CHILD WELFARE MANUAL

Section 2, Chapter 5 (Child Abuse and Neglect Reports), Subsection 3 – Investigations

(Effective 04/13/21)

Table of Contents

5.3.1 Co-Investigation with Law Enforcement

5.3.2 Multi-Disciplinary Teams

5.3.3 Child Advocacy Centers

5.3.3.1 Cursory Interviews

5.3.4 SAFE-CARE Program

5.3.5 Investigations Involving Children Under the Age of Four

5.3.6 School Liaison and Information Sharing

5.3.7 Conclusion Timeframes

5.3.7.1 Steps to Ensure Timely Conclusion

5.3.7.2 Delayed Conclusions          

5.3.7.2.1 Safety Re-Assurance in Delayed Investigations

5.3.7.2.2 Significantly Delayed Preponderance of Evidence (POE) Investigations

5.3.8 Investigation Conclusions

5.3.8.1 Unsubstantiated Conclusions

5.3.8.2 Unsubstantiated, Preventive Services Indicated (PSI) Conclusions

5.3.8.3 Preponderance of the Evidence

5.3.8.3.1 The Legal Elements of Child Abuse/Neglect

5.3.8.3.2 Reporter Description/Worker Finding Code Mapping

5.3.8.3.3 Conclusion Summaries

5.3.8.3.4 Juvenile Perpetrators

5.3.8.3.5 Concluding Fatality Reports

5.3.8.3.6 Central Registry

5.3.8.4 Child Abuse/Neglect Present, Perpetrator Unidentified

5.3.8.5 Court Adjudicated

5.3.9 Reports Made out of Harassment

5.3.10 First Steps Referral on POE Determinations for Children Less Than Three

5.3.11 Notifications for Investigation Dispositions

5.3.11.1 Notification Disputes

5.3.11.2 Reporter Disposition Notification Letter (CS-21b)

5.3.12 Alleged Perpetrator Appeal Process

5.3.12.1 Local Administrative Review

5.3.12.2 Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board (CANRB)

5.3.12.3 De Novo Judicial Review

5.3.13 Deceased Perpetrators

5.3.14 Re-Opening Requests

5.3.15 Fatality, Near-Fatality, or Other Critical Event

5.3.16 State Technical Assistance Team (STAT)

5.3.17 Child Fatality Review Panels

 

5.3 Investigations

This section provides procedures related specifically to child abuse/neglect Investigations.

5.3.1 Co-Investigation with Law Enforcement

Pursuant to Section 210.145, RSMo., staff shall contact the appropriate law enforcement agency immediately upon receipt of any investigation in order to begin co-investigation.  Staff shall provide such agency with a detailed description of the report received.  The Children’s Division shall request the assistance of the appropriate law enforcement agency in all aspects of the Investigation.  The appropriate law enforcement agency shall either assist the Children’s Division in the Investigation or provide a written explanation, within twenty-four (24) hours, detailing the reasons they are unable to assist.  Notifying law enforcement of all Investigations is a statutory requirement.

  • The role of the Children’s Division investigator is to ensure safety of children and that services are provided to a family when service needs are immediate during the Investigation.  The Children’s Division’s investigative purposes are identification, assessment, and service provision in an effort to protect children, preserve families whenever possible, and prevent further maltreatment.
  • The role of law enforcement is to assist in ensuring safety of children, determine whether or not a crime has been committed, identify and apprehend perpetrators, and present information to the proper authorities for prosecution.

Rationale for Co-Investigations

Co-investigation offers several potential benefits, both to the victim(s) and to the professionals involved.  Coordinated responses can reduce the number of interviews a child undergoes.  It can minimize the number of people involved in a case and avoid duplication of efforts.  Co-investigation can also enhance the quality of evidence collected.  Varied perspectives of the investigators greatly strengthen the process of Investigation, and the ultimate prosecution of the offender, ensuring the safety of the child(ren), and the provision of treatment services.

Role of Law Enforcement

The roles and responsibilities of law enforcement include:

  • Detect and report suspected child abuse and neglect;
  • Gather physical evidence and conduct interviews;
  • Assist the Children’s Division in gaining access to the child if the parents refuse to allow such access;
  • Be available 24-hours a day and react to emergency situations quickly;
  • Perform investigations of possible criminal activity;
  • Arrest individuals when probable cause exists to believe they have committed a crime against a child;
  • Take protective custody when a child is in imminent danger;
  • Assist in raising community awareness through prevention and advocacy programs;
  • Testify in court, as necessary;
  • Enforce the orders of the court.

Initial Response

Once a case is reported and assigned, law enforcement and the Children’s Division should collaborate regarding the investigatory first steps prior to meeting with the family.  When possible, Children’s Division and law enforcement should respond jointly to conduct initial interviews of the child(ren) and other relevant witnesses.  Direct observation of the child(ren) shall not be delayed beyond the assigned response priority when waiting for law enforcement to respond.

Law enforcement and the Children’s Division will first assess the safety of the child in accordance with statutory and agency guidelines.  Ensuring the safety of the child is the immediate concern.  When a law enforcement officer has reasonable cause to believe that a child is in imminent danger of suffering serious physical harm or a threat to life as a result of abuse or neglect and they have reasonable cause to believe the harm or threat to life may occur before a juvenile court could issue a temporary protective custody order or before a juvenile officer could take the child into protective custody, the law enforcement officer may take or retain protective custody of the child without the consent of the child’s parents, guardian or others legally responsible for the child’s care.  Law enforcement should utilize the Authorization to Provide Alternative Care (CS-33) form to authorize emergency protective custody.  

Law enforcement and the Children’s Division should make every effort to obtain as much information from parents, caretakers, or witnesses.  The investigators should obtain all relevant information from the reporter(s) and adult witness(es) of the alleged incident.  It is strongly encouraged that Children’s Division have agreements and protocols in place with local law enforcement agencies that outline procedures to be followed when conducting co-investigations.

Law Enforcement Assist

Children’s Division staff may also at times request an assist from law enforcement due to safety concerns.  In such situations law enforcement’s main role is public safety, not co-investigation.  Staff may find it necessary to clarify these roles with law enforcement.

5.3.2 Multi-Disciplinary Teams

Pursuant to Section 210.145, RSMo., “multidisciplinary teams shall be used whenever conducting the Investigation as determined by the division in conjunction with local law enforcement.  Multidisciplinary teams shall be used in providing protective or preventive social services, including the services of law enforcement, a liaison of the local public school, the juvenile officer, the juvenile court, and other agencies, both public and private.”

Section 660.520, RSMo., further defines multi-disciplinary teams (MDT) to include a prosecutor, or his or her representative, an investigator from the children’s division, a physician, a representative from a mental health care services agency and a representative of the police agency of primary jurisdiction.

The purpose of MDT collaboration is to:

  • Provide a clear framework for planning and conducting an Investigation and subsequent service provision involving alleged child victims/witnesses of sexual abuse, physical abuse/neglect, or other violent crimes;
  • Coordinate intervention so as to reduce potential trauma to children and families, while preserving and respecting the rights and obligations of each agency to pursue their respective mandates;
  • Efficiently gather and share information in a timely manner;
  • Broaden the knowledge base with which decisions are made by including information from many sources, and improve communication among agencies;
  • Encourage understanding of MDT member roles and responsibilities and avoid conflicts within the MDT collaboration to improve efficiency, timeliness, and reliability of case intervention;
  • Increase MDT members requisite skills through training, coordination, and critical review of action taken.

5.3.3 Child Advocacy Centers

Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) provide services to assist law enforcement, the Children’s Division, the prosecuting attorney, and the juvenile officer in the Investigation of alleged child abuse/neglect.  The services provided by CACs are intended to be child friendly, better protect children, and enhance the ability of law enforcement, the Children’s Division, the prosecuting attorney, and the juvenile officer to meet their statutory mandates in accordance with Chapter 210 and 211 RSMo, federal and state criminal statutes and any other applicable statutes.  These services may include, but are not limited to, forensic interviews of alleged child victims and/or child witnesses and Sexual Assault Forensic Exams (SAFE), victim advocate services, counseling services and other support services.     

In order for a case to be accepted by the child advocacy center, an Investigation must include allegations of:

  • Sexual abuse;
  • Physical abuse;
  • Neglect;
  • Endangerment or exploitation of a child between the ages of three and eighteen.

The child must be referred to a CAC by the Children’s Division, law enforcement, the prosecuting attorney, or the juvenile officer in conjunction with a report made to the child abuse/neglect hotline or a crime reported to law enforcement.  The CAC may also accept requests from the Children’s Division, law enforcement, the prosecuting attorney, or the juvenile officer to interview other individuals, including but not limited to:

  • A child under the age of three (3) if deemed appropriate and agreeable with the CAC;
  • A child under age eighteen (18) alleged to be a witness to a homicide;
  • A crime victim or witness eighteen (18) years of age or older with a developmental disability who would best be served through the use of interview techniques utilized by the CAC.                          

5.3.3.1 Cursory Interviews

In order to reduce the number of times a child is interviewed, Children’s Division and law enforcement investigators should not conduct lengthy or comprehensive interviews with the alleged child victim and/or child witness when referring the child for a forensic interview.

Children’s Division and law enforcement should make every effort to obtain as much information from parents, caretakers, or witnesses instead of the child when possible.  The investigators will obtain all relevant information (i.e. statement made by child) from the reporter(s) and adult witness(es) of the alleged incident.  If the child disclosed abuse to a mandated reporter, and there are no unmet safety concerns, there is no need for Children’s Division and/or law enforcement to interview the child with respect to the facts of the incident.  The investigator may directly contact the CAC to schedule the forensic interview.  It is understood that a brief interview with the child by the Children’s Division investigator and/or law enforcement officer may be necessary for the following reasons:

    • To make an initial assessment of the validity of the allegations;
    • To assess the child’s ability to participate in a forensic interview based on developmental considerations;
    • To obtain the necessary information to ensure the protection, health, and safety of the child;
    • To determine appropriate placement for the child; or
    • To fulfill any of the Children’s Division’s and law enforcement’s statutory mandates and responsibilities that could not otherwise be met if a brief interview is not conducted.

If additional/clarifying information or the safety of the child needs to be assessed by speaking directly to the child, a cursory interview will be conducted.  The cursory interview will be neutral and objective.  The cursory interview will be conducted to obtain specific facts limited to:

    • Identification of the alleged perpetrator(s);
    • The health and safety of the child.  This includes, but is not limited to:
      • Whether the child has any immediate safety risks;
      • Whether the child’s immediate medical needs are being addressed;
      • Determining whether the child is at imminent risk of death, sexual abuse, or physical injury and may need to be removed from the home;
      • Whether a safety plan is appropriate to meet the safety needs of the child;
      • Whether the child requires immediate medical and/or mental health care; and/or
      • Determine if the child may need to be taken into protective custody and what are the appropriate placement resources for the child.
    • Location of where the alleged abuse occurred; and
    • Minimal facts regarding the allegations.

Once the above information is obtained, Children’s Division and/or law enforcement should advise the child and the non-offending caregiver that the case will be referred to the CAC for a forensic interview as soon as possible.

