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2140 Screening an Intake for Investigation

2141 Screening and Prioritizing Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS August 2009

DFPS staff must screen every call and must review every report alleging child abuse and neglect to assure that DFPS provides accurate advice, correct referrals, timely and appropriate investigations, and effective interventions. CPS avoids unwarranted intrusion into a child's life and the lives of the child's family members; however, the need to protect the child remains DFPS's primary concern.

In general, CPI accepts reports for investigation only when:

  •  DFPS appears to be the responsible department under the law, and

  •  the child's apparent need for protection warrants an investigation.

Types of Reports

CPI is authorized by state law to investigate certain situations involving abuse or neglect of children.

When a Report Meets the Criteria for Investigation

If a report received by the DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) Division meets the statutory definitions under which CPI is authorized to investigate abuse or neglect, the intake worker handles the report as an intake of abuse or neglect.

For guidelines on how to properly assess an intake, see Appendix 2140: Guidelines for Decision Making at Intake.

When a Report Does Not Meet the Criteria for Investigation

If a report received by SWI does not meet the statutory definitions under which CPI is authorized to investigate, the intake worker cannot handle the report as an intake.

Reports that are not considered intakes of abuse or neglect are documented and classified as one of the following:

  •  Special Request (Administrative)

  •  Casework Related Special Request

  •  Information and Referral (I&R)

For an explanation of how SWI handles reports not accepted as intakes, see the SWI Policy and Procedures Handbook, 3000 Information & Referral (I&R) Reports.

2142 Reports Accepted by CPI for Investigation and Assessment

2142.1 Applying Statutory Definitions of Abuse or Neglect to Determine if a Report Meets the Criteria for an Investigation

CPS December 2023

The terms and definitions in 2110 Definitions of Abuse and Neglect and Authority are the basis, in law and DFPS rule, for deciding whether to accept a report for investigation or refer it to law enforcement.

See the definitions in the following sections:

Accept a Report on the Basis of Risk

CPI may accept a report for investigation and assessment on the basis of risk, even when there has not yet been an occurrence of abuse or neglect that meets the statutory definitions. A reasonable likelihood that abuse or neglect will occur in the foreseeable future is enough to warrant an investigation.

Accepting a Report on the Basis of Failing to Prevent Harm

CPI may also accept a report for investigation and assessment when a person who is responsible for the child's care, custody, or welfare has failed to make reasonable efforts to prevent the child from being harmed by another person, even if the other person is not responsible for the child’s care, custody, or welfare.

2142.2 Incomplete or Questionable Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS December 2023

If a report lacks detail or is questionable, CPI decides whether to accept it for investigation based on the circumstances and facts that are available.

Reports That Lack Detail

Allegations of abuse or neglect may lack the information CPI needs to determine whether the report meets the statutory definitions of abuse or neglect.

For example, the reporter may not know:

  • How the child was harmed.
  • Who caused the harm.
  • Whether the person who caused the harm is responsible for the child's care, custody, or welfare.

Reports That Are Questionable

Allegations reported to DFPS may contain information that is questionable.

Examples of questionable reports include:

  • Previous reports of abuse or neglect that have been determined to have fabricated allegations.
  • Allegations made in the current report are inconsistent with the known circumstances found in a recently closed case.
2142.3 When Abuse or Neglect Occurs in a Foster Home, Adoptive Home, or Child Care Facility

CPS December 2023

When determining which CPI division has jurisdiction over a child in a foster home, adoptive home, or child care facility, see the following sections of the Child Care Investigations Handbook:

1150 Investigation Jurisdiction

1151 Referring Additional Allegations to Appropriate Agencies During an Ongoing Investigation

2143 Assigning Priority to Reports of Abuse or Neglect

CPS December 2023

The DFPS Statewide Intake (SWI) division suggests the appropriate priority for reports of abuse or neglect, based on the information available at the time the report is accepted.

CPI assigns the final priority, based on its assessment of the following:

  • The immediacy of the risk.
  • The severity of the possible harm to the child.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §707.485

2143.1 Criteria for Assigning a Report as a Priority 1 (P1)

CPS December 2023

The following reports qualify for assignment as a P1:

  • A report that a child appears to face an immediate threat to his or her safety or is in immediate risk of abuse or neglect that could result in death or serious harm.
  • Any report alleging abuse or neglect that is received within 12 months after a previous investigation was closed as Unable to Complete with a closure reason of Close-Fam moved/cannot locate. In such a case, the report is not downgraded. The report must remain a P1 and be investigated.
  • A report involves a child’s death that has never been investigated, and there is an allegation or suspicion that the death was the result of alleged abuse or neglect, even if no other children are in the home. (In the Statewide Intake Policy and Procedures Handbook, see 4630 Child Death.)
2143.11 When a Priority 1 (P1) Report Is Received After-Hours

CPS December 2023

When a P1 report is received outside normal work hours, SWI staff must forward the report to the appropriate on-call CPI staff. SWI staff does not forward after-hours reports to CPI offices. See 2680 Call-Outs and Routing.

2143.2 Criteria for Assigning a Report as a Priority 2 (P2)

CPS December 2023

The SWI intake specialist assigns a report as a P2 if the following are true:

  • The report of abuse or neglect is accepted for investigation.
  • The report does not meet the criteria for being assigned as a P1.
2143.3 Criteria for Assigning a Report as Priority None (PN)

CPS December 2023

The program director or program administrator may assign a report of abuse or neglect as a Priority None for the following reasons in IMPACT:

  • Does not appear to involve abuse, neglect, or risk
  • Not enough information to locate
  • Incident jurisdiction of other DFPS program
  • Incident is the responsibility of other agency/out-of-state
  • Incident addressed in previous case

Note: Reports involving child fatalities and children in the conservatorship of DFPS are not eligible for Priority None (PN) in specific situations. See:

2151 Notification of a Report Involving a Child in DFPS Conservatorship

2155.1 Closing Reports Priority None (PN) That Involve Children in Care

2155.2 Closing Reports Priority None (PN) That Involve a Child Fatality

2155.3 Closing Reports Using Priority None (PN) Closure Codes

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