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      CHC 612     


Art. 612. Assignment of reports for investigation and assessment

            A.(1) Upon receiving a report of abuse or neglect of a child who is not in the custody of the state, the local child protection unit of the department shall promptly assign a level of risk to the child based on the information provided by the reporter.

            (2) Reports of high and intermediate levels of risk shall be investigated promptly. This investigation shall include a preliminary investigation as to the nature, extent, and cause of the abuse or neglect and the identity of the person actually responsible for the child's condition. This preliminary investigation shall include an inquiry as to whether there is reason to know that the child is an Indian child. This preliminary investigation shall also include an interview with the child and the child's parents or other caretaker and shall include consideration of all available medical information provided to the department pertaining to the child's condition. This preliminary investigation shall also include an immediate assessment of any existing visitation or custody order or agreement involving the alleged perpetrator and the child. The department shall request a temporary restraining order pursuant to Article 617, a protective order pursuant to Article 618, or an instanter safety plan order pursuant to Article 619 or 620 if the department determines that any previously ordered visitation or custody would put the child's health, welfare, and safety at risk. Admission of the investigator on school premises or access to the child in school shall not be denied by school personnel. However, the request for a temporary restraining order or a protective order in accordance with this Article shall not independently confer exclusive jurisdiction on the juvenile court in accordance with Article 303.

            (3) In lieu of an investigation, reports of low levels of risk may be assessed promptly through interviews with the family to identify needs and available match to community resources. If during this assessment, it is determined that a child is at immediate substantial risk of harm, the local child protection unit shall promptly conduct or participate in an intensive investigation.

            (4) During the investigation of a report from a treating health care practitioner of physical abuse of a child who is not in custody of the state, at the request and expense of the child's parent or caregiver, the department shall provide copies of all medical information pertaining to the child's condition or treatment obtained during the investigation to a board certified child abuse pediatrician for purposes of conducting an independent review of the information. Any resulting report shall be provided to the department and to the child's parent or caretaker and shall be utilized in the department's ongoing assessment of risk and to determine what action may be necessary to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the child. Nothing in this Subparagraph shall be construed to prohibit granting an instanter removal order pursuant to Article 615(B).

            B. All persons, including without limitation mandatory and permissive reporters, shall cooperate fully with investigative procedures, including independent investigations and psychological evaluations of the child initiated by the parent on behalf of the child. The provisions of this Paragraph shall not require the disclosure of any communications between an attorney and his client or any confession or other sacred communication between priest, rabbi, duly ordained minister, or Christian Science practitioner and his communicant.

            C. All interviews of the child or his parents conducted in the course of a child protective investigation shall be tape-recorded, if requested by the parent or parents.

            D. Upon determination that there is reason to believe that the child has been abused or neglected, the local child protection unit shall conduct a more intensive investigation. If necessary, the investigator may apply for an evaluation order authorized by Article 614.

            E. When the report concerns a facility under the supervision of the department, the secretary of the department may assign the duties and powers enumerated herein to any office within the department to carry out the purposes of this Chapter or may enter into cooperative agreements with other state agencies to conduct investigations in accordance with this Article.

            F. Violation of the duties imposed by this Article subjects the offender to criminal prosecution authorized by R.S. 14:403(A)(2).

            G. The Department of Children and Family Services shall set priorities for case response and allocate staff resources to cases identified by reporters as presenting immediate substantial risk of harm to children. Absent evidence of willful or intentional misconduct or gross negligence in carrying out the investigative functions of the state child protection program, caseworkers, supervisors, program managers, and agency heads shall be immune from civil and criminal liability in any legal action arising from the department's decisions made relative to the setting of priorities for cases and targeting of staff resources.

            Acts 1991, No. 235, §6, eff. Jan. 1, 1992; Acts 1992, No. 705, §1, eff. July 6, 1992; Acts 1993, No. 675, §1; Acts 1995, No. 444 §1, eff. June 17, 1995; Acts 1999, No. 1355, §1, eff. July 12, 1999; Acts 2011, No. 189, §1; Acts 2013, No. 225, §1; Acts 2014, No. 486, §1; Acts 2018, No. 296, §1; Acts 2022, No. 272, §1.

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