6300, Preparing for the Investigation

6310 Preparing the Investigation in CLASS

September 28, 2018

Investigators must complete certain tasks in CLASS in preparation of initiating the investigation.

 

6311 Progressing an Intake Report to an Investigation in CLASS

September 28, 2018

Procedure

The investigator progresses an intake report to an investigation in CLASS once the investigator or supervisor determines that the information in the intake report is subject to investigation.

 

6312 Reviewing the Intake Report Narrative and Determining the Allegations

September 28, 2018

After being assigned an investigation, the investigator must review the Allegation Narrative in the Intake Report in CLASS. The investigator reviews the narrative to identify each allegation of a violation of law, administrative rule, or minimum standard.

Following the review of the Allegation Narrative, the investigator enters the following information in CLASS:

  • a summary of the allegations; and
  • the specific statutes, administrative rules, and minimum standards to evaluate during the investigation. 

Procedure

The investigator must review the Allegation Narrative before initiating the investigation and complete the CLASS entries before linking the investigation to an inspection form in CLASS. The summary of the allegations and the laws, rules, and minimum standards being evaluated is automatically entered on CLASS Form 2936 Child-Care Facility Inspection once the investigator links the investigation to an inspection.

 

6312.1 Writing the Allegation

September 28, 2018

The investigator documents a concise summary describing each allegation that the investigator must investigate under the Allegations section on the Investigation Main page in CLASS.

Procedure

When writing an allegation, the investigator avoids:

  1. including first and last names of children or adults;
  2. including other identifying information of children, including, but not limited to, specific age or gender;
  3. using abbreviations of words or phrases;
  4. using internal jargon, such as “victim”; and
  5. using inflammatory or prejudicial words or phrases.

When writing an allegation, the investigator must:

  • use good grammar and proper spelling; and
  • be concise, yet descriptive.

Examples:

Incorrect: It is alleged that a child was left alone by his caregiver and was crying and afraid.

Incorrect: It is alleged that a 2-year-old male was abandoned and terrified in his classroom by an inattentive teacher.

Acceptable: It is alleged that a caregiver left a young child unattended in a classroom.

 

6312.2 Determining Which Minimum Standards to Evaluate

September 28, 2018

The investigator must evaluate an operation’s compliance with applicable statute, administrative rules, and minimum standards during each investigation.

Procedure

To evaluate applicable statute, administrative rules, or minimum standards, the investigator adds the laws, rules, or minimum standards to the Add/View Allegation page in the CLASS investigation. The laws, rules, and minimum standards that the investigator chooses to evaluate are based on:

  • the alleged violations in the narrative of the intake report; and
  • other laws, rules, or minimum standards related to the allegations.

The investigator may not delete a law, administrative rule, or minimum standard from the Add/View Allegation page once the investigation has been linked to an inspection; however, investigators may add laws, rules, or minimum standards to the investigation if the investigator obtains new information about possible violations during the course of an investigation.

 

6320 Contacting the Reporter

September 28, 2018

If necessary, the investigator contacts the reporter before the initiation of the investigation to:

  1. clarify the details of the intake report;
  2. obtain additional information that the reporter may have; and
  3. determine the location of the children involved in the report, if the intake report does not contain this information.

Procedure

It may not be necessary to contact the reporter if the reporter:

  1. is an employee of the operation;
  2. has no direct knowledge of the incident being reported; and
  3. is reporting the incident to fulfill professional reporting obligations.

Contact with the reporter may not be considered to be the initiation of an investigation unless:

  • the investigation is prioritized as a P5: Desk Review and the reporter (i.e. operation) provides new information;
  • the reporter is a representative of a child-placing agency and the investigation is prioritized as a P5: Internal Investigation; or
  • the district director or program administrator gives approval. 

See 6413.1 Initiating an Investigation Assigned a Priority 1, 2, or 3, 6413.2 Initiating an Investigation Assigned a Priority 1 or 2 Involving an Allegation of a Child with a Serious Injury, and 6413.3 Initiating an Investigation Assigned a Priority 5.

 

6330 Assessing the Immediate Safety of Children

September 28, 2018

The investigator must assess both:

  • the immediate safety of children involved in the investigation; and
  • the safety of other children being cared for by the operation.

If the investigator identifies a threat to the safety of any child in care, the investigator must take steps to ensure the child’s safety by requesting the operation implement a safety plan.

The investigator continues to evaluate the safety of children in care throughout the investigation. The investigator takes steps to ensure children’s safety if the investigator determines a child is not safe at any point during the investigation. 

 

6331 Evaluating the Need for a Safety Plan

September 28, 2018

The investigator identifies possible threats to children’s safety by:

  1. reviewing the information in the intake report;
  2. considering any additional information gathered before the initiation; and
  3. considering additional information gathered during the course of the investigation.

