232.71B  Duties of the department upon receipt of report.

1.  Commencement of assessment--purpose.

a.  If the department determines a report constitutes a child abuse allegation, the department shall promptly commence an appropriate assessment within twenty-four hours of receiving the report.

b.  The primary purpose of the assessment shall be the protection of the child named in the report. The secondary purpose of the assessment shall be to engage the child's family in services to enhance family strengths and to address needs.

2.  Notification of parents.  The department, within five working days of commencing the assessment, shall provide written notification of the assessment to the child's parents. However, if the department shows the court to the court's satisfaction that notification is likely to endanger the child or other persons, the court shall orally direct the department to withhold notification. Within one working day of issuing an oral directive, the court shall issue a written order restraining the notification. The department shall not reveal in the written notification to the parents or otherwise the identity of the reporter of child abuse to a subject of a child abuse report listed in section 235A.15, subsection 2, paragraph "a".

3.  Involvement of law enforcement.  The department shall apply a protocol, developed with representatives of law enforcement agencies at the local level, to work jointly with law enforcement agencies in performing assessment and investigative processes for child abuse reports in which a criminal act harming a child is alleged. The county attorney and appropriate law enforcement agencies shall also take any other lawful action which may be necessary or advisable for the protection of the child. If a report is determined not to constitute a child abuse allegation, but a criminal act harming a child is alleged, the department shall immediately refer the matter to the appropriate law enforcement agency.

4.  Assessment process.  The assessment is subject to all of the following:

a.  Identification of the nature, extent, and cause of the injuries, if any, to the child named in the report.

b.  Identification of the person or persons responsible for the alleged child abuse.

c.  A description of the name, age, and condition of other children in the same home as the child named in the report.

d.  An evaluation of the home environment. If concerns regarding protection of children are identified by the child protection worker, the child protection worker shall evaluate the child named in the report and any other children in the same home as the parents or other persons responsible for their care.

e.  An interview of the person alleged to have committed the child abuse, if the person's identity and location are known, to afford the person the opportunity to address the allegations of the child abuse report. The interview shall be conducted, or an opportunity for an interview shall be provided, prior to a determination of child abuse being made. The court may waive the requirement of the interview for good cause.

f.  Unless otherwise prohibited under section 234.40 or 280.21, the use of corporal punishment by the person responsible for the care of a child which does not result in a physical injury to the child shall not be considered child abuse.

5.  Home visit.  The assessment may, with the consent of the parent or guardian, include a visit to the home of the child named in the report and an interview or observation of the child may be conducted. If permission to enter the home to interview or observe the child is refused, the juvenile court or district court upon a showing of probable cause may authorize the person making the assessment to enter the home and interview or observe the child.

6.  Facility or school visit.  The assessment may include a visit to a facility providing care to the child named in the report or to any public or private school subject to the authority of the department of education where the child named in the report is located. The administrator of a facility, or a public or private school shall cooperate with the child protection worker by providing confidential access to the child named in the report for the purpose of interviewing the child, and shall allow the child protection worker confidential access to other children for the purpose of conducting interviews in order to obtain relevant information. The child protection worker may observe a child named in a report in accordance with the provisions of section 232.68, subsection 3, paragraph "b". A witness shall be present during an observation of a child. Any child aged ten years of age or older can terminate contact with the child protection worker by stating or indicating the child's wish to discontinue the contact. The immunity granted by section 232.73 applies to acts or omissions in good faith of administrators and their facilities or school districts for cooperating in an assessment and allowing confidential access to a child.

7.  Information requests.

a.  The department may request information from any person believed to have knowledge of a child abuse case. The county attorney, any law enforcement or social services agency in the state, and any mandatory reporter, whether or not the reporter made the specific child abuse report, shall cooperate and assist in the assessment upon the request of the department.

b.  In performing an assessment, the department may request criminal history data from the department of public safety on any person believed to be responsible for an injury to a child which, if confirmed, would constitute child abuse. The department shall establish procedures for determining when a criminal history records check is necessary.

8.  Physical examination.  If the department refers a child to a physician for a physical examination, the department shall contact the physician regarding the examination within twenty-four hours of making the referral. If the physician who performs the examination upon referral by the department reasonably believes the child has been abused, the physician shall report to the department within twenty-four hours of performing the examination.

9.  Multidisciplinary team.  In each county or multicounty area in which more than fifty child abuse reports are made per year, the department shall establish a multidisciplinary team, as defined in section 235A.13, subsection 8. Upon the department's request, a multidisciplinary team shall assist the department in the assessment, diagnosis, and disposition of a child abuse report.

10.  Facility protocol.  The department shall apply a protocol, developed in consultation with facilities providing care to children, for conducting an assessment of reports of abuse of children allegedly caused by employees of facilities providing care to children. As part of such an assessment, the department shall notify the licensing authority for the facility, the governing body of the facility, and the administrator in charge of the facility of any of the following:

a.  A violation of facility policy noted in the assessment.

b.  An instance in which facility policy or lack of facility policy may have contributed to the reported incident of alleged child abuse.

c.  An instance in which general practice in the facility appears to differ from the facility's written policy.

The licensing authority, the governing body, and the administrator in charge of the facility shall take any lawful action which may be necessary or advisable to protect children receiving care.

11.  Assessment report.  The department, upon completion of the assessment, shall make a written report of the assessment, in accordance with all of the following:

a.  The written assessment shall incorporate the information required by subsection 4.

b.  The written assessment shall be completed within twenty business days of the receipt of the report.

c.  The written assessment shall include a description of the child's condition, identification of the injury or risk to which the child was exposed, the circumstances which led to the injury or risk to the child, and the identity of any person alleged to be responsible for the injury or risk to the child.

d.  The written assessment shall identify the strengths and needs of the child, and of the child's parent, home, and family.

e.  The written assessment shall identify services available from the department and informal and formal services and other support available in the community to address the strengths and needs identified in the assessment.

f.  Upon completion of the assessment, the department shall consult with the child's family in offering services to the child and the child's family to address strengths and needs identified in the assessment.

g.  The department shall notify each subject of the child abuse report, as identified in section 235A.15, subsection 2, paragraph "a", of the results of the assessment, of the subject's right, pursuant to section 235A.19, to correct the report data or disposition data which refers to the subject, and of the procedures to correct the data.

12.  Court-ordered and voluntary services.  The department shall provide or arrange for and monitor services for abused children and their families on a voluntary basis or under a final or intermediate order of the juvenile court.

13.  County attorney--juvenile court.  The department shall provide the juvenile court and the county attorney with a copy of the portion of the written assessment pertaining to the child abuse report. The juvenile court and the county attorney shall notify the department of any action taken concerning an assessment provided by the department.

14.  False reports.  If a fourth report is received from the same person who made three earlier reports which identified the same child as a victim of child abuse and the same person responsible for the child as the alleged abuser and which were determined by the department to be entirely false or without merit, the department may determine that the report is again false or without merit due to the report's spurious or frivolous nature and may in its discretion terminate its assessment of the report.

Section History: Recent form

  97 Acts, ch 35, §6, 25; 97 Acts, ch 176, §24, 43

Internal References

  Referred to in § 135.43, 232.68, 232.71C, 232.71D, 232.72, 232.73, 232.77, 232.78, 235A.15, 235A.19, 331.653

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