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Appendix I: Individual Analyses of State Policies

Key Factors
Family Foster Care
Agency Policy/Regulations

Policy 7.202.53
Institutional Abuse and Neglect Investigations

Does the policy address the investigation of allegations of maltreatment in foster care as a distinct investigatory process?
  • No, foster care homes are included within the definition of "institutional abuse" along with "any private or public facility that provides out-of-home child care, including 24-hour care and child care homes and centers."

  • The policy is written from the perspective of conducting investigations in a facility rather than in a foster family. The language deals with facilities and employees and does not directly address foster homes, except to include foster homes in the category of institutional abuse.
Is kinship/relative care addressed in the policy?
  • No language relates to kinship/relative homes.
What agency/unit is mandated to conduct the investigation?
  • The county department of social services in which the facility named in the report is located conducts the investigation.

  • When the investigation is to occur in a setting supervised by the county department (such as a county foster home or group home), the investigation is to be conducted by a "qualified and disinterested party." The county arranges for the investigation by "either another county department, another agency within the community that accepts delegated responsibility, or a disinterested and qualified staff person within the county department." No further criteria are given for the selection of the "disinterested staff person."

  • Law enforcement agencies are identified as a possible investigating agency, but the conditions under which law enforcement personnel would become involved are not identified.
Is there a team approach? Who is on the team?
  • No team approach to conducting the investigation is described.

  • A major emphasis on a "team approach" is reflected in a state-level multidisciplinary "Institutional Abuse Team" that serves in a review and consulting capacity to the state in regard to issues of institutional abuse.
What are the key activities of agency staff?

The language describing the activities is "facility focused," with little mention of foster care. It is not clear how these activities would or would not be adapted if the investigation were conducted in a foster care setting. The policy identifies activities only for the investigator.

  • The policy details the investigation process and sets expectations for information gathering. Sources of information include the reporter, agency records, the reported child, other children in the facility, and key witnesses, including children and staff.

  • The "alleged perpetrator" is not allowed to be present during the interview of the child who has been reported.

  • The alleged perpetrator is interviewed after children and witnesses have been interviewed by either law enforcement personnel or the investigator.

  • Custodial agencies are notified immediately "if there are safety issues or if an injury receives medical treatment" and on completion of the investigation if the child in their custody "was a subject of a report or if the investigation reveals concerns regarding the child care practices which could negatively impact their child."

  • The licensing authority or certifying unit is notified the next working day if the investigation indicates an immediate threat to the children's health, safety, or welfare.

  • The child's parents/legal guardians are notified of the report of maltreatment, the nature of the alleged maltreatment, and the findings of the investigation.

  • The written investigation report is submitted within 60 calendar days to the agency with licensing/certifying authority. The report is submitted to the Institutional Abuse Team when the incident involves a 24-hour care facility.

  • The investigation report includes identifying data, the numbers of children served in the facility (foster home?), and their ages and developmental status. The report includes the summary of findings and recommendations for a corrective or remedial action plan when such a plan is needed.
What time frames are identified?
  • To assure the child's safety, the investigation is to be initiated and the child who is reported is to be seen within 24 hours of the report.

  • The investigation is completed within 30 calendar days of the date it was assigned, "unless there are circumstances which have prevented this from occurring. Such circumstances shall be documented in the case record."
What decisionmaking processes are described?
  • Investigation decisions are made by the county investigator (or the disinterested investigator).

  • Recommendations are sent to licensing/certifying agency.

  • Reports are sent to the Institutional Review Team. This team may make recommendations on a specific investigation and on follow-up actions for a particular facility. The team also collects statewide data and makes recommendations for organizational reform at a broader systems level as well.
Is the CPS/licensing interface clear?
  • The specific licensing/certification unit/agency to be contacted, when maltreatment occurs in a county agency as opposed to a private agency foster home, is not identified. The way the CPS investigation would interface with the activities of licensing/certification staff is not discussed.
What actions are taken regarding the reported child(ren) during the investigation?
  • To assess child safety, the child is viewed and interviewed within 24 hours of the receipt of the report by the investigating worker.

  • The child who has been reported is interviewed in "as neutral setting as possible."
What actions are taken regarding other children in the home?
  • Determination of the safety of nonreported children who are living in the out-of-home setting is identified as an investigation activity.

  • Custodial agencies are notified immediately if a determination is made that a child is unsafe. The county Department of Human Services would be the custodial agency of a child in county custody.
What actions are taken to protect the rights of foster parents throughout the process?
  • A foster parent's right to appeal licensing actions or the findings of an investigation is not specifically discussed.

  • The policy uses language about employees rather than about foster parents. Facility employees are suspended with pay during the investigation and have a right to appeal that decision. It is not clear how this relates to foster parents.
What supports are provided to foster parents throughout the process?
  • None are described.

This policy is not specific to investigations conducted in the foster care setting. The language is much more directed toward facility-based investigations. Colorado has developed the Institutional Abuse Team to provide consultation on individual cases and to gather and analyze statewide data related to institutional abuse investigations.

Supplemental Materials
  • Colorado's Guide for Investigating Abuse and Neglect in Out-Of-Home Child Care Settings is a detailed manual that addresses investigations in institutions and facilities.

  • Selection and Screening of Personnel: An Effort Toward the Prevention of Maltreatment and Youth in Out-of-Home Care Settings in Colorado is a selection of transcripts of presentations at a 1987 conference on Selection and Screening of Child Care Staff.

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