations when the allegations involve child care providers.
Interfering with an investigation may result in a court order, summons, or criminal penalty.
During an investigation, CCI gathers information from a variety of sources and methods to make fair, impartial, and accurate determinations regarding whether an incident meets the legal definitions of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- Interviews and/or examines the child or children alleged to have been abused, neglected, or exploited.
- Interviews the person or persons alleged to have caused the abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- Interviews other adults and children who may have witnessed the alleged incident or may have information pertinent to the allegations.
- Observes or walks through the location where the incident is alleged to have occurred. This may include gathering and reviewing any other physical evidence to support or refute the allegations, such as any documents or recordings maintained by the operation.
- Documents information pertinent to the allegations by taking notes, photos, videos, or audio recording, as needed. Most interviews are required to be audio recorded.
CCI notifies the alleged perpetrator of CCI’s findings regarding them at the end of the investigation. If an alleged perpetrator is found to have been responsible for abusing, neglecting, or exploiting a child, the notice will include information regarding how to contest the finding, if they choose, through an administrative review of investigation findings (ARIF) and/or a due process hearing through the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). These processes are confidential to the individual found responsible. The operation may not request an administrative review or due process hearing on the individual’s behalf.
CCI will also notify certain child care providers of the dispositions of individual allegations after the investigation has ended.
CCI notifies CCR of the investigation within one business day of the investigation’s closure. CCR’s Centralized Background Check Unit will notify the child care provider if there is a change to an individual’s background check status affecting the individual’s eligibility to be present at the child care operation.
When an individual is found responsible for abuse, neglect, or exploitation, this may affect their ability to be present at any child care operation in a role that requires a background check, according to Child Care Licensing Background Check requirements.
Child Care Regulation
As a Child Protective Investigations agency, CCI conducts investigations of reports of child abuse, neglect, or exploitation. CCI’s jurisdiction for investigations is within child care operations that are subject to regulation under chapter 42 of the Texas Human Resources Code.
As a regulating agency, CCR is responsible for licensing and permitting operations that are subject to regulation under chapter 42 of the Texas Human Resources Code. CCR also monitors the operations it regulates for compliance with CCR’s minimum standards.
While CCR evaluates operations for compliance with minimum standards, CCI works with child care operations when an incident has happened to evaluate: 1) whether abuse, neglect, or exploitation happened, 2) who is the individual that caused the abuse, neglect, or exploitation, 3) is there a current or ongoing risk that the immediate danger will continue?
You can learn more about Child Care Regulation and the work they do on the Texas Health and Human Services website.
Only if the report was made through DFPS Statewide Intake. CCR accepts reports for their regulatory responsibilities through their local offices, and may conduct an investigation related to the incident and CCR’s minimum standards. Because CCR does not have the legal authority to conduct investigations of alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation, a report to CCR and/or investigation by CCR does not meet the obligation to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation. In order to meet this obligation, a report needs to made to DFPS Statewide Intake so that their specialized staff are able to determine if an investigation must be launched.
Data and Statistics
Jobs in CCI
- Investigator positions
- Supervisor positions
Making a Report
Suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation in a child care or residential child care operation should be reported the Texas Abuse Hotline:
- On the phone: 1-800-252-5400
- Online: www.TxAbuseHotline.org
All DFPS case records are confidential by law and may only be released to specific individuals. When information may be released, specific information that is legally prohibited from release may be removed or redacted from the record prior to release.
For more information, see the webpage on requesting a copy of a case record.
If CCI finds that an individual is responsible for child abuse, neglect, or exploitation, CCI will send a letter to the individual with notification of the finding and instructions on how to request an administrative review of the investigation findings.
Only an individual found to be a designated perpetrator is eligible to request the review.
Speak to your investigator. An open discussion may settle the matter. If you can’t resolve your concerns with the investigator, discuss them with their supervisor.
If you feel CCI is handling the investigation improperly, and you can’t resolve the issue with the investigator or supervisor, you can contact the Office of Consumer Affairs:
- Online: question and complaint form
- Phone: 1-800-720-7777 (toll-free)
- Fax: (512) 339-5892
- Email: Office of Consumer Affairs
The Office of Consumer Affairs handles only case-specific questions and complaints about DFPS programs, including Child Care Investigations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act compliance coordinator can be reached at:
Texas Health and Human Services Civil Rights Office
701 W. 51st St., Mail Code W206
Austin, Texas 78751
(512) 438-4313 or 1-888-388-6332
TDD for people with hearing impairments (512) 438-2960 or 1-877-432-7232