Louisiana Children’s Code
Title VI. Child in Need of Care
Chapter 5. Child Abuse Reporting and Investigation
Art. 615 Disposition of reports
A. In determining the disposition of the report, the agency shall take into account, in mitigation, the possibility of accidental injury or condition, or that the injury resulted from what might be considered a reasonable exercise of discipline for the child’s misbehavior.
B. After investigation, the local child protection unit shall make one of the following determinations:
(1) The child appears to be a child in need of care and his immediate removal is necessary for his protection from further abuse or neglect, in which case, whenever such extraordinary justification arises, it shall apply for an instanter removal order to place the child in the custody of a suitable relative or other suitable individual capable of protecting the health and safety of the child or the state authorized under Articles 619 and 620 and shall notify the district attorney as soon as possible.
(2) The report appears to be justified, in that there is evidence of child abuse, or neglect, and a protective order or instanter safety plan order would eliminate the need for removal of the child in order to protect him from further abuse, in which case it may apply for a temporary restraining order or protective order authorized by Article 617 and Article 618, or an instanter safety plan order authorized by Article 619 or Article 620.
(3) The report appears to be justified, in that there is evidence of child abuse or neglect, in which case it shall report all pertinent information to the district attorney, as soon as possible but in no case more than thirty days after such determination, for evaluation of whether a child in need of care petition should be filed in the court with juvenile jurisdiction.
(4) The report is inconclusive, in that the evidence tends to support a finding of abuse or neglect, but there is not enough information to confirm a justified report.
(5) The report does not appear justified as the evidence does not support a finding of child abuse or neglect.
(6) The investigation indicates the report appears to be false and that the reporter knowingly made a false report in which case all pertinent information shall be forwarded to the district attorney for a determination of whether the evidence supports a finding of a false public report.
C. In addition to investigation or assessment of reports, or both, the local child protection family services unit may offer available information, referrals, or services to the family when there appears to be some need for medical, mental health, social, basic support, supervision, or other services. Assignments for case response and allocation of resources shall be made in the order of children at greatest risk of harm to the lowest risk of harm. The individualized intervention strategies based on this risk assessment may include concurrent planning.
D. Violation of the duties imposed by this Article subjects the offender to criminal prosecution authorized by R.S. 14:403(A)(2).
E. When after the investigation of a report, the determination is made that the report is inconclusive or not justified, as provided in Subparagraphs (B)(4) and (5) of this Article, the files, records, and pertinent information regarding the report and investigation shall be strictly confidential, shall not become part of the central registry except as otherwise provided in Subparagraph (1) of this Paragraph or in Article 616(F), shall not be disclosed or ordered to be produced in conjunction with any legal proceeding or other matter, and shall be maintained only for the following purposes:
(1) The files, records, and information shall remain unsealed and shall be maintained for the exclusive use of child protective services, to assist in future risk and safety assessments. The Department of Children and Family Services shall maintain all files and records for seven years from the date of the determination, unless a subsequent inconclusive or not justified report is received during that period. In that case, information from all such reports will be maintained until the youngest child in the alleged victim’s family attains the age of eighteen years or seven years from the date of the latest determination, whichever is longer. If information from an inconclusive or not justified report is used as a part of the basis for a later, related, and justified report, the earlier report shall become part of the file of the justified report and shall cease to be a separate report.
(2) All files, records, and information shall be admissible in any civil litigation or criminal proceeding against the Department of Children and Family Services or its employees wherein work performance or conduct is at issue. They shall remain confidential and be placed under seal by the court to prevent disclosure to the public. The department shall maintain the files, records and information during the pendency of the litigation or prosecution.
(3) All files, records, and information regarding a report that has been determined to be inconclusive may be released to law enforcement investigators in the course of investigations of crimes involving acts against children in order to assist in the proper evaluation of current reports of abuse which may include a pattern of incidents. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, these files, records, and information shall remain confidential and shall not be subject to disclosure pursuant to R.S. 44:1 et seq. If a court determines that the files, records, and information are admissible in criminal proceedings involving acts against children, those files, records, and information shall be placed under seal by the court to prevent disclosure to the public.
F. The department shall promulgate rules to provide for the disposition, handling, maintenance, and storage of inconclusive and not justified reports in keeping with this Article.
Added by Acts 1991, No. 235, § 6, eff. Jan. 1, 1992. Amended by Acts 1993, No. 505, § 1; Acts 1995, No. 444, § 1, eff. June 17, 1995; Acts 1995, No. 625, § 1, eff. June 19, 1995; Acts 1999, No. 449, § 1, eff. July 1, 1999; Acts 1999, No. 593, § 1; Acts 2003, No. 567, § 1; Acts 2004, No. 457, § 1, eff. June 24, 2004; Acts 2005, No. 148, § 1; Acts 2006, No. 394, § 1; Acts 2006, No. 580, § 1, eff. June 23, 2006; Acts 2014, No. 486, § 1.