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New Jersey Department of Children and Families Policy Manual

 

Manual:

CP&P

Child Protection and Permanency

Effective Date:

Volume:

IX

Administrative

Chapter:

D

Critical Incident Reporting

3-23-2018

Subchapter:

1

Critical Incident Reporting

Issuance:

100

Critical Incident Reporting

 

Purpose:

 

This issuance establishes the policy and procedures for reporting child related and non-child related critical incident reports.

Authority:

 

N/A

 

Policy:

 

Critical Incident Reporting, Generally

DCF staff shall report all exceptional or extraordinary incidents involving children, clients, employees, resource family parents, service providers, Program Operations, or State offices or property at various administrative levels

Types of Critical Incidents

Critical Incidents shall be categorized as either a child-related incident or a non-child related. However, a child fatality or near fatality shall not be reported or categorized as a critical incident.

 Critical Incidents Involving Children

The following incidents involving children shall be reportable as critical incidents by all CP&P and IAIU offices:

 

·         A child who is foundling (see CP&P-II-C-5-700) or a Safe Haven infant (see CP&P-IV-C-5-100).

 

·         Sexual abuse by:

-   A caregiver of a child in any type of CP&P supervised out-of-home placement; 

-   Another child in a CP&P supervised placement; or

-   A CP&P employee, volunteer, or service provider of a child under CP&P supervision.

                                                                 

·         Child maltreatment resulting in injuries or a serious condition when inflicted by;

 

-   A resource parent to a child in a CP&P supervised placement; 

-   A resource parent to his or her own child, or another child residing in his or her home not under CP&P supervision;

-   A DCF employee to a child under CP&P supervision; or

-   A DCF employee to his or her own child or to a child residing in his or her home. 

 

·         Suicide or a serious suicide attempt resulting in injury, by a child under CP&P supervision or in a CP&P paid, or unpaid placement.

 

·         An allegation of a serious crime committed by a child in the care or custody of CP&P.

 

·         An abduction of a child under CP&P supervision. 

 

·         Incidents impacting CP&P or IAIU cases that have attracted or are likely to attract media interest (TV, newspapers, radio, Internet).

 

·         Other incidents of unusual, extreme, or exceptional case situations.

 

Note: The death of a parent in an open/active case or a case at intake is generally not a reportable critical incident. The Worker and Supervisor conference the matter and consult the Casework Supervisor, if necessary, to determine whether unusual circumstances exist which warrant critical incident reporting.  

 

Non-Child Related Critical Incidents

The following types of non-child-related incidents shall be reportable by all CP&P and IAIU offices:

·         The death of a CP&P or IAIU employee (including an employee on leave);

 

·         A serious work-related injury to a CP&P or IAIU employee;

 

·         A serious injury to a resource family parent;

 

·         A civil or criminal action proposed or taken against CP&P or IAIU, an employee, a resource family parent, and/or any members of their household which occurred during the provision of service to a client or is in some way work-related;

 

·         A crime against a CP&P or IAIU employee, including a violent act or a threat of violence occurring during the course of work, SPRU, or work-related activities;

 

·         A complaint involving possible criminality on the part of a CP&P or IAIU employee or a third party/contract provider (see C) Reporting Critical Incidents Alleging Criminal Behavior by or Involving a CP&P Employee or Contract Provider, below);

 

·         Serious, extensive damage to CP&P or IAIU property as a result of an accident, crime (e.g., arson), or natural disaster (e.g., fire, flood, hurricane);

 

·         Serious, extensive damage to licensed/approved resource family homes, adoptive homes, group homes, residential facilities, shelters, etc.; and

 

·         Incidents impacting CP&P or IAIU that have attracted, or are likely to attract, media interest (TV, newspapers, radio, Internet).

 

Procedures:

 

A)   Immediate Notifications of Critical Incidents

 

A DCF employee first becoming aware of a child related or non-child related critical incident notifies his or her Supervisor.  The employee or Supervisor makes an immediate report to the Casework Supervisor and the Local Office Manager or IAIU Regional Supervisor. These reports may also be made via email; however, if communicated via email, the employee must follow-up with an oral notification if the email is not acknowledged within fifteen minutes.

 

The immediate report includes the following information:

 

·         Date of the incident

 

·         Nature of the incident, circumstances, and cause(s)

 

·         Names of persons involved and their relationships to DCF

 

·         Whether reported to law enforcement, if appropriate

 

·         Contact person in the investigating office/unit

 

·         All persons notified of the incident

 

·         Status of investigation and immediate action needed

 

If the incident involves a child, the Worker or Supervisor includes the following additional information in the oral notification:

 

·         Name of the child

 

·         NJS case identification number

 

·         Child‘s date of birth or age

 

·         Child’s sex

 

·         Child’s residence/address at the time of the incident

 

·         Case status (open, date closed, never known to CP&P)

 

·         CP&P authority for services/legal status

 

·         Reasons for current and prior CP&P involvement

 

·         Relationship of caregiver to child, if applicable

 

·         Office supervising the case

 

If the incident is non-child related, the oral report includes whether equipment, material, or property was involved.

