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It further states that with the exception of certain reports that must be taken as an Investigative Assessment, it will be up to each county DSS director, or his designee, to choose which response will be used to assess reports of abuse, neglect, and dependency.

It is important to remember that the ability to interview children at school or childcare facilities has not been compromised. Schools and child care facilities are not private residences. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads as follows, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

When a drug screen is indicated and the caretaker agrees, that caretaker should be referred to a certified laboratory for both collection and testing in order to protect the integrity of the test. Under no circumstances should DSS staff administer drug testing.

Social workers should think about how they would want a safety assessment tool completed on their own families. Only identified safety issues should be addressed.

The resource must be informed that a social worker will need to make a home visit to conduct the Kinship Care Initial Assessment. The social worker must ask the Safety Resource's county for permission to enter the county for the purposes of conducting the home visit and Kinship Care Initial Assessment. If the parent is unable to travel with the social worker and child, the social worker should first seek written permission from the parent to transport the child alone. If written permission is not available, verbal permission must be obtained. The parent should accompany the social worker to the home of the Safety Resource whenever possible.

The social worker conducting the CPS Assessment should contact the other state to obtain permission to enter that state to conduct the Kinship Care Initial Assessment and to enter that state with the child.

Another example may be any instance in which the child's safety cannot be ensured through the use of the Family Assessment response. This may be due to lack of parental cooperation or changing circumstances. Social workers involved in these cases should request the assistance of a co-worker who is familiar and comfortable with the Investigative Assessment response to aid in the completion of the assessment as necessary. Social workers should also remember to engage law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office as appropriate at any point during the assessment if evidence is found that a child has been abused as defined by N.C.G.S. 7B-101.

The social worker should explain their role and express desire to interview the child in order to assess safety, risk, and the strengths and needs of the family. It is important to remember that the ability to interview children at school or childcare centers has not been compromised – schools and childcare facilities are not private residences. The debate regarding parental rights versus the provision of child protective services is an issue that has existed for some time; however, it appears that the public’s consciousness has been piqued in light of recent court decisions and media attention.

The step of filing a petition is a big one and should not be done without first holding a Child and Family Team Meeting to determine if a plan can be made that will keep the child safe in the home, or with out court intervention. If this is not possible due to an urgent need to remove the child in order to maintain safety, then the Child and Family Team would be held as soon after the removal as possible. Additionally, the agency shall provide notice to the child’s adult relatives regarding the removal. (Please refer to Chapter IV; Section 1201; IV - Placement Decision Making for more information on Relative Notification requirement). This is consistent with the System of Care principles that guide DSS’s to involve children and families at all stages.

It identifies families, which have intensive, high, moderate, or low probabilities of continuing to abuse or neglect their children. By completing the North Carolina Family Risk Assessment of Abuse / Neglect, the social worker obtains an objective appraisal of the likelihood that a family will maltreat their children in the next 18 to 24 months. The difference between the risk levels is substantial. High-risk families have significantly higher rates than low risk families of subsequent reports and substantiations and are more often involved in serious abuse or neglect incidents.

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  For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.  

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