Table of Contents
2.1 Call Classification
The Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline Unit (CANHU) may accept reports via a direct call, an online report, letter, or facsimile.
CANHU utilizes protocols based upon Structured Decision-Making (SDM) principles for classification purposes of all CA/N reports pursuant to 13 CSR 35-31.020. In accordance with this regulation, the protocols shall:
- Obtain and classify information; and
- Give priority to ensuring the safety and well-being of children.
All CA/N reports screened in by CANHU shall be initiated within twenty-four (24) hours of receipt and shall be classified based upon the reported safety, risk, and injury to the child, with special attention given to the following factors:
- If there is serious physical abuse alleged and siblings remaining in the home;
- If there is a child fatality due to alleged abuse or neglect and siblings remain in the home;
- If there is alleged physical abuse currently occurring;
- If there are injuries or symptoms of injuries evident that require immediate medical care, or if the child is in need of immediate psychiatric care due to alleged abuse;
- If there were severe or inhumane measures used;
- If the alleged perpetrator has access to the child in the next twenty-four (24) hours or if the child afraid to go home;
- If the alleged abuse occurred within the last thirty (30) days;
- If the child is currently in a protected environment;
- If the current situation is immediately dangerous;
- If there are prior non-harassment child abuse or neglect reports;
- If the allegation is one of educational neglect only;
- If the child is exhibiting severe emotional trauma or physical injury due to alleged sexual abuse;
- If the child appears seriously ill or injured or in need of immediate care;
- If the child has a chronic illness or injuries that require attention.
When CANHU receives a report, the person accepting the call will interview the reporter and collect enough information to determine how the allegations should be categorized based on the following:
- Address, home and work phone numbers of the reporter;
- Identity of child, his/her parents or parent substitutes, and other family members;
- Identity of alleged perpetrator and if he/she is responsible for the child’s care, custody, and control;
- Present location of child, address and directions to the home;
- Other means of locating the family;
- Description of the abuse/neglect incident including time and place of incident or reason for suspecting that the child may be subjected to conditions resulting in abuse or neglect;
- Any event that precipitated the report;
- Determination of immediate danger to the child;
- Status and number of other children living in the home;
- Status and number of other children receiving care in the home;
- If subjects are aware of hotline referral being made;
- If complaint involves a baby-sitter or unlicensed child care provider, the number of full-time, part-time, and drop-in children cared for; and
- Any indication of physical violence against any other household or family member.
During the interview with the reporter, CANHU organizes the information received according to several different pathways. Each pathway has key questions that are asked of the reporter to help gather as much information as possible to determine whether the concerns rise to the level of a child abuse/neglect report. The pathways are the general categories of concern reporters typically report to CANHU.
- Afraid to go home
- Behaving strangely
- Bruises/visible marks
- Dirty/inappropriate clothing
- Domestic violence
- Drug exposed infant
- Educational needs
- Emotional abuse/rejection
- Exhibits provocative behavior
- Exposed to sexual acts/materials
- Kicked out of home/locked in/out
- Overheard sounds
- Parents requesting immediate removal/refusing to pick up child
- Parent’s inappropriate behavior
- Parent’s mental illness
- Sexual acts/exploitation
- Shaken baby
- Suspicious injury
- Threat to seriously harm or kill
- Unsafe/unsanitary home
- Untreated illness/injury
Each pathway has specific conditions for a child abuse/neglect report that, if met, determine whether the report is screened in as a child abuse/neglect report.
Calls to CANHU may only be screened in as a CA/N report if they meet certain CA/N condition definitions. In order for the call to be screened as a CA/N report, the concerns must meet at least one CA/N condition on one pathway. If the reporter’s concerns do not meet these definitions, CANHU then screens the call to determine whether the concerns meet the requirements for a Non-CA/N referral.
An example of a CA/N condition: Child(ren) of any age has forcefully or willingly been involved in any type of sexual act in exchange for anything of value, such as money, drugs, shelter, food, or clothes. This includes situations in which a third party profits from the child’s sex act. This also includes situations in which the child’s basic needs are met in exchange for a sexual act and situations in which the child’s parent/caregiver allows, permits, or encourages a child to engage in a commercial sex act. Examples include pornography, prostitution, and stripping.
If the concerns within the pathway meet the definition of one of the numerous CA/N conditions, the report will be screened in as a CA/N report. The appropriate CA/N condition is displayed at the end of the pathway on the CA/N-1 under the heading ‘Conditions for a CA/N Report’.
When there are multiple pathways, if the concerns within a pathway did not meet the definition of one of the CA/N conditions, this will be indicated at the end of the pathway on the CA/N-1 under the heading ‘Non CA/N Conditions’. In other words, the allegations within that particular pathway did not rise to the level of child abuse and neglect.
