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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 22. Social Services
Agency 40. Department of Social Services
Chapter 705. Child Protective Services
3/26/2017

22VAC40-705-40. Complaints and Reports of Suspected Child Abuse and/Or Neglect.

A. Persons who are mandated to report are those individuals defined in § 63.2-1509 of the Code of Virginia.

1. Mandated reporters shall report immediately any suspected abuse or neglect that they learn of in their professional capacity. No person shall be required to make a report pursuant to § 63.2-1509 of the Code of Virginia if the person has actual knowledge that the same matter has already been reported to the local department or the department's toll-free child abuse and neglect hotline.

2. Pursuant to § 63.2-1509 of the Code of Virginia, if information is received by a teacher, staff member, resident, intern, or nurse in the course of his professional services in a hospital, school, or similar institution, such person may, in place of said report, immediately notify the person in charge of the institution or department, or his designee, who shall then make such report forthwith. If the initial report of suspected abuse or neglect is made to the person in charge of the institution or department, or his designee, such person shall (i) notify the teacher, staff member, resident, intern, or nurse who made the initial report when the report of suspected child abuse or neglect is made to the local department or to the department's toll-free child abuse and neglect hotline; (ii) provide the name of the individual receiving the report; and (iii) forward any communication resulting from the report, including any information about any actions taken regarding the report, to the person who made the initial report.

3. Mandated reporters shall disclose all information that is the basis for the suspicion of child abuse or neglect and shall make available, upon request, to the local department any records and reports that document the basis for the complaint and/or report.

4. A mandated reporter's failure to report as soon as possible, but no longer than 24 hours after having reason to suspect a reportable offense of child abuse or neglect shall result in a fine. In cases evidencing acts of rape, sodomy, or object sexual penetration as defined in Article 7 (§ 18.2-61 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2 of the Code of Virginia, a person who knowingly and intentionally fails to make the report required pursuant to § 63.2-1509 of the Code of Virginia shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

5. Pursuant to § 63.2-1509 B of the Code of Virginia, a "reason to suspect that a child is abused or neglected" shall include (i) a finding made by a health care provider within six weeks of the birth of a child that the results of toxicology studies of the child indicate the presence of a controlled substance that was not prescribed for the mother by a physician; (ii) a finding made by a health care provider within six weeks of the birth of a child that the child was born dependent on a controlled substance that was not prescribed by a physician for the mother and has demonstrated withdrawal symptoms; (iii) a diagnosis made by a health care provider at any time following a child's birth that the child has an illness, disease, or condition which, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, is attributable to in utero exposure to a controlled substance that was not prescribed by a physician for the mother or the child; or (iv) a diagnosis made by a health care provider at any time following a child's birth that the child has a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder attributable to in utero exposure to alcohol. When "reason to suspect" is based upon this subsection, such fact shall be included in the report along with the facts relied upon by the person making the report. Any report made pursuant to § 63.2-1509 A of the Code of Virginia constitutes a valid report of abuse or neglect and requires a child protective services investigation or family assessment, unless the mother sought treatment or counseling as required in this section and pursuant to § 63.2-1505 B of the Code of Virginia.

a. Pursuant to § 63.2-1509 of the Code of Virginia, whenever a health care provider makes a finding pursuant to § 63.2-1509 A of the Code of Virginia, then the health care provider or his designee must make a report to child protective services immediately. Pursuant to § 63.2-1509 D of the Code of Virginia, a health care provider who fails to make a report pursuant to § 63.2-1509 A of the Code of Virginia is subject to a fine.

b. When a report or complaint alleging abuse or neglect is made pursuant to § 63.2-1509 A of the Code of Virginia, then the local department must immediately assess the infant's circumstances and any threat to the infant's health and safety. Pursuant to 22VAC40-705-110 A, the local department must conduct an initial assessment.

c. When a report or complaint alleging abuse or neglect is made pursuant to § 63.2-1509 A of the Code of Virginia, then the local department must immediately determine whether to petition a juvenile and domestic relations district court for any necessary services or court orders needed to ensure the safety and health of the infant.

d. Within five days of receipt of a report made pursuant to § 63.2-1509 A of the Code of Virginia, the local department shall invalidate the complaint if the following two conditions are met: (i) the mother of the infant sought substance abuse counseling or treatment during her pregnancy prior to the infant's birth and (ii) there is no evidence of child abuse and/or neglect by the mother after the infant's birth.

