A. The department shall operate and maintain a centralized intake hotline to protect children by receiving at all times communications concerning suspected abuse or neglect. If a person communicates suspected abuse or neglect to a department employee other than through the hotline, the employee shall refer the person or communication to the hotline.
B. The hotline is the first step in the safety assessment and investigation process and must be operated to:
1. Record communications made concerning suspected abuse or neglect.
2. Immediately take steps necessary to identify and locate prior communications and DCS reports related to the current communication using the department’s data system and the central registry system of this state.
3. Quickly and efficiently provide information to a law enforcement agency or prepare a DCS report as required by this section.
4. Determine the proper initial priority level of investigation based on the report screening assessment and direct the DCS report to the appropriate part of the department based on this determination.
C. If a communication provides a reason to believe that a criminal offense has been committed and the communication does not meet the criteria for a DCS report, the hotline worker shall immediately provide the information to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
D. A hotline worker shall prepare a DCS report if the identity or current location of the child victim, the child’s family or the person suspected of abuse or neglect is known or can be reasonably ascertained and all of the following are alleged:
1. The suspected conduct would constitute abuse or neglect.
2. The suspected victim of the conduct is under eighteen years of age.
3. The suspected victim of the conduct is a resident of or present in this state.
4. The person suspected of committing the abuse or neglect is the parent, guardian or custodian of the victim or an adult member of the victim’s household.
E. Except for criminal conduct allegations, the department is not required to prepare a DCS report if all of the following apply:
1. The suspected conduct occurred more than three years before the communication to the hotline.
2. There is no information or indication that a child is currently being abused or neglected.
F. Investigations of DCS reports shall be conducted as provided in section 8-456 except for investigations containing allegations of criminal conduct, which shall be conducted as provided in section 8-471.
G. The department shall develop and train hotline workers to use uniform risk assessment tools to determine:
1. Whether the suspected conduct constitutes abuse or neglect and the severity of the suspected abuse or neglect.
2. Whether the suspected abuse or neglect involves criminal conduct, even if the communication does not result in the preparation of a DCS report.
3. The appropriate investigative track for referral based on the risk to the child’s safety.
H. A DCS report must include, if available, all of the following:
1. The name, address or contact information for the person making the communication.
2. The name, address and other location or contact information for the parent, guardian or custodian of the child or other adult member of the child’s household who is suspected of committing the abuse or neglect.
3. The name, address and other location or contact information for the child.
4. The nature and extent of the indications of the child’s abuse or neglect, including any indication of physical injury.
5. Any information regarding possible prior abuse or neglect, including reference to any communication or DCS report involving the child, the child’s siblings or the person suspected of committing the abuse or neglect.
I. Information gathered through the hotline must be made available to an employee of the department in order to perform the employee’s duties. The office of child welfare investigations and the inspections bureau must have immediate access to all records of the hotline.
J. A representative of the:
1. Office of child welfare investigations must be embedded in the hotline to carry out the purposes of section 8-471.
2. Inspections bureau must be embedded in the hotline to carry out the purposes of section 8-458.
K. The department shall publicize the availability and the purposes of the centralized intake hotline.
L. For the purposes of this section:
1. “Centralized intake hotline” means the system developed pursuant to this section regardless of the communication methods or technologies used to implement the system.
2. “Criminal offense” means an allegation of conduct against a child by a person other than a parent, guardian or custodian of the child victim or another adult member of the child’s household that, if true, would constitute a felony offense.