5.3.4 SAFE-CARE Program

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ SAFE-CARE program provides child abuse/neglect training and consultation for Missouri medical providers and other child protection professionals.  Physicians, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants that have completed initial SAFE-CARE training may join the SAFE-CARE provider network, which is recognized by Missouri law as uniquely qualified to perform child abuse/neglect evaluations, pursuant to Section 334.950, RSMo.  SAFE-CARE providers should, therefore, be used whenever possible for the medical examination of alleged victims of child sexual abuse, physical abuse, and/or neglect.  Staff may use the SAFE-CARE provider list to arrange an examination with a local SAFE-CARE provider.  Providers may also be contacted through the Child Advocacy Center that serves the county of assignment.  Staff may also contact  Missouri KidsFirst, at 573-632-4600, for help locating a provider.

In addition to the provider network, the SAFE-CARE program maintains three child abuse medical resource centers at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.  The SAFE-CARE resource centers are staffed with board certified child abuse pediatricians that provide medical leadership for the SAFE-CARE program, as well as advanced medical consultation on complex abuse/neglect cases. 

Sexual Assault Forensic Examinations (SAFE)

A SAFE exam is an examination performed by an appropriate medical provider on a victim of an alleged sexual offense to gather evidence for the evidentiary collection kit or using other collection procedures developed for victims who are minors.

All children who are suspected victims of child sexual abuse should be offered a timely medical evaluation by a provider skilled in performing such evaluations.  The primary purpose of the medical evaluation is to identify, document, diagnose, prevent, and treat medical conditions and/or trauma (resulting from abuse and unrelated to abuse), as well as to assess issues related to patient safety and wellbeing.  An additional purpose of the medical evaluation is to determine the appropriateness of trace evidence collection and, if indicated, to ensure that biologic trace materials are properly collected and preserved.

While most child victims of sexual abuse/assault do not require emergency medical evaluations, reasons for emergency medical examinations include, but are not limited to:

  • The alleged assault may have resulted in the transfer of trace biological material and occurred within the previous 3 days (or other locally determined interval up to 7 days);
  • The alleged assault may have placed the child at risk for pregnancy and occurred in the previous 5 days;
  • The child complains of pain in the genital or anal area;
  • There is evidence or complaint of anogenital bleeding or injury.

Staff may refer to the Child Sexual Abuse/Assault Screening Protocol Flowchart  for further guidance.

Child Physical Abuse Forensic Examinations (CARE)

A child physical abuse forensic examination is a physical examination performed on an alleged victim of physical abuse who is under eighteen (18) years of age by a SAFE-CARE provider to collect and preserve evidence.

Indicators for a CARE exam:

  • Child with acute physical injuries not explained by accidental means;
  • Witnessed abuse with or without physical injuries;
  • Child making disclosures of physical abuse;
  • Child in the same environment of care as a child who was seen for physical injuries (e.g. sibling)

Case Reviews

A case review is a written record review or evaluation of previously gathered photographs, medical records, including, but not limited to, radiology and laboratory tests, medical chart documentation, and investigative information including, but not limited to, information provided by a multi-disciplinary team, Missouri Children’s Division, law enforcement, or juvenile authorities.

Payments for SAFE-CARE Examinations and Case Reviews

The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is responsible for the payment of the forensic examination charges incurred as a result of gathering evidence for the evidentiary collection kit of persons who may be a victim of sexual assault or physical abuse which occurred in the state of Missouri.

Staff utilizing SAFE-CARE providers for SAFE, CARE, or case reviews may be asked by the SAFE-CARE providers to sign either the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) Program Report DPS claims form or the Child Physical Abuse Forensic Examination DPS claims form.  Staff should complete the “Authorization for Forensic Examination by Requesting Agency” section of these forms and possibly the “Consent for Forensic Examination” section if the child is in the custody of the Children’s Division at the time of the examination.  All other sections of the form are to be completed by the SAFE-CARE provider and/or the Department of Public Safety.

5.3.5 Investigations Involving Children Under the Age of Four

Pursuant to Section 210.146, RSMo., all Investigations involving children under the age of four must include either an examination of the child or a review of the child’s case file and any photographs by a SAFE-CARE provider.

Staff should complete the SAFE-CARE Provider Evaluation Referral form (CD-231) and send an encrypted email, along with any relevant medical records and photographs to:

DSS.CD.SafeCareReferral@dss.mo.gov

To ensure this process is not only completed timely, but in a manner that allows the best chance of a proper evaluation and follow up response, Children’s Division staff must complete and submit the CD-231 as soon as possible, but no later than seventy-two (72) hours, after receiving the CA/N report. 

If the child has already been seen by, or it is known the child will be referred to a local SAFE-CARE provider, staff do not need to complete the CD-231 and should follow local referral protocols.  Nothing in this protocol should preclude staff from facilitating timely medical attention care for a child in need.

Once received, the designated Child Abuse Resource Center will ensure the referral is evaluated within twenty-four (24) hours and will return the completed and signed form to the Children’s Division with one of the following recommendations:

  1. No medical/forensic evaluation required based on the information provided in the referral;
  2. Medical examination by a general practitioner;
  3. Medical examination by a SAFE-CARE provider;
  4. Medical examination by a board certified child abuse pediatrician; or,
  5. Case review by a SAFE-CARE provider.    

In accordance with best practices, staff should make every effort to facilitate the occurrence of medical exams or case file reviews in a manner that not only ensures a thorough and timely Investigation, but minimizes the need for multiple examinations, unnecessary delays, or undue hardship on families whenever possible.  If it is determined that the child’s needs can be met by a case file review and the child has not or will not, be examined by a SAFE-CARE provider, the Children’s Division worker will need to facilitate obtaining the necessary medical records to provide to the local SAFE-CARE provider. 

For further information related to the SAFE-CARE network and how to locate a provider, please refer to Section 2, Chapter 5.3.4 SAFE-CARE Program.

5.3.6 School Liaison and Information Sharing

Section 210.145, RSMo., requires the superintendent of each school district to designate a public school district liaison, who will be considered a member of the multidisciplinary team (MDT). When the victim of an Investigation is enrolled in school, the school liaison must be notified of the Investigation.  Should the victim child attend a non-public school, the principal shall be notified in lieu of a school liaison. 

The school liaison is a valuable source of information and an active member of the MDT.  Communication between the Children’s Division and the school liaison should be ongoing, when appropriate, to enhance services to the child and family. 

Schools may share all appropriate information with Children’s Division during an Investigation, i.e., information regarding the child that would assist staff in making a determination of whether abuse occurred.  This can be done because the Children’s Division was vested with the authority to investigate child abuse in 1969 (Sections 210.105 and 210.107 RSMo), prior to the passage of the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

If school personnel are part of the MDT involved in the Investigation, evaluation, or treatment of the victim child, staff may share appropriate information that would be helpful to the school in their work with the child, i.e., information regarding the investigative outcome, the treatment plan, and the progress of the family.  If school personnel did not make the hotline report, but are aware an Investigation is being completed, staff may share appropriate information with the personnel as a member of the multidisciplinary team.  For information related to information shared with schools by the Children’s Division when school personnel was the reporter, please refer to Section 2, Chapter 5.2.3, Reporter Contact

5.3.7 Conclusion Timeframes

Pursuant to Section 210.145, RSMo., the Division shall complete all Investigations within forty-five (45) days, unless a good cause for the failure to complete the Investigation is specifically documented in FACES.

5.3.7.1 Steps to Ensure Timely Conclusion

Division staff must act to ensure timely completion of all Investigations.  If there is a delay in receiving information from law enforcement, the juvenile office, or other professionals, staff must attempt to obtain the information, documenting all attempts in the case record.  In situations where the information will not be received within forty-five (45) days of the report, the supervisor and worker are to take appropriate steps to secure information necessary to complete the CD process and make a determination.

If a pattern of delayed Investigations is due to involvement with law enforcement, the juvenile office or other professionals, local CD staff must meet with their multidisciplinary team members within their communities, to develop protocol to meet conclusion timeframes.

Supervisors and Circuit Managers should utilize electronically accessible administrative reports (e.g., Monthly Perform Reports) and/or FACES (e.g., Online Reports) to identify and address the timely completion of all CA/Ns assigned to staff under their supervision.  Concluding Investigations in which there is sufficient evidence for a Preponderance of Evidence (POE) finding should be prioritized.

5.3.7.2 Delayed Conclusions

Workers and Supervisors must document, in FACES, the good cause reason for a delayed conclusion on or before day forty-five (45) of the Investigation.  This documentation should be completed within a supervisory consult contact entry.  All reports not completed within forty-five (45) days must be put in delayed conclusion status on the Delayed Conclusion screen in the Investigation/Assessment function in FACES.

Good cause for failure to complete an Investigation shall include, but not be limited to:

    • The necessity to obtain relevant reports of medical providers, medical examiners, psychological testing, law enforcement agencies, forensic testing, and analysis of relevant evidence by third parties which has not been completed and provided to the division;
    • The attorney general or the prosecuting or circuit attorney of the city or county in which a criminal investigation is pending certifies in writing to the division that there is a pending criminal investigation of the incident under investigation by the division and the issuing of a decision by the division will adversely impact the progress of the investigation; or
    • The child victim, the subject of the Investigation or another witness with information relevant to the Investigation is unable or temporarily unwilling to provide complete information within the specified time frames due to illness, injury, unavailability, mental capacity, age, developmental disability, or other cause.

The following timelines should be utilized when there is good cause to delay the timely conclusion of an Investigation:

    • If the Investigation involves a child fatality or near-fatality, it may remain open until the Division’s Investigation surrounding such death or near-fatal injury is completed;
    • If the Investigation involves sexual abuse, it should be completed no later than one hundred twenty days (120);
    • All other Investigations should be completed no later than ninety (90) days.

If there is good cause for failing to complete the Investigation within the timeframes listed above, staff may still make a Preponderance of Evidence (POE) finding.

Good Cause Analysis

The following should be considered when determining whether concluding an Investigation may be delayed:

    • What is the critical information the Division is waiting to receive?
    • How is the missing information critical to the Division’s conclusion?
      • To place a case in delayed conclusion, staff and supervisors must deem the missing information so critical to the Investigation the Division cannot make a determination without it (e.g., critical medical report of injuries to a victim child, laboratory results, etc.)
    • Can the Division make a determination without the information?
      • Division Staff should conclude the Investigation if any of the following apply:
        • Division staff have acquired sufficient information to make a determination of CA/N without the missing information.
        • Division staff are waiting on information to corroborate or support the information already gathered or received in another form.
        • Division staff have received critical information through oral communication from a professional but are waiting on the physical/paper report.
          • Staff should make the professional aware in such matters; their oral communication will be documented in the Division’s written record as corroborating evidence to support the Division’s conclusion.
        • The alleged perpetrator and/or their attorney decline to cooperate with the Investigation or provide information to the contrary.
          • Staff should move forward with weighing all of the available evidence to reach a preliminary finding.
        • Division staff have made good faith efforts to locate the alleged perpetrator, consistent with the steps outlined in policy, but have been unable to do so.
          • Staff should move forward with weighing all of the available evidence to reach a preliminary finding, once a determination has been reached that staff were unable to locate the alleged perpetrator.
        • Division staff have sufficient information to conclude the hotline as unsubstantiated, even with the addition of missing information, such as when division staff are waiting for information which is not related to the elements of abuse or neglect.
        • Division staff are waiting for information which is not related to the elements of abuse or neglect.

