Code of the District of Columbia

§ 4–1301.04. Handling of reports — By Agency.

(a)(1) The Agency shall conduct a thorough investigation of a report of suspected child abuse or neglect to protect the health and safety of the child or children when a report involves a child fatality, suspected sex abuse, or the Agency suspects a child is at imminent risk of or has experienced abuse or neglect that the Agency determines to be severe.

(2) For all other reports of suspected child abuse or neglect, the Agency, directly or through a contractor or another appropriate District agency, shall conduct either a thorough investigation or a family assessment. A family’s cooperation with the family assessment and its acceptance of services offered pursuant to the assessment shall be voluntary; provided, that there are no child-safety concerns.

(3) If at any time the Agency determines that a report referred for family assessment should be re-referred for an investigation, the Agency shall commence an investigation pursuant to subsections (b), (c), and (d) of this section and the requirements of this subchapter.

(4) If the family assessment determines that the family needs services, the Agency, directly or through a contractor or another appropriate District agency, shall assist the family in obtaining these services.

(5) The family assessment shall commence as soon as possible, but no later than 5 days after the Agency’s receipt of the report, and shall include seeing the child and all other children in the household within that 5-day period; provided, that the report does not involve a child who is at imminent risk of or has experienced abuse or neglect that the Agency determines to be severe, in which case the report shall be referred for investigation.

(6) If at any time the Agency finds, through an evaluation, that the time period of 5 days to commence a family assessment is not serving the best interest of families and children, it shall re-evaluate its practices regarding commencement and implementation of the family assessment, comparing its practices with national standards and best practices. The Agency shall report the conclusions of any re-evaluation to the Council, along with recommendations, if any, for legislative initiatives that address the conclusions of the report.

(b) The investigation shall commence:

(1) Immediately upon receiving a report of suspected abuse or neglect or a referral for investigation following a family assessment indicating that the child’s safety or health is in immediate danger; and

(2) As soon as possible, and at least within 24 hours, upon receiving any report or a referral for investigation following a family assessment not involving immediate danger to the child.

(c) The initial phase of the investigation shall:

(1) Be completed within 24 hours of its commencement;

(2) Include notification and coordination with the Metropolitan Police Department when there is indication of a crime, including sexual or serious physical abuse; and

(3) Include:

(A) Seeing the child and all other children in the household outside of the presence of the caretaker or caretakers;

(B) Conducting an interview with the child’s caretaker or caretakers;

(C) Speaking with the source of the report;

(D) Assessing the safety and risk of harm to the child from abuse or neglect in the place where the child lives;

(E) Deciding on the safety of the child and of other children in the household;

(F) Deciding on the safety of other children in the care or custody of the person or persons alleged to be abusing or neglecting the child; and

(G) A finding as to whether the report of abuse or neglect is substantiated, inconclusive, or unfounded, unless at any time during the investigation the Director determines it appropriate to refer the family for a family assessment and suspends the investigation to complete a family assessment in accordance with rules issued pursuant to § 4-1306.01(d).

(d) The Agency may request the assistance of the Metropolitan Police Department to assist in the investigation or to ensure the safety of Agency staff.

(e)(1) Repealed.

(2) On or before December 15, 2011, the Agency shall submit a written report to the Council’s Committee on Human Services detailing the Agency’s progress toward using family assessments as authorized by this section, which shall include:

(A) A detailed review of the steps taken to phase in full implementation of this alternative to investigation;

(B) An evaluation of the strengths and needs of the implementation process; and

(C) Whether additional funding will be needed in fiscal year 2013 for expanded implementation.


(Sept. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22, title I, § 104, 24 DCR 3341; Apr. 4, 2001, D.C. Law 13-277, § 2(b), 48 DCR 2043; Apr. 12, 2005, D.C. Law 15-341,§ 2(b), 52 DCR 2315; Sept. 24, 2010, D.C. Law 18-228, § 2(b), 57 DCR 6926; Sept. 14, 2011, D.C. Law 19-21, § 5052(a), 58 DCR 6226.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2102.

1973 Ed., § 6-2102.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 4-1301.06a, § 4-1303.03, and § 4-1303.04.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-277 substituted “Agency” for “Division” throughout the section.

D.C. Law 15-341 rewrote the section.

D.C. Law 18-228 rewrote the section.

D.C. Law 19-21 repealed subsec. (e)(1); and, in subsec. (e)(2), substituted “December 15, 2011” for “October 1, 2010” in the lead-in language, substituted “to phase in full implementation of this alternative to investigation;” for “toward full implementation of this alternative to investigation; and” in subpar. (A), substituted “process; and” for “process.” in subpar. (B), and added subpar. (C).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 5022(a) of Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-93, June 29, 2011, 58 DCR 5599).

For temporary repeal of D.C. Law 18-228, § 3, see § 109 of the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Support Technical Clarification Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-482, October 12, 2012, 59 DCR 12478).

For temporary repeal of D.C. Law 18-228, § 3, see § 109 of the Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Support Technical Clarification Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-604, January 14, 2013, 60 DCR 1045), applicable as of January 10, 2013.

For temporary (90 days) repeal of D.C. Law 18-228, § 3, see § 7011 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-130, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11384, 20 DCSTAT 1827).

For temporary (90 days) repeal of D.C. Law 18-228, § 3, see § 7011 of the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-204, October 17, 2013, 60 DCR 15341, 20 DCSTAT 2311).

Temporary Legislation

Section 109 of D.C. Law 19-226 repealed D.C. Law 18-228, § 3.

Section 402(b) of D.C. Law 19-226 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Short Title

Short title: Section 5051 of D.C. Law 19-21 provided that subtitle F of title V of the act may be cited as “Families Together Amendment Act of 2011”.

Section 7001 of D.C. Law 20-61 provided that Subtitle A of Title VII of the act may be cited as the “Subject to Appropriations Repealers Amendment Act of 2013”.

Editor's Notes

For applicability of D.C. Law 13-277, see note following § 4-1303.01a.

Section 3 of D.C. Law 18-228 provided: “Sec. 3. Applicability. This act shall apply upon the inclusion of its fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan.”

Section 7011 of D.C. Law 20-61 repealed D.C. Law 18-228, § 3.