In order for a report to be screened in as a CA/N report, the child must be under the age of eighteen (18) at the time of the call, the alleged perpetrator must have had care, custody, and control of the victim child (for Investigations and Family Assessments), and at least one CA/N condition must be met. When these criteria for accepting a CA/N Report are met, the report is screened in at CANHU as:
- Family Assessment; or
- Juvenile Assessment.
An Investigation is a classification of response by the Children’s Division to a report of child abuse or neglect when there is an identified need to collect physical and verbal evidence to determine if a child has been abused or neglected.
Investigations will include:
- All reports of child fatality.
- All reports of sexual abuse.
- Reports of serious physical injury, including but not limited to:
- Internal injuries;
- Fractures of the skull and/or body;
- Subdural hemorrhage/hematoma;
- Abusive head trauma;
- Brain damage;
- Intentional Burns and/or scalding;
- Reports of serious neglect, including but not limited to:
- Exposure, freezing, heat exhaustion;
- Malnutrition or failure to thrive due to improper feeding;
- Neglect resulting in repeated ingestions of a harmful substance;
- Unsafe living environments due to exposure of a child to a methamphetamine laboratory;
- Reports in which a Juvenile Officer, Law Enforcement or Physician has taken custody and the report also involves child fatality, sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and/or serious neglect.
- Reports alleging a child is in danger at the time of the report and law enforcement is needed.
- Reports in which the alleged perpetrator is not a member of the family/household.
- Reports which may not fall into any of the above categories, but include factors such as age, location or seriousness of allegation(s) which result in a substantial risk to the life, body, or health of the child or an alleged attempt to kill or cause serious injury to a child.
- All reports referred to the Out-Of-Home Investigation (OHI) Unit or non-relative/non-household member caretaker(s) reports which are investigated by local office personnel.
- Where the acts of the alleged perpetrator, which if true would constitute a suspected violation of any of the following criminal violations, or an attempt to commit any such acts:
1st degree murder, if victim is under 18
2nd degree murder, if victim is under 18
Voluntary manslaughter, if victim is under 18
1st degree involuntary manslaughter, if victim is under 18
1st degree assault, if victim is under 18
1st degree rape, if victim is under 18
1st degree sodomy, if victim is under 18
Any other offense under Chapter 566 if the victim is under 18 and the alleged perpetrator is 21 or older:
1st degree promoting prostitution, if victim is under 18
1st degree abandonment of child
1st degree endangering the welfare of a child
2nd degree endangering the welfare of a child
Abuse and neglect of a child
Child used in sexual performance
Promoting sexual performance by a child
1st degree promoting child pornography
2nd degree promoting child pornography
Possession of child pornography
Furnishing pornographic materials to minors
A Family Assessment is a classification of response by the Children’s Division to provide for a prompt assessment of a child who has been reported as a victim of abuse or neglect by a person responsible for that child’s care, custody or control and of that child’s family, including risk of abuse and neglect and, if necessary, the provision of community-based services to reduce the risk and support the family.
Family Assessment reports will include:
- Mild, moderate or first-time non-felonious reports of physical abuse or neglect (including medical neglect).
- Reported abuse or neglect in which this incident occurred or likely occurred over one year prior to the report date, except for the following:
- Sexual Abuse;
- Serious Physical Abuse;
- Serious Neglect.
- Mild or moderate reports of emotional abuse.
- Educational neglect reports.
A Juvenile Assessment is a classification response by the Children’s Division to address child sexual behavior problems. The Children’s Division utilizes a family assessment and services approach to identify treatment needs and to assure the safety of the children involved.
Juvenile Assessments are screened in when any child under the age of fourteen (14) is alleged to have committed sexual abuse against another child. Sexual abuse in the context of Juvenile Assessments includes sexual or sexualized interaction with a child including, but not limited to, acts that are age or developmentally inappropriate and:
- Involve force or threats of the use of force;
- Are intrusive;
- Are unwelcome;
- Result in physical injury or cause emotional trauma to the victim child; or
- Are coercive or manipulative.
When calls made to CANHU do not rise to the level of a CA/N report, the reported concern is screened to determine it meets criteria for a Non-CA/N referral. The following Non-CA/N referrals will be accepted by the CANHU and alerted to the field:
- Preventive Services referral;
- Non-Caretaker referral;
- Non-CA/N Fatality referral;
- Newborn Crisis Assessment.
Preventive Service referrals (“P” referrals) are accepted by CANHU for the following reasons:
- Child is 18 years and older and is in the custody of the Children’s Division;
- Request for relinquishment of a newborn as outlined in the “Safe Place for Newborns Act” pursuant to Section 210.950, RSMo.;
- Child has no caretaker due to caretaker’s incarceration, illness, hospitalization or death, and no other appropriate childcare plan is in place;
- A person other than child’s parent has child in his/her care and is requesting immediate removal of child;
- A parent is requesting immediate placement of child solely because child is in need of mental health services the parent can’t access or afford, and parent is not threatening to harm or abandon child. (Voluntary Placement Agreement pursuant to Section 210.122, RSMo.);
- There is an open Family-Centered Service (FCS) or Family-Centered-Out-of-Home Care (FCOOHC) case and the Division receives a call of concern involving a child in the case that does not meet the statutory guidelines to constitute a child abuse/neglect report;
- Any call regarding a child placed in a residential facility licensed by the Children’s Division.