5.3.7.2.1 Safety Re-Assurance in Delayed Investigations

Staff must provide ongoing assurance of children’s safety and well-being, while collecting essential evidence when an Investigation remains beyond the initial forty-five (45) days.

When a report is in delayed status, staff should complete face to face re-assurance of children’s safety:

      • Forty-five (45) days from receipt of the report;
      • Every thirty (30) days thereafter; and
      • As needed to address ongoing safety concerns.

Staff may need to make multidisciplinary team and collateral contacts to continue to assure the safety of the child while the report is in delayed status.

5.3.7.2.2 Significantly Delayed Preponderance of Evidence (POE) Investigations

A referral must be made to the Division of Legal Services (DLS) to request a legal opinion on whether a POE finding is appropriate when the Investigation is six (6) or more months overdue.

5.3.8 Investigation Conclusions

The possible Investigation conclusions are:

5.3.8.1 Unsubstantiated Conclusions

This Investigative conclusion is appropriate in the absence of sufficient evidence to determine that child abuse or neglect has occurred, and the family does not present significant risk factors or other indicators which pose a specific threat to the child.

When there is insufficient evidence to support a preliminary finding of child abuse or neglect by a POE, the following statement should be entered into the CPS-1 conclusion summary:

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo., and the Division has determined there is insufficient evidence to conclude (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and/or neglect) perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).”

In addition, staff should state why the abuse or neglect concern was unsubstantiated by explaining how at least one (1) of the legal elements of abuse or neglect was not met by a POE.

For example: There was no physical injury. The alleged perpetrator did not have care, custody, or control; or the injury was accidental.

5.3.8.2 Unsubstantiated, Preventive Services Indicated (PSI) Conclusions

This investigative conclusion is appropriate when there is insufficient evidence to make a determination that child abuse or neglect has occurred by a Preponderance of Evidence; however, the worker has identified risk factors through observations, interviews, and collaterals, which if unresolved, could potentially contribute to future concerns of child abuse/neglect or result in the accumulation of harm as it would pertain to issues of chronic maltreatment.  This determination requires preventive services to be provided to the family.

When there is insufficient evidence to support a preliminary finding of child abuse or neglect by a POE, the following statement should be entered into the CPS-1 conclusion summary:

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo., and the Division has determined there is insufficient evidence to conclude (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and/or neglect) perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).”

In addition, staff should state why the abuse or neglect concern was unsubstantiated by explaining how at least one (1) of the legal elements of abuse or neglect was not met by a POE.

For example: There was no physical injury. The alleged perpetrator did not have care, custody, or control.  The injury was accidental.

Staff should explain the rationale for recommending Preventive Services.

5.3.8.3 Preponderance of the Evidence

Pursuant to Section 210.110, RSMo., preponderance of the evidence (POE) is defined as that degree of evidence that is of greater weight or more convincing than the evidence which is offered in opposition to it or evidence which as a whole shows the fact to be proved to be more probable than not.

5.3.8.3.1 The Legal Elements of Child Abuse/Neglect

Each of the legal definitions of child abuse and neglect are broken down into parts called elements, and there must be sufficient evidence to prove each element by a preponderance of evidence (POE) in order to reach a determination that child abuse or neglect has occurred.  This means that in order to establish a finding of child abuse or neglect by a POE:

      • Staff must gather all of the relevant evidence, which is both in favor and opposed to the finding; and
      • Staff must objectively review all of the evidence which is in favor of or contrary to the finding; and
      • Staff must objectively consider and balance the evidence in favor of or contrary to the finding; and
      • In order to support a finding of child abuse or neglect by a POE, staff must be convinced that:
        • The evidence in favor of the finding outweighs the evidence against the finding, or
        • Is convinced that the evidence, when taken as a whole, shows that it is more probable than not that the alleged incident took place in this case.Failure to apply the POE standard of proof may be a violation of the constitutional rights of the person who is accused of child abuse and/or neglect.

Elements of Abuse

There are five elements of abuse derived from the legal definition:

      • The alleged victim child was under the age of 18 at the time of reported incident;
      • The alleged perpetrator was responsible for care, custody, and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident;
      • There was a physical injury, sexual abuse, and/or emotional abuse to the alleged victim child which was caused by the alleged perpetrator;
      • The alleged victim child’s injury was caused by other than accidental means; and,
      • The physical injury was not the result of spanking or other forms of discipline administered in a reasonable manner or the alleged victim child has been subjected to sex trafficking or severe forms of trafficking.

Elements of Neglect

There are three elements of neglect derived from the legal definition:

      • The alleged victim child was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident;
      • The alleged perpetrator was responsible for care, custody, and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident; and,
      • The alleged perpetrator failed to provide the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition, or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the alleged victim child’s well-being or the alleged victim child has been subjected to sex trafficking or severe forms of trafficking.

Elements of Child Sex Trafficking

There are three elements of child sex trafficking derived from the legal definition:

      • The alleged victim child was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident;
      • The alleged perpetrator was responsible for care, custody, and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident; and,
      • The alleged victim child was sex trafficked by the alleged perpetrator.

Elements of Child Labor Trafficking

There are four elements of labor trafficking derived from the legal definition:

      • The alleged victim child was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident;
      • The alleged perpetrator was responsible for care, custody, and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident;
      • The alleged victim child was labor trafficked by the alleged perpetrator; and,
      • The alleged perpetrator used force, fraud, or coercion.

5.3.8.3.2 Reporter Description/Worker Finding Code Mapping

There may be multiple abuse or neglect codes alleged within the same category of abuse or neglect.  Examples of codes include: skull fracture, fondling/touching, rejection through indifference, lack of food, etc.  The individual conclusion screen in FACES requires a finding for each code.  However, it is the overall finding for the category that is to be summarized in the conclusion summary.

For example: A hotline alleges unsanitary living conditions and lack of supervision.  The worker must make a finding in regards to concerns of neglect in the conclusion summary.  If there is no concern for the unsanitary living condition allegation, but the worker finds lack of supervision occurred by a preponderance of the overall evidence, the determination is POE for neglect.

Codes can fall under different categories of abuse or neglect, depending on the situation.  However, each code is mapped to a specific category in FACES as outlined below.  FACES utilizes this mapping to generate the CS-21.

Physical Abuse Neglect Emotional Abuse Sexual Abuse
Abrasions, lacerations Abandonment Blaming, verbal abuse, threatening Digital penetration
Brain damage Exposure, freezing, heat exhaustion Exploitation (non-sexual) Fondling/touching
Bruises, welts, red marks Failure to give medication Rejection through indifference Genital or anal bleeding
Burns, scalding Failure to protect   Intercourse
Dismemberment Failure to thrive (due to neglect)   Oral sex, sodomy
Fractures (other than skull) Lack of food   Other sexual abuse
Inappropriately giving drugs Lack of heat   Pornography
Internal injuries Lack of/inappropriate clothing   Sexually transmitted disease
Meth lab exposure Lack of supervision   Child sex trafficking
Other physical abuse or injury Locking in or out, expelling from home    
Poisoning Malnutrition (due to improper feeding)    
Repeated ingestions Parents indifferent to educational needs    
Shaking Poor hygiene (health threatening)    
Skull fracture Severe untreated dental    
Sprains, dislocations Unsafe/inadequate shelter    
Subdural hemorrhage/hematoma Unsanitary living conditions    
Wounds, cuts, punctures Untreated illness/injury    
  Child sex trafficking    
NOTE: Child sex trafficking is mapped to both neglect and sexual abuse

When making a determination, staff should first consider the appropriate category and then determine the appropriate code under the category.  Staff may have to add a more appropriate code under a different category to make the correct finding of abuse or neglect in FACES.

For Example: Meth lab exposure is mapped in FACES to physical abuse due to  the possibility of physical harm to the child.  There may be no physical harm to the child, but the home environment is unsafe due to the meth lab.  The worker would unsubstantiate the physical abuse code of meth lab and add the neglect code of unsafe/inadequate shelter in order to correctly find POE for neglect.

5.3.8.3.3 Conclusion Summaries

Staff should use the following templates when writing conclusion summaries:

Physical Abuse

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo. and the Division has determined by a Preponderance of Evidence that (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of physical abuse perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).

 This determination of physical abuse by a Preponderance of Evidence was made after weighing all of the evidence and based upon the following:

      1.  (Alleged Victim Child) was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident in that…;
      2. (Alleged Perpetrator) was responsible for care, custody and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident in that…;
      3. There was physical injury to the alleged victim child which was caused by the alleged perpetrator in that…;
      4. The physical injury was caused other than by accidental means in that…;
      5. The physical injury was not the result of spanking or other forms of discipline administered in a reasonable manner in that…;”

Staff MUST provide a succinct summary of the evidence for each element.

Sexual Abuse

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo. and the Division has determined by a Preponderance of Evidence that (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of sexual abuse perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).

 This determination of sexual abuse by a preponderance of evidence was made after weighing all of the evidence and based upon the following:

      1.  (Alleged Victim Child) was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident in that…;
      2. (Alleged Perpetrator) was responsible for care, custody and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident in that…;
      3. There was sexual abuse to (Alleged Victim Child) which was caused by (Alleged Perpetrator) in that…;
      4. The sexual abuse was caused other than by accidental means in that…;
      5. The sexual abuse was not the result of spanking or other forms of discipline administered in a reasonable manner in that…;”

Staff MUST provide a succinct summary of the evidence for each element.

Emotional Abuse

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo. and the Division has determined by a Preponderance of Evidence that (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of emotional abuse perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).

 This determination of emotional abuse by a Preponderance of Evidence was made after weighing all of the evidence and based upon the following:

      1.  (Alleged Victim Child) was under the age of 18 at the time of incident in that…;
      2. (Alleged Perpetrator) was responsible for care, custody and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident in that…;
      3. There was emotional abuse to (Alleged Victim Child) which was caused by (Alleged Perpetrator) in that…;
      4. The emotional abuse was caused other than by accidental means in that…;
      5. The emotional abuse was not the result of spanking or other forms of discipline administered in a reasonable manner in that…;”

Staff MUST provide a succinct summary of the evidence for each element.

Neglect

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo. and the Division has determined by a Preponderance of Evidence that (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of neglect perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).

 This determination of neglect by a Preponderance of Evidence was made after weighing all of the evidence and based upon the following:

      1.  (Alleged Victim Child) was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident in that…;
      2. (Alleged Perpetrator) was found to be responsible for care, custody and control of (Alleged Victim Child) at the time of the incident in that…;
      3. (Alleged Perpetrator) failed to provide the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the child’s well-being in that…;”

Staff MUST provide a succinct summary of the evidence for each element.

Sex Trafficking

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo. and the Division has determined by a Preponderance of Evidence that (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of sexual abuse and neglect perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).

