When DHS receives abuse or serious neglect reports, an involuntary investigative assessment occurs. Investigations can also occur if families don’t cooperate with the assessment process. These investigations use a series of interviews to gather information and evidence from:
- others that may be able to assist in the investigation
As part of the fact-finding process, social workers conduct interviews with the child. These interviews occur before the parent or caretaker is notified of reported abuse. Together, the social worker and family assess safety, risk, strengths and needs.
Most investigative assessments close within 30 days. Delays in receiving necessary information can postpone the process.
At the close of the investigation, the social worker will recommend one of two findings:
1. Substantiated. There is risk of future harm and the family must participate in mandated programs
2. Unsubstantiated. No presented evidence is available that suggests the child is at risk of future harm. The case is then closed.