(a) Upon receipt of a report of harm pursuant to § 37-1-403, the department shall make an initial screening decision using an approved screening instrument. The screening instrument shall be developed by the department. If the report does not allege that the child has been harmed or that the child has been sexually abused, after reviewing the information available and using the screening instrument, the department shall determine whether the child is at risk of maltreatment. If the child is at risk of maltreatment, the department shall determine whether the appropriate level of intervention is:
(1) Investigation pursuant to chapter 1 of this title;
(2) Assessment of the child and the family's need for and referral to available community-based public or private services;
(3) Referral for available community-based public or private services without assessment or investigation; or
(4) No further action by the department.
(b) If the department receives a report under chapter 1, part 4 or part 6 of this title, that alleges a child has actually been harmed or sexually abused, the department shall investigate such report, with child protective services investigators, to the extent that they are available, pursuant to the provisions of chapter 1, part 4 or part 6 of this title. The department also may proceed at the same time with assessment under this section.
(c) If the department determines that an assessment of the child and family is appropriate, the department shall give the parents, guardian, or others exercising parental authority, a written and oral explanation of the procedure for assessment of the child and family and its purposes. The assessment of the child and family and identification of service needs shall be based on information gathered from the family and other sources. The department shall have such face-to-face contact with the child, parents, other family members, and other sources, as is necessary to make the assessment reliable. If the parent is not present during contact with a child, the child's parent or guardian shall be contacted as soon as possible following contact with the child. The assessment of the child and family shall be completed within forty-five (45) days of receipt of the report. However, upon written justification by the department, the assessment of the child and family may be extended up to a total of sixty (60) days. The assessment of the child and family shall be in writing and shall be completed in accordance with department policy or regulations.
(d) Upon completion of the assessment of the child and family, the department shall consult with the family about available community-based public or private services to address the family's needs. When appropriate, families shall be offered services through the department, other public agencies, or community-based private agencies, which may include faith-based organizations, to promote meeting the needs of the family. The department may not require a family to participate in available public or private community-based services that it offers the family. If the family does not cooperate with the provision of community-based public or private services or provide alternative services of its own to meet such needs, then the department shall assess whether further steps should be taken to carry out the purposes of this part. If a family that declines services that are offered to them does not provide adequate alternative services of its own, the department shall inform the parents that their actions in declining services may be considered in future action by the department.
(e) If the department determines, under subsection (a), that the appropriate level of intervention is referral for available community-based public or private services without assessment or investigation, then the department may refer the family for preventive community-based public or private services. Families have the option of declining services offered as a result of a report of harm that did not result in an investigation or assessment of the child and family. If the family declines the services, the case shall be closed, unless the local department determines that sufficient cause exists to redetermine the case as one that needs to be investigated or assessed. Any family that declines services offered to them shall be informed that their actions in declining services may be considered in evaluating any future reports of harm received by the department.
(f) The department shall commence an immediate investigation, if, at any time during the provision of services under this part, the department determines that an investigation is required by chapter 1, part 4 or part 6 of this title, and that investigation shall be conducted under those provisions. The district attorney general and law enforcement officials shall be informed of the investigation as required under those provisions.
Acts 2005, ch. 391, § 5; 2011, ch. 410, § 3(z).
Compiler's Notes. 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.