 This determination of sexual abuse and neglect by a Preponderance of Evidence was made after weighing all of the evidence and based upon the following:

      1.  (Alleged Victim Child) was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident in that…;
      2. (Alleged Perpetrator) was responsible for care, custody and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident in that…;
      3. (Alleged Victim Child) was sex trafficked in that….”

Staff MUST provide a succinct summary of the evidence for each element.

Labor Trafficking

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo. and the Division has determined by a Preponderance of Evidence that (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of (physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse) and neglect perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).

 This determination of (physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse) and neglect by a Preponderance of Evidence was made after weighing all of the evidence and based upon the following:

      1.  (Alleged Victim Child) was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident in that…; 
      2. (Alleged Perpetrator) was responsible for care, custody and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident in that…;
      3. (Alleged Victim Child) was labor trafficked in that…’
      4. (Alleged Perpetrator) used force, fraud, or coercion in that…”

Staff MUST provide a succinct summary of the evidence for each element.

5.3.8.3.4 Juvenile Perpetrators

In rare circumstance, an Investigation may result in a determination that a child was the victim of abuse or neglect perpetrated by a juvenile perpetrator who had care, custody, and control.  Finding POE on a juvenile perpetrator should be reserved for relatively egregious incidents, considering that placement on the Central Registry is forever.  Staff may make a determination that a child was the victim of abuse or neglect perpetrated by a juvenile alleged perpetrator, but only after the following:

      1. If the Worker’s supervisor is in agreement with the determination of abuse or neglect involving a juvenile alleged perpetrator, the report is forwarded to the Regional Director or their designee for review;
      2. The Regional Director or their designee may suggest further action to determine if the CA/N Investigation meets all of the legal elements of child abuse/neglect, or may authorize the decision to make a determination of abuse or neglect with a juvenile alleged perpetrator.  No Investigation may be concluded with a determination of abuse or neglect involving a juvenile alleged perpetrator without authorization from a Regional Director or their designee.
      3. Worker documents authorization to make a determination of abuse or neglect on a juvenile alleged perpetrator in the CPS-1 narrative section.
      4. Staff must explain to the juvenile and the parents of the juvenile that a POE finding is being made.  Staff should ensure the parents/legal guardian receive a copy of the CS-21 as FACES does not generate a copy to them.

Refer to Section 2, Chapter 5.3.12, Alleged Perpetrator Appeal Process  for information regarding appeal rights of juvenile perpetrators.

5.3.8.3.5 Concluding Fatality Reports

 The following reporter description codes are utilized by CANHU to code fatality reports:

      • Child fatality (residence in-state)—B1
      • Child fatality (residence Out-of-state)—B2
      • Household Sibling of Deceased Child—B3

When CANHU screens a report with one of the above codes or when staff add one of these codes to a CA/N report, FACES requires a conclusion for that code on the individual conclusion screen.  These codes are currently mapped to physical abuse when FACES generates the CS-21.

Fatality codes are not child abuse/neglect codes. A fatality is a consequence of the act of abuse or neglect.

In order to conclude a fatality report appropriately, staff must unsubstantiate the fatality code and make sure the appropriate code that contributed to the child’s death is added to the report.

Example: A child dies as a result of failure to thrive.  The B1 code should be unsubstantiated and the neglect code of failure to thrive should be added with a conclusion of Preponderance of Evidence.

The severity level of ‘fatal’ should only be used when the victim child died as a result of the child abuse/neglect allegation for which a preponderance of evidence finding is being made.

Example: A worker makes a Preponderance of Evidence finding for neglect on a report, during which the victim child died of natural causes. A severity level of ‘fatal’ would not be appropriate because fatality was not a result of the neglect.

5.3.8.3.6 Central Registry

Pursuant to Section 210.110, RSMo., the Central Registry is defined as: a registry of persons where the Children’s Division has found probable cause to believe prior to August 28, 2004, or by a preponderance of the evidence after August 28, 2004, or a court has substantiated through court adjudication that the individual has committed child abuse or neglect or the person has pled guilty or has been found guilty of a crime pursuant to section 565.020, 565.021, 565.023, 565.024, 565.050, 566.030, 566.060, or 567.050 if the victim is a child less than eighteen years of age, or any other crime pursuant to chapter 566 if the victim is a child less than eighteen years of age and the perpetrator is twenty-one years of age or older, a crime under section 568.020, 568.030, 568.045, 568.050, 568.060, 568.080, 568.090, 573.023, 573.025, 573.035, 573.037, 573.040, 573.200, or 573.205, or an attempt to commit any such crimes.  Any persons placed on the registry prior to August 28, 2004, shall remain on the registry for the duration of time required by section 210.152.

The Central Registry houses the names of perpetrators of abuse and/or neglect from a Probable Cause, Preponderance of Evidence, or Court Adjudicated hotline that is in Final Determination status.  It is not an actual list of individuals.  Rather, it is those individuals who have a Probable cause, a Preponderance of Evidence, or Court Adjudication finding against them within the Children’s Division FACES Information System.  The Central Registry also houses the names of persons that have pled guilty or been found guilty of certain crimes listed in the previous definition of Central Registry, or who the court has found by a Preponderance of the Evidence that a party is responsible for child abuse or neglect.

Central Registry searches are run through the Family Care Safety Registry (FCSR) or the Background Screening Investigations Unit (BSIU) on persons that want to work or volunteer around children, pursuant to Section 210.150, RSMo.

For Preponderance of Evidence findings, only individuals whose determination is final may be placed on the Central Registry. The preliminary Preponderance of Evidence determination does not become final until:

      • The alleged perpetrator does not request an appeal within their timeframes; or,
      • The alleged perpetrator skips the administrative review process and files directly with the court for judicial review; or,
      • The Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board (CANRB) upholds the preliminary finding.

Pursuant to Section 210.118, RSMo., the court may refer individuals to be placed on the Central Registry under the following circumstances:

      1. The court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that a party is responsible for child abuse or neglect, as those terms are defined in section 210.110.  The clerk shall send a certified copy of the judgment or order to the children’s division and to the appropriate prosecuting attorney.
      2. In every case in which the person has pled guilty to or been found guilty of the crimes qualifying under the definition of the Central Registry.

The court should send these orders to the Court Adjudication mailbox: CD.CourtAdjudication@dss.mo.gov.  These orders are processed by the CA/N Program Development Specialist utilizing the Court Adjudicated Central Registry (CACR) screen in FACES.

5.3.8.4 Child Abuse/Neglect Present, Perpetrator Unidentified

In C.D.J., Jr., By and Through His Next Friend C.D.J., Sr., and C.D.J., Sr., Individually, vs. Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, the Eastern District Court of Appeals ruled the Children’s Division does not have the authority to substantiate a report that an unknown perpetrator committed child abuse or neglect.  The Court further ruled unknown perpetrators cannot be placed on the Central Registry.  Due to this, staff must use the investigative conclusion option of ‘Child Abuse/Neglect Present, Perpetrator Unidentified’. 

Pursuant to Section 210.152, RSMo., the Children’s Division has the statutory authority to retain Investigation reports and all identifying information when the child is known to have been abused or neglected, but the identity of the perpetrator cannot be identified.  These reports will be retained forever, in the same manner as a Family Assessment.

Staff should make certain the allegations are investigated thoroughly.  When it is evident a child has been harmed, but it cannot determined who was responsible, staff should consider taking the following steps:

    • Completing an investigative timeline.  Timelines can be highly beneficial in narrowing down who had access to the child when the injury occurred.  They can also help identify what information is missing, inconsistencies in accounts of what happened to the child and other witnesses for further interviews.
    • Requesting a Child Advocacy Center (CAC) case review to collaborate with multi-disciplinary team (MDT) members on identifying investigative next-steps.
    • Utilizing group supervision to staff cases in which the investigator is struggling to determine who was responsible for the incident.
    • Making a referral to the Division of Legal Services (DLS) to request a review of the current evidence and request recommendations on how to proceed with the Investigation.
    • Making a recommendation for protective custody to the Juvenile Office or, at a minimum, opening a Family Centered Services (FCS) case in order to protect the child from further abuse or neglect.
    • Making a referral to the State Technical Assistance Team (STAT) to request assistance in investigating the allegations.

Staff should use the following templates when writing conclusion summaries:

Abuse

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo. and the Division has determined that (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of (physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse) but was unable to determine the identity of the alleged perpetrator.

This determination of (physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse) by an unidentified perpetrator was made after weighing all of the evidence and based upon the following:

    1.  (Alleged Victim Child) was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident in that…;
    2. The Children’s Division could not determine who was responsible for care, custody and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident because…;
    3. There was (physical, sexual, or emotional) abuse to (Alleged Victim Child) in that…;
    4. The (physical, sexual, or emotional) abuse was caused other than by accidental means in that…;
    5. The (physical, sexual, or emotional) abuse was not the result of spanking or other forms of discipline administered in a reasonable manner in that…”
  1. Neglect

“The Investigation has been completed under Sections 210.108-210.183 RSMo. and the Division has determined that (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of neglect but was unable to determine the identity of the alleged perpetrator.

This determination of neglect by an unidentified perpetrator was made after weighing all of the evidence and based upon the following:

    1.  (Alleged Victim Child) was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident in that…;
    2. The Children’s Division could not determine who was responsible for care, custody and control of the alleged victim child at the time of the incident because…;
    3. There was a failure to provide the proper or necessary support, education as required by law, nutrition or medical, surgical, or any other care necessary for the child’s well-being in that….”

There are times in which staff are able to narrow down the alleged perpetrator to a few individuals who had care, custody, and control of the child at the time of the alleged incident.  It is generally inappropriate to make a Preponderance of Evidence finding on multiple parties who may have been responsible for the abuse or neglect incident.  Each element of the definitions of abuse and neglect must be satisfied by a Preponderance of Evidence, including the identification of who had care, custody, and control when the act of abuse or neglect was committed.

Example: An infant is diagnosed with abusive head trauma (AHT).  The Investigation reveals that only the infant’s parents had access to the infant during the time the doctor believes the injury occurred.  However, when both parents were interviewed, neither admitted any knowledge of what happened to the child and there were no other witnesses.

Prior to making a Preponderance of Evidence finding on multiple perpetrators who may have been responsible for the incident, staff must make a referral to the Division of Legal Services (DLS) to determine whether this is appropriate.

If the Children’s Service Supervisor is in agreement with the determination of ‘child abuse/neglect present, perpetrator unidentified’ determination, the report must be forwarded to the Regional Director or their designee for review. The Regional Director or their designee may suggestion further action in an attempt to identify the alleged perpetrator or they may authorize the decision to make a determination of ‘child abuse/neglect present, perpetrator unidentified.’ No Investigation may be concluded with this determination without authorization from a Regional Director or their designee. This authorization must be documented in the case record.

