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TENNESSEE COMPILATION OF SELECTED LAWS ON CHILDREN, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, 2011 EDITION

TENNESSEE CODE ANNOTATED

Title 37 Juveniles

Chapter 1 Juvenile Courts and Proceedings

Part 6 Child Sexual Abuse

37-1-607. Child protective teams - Investigations - Services.

(a) (1) (A) The department shall coordinate the services of child protective teams. At least one (1) child protective team shall be organized in each county. The district attorney general of each judicial district shall, by January 15 of each year, report to the judiciary committees of the senate and house of representatives on the status of the teams in the district attorney general's district as required by this section, and the progress of the child protective teams that have been organized in the district attorney general's district. The department shall, with the cooperation of all statutorily authorized members of the child protective team, establish a procedure and format for data collection. The procedure and format, including an implementation plan with timelines, shall be cooperatively developed and presented to the judiciary committees of the senate and house of representatives, the children and family affairs committee of the house of representatives and the judiciary committee of the senate on or before January 15, 2000. The procedure and format developed shall include at a minimum the following information:

(i) The number of reports received for investigation by type (i.e., sexual abuse, serious physical abuse, life-threatening neglect);

(ii) The number of investigations initiated by type;

(iii) The number of final dispositions of cases obtained in the current reporting year by type of disposition as follows:

(a) Unsubstantiated, closed, no service;

(b) Unsubstantiated, referred for non-custodial support services;

(c) Substantiated, closed, no service;

(d) Substantiated, service provided, no prosecution;

(e) Substantiated, service provided, prosecution, acquittal; or

(f) Substantiated, service provided, prosecution, conviction;

(iv) Age, race, gender, and relationship to the victim of perpetrators identified in cases that are included in subdivisions (a)(1)(A)(iii)(c )-(f ); and

(v) The type and amount of community-based support received by child protective teams through linkages with other local agencies and organizations and through monetary or in-kind, or both, donations.

(B) Such data shall be reported by January 15 of each year to the judiciary committees of the senate and the house of representatives, the children and family affairs committee of the house of representatives and the judiciary committee of the senate, along with a progress report on the teams and any recommendations for enhancement of the child sexual abuse plan and program.

(2) Each team shall be composed of one (1) person from the department, one (1) representative from the office of the district attorney general, one (1) juvenile court officer or investigator from a court of competent jurisdiction, and one (1) properly trained law enforcement officer with countywide jurisdiction from the county where the child resides or where the alleged offense occurred. The team may also include a representative from one (1) of the mental health disciplines. It is in the best interest of the child that, whenever possible, an initial investigation shall not be commenced unless all four (4) disciplines are represented. An initial investigation may, however, be commenced if at least two (2) of the team members are present at the initial investigation. In those geographical areas in which a child advocacy center meets the requirements of § 9-4-213(a) or (b), child advocacy center directors, or their designees, shall be members of the teams under this part and part 4 of this chapter for the purposes of provision of services and functions established by § 9-4-213 or delegated pursuant to that section. In such event, child advocacy center directors, or their designees, may access and generate all necessary information, which shall retain its confidential status, consistent with § 37-1-612.

(3) It is the intent of the general assembly that the child protective investigations be conducted by the team members in a manner that not only protects the child but that also preserves any evidence for future criminal prosecutions. It is essential, therefore, that all phases of the child protective investigation be appropriately conducted and that further investigations, as appropriate, be properly conducted and coordinated.

(b) (1) The department shall convene the appropriate team when a report of child sexual abuse has been received. Nothing in this section shall be construed to remove or reduce the duty and responsibility of any person to report all suspected or actual cases of child sexual abuse. The role of the teams shall be to conduct child protective investigations of reported child sexual abuse and to support and provide services to sexually abused children upon referral as deemed by the teams to be necessary and appropriate for such children.