If, at any point during the investigation, the investigator determines that a child in care of the operation is not safe, the investigator may determine that:

  • a safety plan is necessary; or 
  • an existing safety plan must be amended.

 

6331.1 Defining Child Safety

September 28, 2018

Safety refers to the threat of harm presented to a child at the current time.

A child is considered safe when:

  • there is no immediate threat of harm to the child; or
  • there was immediate threat of harm to the child, but the operation or caregiver has demonstrated sufficient protective capacity to keep the child from being harmed.

A child is considered unsafe when:

  • there is an immediate threat of harm to the child; and
  • the caregiver or operation does not demonstrate sufficient protective capacities to keep the child from being harmed.

 

6331.2 Determining Safety

September 28, 2018

To determine whether a child is safe or unsafe, the investigator must evaluate:

  1. the immediacy and severity of the threat;
  2. the child’s vulnerability; and
  3. the caregiver or operation’s capacity to protect the child.

Procedure

Before the initiation and throughout the investigation, the investigator considers the following questions:

Immediate Safety Threat

  • Does the information in the intake report indicate that a safety threat poses an immediate threat of harm to a child without intervention?
  • Does the caregiver involved in the allegation have unsupervised access to children?  Does the caregiver’s access to children pose a safety threat?

Protective Capacities

  • Has the caregiver or operation failed to protect the child since the alleged incident occurred?

Child Vulnerability

  • Do the allegations involve children under the age of 6?
  • Are there multiple children involved in the allegation?
  • Do the allegations involve children with special needs or who are otherwise vulnerable?

If the investigator answers yes to any of the questions, a safety plan is likely warranted.

 

6332 Requesting a Safety Plan

September 28, 2018

Upon identifying a child is unsafe, the investigator must:

  • immediately notify the operation about the nature of the threat to child safety; and
  • request that the operation implement a safety plan to minimize the threat to child safety. 

 

6332.1 Requesting a Safety Plan Outside of an Inspection

September 28, 2018

Procedure

If an investigator identifies a child is unsafe before initiation or at some other point outside of an inspection, the investigator must:

  1. contact the operation immediately;
  2. explain to the operation the nature of the safety threat; and
  3. request that the operation develops and implements a safety plan to minimize the threat to the child or children in care.

The investigator requests that the operation submit a written safety plan (an electronic copy is sufficient). A copy of the signed safety plan must be filed in the operation’s file. 

If the investigator’s first contact with the operation is to request a safety plan, the investigator must also follow the procedures outlined in 6340 Notifying the Operation of an Investigation.

 

6332.2 Requesting a Safety Plan During an Inspection

September 28, 2018

Procedure

When an investigator identifies a child is unsafe during an inspection, the investigator must address the threat with the person in charge at the time of the inspection.

If the person in charge, or their designee, states the safety plan to the investigator during the inspection, the investigator requests the operation submit a written summary outlining the plan that both parties agreed to during the inspection.

 

6332.3 Operation Requests Assistance with Developing Safety Plan

September 28, 2018

Procedure

If the operation requests assistance with developing a safety plan, the investigator:

  1. consults with the supervisor, as necessary, and the operation to develop a safety plan;
  2. ensures that the operation understands the conditions of the safety plan; and
  3. provides a copy of the safety plan to the operation.

 

6332.4 Requesting that an Operation Cease Operating (Day Care Homes Only)

February 2020

An investigator or supervisor may request that a child day care home (either a permitted home or an unregulated operation) cease operating if the investigator or supervisor have concerns about children’s safety, including when the permit holder or primary caregiver of an unregulated operation refuses or is unable to remove a person whose background check resulted in a match that prohibits the person from being present while children are in care.

Procedure

If the investigator determines a child day care home should cease operating, the investigator must: 

  1. Receive supervisory approval before notifying the provider; and
  2. Notify the provider as soon as possible during the investigation, either outside of or during an inspection. 

An agreement from the child day care home provider to cease operating is considered a safety plan.

 

6332.5 Operation Refuses to Develop a Safety Plan

September 28, 2018

If the operation refuses to develop a safety plan, the investigator must notify his or her supervisor. This includes situations in which:

  • an operation continues to allow a person to have contact with children when Licensing has made the determination that the person’s continued contact with children poses a safety threat; or
  • a child day care home provider refuses to cease operating despite Licensing’s determination that the provider’s continued operation poses a safety threat to children.

Procedure

If the operation or provider refuses to develop a safety plan, the supervisor: 

  1. considers citing relevant deficiencies and taking enforcement action;
  2. notifies the district director or program administrator; and 
  3. works with the Licensing attorney to consider immediate legal action, including an emergency suspension and closure as described in Human Resources Code §42.073 or any other appropriate action.

See 7200 Handling Immediate Danger to Children.