5.3.8.5 Court Adjudicated

After a POE conclusion is made, a Court Adjudicated conclusion may become appropriate in the following situations:

    1. Judicial Review: An alleged perpetrator may file for Direct Judicial Review and waive the administrative review process or may file for De Novo Judicial Review upon disagreeing with the CANRB’s decision.  Either way, the process is the same.  At the time of trial, the judge hears all of the evidence presented and enters a judgment of whether or not the alleged perpetrator abused or neglected the child.  If the Court makes a determination that the abuse or neglect occurred, this is considered Court Adjudicated.
    2. Juvenile or Family Court Adjudication: Whether a child is in protective custody or not, a petition has been filed in juvenile or family court alleging one or more of the four bases for the court’s jurisdiction under Section 211.031.1(1), RSMo., (neglect, child without proper care, custody or support, child with mental health needs which the parent cannot afford or access, and child living in a judicially condemned structure).  If the court’s findings are consistent with the Division’s determination of child abuse and/or neglect and proper due notice has occurred, this is considered Court Adjudicated.
    3. Criminal Convictions: If the alleged perpetrator pleads guilty or is found guilty of crimes qualifying under the definition of the Central Registry, this is considered Court Adjudicated, unless the alleged perpetrator received a Suspended Imposition of Sentence and fulfills the terms of their probation.  

The determination of whether a POE conclusion may be considered for a Court Adjudication conclusion requires a legal analysis.  Staff must make a referral to the Court Adjudication mailbox, CD.CourtAdjudication@dss.mo.gov, with the following information:

    • Incident number
    • Perpetrator’s name
    • Petition or final amended petition (juvenile court referrals only)
    • Adjudication order (juvenile court referrals only)
    • Criminal case number (criminal conviction referrals only)

The CA/N Program Development Specialist will determine, with the assistance of the Division of Legal Services (DLS), whether the report can be considered court adjudicated and will update the conclusion if appropriate.

5.3.9 Reports Made out of Harassment

Pursuant to Section 210.165, RSMo., intentional false reporting of child abuse or neglect to the hotline is a class A misdemeanor and if a person has a previous conviction for false reporting of CA/N, it is a class E felony.

Pursuant to Section 210.152, RSMo., the Children’s Division is required to expunge all identifying information forty-five (45) days from the conclusion date of child abuse/neglect Investigations where the Division has determined the allegations are unsubstantiated and the report was made maliciously, for purposes of harassment, or in retaliation for the filing of a report by a mandated reporter.

Pursuant to Section 210.145, RSMo., upon completion of the Investigation, if the Children’s Division suspects that the report was made maliciously or for the purpose of harassment, the Children’s Division shall refer the report and any evidence of malice or harassment to the local prosecuting or circuit attorney.

The statute does not make any reference to Family Assessments or Juvenile Assessments made out of harassment or retaliation.  Section 210.152, RSMo., requires all Family Assessments and Juvenile Assessments to be retained forever, even if they were made for the purposes of harassment or retaliation.  Staff may however still make a harassment determination on a Family Assessment or Juvenile Assessment by selecting ‘Yes’ in the harassment field on the conclusion screen in FACES.  Staff may also refer the report to the local prosecuting or circuit attorney.

Harassment Indicators

In making a harassment determination, staff should pay particular attention to the following items as potential indicators:

  • Vague or non-specific injuries reported;
  • Vague or non-specific timeframes reported;
  • Uncertainty by the reporter in regard to the identity of the perpetrator;
  • Admission of a harassment motive by the reporter;
  • The reporter has harassed the subject(s) in ways other than making a false CA/N report;
  • Pending court action involving child custody or child support;
  • There is an estranged relationship between the reporter and subject(s).  The relationship may be a relative, spouse, intimate/personal relationship, etc.;
  • Inconsistencies within a report regarding injuries to a child;
  • Allegations relate only old injuries which are no longer identifiable;
  • More than one unsubstantiated report with similar allegations;
  • Although, one unsubstantiated report may also be a harassment report;
  • One or more unsubstantiated reports on one perpetrator;
  • Erroneous reporter identification information (i.e., name, address, phone, etc.,);
  • All allegations made by the reporter are unsubstantiated.

Harassment Determination

If staff suspects that a CA/N report is the result of a call to the CANHU made maliciously, for purposes of harassment, or in retaliation for filing a report, staff should take the following steps:

  • Complete the CA/N report according to policy;
  • If the report is unsubstantiated or agency responded-no concerns found, determine if harassment indicators are present;
  • Contact CANHU and obtain a copy of the tape of the report, if necessary.  This tape shall only be listened to by appropriate CD staff and is not to be listened to by any subject of the report.
  • Enter “yes” under the heading “Harassment” on the Conclusion screen in the I/A Function in FACES.
  • Prepare and submit the Determination of Harassment (CD-22) form to the prosecuting or circuit attorney
  • Staff should make every effort to submit a Harassment Referral Letter (CD-22) to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office as soon as a determination of harassment is made.  Because Investigations determined to be harassment will be expunged within forty-five (45) days, staff should provide a copy of the Investigation record along with the CD-22 to the prosecuting or circuit attorney;
  • For investigations, FACES will automatically delete the identifying information from the system 45 days from the conclusion date.  The county will be responsible for destroying the paper copies of that report 45 days from the date of the conclusion.

5.3.10 First Steps Referral on POE Determinations for Children Less Than Three

Staff are required to make a referral to the local Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) First Steps Program in all instances that a “Preponderance of Evidence” determination is made regarding a victim less than three (3) years old.

The First Steps Cover Letter (CD-21C), along with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education First Steps Referral Form, shall be used for this purpose.  The referral form and information about how to make the referral can be found at:  https://dese.mo.gov/special-education/first-steps/how-make-referral.  The referral should be mailed within fifteen (15) calendar days of status determination.

For any victim in the custody of the Children’s Division, staff should identify the resource provider as a surrogate parent and include their information within the Parent/Guardian section of the referral form.

The original copy is mailed to the local First Steps Agency, a copy is sent to the custodial parent (and/or a copy sent to the foster/relative/kinship provider if applicable), and a copy is retained in the Investigative record.

5.3.11 Notifications for Investigation Dispositions

Staff must send the Investigation Disposition Letter (CS-21) to parents, non-custodial parents (when address is known), alleged perpetrators, and Guardians ad Litem (including Court Appointed Special Advocate) within fifteen (15) calendar days of status determination.

Individuals are only entitled to the disposition of the allegations naming them as an alleged perpetrator and/or any allegation involving their child(ren).

Examples: A hotline is received alleging sexual abuse by an uncle and neglect by the child’s parents.  The uncle is only entitled to the disposition of the sexual abuse allegations.

A hotline is received involving a blended family. Jane and Jimmy are married.  Jane is alleged to have physically abused her daughter, Susie and her step son, Sam.  Jimmy is alleged to have physically abused his son, Sam.  Jane is entitled to the disposition of the physical abuse allegations against Susie and Sam.  Jimmy is only entitled to the disposition for Sam.

The CS-21 should mirror the CPS-1 conclusion summary and only include factual information based on the evidence.

Supervisors should review all POE CS-21s to ensure accuracy and that the correct individuals are receiving the correct disposition.  If it appears that FACES has generated a letter with information the individual does not have a legal right to or if an individual has been left off, staff should make sure that the appropriate role and relationship has been identified on the FACES Participant Characteristics screen.

For any report that is substantiated by Preponderance of Evidence (POE), staff shall mail the CS-21 to the alleged perpetrator by certified mail.  By using certified mail to send the notification forms to substantiated perpetrators, it will require the recipient’s signature, verifying he/she received the notification of the substantiated finding as well as their appeal rights.  If the certified letter is returned as undeliverable, staff must re-send the CS-21 to the alleged perpetrator through regular mail.  Staff may choose to send letters certified and through regular mail simultaneously.  If both letters are returned as undeliverable, staff should take other efforts to ensure the CS-21 is provided to the alleged perpetrator including, but not limited to:

  • Investigating whether the alleged perpetrator has moved and mailing the CS-21 to the new address.
  • Making a home visit and delivering the letter in person.

5.3.11.1 Notification Disputes

It is essential that the Division’s official records on the case contain a complete, true and accurate copy of all of the CS-21(s) and notices that were sent out. Staff must therefore ensure that copies of the notices are made and in the file.

Staff should be designated to track the notification and appeal process after the completion of the Investigation to ensure due process is provided and to ensure alleged perpetrators are appropriately placed on the Central Registry.

Copies of the CS-21 must be retained in the file and all efforts to deliver the CS-21 must be documented.  Once the hotline has been approved, this documentation should be placed in the conclusion summary.

If an alleged perpetrator discovers they have been placed on the Central Registry and reports they were never notified of the finding, staff should examine the case record to determine if proper notice was provided.  Delayed notification and right to the appeal process may be provided on a case-by-case basis when the record indicates proper notice was not provided.  Staff should contact the CA/N Program Development Specialist in Central Office for guidance on how to proceed with notification disputes.  If a delayed notification is provided, the alleged perpetrator’s name must be removed from the registry until the new appeal process is exhausted.  Staff shall treat these as an administrative review request and utilize the ‘Delayed Notification’ as the request status on the Administrative Review Request appeal screen in FACES.  This will allow the alleged perpetrator to be taken off the Central Registry if they are granted an administrative review after their initial appeal timeframes.

5.3.11.2 Reporter Disposition Notification Letter (CS-21b)

The CS-21b is sent to:

    • All mandated reporters, whose call to CANHU, resulted in a CA/N report.
    • All other reporters, who were not anonymous, whose call resulted in a CA/N report, and who have requested in writing to the local office disposition information.

Refer to Section 2, Chapter 5.2.3, Reporter Contact  for further information.

5.3.12 Alleged Perpetrator Appeal Process

When the alleged perpetrator disagrees with the preliminary finding of child abuse or neglect by a Preponderance of Evidence (POE), he or she may appeal and has two avenues to seek an independent review of the Division’s decision.  The alleged perpetrator must choose one or the other avenue of review, but cannot choose both.  The methods of review are:

Direct Judicial Review: The alleged perpetrator can choose to waive his or her right to the Administrative Review process (#1 above) and proceed directly to a De Novo Judicial Review by filing a petition in Circuit Court within thirty (30) days of the date that he or she received the CS-21. By filing directly with the Circuit Court, the alleged perpetrator has waived his or her right to the Administrative Review process, and, therefore, his or her name may be placed on the Central Registry.  Notice will be provided to the Division in the form of a summons and a copy of the petition from the Circuit Court.  When the Division receives notice that the perpetrator has filed for Direct Judicial Review, Division staff shall immediately refer the matter to the Division of Legal Services (DLS) through appropriate supervisory channels.  DLS must file a response to the legal proceedings within thirty (30) days of the date that the Division received the paperwork.  The referral must include the following:

  • A copy of all of the legal papers served on the Division;
  • The exact date that the Division received the legal documents (This can be done by using a date stamp); and,
  • A complete copy of the entire file that the Division has on the case.  Do not send original documents to DLS with the referral. If DLS needs original documents, DLS will ask for them; and
  • Ask for legal advice on whether the request for review is a request for direct judicial review.

Administrative Review: The alleged perpetrator can seek administrative review if:

  • He or she submits a request for an Administrative Review no later than sixty (60) days from the date he or she received the Investigation Disposition Letter (CS-21); or
  • He or she submits a request for an Administrative Review within 60 days from the resolution of pending criminal charges.

If the perpetrator files a timely request, the Division cannot list the alleged perpetrator’s name in the Central Registry until such time as the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board (CANRB) reviews and upholds the Division’s decision.  The Administrative Review Process will involve a local Administrative Review, and may involve a review by the CANRB and a De Novo Judicial Review at the Circuit Court.