(2) (A) For each child sexual abuse report it receives, the department shall immediately notify the child protection investigation team, which shall commence an on-site child protective investigation. The team shall:

(i) Determine the composition of the family or household, including the name, address, age, sex and race of each child named in the report; any siblings or other children in the same household or in the care of the same adults; the parents or other persons responsible for the child's welfare; and any other adults in the same household;

(ii) Determine whether there is any indication that any child in the family or household is sexually abused, including a determination of harm or threatened harm to each child; the nature and extent of present or prior injuries, or abuse, and any evidence thereof; and a determination as to the person or persons apparently responsible for the abuse;

(iii) Determine the immediate and long-term risk to each child if the child remains in the existing home environment; and

(iv) Determine the protective, treatment and ameliorative services necessary to safeguard and ensure the child's well-being and development and, if possible, to preserve and stabilize family life.

(B) The team shall seek to interview the child in a neutral setting, other than where the alleged abuse occurred, whenever possible.

(3) Immediately upon receipt of a report alleging, or immediately upon learning during the course of an investigation, that:

(A) Child sexual abuse has occurred; or

(B) An observable injury or medically diagnosed internal injury occurred as a result of the sexual abuse;

the department shall orally notify the team, the appropriate district attorney general and the appropriate law enforcement agency whose criminal investigations shall be coordinated, whenever possible, with the child protective team investigation. In all cases, the team and the department shall make a full written report to the district attorney general within three (3) days of the oral report. If, as a result of an investigation, there is cause to believe a violation of title 39, chapter 17, part 10 has occurred, an appropriate report shall be filed by the district attorney general requesting an investigation by the Tennessee bureau of investigation. If independent criminal investigations are made, interviews with the victimized child shall be kept to an absolute minimum and, whenever possible, reference to the videotape or tapes made by the child protective teams should be utilized.

(4) In addition to the requirements of this part, the provisions of § 37-1-406 shall apply to any investigation conducted hereunder.

(5) As a result of its investigation, the team may recommend that criminal charges be filed against the alleged offender. Any interested person who has information regarding the offenses described in this subsection (b) may forward a statement to the district attorney general as to whether prosecution is warranted and appropriate. Within fifteen (15) days of the completion of the district attorney general's investigation, the district attorney general shall advise the department and the team whether or not prosecution is justified and appropriate in the district attorney general's opinion in view of the circumstances of the specific case.

(c) (1) The specialized diagnostic assessment, evaluation, coordination, consultation, and other supportive services that the team shall be capable of providing, to the extent funds are specifically appropriated therefor, or by referral shall be capable of obtaining for the protection of the child, include, but are not limited to, the following:

(A) Telephone consultation services in emergencies and in other situations;

(B) Medical evaluation related to the sexual abuse;

(C) Such psychological and psychiatric diagnosis and evaluation services for the child, siblings, parent or parents, guardian or guardians, or other care givers, or any other individual involved in a child sexual abuse case, as a child protection team may determine to be needed;

(D) Short-term psychological treatment. It is the intent of the general assembly that the department provide or refer a child whose case has been validated by the department, and the child's family, for short-term psychological treatment before the department may close its case. Such short-term treatment shall be limited to no more than six (6) months' duration after treatment is initiated, except that the commissioner may authorize such treatment for individual children beyond this limitation if the commissioner deems it appropriate;

(E) Expert medical, psychological and related professional testimony in court cases;

(F) Case staffings to develop, implement and monitor treatment plans for a child whose case has been validated by the department. In all such case staffings, consultations, or staff activities involving a child, at least one (1) member of the team involved in the initial investigation shall continue to monitor the progress and status of the child whenever possible and within the same geographic area; and

(G) Case service coordination and assistance, including the location of services available from other public and private agencies in the community.

(2) In all instances where a child protection team is providing or has obtained by referral certain services to sexually abused children, other offices and units of the department shall avoid duplicating the provision of those services.

Acts 1985, ch. 478, § 8; 1987, ch. 145, §§ 3, 5; T.C.A., § 37-1-606(a)(2), (4); Acts 1988, ch. 953, §§ 9, 18-20; 1996, ch. 675, § 17; 1999, ch. 453, §§ 1, 2; 2001, ch. 401, § 1; 2011, ch. 410 , § 3(f).

Compiler's Notes. Acts 2001, ch. 401, § 4, provided that the amendment to this section, which added subdivision (a)(1)(B), shall apply to any investigation or any civil cause of action pending or filed on or after June 19, 2001.

For the Preamble to the act concerning the prohibition against establishment of a special committee if there is a standing committee on the same subject, please refer to Acts 2011, ch. 410.

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