- Allegation from a non-medical reporter that a newborn was born within the last thirty (30) days to parents who have significant prior history with child protective services including, but not limited to, removal of other children that resulted in termination of parental rights.
- Child is exhibiting maladaptive, self-harming, or suicidal behavior which poses an immediate risk of serious injury or death to the child.
- Child is exhibiting maladaptive, self-harming, or suicidal behavior which does not pose an immediate risk of serious injury or death to the child.
- Child is requesting services that the Children’s Division provides and the service is needed immediately or within the next 24 hours in order for the child’s basic needs to be met.
- Child is requesting services that the Children’s Division provides and the service is not needed immediately or within the next 24 hours in order for the child’s basic needs to be met.
- A registered sex offender or an individual with other significant criminal history of child abuse/neglect has access to the child.
All Non-Caretaker referrals (“N” referrals) involve an alleged perpetrator who did not have care, custody, or control of the alleged victim child at the time of the alleged incident. “N” referrals involve allegations that a child was sexually or physically abused by a non-caretaker. For reports of sexual abuse, “N” referrals only involve alleged perpetrators fourteen (14) and older.
When calls are made to CANHU regarding child fatalities that were not related to child abuse or neglect, these calls are accepted as Non-CA/N Child Fatality referrals (“F” referrals). Pursuant to Section 210.115, RSMo., all Non-CA/N related child fatalities are to be reported to the hotline by medical examiners or coroners. Information from these calls is utilized for statistical information.
CANHU screens in Newborn Crisis Assessments (“NCAs”) when calls are made to CANHU from medical personnel who have concerns about releasing an infant from the hospital to a potentially dangerous situation. Notwithstanding the physician-patient privilege, any physician or health care provider may refer to the Children’s Division families in which children may have been exposed to a controlled substance listed in section 195.017, schedules I, II and III, or alcohol as evidenced by:
- Medical documentation of signs and symptoms consistent with controlled substances or alcohol exposure in the child at birth; or
- Results of a confirmed toxicology test for controlled substances performed at birth on the mother or the child; and
- A written assessment made or approved by a physician, health care provider, or by the Children’s Division which documents the child as being at risk of abuse or neglect.
Newborn crisis assessments are screened in when:
- The infant or mother tested positive for a controlled substance at the time of the birth, or the infant is exhibiting signs and symptoms consistent with controlled substance or alcohol exposure;
- There is a concern for the well-being of an infant due to the family’s lack of resources, prior history, significant mental health concerns/bizarre behaviors in the hospital; or,
- There is a concern for the well-being of a child under one year of age immediately or within twenty-four (24) hours of being seen by a medical professional.
When a reporter’s concerns do not meet conditions for a CA/N report or a Non-CA/N referral, the report is taken as a documented call. This information is stored in FACES for one year and may be viewed by staff for historical purposes. Documented calls do not require a response by field staff.
Pursuant to Section 210.145, RSMo., when CANHU receives three or more calls, within a seventy-two hour (72) period, from one or more individuals concerning the same child, the Children’s Division shall conduct a review to determine whether the calls meet the criteria and statutory definition for a CA/N report to be accepted. In conducting the review, the Children’s Division shall contact the reporter(s) in order to collect information to determine whether the calls meet the criteria for harassment.Hotline calls are flagged at CANHU when they meet the following criteria:
- Three or more calls have been received in a 72 hour period that did not meet the criteria for a CA/N report; and
- All calls have a victim in common.
All are Documented Calls Only
CANHU will screen the calls collectively according to standard CANHU protocol.
When the combined calls are screened in as a CA/N report, CANHU will combine the reports and reported information into one report and send the CA/N report to the appropriate local office, Out-of-Home Investigative Unit or Regional Office designee, noting the report is the result of the review.
If the combined documented call allegations do not meet the criteria for a CA/N report or Non-CA/N referral, the classifications will remain documented calls.
When CANHU suspects that calls made were made for the purpose of harassment or retaliation, CANHU will forward that information via e-mail to the attention of the Circuit Manager, OHI Unit Manager or Regional Director/designee to be addressed.
At Least one Call is a Non-CA/N Referral
When at least one call has already been classified as a Non-CA/N referral and alerted to the field, CANHU will notify a supervisor, or higher level administrator, within the appropriate Local or Regional Office, that a review is required and send all calls to be reviewed to the Local or Regional Office designee.
Field staff will contact all reporters and review the collective information received and determine if the information warrants a CA/N report. When field staff determines the information from the combined reports and reporters meets the criteria for a CA/N report, they will contact CANHU and make a report.