Administrative Review Overview

The alleged perpetrator can seek an Administrative Review if he or she submits a request for an Administrative Review no later than sixty (60) days from the date he or she received the CS-21, or within sixty (60) days from resolution of pending criminal charges.  “Pending criminal charges” was defined in Pitts vs. Williams and Levy, to mean that actual criminal charges have been formally filed with the Court.

If the alleged perpetrator is a juvenile, or was a juvenile at the time of the Division’s preliminary finding, he or she shall be entitled to file for an administrative review at any time, unless the finding has been court adjudicated, or has otherwise exhausted the appeal process.

If the perpetrator files a timely request for an Administrative Review, the Division cannot list the alleged perpetrator’s name in the Central Registry until such time as the CANRB reviews and upholds the Division’s decision; therefore, the conclusion status in FACES must remain preliminary.  Alleged perpetrators may email requests for administrative reviews to:   DSS.CD.ADMINREVIEW@DSS.MO.GOV

Alleged perpetrators with a preliminary finding have three levels of review available to them:

      1. Local Administrative Review: If eligible, this is the first level of review provided to the alleged perpetrator.
      2. Independent Review by the CANRB: Missouri has multiple boards consisting of professionals outside the Division to hear and review cases where the alleged perpetrator disagrees with the preliminary finding of child abuse or neglect by a Preponderance of Evidence.
      3. De Novo Judicial Review: If the Division’s preliminary finding was upheld in CANRB, the alleged perpetrator has the right to file for de novo judicial review in Circuit Court within sixty (60) days of receiving notification of the CANRB’s decision.

5.3.12.1 Local Administrative Review

Staff may refer to the Administrative Review Flow Chart located in eForms for a visual representation of the steps that must occur to complete the local administrative review.

When requests for administrative reviews are received at the county office, they should be scanned and emailed to DSS.CD.ADMINREVIEW@DSS.MO.GOV.  Circuit Managers and the OHI Unit Manager will then be notified by CANHU staff when they need to complete an administrative review.  The FACES Appeal Screen must be updated by staff within five (5) business days of receiving the request for an Administrative Review.  Failure to update this screen promptly will result in the system automatically updating to a “Final Determination” at sixty (60) days from the “Preliminary Finding” at which time the alleged perpetrator’s identity will be added to the Central Registry.

The local Administrative Review is:

      • An independent review of documents by the Circuit Manager, OHI Unit Manager, or Regional Office designee; and
      • A review of the evidence in the record of a CA/N Investigation to assure that the conclusion reached during the Investigation was the correct conclusion.

The reviewer should consider if the Investigation was sufficiently completed, and if the CA/N record contains sufficient documentation to support all of the legal elements of child abuse or neglect by a POE.  Consultation with the Regional Office is encouraged as needed.

Administrative Reviews must be completed within ten (10) working days from when the request was received.  The Administrative Review Checklist should be used by the Circuit Manager, OHI Unit Manager, or Regional Office designee to complete this step in the appeal process.  A copy of the signed and dated form should be placed with the CA/N file at the completion of the Administrative Review.

Cases that are Ineligible for an Administrative Review

There are two basic situations where the alleged perpetrator is not eligible for an Administrative Review:

      1. When criminal charges have actually been filed in court and are still pending.  In cases where there is a pending criminal investigation or the Division is uncertain regarding the existence of pending charges, staff may send the Prosecuting Attorney Notification Letter (CS-21f) to the Prosecuting Attorney.  In addition, staff should use administrative or other search engine devices, such as Case.net.  A copy of the CS-21f and any subsequent correspondence shall be retained in the Child Abuse/Neglect (CA/N) Investigation record.  Any documentation which verifies whether or not there are pending criminal charges must be included in the CA/N record.  Staff must track the progress of the pending criminal case until it is resolved.   Once the administrative review request is entered in FACES, the alleged perpetrator does not get placed on the Central Registry until the appeal process is complete.  Failure to complete the administrative review once criminal charges are resolved will result in the alleged perpetrator remaining off the Central Registry.  The Circuit Manager, OHI Unit Manager, or Regional Office designee should update the Appeal screen with the appropriate determination for cases in which the alleged perpetrator’s right to receive an Administrative Review has been suspended by pending criminal charges.  It is imperative for the Appeal screen to be updated accordingly to avoid placing the alleged perpetrator on the Central Registry until after he or she has been afforded due process.  This step should be completed when the alleged perpetrator has filed a timely request for an Administrative Review or the Division has obtained knowledge that the alleged perpetrator’s eligibility has been suspended due to pending criminal charges.  A “POE in Preliminary or Appeal Status” button is available on the Appeal Screen in FACES to assist in tracking reports in appeal status.  This button will display a list of all reports with a POE finding in preliminary or pending appeal status to assist circuits in tracking appeals.  In order to access this report through the Appeal Screen, staff must first input a call number.  This report may also be accessed through Report Management function.
      2. When court adjudication criteria have been met.  Pursuant to Section 210.153, the Division’s findings for child abuse or neglect by a POE which are substantiated by “court adjudication” shall not be heard by the CANRB. Refer to Section 2, Chapter 5.3.7.5, Court Adjudicated.  Even if a referral for court adjudication is made, the administrative review must be completed within ten (10) working days.  If it is later determined that court adjudication criteria is met, the review decision on the Administrative Review Determination screen in FACES should be updated to ‘Court Adjudicated’ to complete the appeal process.

If it is determined that the alleged perpetrator is not eligible for an Administrative Review due to any of the above reasons, the Circuit Manger, OHI Unit Manager, or Regional Office designee should notify the alleged perpetrator using the Administrative Review Ineligibility Letter, (CS-21e).

If, following the local Administrative Review, but prior to the CANRB review, the local office determines that the alleged perpetrator is no longer eligible for appeal due to pending criminal charges or court adjudication, the local office must immediately notify the CANRB liaison, and update the FACES Appeal screens accordingly.  The CANRB liaison will then notify the alleged perpetrator that he or she is not eligible for a CANRB review.

Updating FACES

Reversal:

If the reviewer determines that the Division did not meet all of the elements of abuse and/or neglect by a POE, the preliminary determination must be reversed.  The following should be completed within ten (10) working days from the date of the administrative review request:

      1. Enter the decision on the Administrative Review Determination Appeal screen.  Due to system requirements, this step should be completed prior to updating the Individual Conclusion or Conclusion screens.
      2. Update the Individual Conclusion screen from POE to “Unsubstantiated” or “Unsubstantiated-Preventive Services Indicated” and change the conclusion status to “Preliminary”.
      3. Update the Conclusion screen by entering the following statement: “An administrative review has been completed pursuant to Section 210.152 RSMo., and the Division has determined there is insufficient evidence to conclude (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of (category of abuse and/or neglect) perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).  Therefore, the allegation(s) has/have been unsubstantiated.”
      4. Send the Administrative Review Disposition Letter (CS-21d), to inform all parties entitled to receive disposition (e.g., parent, legal guardian, alleged perpetrator) that the Administrative Review has overturned the preliminary POE finding. Upload a copy of the CS-21d into FACES.
    1.  

There may be situations in which the Administrative Review reverses some, but not all, of the preliminary findings.  Staff should ensure that alleged perpetrators, the CANRB and others entitled to the information are made aware of the CA/N findings (i.e., physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect) which have been upheld and those which have been reversed by Administrative Review.

Uphold:

If the reviewer determines the Division did meet all of the elements of abuse and/or neglect by a POE, the preliminary finding must be upheld.  The following should be completed within ten (10) working days from the date of the administrative review request:

      1. Enter the decision on the Administrative Review Determination Appeal screen.  The finding(s) will remain in pending appeal status until the Child Abuse/Neglect Review Board reaches a determination.
      2. Update the Conclusion screen by entering the following statement: “An administrative review has been completed pursuant to Section 210.152 RSMo., and the Division has determined there is sufficient evidence to conclude, by a preponderance of the evidence, (Alleged Victim Child) was the victim of (category of abuse and/or neglect) perpetrated by (Alleged Perpetrator).  Therefore, the matter has been referred to the Child Abuse/Neglect Review Board (CANRB).”
      3.  Send the Administrative Review Disposition Letter (CS-21d), to inform the alleged perpetrator the Local Administrative Review has upheld the preliminary POE finding, and the matter has been referred to the Child Abuse/Neglect Review Board.  Upload a copy of the CS-21d into FACES.
      4. Send a request for review within ten (10) business days to the CANRB liaison at Central Office with a copy of the Investigation record and all relevant materials.  The record should not be redacted.  The CPS-1 should be printed directly from FACES, and all documentation sent to the CANRB should reflect the information maintained by the local office and/or in FACES.  Any photographs contained within the record should be sent in color copy.  The signed and dated Administrative Review Checklist should be forwarded to the CANRB liaison along with the CA/N Investigative record.

5.3.12.2 Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board (CANRB)

When a case is upheld by a local Administrative Review, the matter is referred to the CANRB.  The CANRB will provide an independent review of child abuse and neglect determinations where the alleged perpetrator disagrees with the Division’s preliminary finding of child abuse or neglect by a POE.

The CANRB consists of multiple boards which have been established to ensure timely reviews of the Division’s findings of child abuse or neglect by a POE.  These boards meet monthly and each board consists of nine members who shall be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate, and shall include:

      • A physician, nurse, or other medical professional;
      • A licensed child or family psychologist, counselor, or social worker;
      • An attorney who has acted as a Guardian ad Litem or other attorney who has represented a subject of a child abuse and neglect report; and
      • A representative from law enforcement or a juvenile office.

Other members of the board may be selected from:

      • A person from another profession or field who has an interest in child abuse or neglect;
      • A college or university professor or elementary or secondary teacher;
      • A child advocate;
      • A parent, foster parent or grandparent.

CANRB Liaison

The Division has a liaison at CANHU who works with the CANRB. The CANRB liaison shall be responsible for the following:

      • Notify the alleged perpetrator and Circuit Manager within five (5) days of receiving the request for review.
      • Notify the local and regional offices of the scheduled dates for the CANRB hearing.
      • Provide the CANRB members with copies of all relevant materials and notice of the hearing at least ten (10) working days prior to the review.
      • Send a written notice to the alleged victim child, the child’s parent, guardian, or legal representative that a review has been scheduled and of their opportunity to attend and/or to provide information on behalf of the child to the CANRB at least thirty (30) days prior to the hearing date.  If the victim child lives with the alleged perpetrator, the liaison will send the notification to the child in care of the alleged perpetrator.  If the child is in alternative care, the liaison will send the notification to the child’s Children’s Service Worker.
      • Coordinate all other activities regarding the scheduling and hearing of the review.

CANRB Participants

The following persons may participate in a CANRB review:

      • Appropriate Children’s Division staff and legal counsel for the Department;
      • The alleged perpetrator, although the presence of the alleged perpetrator or the child is not required for a review to be conducted.  The alleged perpetrator has the choice to appear in person and/or by a lawyer or other representative, he/she may request that the case be reviewed on the record without appearance or may submit a written statement in lieu of personal appearance;
      • Witnesses providing information on behalf of the child, the alleged perpetrator or the Department.  Witnesses shall be allowed to attend only that portion of the review in which they are presenting information; and
      • The victim(s) (if appropriate) and his/her representative, legal guardian or witness.
      • Any party may participate by conference call with the CANRB.  However, staff are STRONGLY encouraged to participate in person.