 

6333 Approving the Safety Plan

September 28, 2018

The investigator must evaluate the safety plan to ensure the plan includes all of the following:

  1. The actions the operation has agreed to take to ensure the safety of children; 
  2. The date the safety plan is to be implemented; and
  3. The person at the operation responsible for implementing the safety plan.

Procedure

The investigator approves the safety plan when the operation:

  1. has agreed to implement measures to ensure the safety to children;
  2. specifies a date the operation must implement the plan; and
  3. specifies a person responsible for implementing the safety plan.

All tasks in the plan must relate directly to the children’s immediate safety and must not contradict existing court orders.

 

6333.1 Plan Does Not Minimize Safety Threat

September 28, 2018

Procedure

If at any point during the investigation the plan that the operation submits does not adequately minimize the threat, the investigator informs the operation and:

  • requests that the operation develop additional safety measures to minimize the threat; or
  • makes additional recommendations to ensure that the safety plan minimizes the threat. 

If the investigator is unable to approve the safety plan and the operation is not responsive to the investigator’s request to enhance the plan, the investigator follows the steps in 6332.5 Operation Refuses to Develop a Safety Plan. 

 

6334 Documenting the Safety Plan in CLASS

September 28, 2018

If the operation implements a safety plan, a summary of the safety plan must be documented in the CLASS investigation.

Procedure

The investigator documents that a safety plan is in effect on the Risk Factors page or as a contact on the Investigation Conclusion page in the CLASS investigation. The investigator documents a summary of the safety plan, including:

  1. the actions the operation has agreed to take, including any additional safety measures if added to the plan during the course of the investigation;
  2. the dates the plan is in effect; and
  3. the person responsible for ensuring the operation implements the plan. 

A copy of the safety plan is filed in the operation’s file.

 

6335 Ongoing Evaluation of the Safety Plan

September 28, 2018

The investigator must evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the safety plan throughout the course of the investigation to ensure the plan is effectively minimizing the threat to children in care.

Procedure

If the plan does not adequately minimize the immediate safety threat, the investigator must follow the steps in 6333.1 Plan Does Not Minimize Threat.

If the operation does not comply with the safety plan, the investigator must follow the steps in 6332.5 Operation Refuses to Develop a Safety Plan.

 

6336 Ending the Safety Plan

September 28, 2018

A safety plan ends when:

  1. the investigator determines that the safety threat has been sufficiently minimized;
  2. another safety plan is implemented that overrides the existing safety plan; 
  3. legal action such as emergency suspension or closure has taken place; or
  4. the investigation is completed.

Procedure

When a safety plan ends before the completion of the investigation, the investigator:

  • notifies the operation that the plan is no longer needed; and
  • documents the reason the plan is no longer needed. 

 

6340 Notifying the Operation of an Investigation

September 28, 2018

The investigator must notify the applicant, permit holder, director, or person in charge at the operation when an investigation is being conducted.

40 TAC §745.8441

Procedure

During the first contact the investigator has with the operation, the investigator must inform the administrator or director:

  1. about the purpose of the investigation and nature of the allegations;
  2. whether a safety plan is needed; and
  3. that the operation must not conduct any interview about the alleged incident with staff, children, or witnesses at the operation who may have knowledge of the incident.

 

6340.1 Methods of Notifying the Operation

September 28, 2018

The investigator may notify the operation via phone, email, inspection, or inspection form depending on the circumstances.

Notifying the Operation Outside of an Inspection

Procedure

The investigator may notify the applicant, permit holder, director, or administrator of the operation of the investigation outside of an inspection if the investigator needs to contact the operation to request additional information or request a safety plan before conducting an inspection.

40 TAC §745.8443

Notifying the Operation by Inspection or Inspection Form

Procedure

The investigator notifies the director or administrator of the operation of the nature of the investigation in person if the director or administrator is present at the time of the inspection.

If the director or administrator is not present at the time of the inspection, the investigator may leave a copy of CLASS Form 2936 Child-Care Facility Inspection at the operation. The investigator may use the Inspection Form to notify the operation in lieu of another type of contact as long as the inspection form contains a written description of the allegations being investigated and the minimum standards being evaluated for compliance. See 6312 Reviewing the Intake Report Narrative and Determining the Allegations.

The investigator follows up with the director or administrator, if the investigator determines that the operation should develop a safety plan.

 

6340.2 Exceptions to Notifying the Operation

September 28, 2018

The investigator may delay notifying the director or administrator of the operation about the nature of the investigation if:

  • the allegations are against the director or administrator; or
  • the investigator has reason to believe that the notification may compromise the investigation.

40 TAC §§745.8441745.8443

Procedure

If the investigator determines that the notification to the operation should be delayed, the investigator must:

  1. obtain supervisory approval;
  2. document the decision and the supervisory approval as a contact in CLASS; and
  3. notify the director or administrator of the operation as soon as the investigator determines the investigation will no longer be compromised.