(1) The local department must notify the mother immediately upon receipt of a complaint made pursuant to § 63.2-1509 A of the Code of Virginia. This notification must include a statement informing the mother that, if the mother fails to present evidence within five days of receipt of the complaint that she sought substance abuse counseling/treatment during the pregnancy, the report will be accepted as valid and an investigation or family assessment initiated.

(2) If the mother sought counseling or treatment but did not receive such services, then the local department must determine whether the mother made a substantive effort to receive substance abuse treatment before the child's birth. If the mother made a substantive effort to receive treatment or counseling prior to the child's birth, but did not receive such services due to no fault of her own, then the local department should invalidate the complaint or report.

(3) If the mother sought or received substance abuse counseling or treatment, but there is evidence, other than exposure to a controlled substance, that the child may be abused or neglected, then the local department may initiate the investigation or family assessment.

e. Substance abuse counseling or treatment includes, but is not limited to, education about the impact of alcohol, controlled substances and other drugs on the fetus and on the maternal relationship; education about relapse prevention to recognize personal and environmental cues which may trigger a return to the use of alcohol or other drugs.

f. The substance abuse counseling or treatment should attempt to serve the purposes of improving the pregnancy outcome, treating the substance abuse disorder, strengthening the maternal relationship with existing children and the infant, and achieving and maintaining a sober and drug-free lifestyle.

g. The substance abuse counseling or treatment services must be provided by a professional. Professional substance abuse treatment or counseling may be provided by a certified substance abuse counselor or a licensed substance abuse treatment practitioner.

h. Facts indicating that the infant may have been exposed to controlled substances prior to birth are not sufficient, in and of themselves, to render a founded disposition of abuse or neglect. The local department must establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the infant was abused or neglected according to the statutory and regulatory definitions of abuse and neglect.

i. The local department may provide assistance to the mother in locating and receiving substance abuse counseling or treatment.

B. Persons who may report child abuse and/or neglect include any individual who suspects that a child is being abused and/or neglected pursuant to § 63.2-1510 of the Code of Virginia.

C. Complaints and reports of child abuse and/or neglect may be made anonymously. An anonymous complaint, standing alone, shall not meet the preponderance of evidence standard necessary to support a founded determination.

D. Any person making a complaint and/or report of child abuse and/or neglect shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability in connection therewith, unless the court decides that such person acted in bad faith or with malicious intent pursuant to § 63.2-1512 of the Code of Virginia.

E. When the identity of the reporter is known to the department or local department, these agencies shall make every effort to protect the reporter's identity. Upon request, the local department shall advise the person who was the subject of an unfounded investigation if the complaint or report was made anonymously.

F. If a person suspects that he is the subject of a report or complaint of child abuse and/or neglect made in bad faith or with malicious intent, that person may petition the court for access to the record including the identity of the reporter or complainant pursuant to § 63.2-1514 of the Code of Virginia.

G. Any person age 14 years or older who makes or causes to be made a knowingly false complaint or report of child abuse and/or neglect and is convicted shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense pursuant to § 63.2-1513 of the Code of Virginia.

1. A subsequent conviction results in a Class 6 felony.

2. Upon receipt of notification of such conviction, the department will retain a list of convicted reporters.

3. The subject of the records may have the records purged upon presentation of proof of such conviction.

H. To make a complaint or report of child abuse and/or neglect, a person may telephone the department's toll-free child abuse and neglect hotline or contact a local department of jurisdiction pursuant to § 63.2-1510 of the Code of Virginia.

1. The local department of jurisdiction that first receives a complaint or report of child abuse and/or neglect shall assume responsibility to ensure that a family assessment or an investigation is conducted.

2. A local department may ask another local department that is a local department of jurisdiction to assist in conducting the family assessment or investigation. If assistance is requested, the local department shall comply.

3. A local department may ask another local department through a cooperative agreement to assist in conducting the family assessment or investigation.

4. If a local department employee is suspected of abusing and/or neglecting a child, the complaint or report of child abuse and/or neglect shall be made to the juvenile and domestic relations district court of the county or city where the alleged abuse and/or neglect was discovered. The judge shall assign the report to a local department that is not the employer of the subject of the report pursuant to §§ 63.2-1509 and 63.2-1510 of the Code of Virginia. The judge may consult with the department in selecting a local department to respond.

Statutory Authority

§§ 63.2-217 and 63.2-1500 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 13, Issue 25, eff. January 1, 1998; amended, Virginia Register Volume 16, Issue 12, eff. March 29, 2000; Volume 19, Issue 06, eff. January 1, 2003; Volume 25, Issue 11, eff. March 4, 2009; Volume 28, Issue 23, eff. August 15, 2012.

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