CANRB Process

At the review, the Division, the child’s representative, and then the alleged perpetrator (in that order) will each have twenty (20) minutes to present information to the board.  Although the CANRB may ask follow-up questions throughout the presentation, there is no right of cross examination by other participants.  The CANRB can allow additional time to any of the parties as needed.

When all of the presentations have concluded, the CANRB chairperson informs all parties that the CANRB will review the information and make a decision.  The CANRB will review and discuss all relevant materials and testimony.  The CANRB shall vote individually on the CANRB determination.  The CANRB chairperson shall submit a written decision to the CANRB liaison on the date of the review, and shall send a written decision to all parties within five (5) working days of the CANRB decision.  The CANRB liaison also updates FACES to reflect the determination of the review.  This process is outlined in the Code of State Regulations under 13 CSR 35-31.025 Child Abuse and Neglect Review Process.

Tips for Presenting a Case to CANRB

The following contains some tips for staff to consider prior to presenting the Division’s case before the CANRB:

      • Staff should dress professionally in court attire.
      • The CANRB is sent a copy of the CA/N Investigative record a couple of weeks before the review.  This allows for the CANRB to read the record prior to the review.  Therefore, staff should not read the record at the hearing, but instead should provide summary information.
      • Staff should present the documented evidence and facts of the CA/N Investigation that established each of the necessary elements of child abuse or neglect, and how the Division determined by a preponderance of evidence that the person requesting the review actually perpetrated the act of child abuse or neglect.  Do not focus on the individual finding code entered on the Individual Conclusion screen in FACES.
      • It may be helpful to construct a time-line involved in the CA/N Investigation.  The CANRB will often ask about the time-line of the CA/N Investigation to help them understand the sequence of events or to be sure they are clear about the sequence of events.
      • The Division often uses photographic, radiologic, or other forms of imagery as a form of evidence to establish the elements of child abuse or neglect.  If the CA/N Investigative record contains a copy of such pictures, then a copy of the pictures should be sent with the CA/N Investigative record for the CANRB to review.  The CANRB should be informed if the pictures were taken by another agency or member of the multi-disciplinary team and it is helpful if this information is documented in the CA/N Investigative record.
      • The CANRB places value on first-hand information from people who might have directly observed, documented or been witnesses to the alleged incident.  It is essential for staff to follow the evidence and interview or receive documentation from the people with first-hand knowledge or case specific, relevant expertise.  They may be called upon as a witness for the Division (by telephone conference call, if necessary) when presenting a case before the CANRB.
      • Detailed descriptions and diagrams of marks and injuries to alleged victim children, noting when the marks were observed, and by whom, are helpful.  If the descriptions of the marks and injuries are from someone else, it is helpful to include the document with their signature which describes the injuries rather than just a narrative entry.
      • The CANRB is interested in all contacts, or attempted contacts, with the alleged perpetrator which should be clearly documented in the CA/N Investigative record.  It is essential to provide a copy of the interview with the alleged perpetrator when it is completed by someone other than Division staff, rather than submitting it as a narrative entry summarizing the interview.
      • If the alleged perpetrator refuses to be interviewed without an attorney or declines the opportunity to provide evidence or witnesses on their behalf during the CA/N Investigation, that information should be clearly documented in the CA/N Investigative record along with any efforts to offer the alleged perpetrator an opportunity to speak to the allegations and/or provide evidence on their behalf.
      • The CANRB is interested in the corroboration of physical information provided by the child or witness.  As an example, if there were allegations that children were locked in a bedroom with a lock on the outside of the door, the CANRB will want to know if a working lock was observed on the outside of the door.  If a child disclosed that a specific form of child abuse or neglect occurred in a blue colored room, the CANRB will want to know if the Division ascertained the existence of a blue colored room which fit the child’s description.
      • If staff mentions prior or subsequent reports or assessments as a means of establishing a pattern of behavior which was taken into consideration in the Division’s determination of child abuse or neglect, be prepared for the CANRB to question the Division’s disposition of each of the prior or subsequent reports.
      • When a family alleges that a child has major behavioral problems at home, the CANRB finds it helpful to know if this same or similar behavior is seen by the school or other professionals involved with the child or family, and their perception of the child.

CANRB Decision

The CANRB liaison at CANHU will update FACES with the CANRB’s decision and will notify the alleged perpetrator, child’s representative, and Children’s Division in writing of the CANRB’s decision.

Upon notification from the CANRB, the local Children’s Division’s Office will upload the written notification from the CANRB in the case record.

5.3.12.3 De Novo Judicial Review

If the alleged perpetrator disagrees with the decision of the CANRB to uphold the Division’s finding of POE for child abuse or neglect, then they may seek de novo judicial review in the Circuit Court within sixty (60) days of notification of the CANRB’s decision.  Once the petition is filed with the Circuit Court, the Division staff should immediately notify the Division of Legal Services (DLS) through appropriate supervisory channels, and provide DLS with a copy of the record. 

The term “de novo” means “anew”, therefore in a judicial review, the facts and evidence of the case must be heard and judged as if it were a brand new case.  The Circuit Court shall provide the alleged perpetrator the opportunity to appear and present testimony.  The alleged perpetrator may subpoena any witnesses except the alleged victim or the reporter.  However, the Circuit Court shall have the discretion to allow the parties to submit the case upon a stipulated record.

Judicial Review Sustains the Division’s Finding of Child Abuse or Neglect

If the Division’s finding is sustained (substantiated) the following steps must occur:

      1. Local/Regional/Out of Home Investigation (OHI) Designee should scan and e-mail a copy of the Court’s ruling to the Central Office CA/N Program Development Specialist (PDS).
      2. The CA/N PDS will update the Judicial Review Determination appeal screen in FACES and will update the Individual Conclusion screen to “Court Adjudication”. The CA/N PDS will also enter a summary on the Conclusion screen to reflect the court’s decision.
      3. Local/Regional/OHI Designee will upload a copy of the court’s adjudication in FACES.
      4. Local/Regional/OHI Designee will notify the alleged perpetrator, child’s parents, legal guardians or representative, and other parties entitled to such notice using the De Novo Judicial Review Disposition Letter (CS-21g).

Judicial Review Does Not Sustain the Division’s Finding of Child Abuse or Neglect

If the Division’s finding is not sustained (overturned) the following steps must occur:

      1. Local/Regional/Out of Home Investigation (OHI) Designee should scan and e-mail a copy of the Court’s ruling to the Central Office CA/N Program Development Specialist (PDS).
      2. The CA/N PDS will update the Judicial Review Determination appeal screen in FACES and will update the Individual Conclusion screen to “Unsubstantiated” or “Unsubstantiated – Preventive Services Indicated”.  The CA/N PDS will also enter a summary on the Conclusion screen to reflect the court’s decision.
      3. Local/Regional/OHI Designee will upload a copy of the court’s adjudication in FACES.
      4. Local/Regional/OHI Designee will notify the alleged perpetrator, child’s parents, legal guardians or representative, and other parties entitled to such notice using the De Novo Judicial Review Disposition Letter (CS-21g).

If the agency’s decision is reversed, the Regional Director/Designee or OHI Unit Manager shall review the case within ten (10) working days to determine whether or not they wish to appeal the finding of the court.  If an appeal is desired, contact should be made with the DLS attorney who tried the case. 

5.3.13 Deceased Perpetrators

Staff may make findings of abuse and neglect against a deceased perpetrator.  In these situations, the Investigation Disposition Letter (CS-21) is sent to the perpetrator’s last known address.  The next of kin or executor may request an administrative review on behalf of the alleged perpetrator.  If the alleged perpetrator dies after requesting an administrative review, notify the CANRB liaison.  The CANRB liaison will contact any known attorney of the alleged perpetrator to determine whether to proceed with the CANRB hearing.  If the alleged perpetrator did not have a known attorney, the CANRB liaison will cancel the hearing.  If the next of kin or executor wishes to proceed, the hearing will be held.   

5.3.14 Re-Opening Requests

 Pursuant to Section 210.152, RSMo., the Children’s Division may re-open an Investigation for review if:

  • The request is based on new, specific, and credible evidence is obtained.

Anyone may request a case be re-opened if they believe new, specific, and credible evidence has been obtained.  There are no timeframes in which the request must be made; however, the request should be made as soon as possible after obtaining the new information.

While assessments may be re-opened under Section 210.152, RSMo., these situations should generally be handled by making a new hotline report.

The following are steps which Division staff should facilitate in order to process a request for a case to be re-opened:

  • Requests to re-open cases should be made by completing the Request to Re-Open Investigation (CD-255) form.  Requestors may request the CD-255 from their local office, Central Office, or access it from the Children’s Division eForms webpage.  The local CD office or Central Office should assist individuals outside of the Children’s Division in obtaining the form.
    • The requestor should fill out as much case data as they know as well as the requestor’s contact information on the CD-255 form;
    • The requestor should answer the questions pertaining to the case with as much relevant detail as possible; and
    • The requestor may submit copies of any relevant documents, photographs or other information that the person making the request wishes to attach.
  • The CD-255 should be sent to CD Central Office, attention to the CA/N Program Development Specialist (PDS), to be logged and screened.  The CA/N PDS will make a referral to the Division of Legal Services (DLS) for guidance on how to proceed.
  • Upon making a determination as to whether the Investigation will be re-opened, the CA/N PDS will send the Notice of Case Re-Opening Determination (CD-253) to the requestor.
  • If recommended for re-opening, the Children’s Division county office that completed the initial Investigation will have thirty (30) days from receipt of the CD-253 to complete the case re-opening review process and make a determination.  The determination may be based on evidence collected in the original Investigation as well as the new Investigation, depending what is most appropriate given the circumstances of the case.
  • The local CD Office will notify interested parties of the outcome of the case re-Opening Review as follows:
    • If a previously determined conclusion of unsubstantiated has been changed to a finding of child abuse or neglect by a Preponderance of Evidence, the finding shall be entered in FACES as a preliminary finding, and all of the alleged perpetrator’s rights to appeal shall apply.  New CS-21s should be issued to all parties.  If the requestor was not a party to the case, the Notice of Outcome of Case Re-Opening Review (CD-254) should be used to notify the requestor of the outcome.
    • If a previously determined conclusion of Preponderance of Evidence is overturned, the finding shall be entered in FACES and new CS-21s should be issued to all parties.  If the requestor was not a party to the case, the Notice of Outcome of Case Re-Opening Review (CD-254) should be used to notify the requestor of the outcome.
    • If a previously determined conclusion of Preponderance of Evidence is not overturned, a notation shall be made in the FACES Investigation narrative.  The Notice of Outcome of Case Re-Opening Review (CD-254) should be sent to all parties, including the requestor.

5.3.15 Fatality, Near-Fatality, or Other Critical Event

Field staff will notify Central Office through supervisory channels, within specified timeframes, of the fatality by completion of a Critical Event Report (CS-23) as indicated in Section 8, Chapter 10, Critical Events Reporting and Review Protocol. 

