1. Investigation protocol. The investigation protocol is followed closely and sequentially during all investigations, unless a modification for good cause is approved and documented by the CW supervisor.
(1) Persons interviewed in order, are the:
(A) alleged victim(s);
(C) person responsible for the child (PRFC(s)), including the custodial and noncustodial parent(s);
(D) collateral(s); and
(E) when appropriate, professional consultant(s).
(2) Every attempt is made to first conduct interviews privately and separately.
2. Purposes of interviews. The main purpose of the interview is to:
(1) obtain information to determine whether the child has been abused or neglected;
(2) assess safety;
(3) determine the protective capacity of the family;
(4) provide information about the steps that will be taken and what the family can expect; and
(5) express interest in helping the family resolve problems identified as safety threats.
3. Alleged child victim interviews.
(1) When the alleged child victim is old enough to be interviewed, the first in-depth interview is conducted with the child. The child's age, developmental level, and emotional state guide the CW worker's interviewing approach. Very young children may not have extensive verbal skills, but an interview may provide critical statements or phrases that assist in the investigation.
(2) When there is more than one alleged victim, the CW worker attempts to interview each child individually and apart from siblings or the parent(s). With some children it may be necessary to have an older sibling or other significant person present to obtain information. If so, that person is reminded of the confidential nature of the interview and asked to remain as unobtrusive as possible.
(3) The CW worker carefully observes each alleged victim's physical, developmental, and emotional condition and pays particular attention to how the child interacts with others and his or her environment.
(4) The interview is aimed at obtaining information regarding the alleged abuse or neglect and functioning of the child, parent(s), and family, including:
(A) what happened;
(B) when and where the alleged abuse or neglect occurred;
(C) the child's current condition;
(D) other effects of abuse or neglect;
(E) contact with all persons having information and knowledge regarding the family dynamics and alleged abuse or neglect; and
(F) the protective capacity of the family.
4. Interviewing siblings. When one child in the family is at risk, the other children may also be at risk. When not at risk of physical harm, the sibling remains adversely affected by family conditions. The sibling often has important information regarding the reported allegations and the dynamics of the family. All siblings are observed and an attempt is made to talk to each verbal sibling. Interaction is initiated with non-verbal siblings to determine the child's functional level. The CW worker's discussion with the siblings, as with the alleged child victim, must be directed at determining whether the siblings have been victims of abuse or neglect. Corroboration of the child victim's statements is also an objective of the discussion with the sibling. The same principles for interviewing the child victim applies to interviewing the sibling. Refer to Instructions to Staff # 3 of this Section.
5. Interviewing the PRFC. Sometimes it is not clear who the perpetrator is of alleged abuse or neglect, making it important to evaluate all persons who are parents, custodial and non-custodial, and anyone performing a parenting role in the household. The relationship between the adults in the household and any parent living outside the household must be evaluated. It is critical to determine the willingness and ability of the PRFCs to protect the child. The presence of any stress factors in the home, such as financial difficulties or lack of support systems, must also be evaluated with each PRFC to determine if there are contributing factors to risk in the home.
(1) The nature of the report and the concern for the child are discussed with all PRFCs.
(2) The noncustodial parent is entitled to the same information as the custodial parent and diligent efforts are made to locate and interview the noncustodial parent during the initial stages of the investigation.
(3) The CW worker's interview with the PRFC is directed toward obtaining relevant information regarding the child, parents, family, and alleged abuse or neglect. When there is a non-perpetrator PRFC, that person may be the key to protecting the child and successful intervention. It is important to evaluate the relationship between the non-perpetrator PRFC and the perpetrator.
(4) The CW worker:
(A) informs the noncustodial parent of the situation and gathers any critical information; and
(B) when the noncustodial parent denies paternity or has never seen the child, verifies that there is no record of child support, per OAC 340:75-6-31.5.
(5) The interview with the PRFC is directed toward assessing the PRFC's capacity to protect the child related to the alleged abuse or neglect and includes:
(A) how the PRFC describes what happened;
(B) the PRFC's response to the incident and CPS intervention;
(C) the PRFC's capacity to protect the child;
(D) the presence of violence in the home, including violence between adult household members; and
(E) the presence of any stress factors in the home, such as financial difficulties or lack of support systems.
(6) When the PRFC's identity or whereabouts are unknown, the CW worker prepares an interview page for the PRFC on Form 04KI003E, Report to DA, detailing:
(A) why the PRFC's identify or whereabouts are unknown; and
(B) the efforts made to identify or locate the PRFC.
6. Interviewing the perpetrator responsible for the child. The alleged perpetrator is interviewed last, as this allows the CW worker to question the perpetrator with the facts and information that have been obtained. The same information is obtained from the perpetrator as from the non-perpetrating PRFC as it relates to the alleged abuse or neglect. Additional information obtained from the perpetrator includes the prospect for acknowledging problems and accepting responsibility to resolve the problems.
7. Interviewing collaterals. Families may not always provide factual information during the investigation because of their fear of the assessment process or lack of awareness about family concerns. Medical reports, information from school personnel or other persons closely involved with the family, psychological evaluations, police reports, photographs, and other similar material provide the CW worker with a means for balancing the subjective aspects of information gathering and observing.
(1) Collaterals are interviewed to ensure thorough investigation and assessment of risk to the child.
(A) A collateral:
(i) is a person who has or is likely to have pertinent information about the child and the family; and
(ii) may include relatives, neighbors, law enforcement, teachers, physicians, nurses, or other informed persons.
(B) Collaterals who are minors are not interviewed without first obtaining permission from their parent.
(2) The interview is directed toward learning about the family as it impacts the risk and safety of the child.
(3) The CW worker contacts a minimum of two collaterals who have pertinent, unbiased information regarding the family. The CW worker seeks collateral sources who know the family best.
(4) The specific nature of the alleged abuse or neglect or details of the allegations are not given to persons outside the immediate family.
(5) The CW worker provides a written statement on each collateral interview page of Form 04KI003E indicating the relationship of the collateral to the subject child.