§ 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
(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.
(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.