5.3.16 State Technical Assistance Team (STAT)

Pursuant to Section 660.520, RSMo., “There is hereby established in the Department of Social Services a special team, to be known as the “State Technical Assistance Team”, to assist in cases of child abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse, child exploitation, child pornography, or child fatality. 

State Technical Assistance Team investigators licensed as peace officers by the Director of the Department of Public Safety pursuant to chapter 590, RSMo, shall be deemed to be peace officers within the State of Missouri while acting in an Investigation or on behalf of a child.  The power of arrest of a State Technical Assistance Team investigator acting as a peace officer shall be limited to offenses involving child abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse, child exploitation, child pornography, or child fatality or in situations of imminent danger to the investigator or another person…”

Types of Situations Investigated by STAT:

  • Child Fatalities – except non-CA/N Fatalites
  • Sexual Abuse;
  • Physical Abuse;
  • Computer Exploitation/Pornography/Neglect/Others;
  • High Profile Cases
    • Includes cases receiving media coverage;
  • Conflict of Interest Cases
    • Includes cases in which the alleged perpetrator is a law enforcement official, juvenile officer, Children’s Division employee, etc.;
  • CA/N’s Involving Multiple Jurisdictions
    • Including cases in which multiple victims of the same alleged perpetrator have come forward.

Non-CA/N Child Fatality “F” Referrals

Pursuant to Section 210.115, RSMo., all Non-CA/N related child fatalities are to be reported to CANHU by medical examiners or coroners.  This information will be forwarded to the State Technical Assistance Team (STAT).  The local county in which the fatality occurs will receive a courtesy copy of the F-Referral.

The F-Referral assists STAT in receiving notice of all non-CA/N related child fatalities in a timely manner to assist them in completing the Child Fatality Review Program annual report. STAT does not investigate the F-Referral nor make any updates to FACES regarding these referrals.

Making a Referral to STAT

A referral to STAT can be made by Missouri law enforcement agencies, State and Federal Prosecutors, Medical Examiners and Coroners, Family or Juvenile Court, Department of Social Services (Administrators, Children’s Division, Division of Youth Services and Division of Legal Services), Department of Mental Health and Federal law enforcement agencies.

All staff considering a CA/N for referral should consult with their direct supervisor.  If the decision is made to refer to STAT, initiate the process after consulting with local law enforcement officials.  In some areas there may be an established standing agreement that all serious cases of child abuse/neglect be referred to STAT.  However, in those cases it is still expected for the Children’s Service Worker to complete the referral after reviewing the matter with their direct supervisor with final approval of the Regional Director or their designee.

Initial contact to STAT may be made by telephone at 573-751-5980 with a subsequent request formalized in writing on the State Technical Assistance Team (STAT) Request for Assistance Form, which will either be E-mailed or faxed to the requesting personnel by STAT personnel.

STAT will then assess the request to determine acceptance and/or refusal.  If accepted, STAT will begin a co-investigative process with CD.  If the request is refused, STAT will notify the requesting personnel/agency in writing, explaining the reason for their refusal.

The Role of STAT and CD Co-Investigating

Consistent with the aforementioned definition of authority and purpose of STAT, any STAT investigator involved in the co-investigation of a reported concern of child abuse or neglect is functioning in the role of a licensed peace officer as endowed by the Director of the Department of Public Safety pursuant to Chapter 590, RSMo. Cases in which there are no other law enforcement agencies involved, STAT will take the lead role in completing the pending criminal investigation.

STAT’s involvement in Children’s Division cases is appropriate when deemed necessary; however, their involvement is not a substitute for Children’s Division. STAT’s involvement does not relieve a Children’s Service Worker of their responsibility to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect, to make appropriate contact with families, and to assume responsibility for the initial and on-going safety assurances of children during the Investigation.

When working with STAT, the Children’s Service Worker is still responsible for conducting a thorough Investigation in accordance with Children’s Division policy, including:

  • Notifying law enforcement of the report;
  • Assuring Child Safety;
  • Establishing appropriate safety plans;
  • Making contact with family members and alleged perpetrator(s) (Note: the Children’s Service Worker may cooperate with STAT and/or law enforcement as to who will conduct the interview with the alleged perpetrator or other parties);
  • Reaching a conclusion and documenting the finding in FACES; and
  • All other duties required by Children’s Division policy when conducting an Investigation.

Resources Available to STAT

The STAT has resources available for use during the investigative process that at times will need to be accessed to complete a thorough Investigation, such as:  a medical doctor specializing in pediatric medicine on staff; forensic interviewers to complete alleged victim interviews, witness and alleged perpetrator interviews/interrogations, and, technical assistance in matters requiring forensic specialists in matters involving computer exploitation, pornography, neglect, etc.

Delayed Conclusions Involving STAT

Should there be a good cause for failure to complete the Investigation in the information system within the allotted time period of forty-five (45) days, the delayed conclusion of an Investigation involving STAT should be given the same considerations set forth in the Child Welfare Manual that would apply to delayed conclusions of co-investigations involving law enforcement.

5.3.17 Child Fatality Review Panels

The prosecuting attorney in each county is charged by Section 210.192, RSMo. to organize the child fatality review panels to investigate the deaths of children under the age of eighteen years, who are eligible to receive a certificate of live birth. County panel members include:

  • Prosecuting attorney;
  • The coroner or medical examiner/coroner;
  • Law enforcement;
  • A representative of the Children’s Division;
  • A provider of public health services;
  • A representative of the juvenile court; and
  • A provider of emergency medical services.

The general process of activating the panel is as follows:

  • Coroners and medical examiners are required to immediately evaluate the deaths of all children under the age of eighteen (18) who are eligible to receive a certificate of live birth to determine the necessity for a fatality review.  This includes children that are non-Missouri residents who die in Missouri and are issued a Missouri death certificate.
  • If the coroner or medical examiner and local CFRP chairperson determines that the death of a child under the age of 18 years does not meet the criteria for panel review, the Coroner/Medical Examiner will complete a database record and provide known data related to the child’s death into the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention (NCFRP) Internet Database.
  • In addition, when a child under the age of eighteen dies, who is eligible to receive a certificate of live birth, a certified child death pathologist, in conjunction with the coroner or medical examiner, will determine the need for an autopsy.  All children between the ages of one week and one year, who die in a sudden and unexplained manner, are to be autopsied by a certified child death pathologist.
  • If the death meets the criteria for panel review, the coroner/medical examiner notifies the chairman of the CFRP, who then notifies the panel within 24 hours of a reviewable death. Indications for a reviewable death involve one or more of the following:
    • Sudden, unexplained death, ages one week to one year; (Mandated autopsy per statute);
    • Unexplained/undetermined manner, age >1 year;
    • Possible malnutrition;
    • Possible inadequate supervision;
    • Injury not witnessed by person in charge at time of injury;
    • Suspicious/criminal activity;
    • Severe unexplained injury;
    • Prior calls to CA/N Hotline on decedent or other persons in the residence;
    • Decedent in custody (DSS, DMH, Juvenile, DYS, etc.);
    • Possible malnutrition or delay in seeking medical care;
    • Inadequate care/Neglect;
    • Possible suicide;
    • Firearm injury;
    • Death due to confinement;
    • Drowning;
    • Suffocation or strangulation;
    • Poisoning/chemical/drug exposure;
    • Pedestrian/bicycle/driveway injury;
    • Motor vehicle injury;
    • Suspected sexual assault;
    • Fire injury;
    • Other child deaths in family/household;
    • Autopsy by certified child-death pathologist
    • Other suspicious findings (injuries such as electrocution, crush or fall).
    • Panel discretion; or
    • Animal-related death
  • The CFRP reviews the fatality and each member carries out his/her specific mandates.  (For example, CD will determine by a “Preponderance of Evidence” if the child died of abuse or neglect. Law enforcement will decide whether an Investigation is warranted.  The prosecutor will decide if someone should be arrested and charged with child endangerment, etc.).  The main purpose of the panel review is to share information so that each person can more thoroughly carry out their agency’s mandate.  Upon completion of the CFRP review, the CFRP chairperson or their designee completes the NCFRP Internet-based record and completes the Child Fatality Review Panel Final Report (the only open record CFRP document) and forwards it to the State Technical Assistance Team (STAT) in Jefferson City.
  • Although each discipline attending panel meetings has mandates specific to their fields, the panel function additionally affords the local community the opportunity to review events and circumstances surrounding deaths in an effort to better collaborate local preventive strategies.

Information Sharing and Confidentiality

All information known to panel participants should be shared during the review of a death.  Participants are expected to fully access all information related to the victim, victim’s family, and/or persons who may have been involved in the death (i.e., baby-sitters, relatives, or the caretakers of the child at the time of death) and the circumstances surrounding the death.  CD staff should share all child abuse and neglect information that they have on the victim(s), the caretaker of the victim at the time of the injury/death or other persons who may have been involved in the injury/death.

All CFRP meetings conducted, and all reports and records made and maintained by the CFRP, are confidential and shall not be open to the general public.  The panel shall issue a CFRP Final Report, which shall be a public record and provide information on prevention-based efforts on each review.  The final report may be obtained at https://dss.mo.gov/re/cfrar.htm

A proper panel review of a child’s death requires a thorough examination of all relevant data, including historical information concerning the deceased child and his/her family.  Much of this information is protected from disclosure by law, especially medical and child abuse/neglect information.  Therefore, CFRP panel meetings are always closed to the public and cannot be lawfully conducted unless the public is excluded.

No information gathered at the CFRP panel meetings, should ever be included in case narrative of any active CD case.

Each panel should appoint a spokesperson.  The spokesperson should confine public statements only to the fact that the panel met and that each panel member was charged to implement their own statutory mandates.  No information about the case or panel discussions should be disclosed outside of the panel.  All panel members who are asked to make a public statement should refer such inquiries to the panel spokesperson.  Failure to observe this procedure may violate CD regulations, as well as confidentiality statutes that contain penalties.

No panel member is prohibited from making public statements about the general purpose or nature of the child fatality review process; however, no public case-specific statements should be made.  Panel members should be aware that the legislation which established the Child Fatality Review Panels provides official immunity to all panel participants.  The CFRP panel and its members are advocates for the health and welfare of every child in their community, including the reasonable preservation of privacy for the child and family members.

Record Handling

If paper copies of the NCFRP are utilized to collect data for subsequent Internet entry, they should be either disposed locally in a secured manner or forwarded to STAT.  NO COPIES OF COMPLETED CFRP DATABASE FORMS SHOULD BE MAINTAINED IN LOCAL COUNTY FILES.

To abide by the confidentiality statutes surrounding the CFRP panel, Children’s Division shall not disclose information from the CFRP panel meetings and no documentation from the panel shall be entered into FACES narrative on any open, active case involving the fatality.

All information presented at the CFRP panel meeting should be considered lead information that needs to be independently confirmed as true and factual before being included in any individual narratives report.  While reports and documents may be shared and reviewed at CFRP panel meetings, these should not be copied and distributed to others.  Outside of the CFRP review, agencies may share reports consistent with their policies and other legal restraints.