 

Once the oral notification has been made, the Local Office Manager or IAIU Regional Supervisor initiates notifications within DCF, as appropriate.

 

In the following circumstances, notifications must be reported up the Supervisory chain to the Commissioner of DCF. Examples include, but are not limited to:

 

·         Child maltreatment resulting in substantial injuries or a serious condition to a child in CP&P custody,

 

·         An abduction of a child in CP&P custody,

 

·         Incidents impacting CP&P or IAIU cases that have attracted media interest (television, newspapers, radio, internet), and

·         Other incidents of extreme or exceptional case situations.

 

Note: The notification must also be reported to the Director of Communications and Public Affairs as required pursuant to DCF Administrative Order #3.

 

See CP&P-II-C-1-300, Limiting Conflicts of Interest, for policy and procedures regarding reports of child abuse and neglect involving DCF employees.  See D) below, Protocol for Reporting Critical Incidents During Nights, Weekends, and/or Holidays.

 

B)   Documenting the Critical Incident

 

The CP&P Worker or IAIU staff person investigating the incident completes the CP&P Form 21-10, Critical Incident Report, within no more than five (5) working days of the incident. 

 

The CP&P Worker or IAIU staff person documents all persons who were orally notified in the critical incident oral report record table, including notifications made to the local police, County Prosecutor’s Office, and Human Services Police. 

 

The completed form is routed by the LO Manager or IAIU Regional Supervisor to the Area Director or designee who, upon receipt, forwards it to the CP&P Director/Designee or IAIU Central Office. 

 

The CP&P Director‘s Office or IAIU Central Office distributes copies of the CP&P Form 21-10 to relevant staff, including, but not limited to:

 

·         The DCF Commissioner;

 

·         The Office of Legal and Legislative Affairs;

 

·         Office of Communications and Public Relations;

 

·         Office of Employee Relations; and

 

·         Other appropriate staff and/or units.

 

The CP&P LO Manager or IAIU Regional Supervisor provides an update to the Area Director within 14 days of the initial report.

 

C)   Reporting Critical Incidents Alleging Criminal Behavior by or Involving a CP&P Employee or Contract Provider

 

When a field or area office Supervisor/Manager becomes aware of complaint or allegation that involves possible criminality by a CP&P employee or a contract, including a complaint that has been filed in a Municipal Court against a DCF employee, he or she immediately notifies the CP&P Director‘s Office by telephone. 

 

If a complaint or allegation is against a Central Office employee, notify the Senior/Executive Staff member to whom that employee reports as well.

 

The same notification process is followed by SCR upon receipt of a report after hours.  The SCR Screener/Supervisor does not contact SPRU, unless directed by the CP&P Director’s Office or a Senior/Executive Staff member.

 

For a conflict matter, contact the Public Defender Conflict Investigation Unit.  See CP&P-II-C-1-300.

 

Upon receipt of a report alleging possible criminality by a CP&P employee or contract provider, the CP&P Director‘s Office or Senior/Executive Staff member refers the matter to the DCF Office of Legal Affairs no later than the next work day, unless more immediate action or notification is necessary.

 

-   For a serious allegation, the Office of Legal Affairs may determine that a referral to the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) is appropriate and necessary.  The Office of Legal Affairs makes the referral.

-   For a less serious offense, the Office of Legal Affairs may direct the Senior/Executive Staff member or the field office Manager to refer the matter to the local County Prosecutor’s Office. 

 

As in any other situation, client information that is confidential according to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a cannot be shared without a court order.  Direct any questions to the DCF Office of Legal Affairs.  See CP&P-IX-G-1-100, Laws, Regulations, and Administrative Orders Governing Disclosure of Information.

 

D)   Protocol for Reporting Critical Incidents During Nights, Weekends, and/or Holidays

 

Reports of critical incidents received during non-business hours are handled by the State Central Registry (SCR). SCR makes the immediate oral report to the Special Response Unit (SPRU) Worker, if appropriate, and the SPRU Supervisor or IAIU After-Hours Supervisor.

 

The on-call SPRU Worker consults the SPRUIAIU After-Hours Supervisor about case handling/response.  The SPRU/IAIU Supervisor notifies the Local Office Manager or IAIU Regional Supervisor.  The Local Office Manager or IAIU Regional Supervisor initiates notifications within DCF, as appropriate.

 

Key Terms (Definitions):

 

“Critical incident” means an exceptional or extraordinary occurrence involving a client (child or adult), an employee, a resource family parent or home, other service providers, DCF/CP&P operations, or a State office or State property, which has resulted in, or may lead to, a serious or harmful consequence.

 

Forms and Attachments:

 

·      Critical Incident Report, CP&P Form 21-10

·      Child Fatality Report, CP&P Form 21-11

Related Information:

 

·      Administrative Order #3, Communications and Interactions with the Public and the Media. AO-I-A-1-3:00