A. The director shall establish the office of child welfare investigations within the department. The director is responsible for the direction, operation and control of the office.
B. The duties of the office include investigating criminal conduct allegations, coordinating with other parts of the department and law enforcement, establishing task forces for the investigation of criminal conduct and other duties as may be assigned by the director.
C. The office shall employ child welfare investigators who have received training to understand law enforcement’s role in cases of criminal child abuse or neglect and in social services offered by the department. The office may employ research analysts and peace officers for the purpose of obtaining an originating agency identification number to have direct access to criminal history report information. Each person hired by the office is an employee of the department, is subject to title 41, chapter 4, article 4 and shall comply with the fingerprint requirements of section 8-802.
D. The department, in coordination with the Arizona peace officer standards and training board, shall provide child welfare investigators with training. The training shall be, at a minimum, in the following areas:
1. First responder training on responding to reports of child abuse.
2. Forensic interviewing and processes.
3. Child physical and sexual abuse investigation.
4. The protocols established pursuant to section 8-817.
5. Relevant law enforcement procedures, including the collection and preservation of evidence.
6. A child’s constitutional rights as a victim of a crime pursuant to article II, section 2.1, Constitution of Arizona.
7. Impact and intervention practices related to adverse childhood experiences, culturally and linguistically appropriate service delivery, domestic violence, family engagement, communication with special populations and trauma informed responses.
8. Any other training as directed by the director.
E. A child welfare investigator shall:
1. Protect children.
2. Assess, respond to or investigate all criminal conduct allegations, which shall be a priority, but not otherwise exercise the authority of a peace officer.
3. Not interview a child without the prior written consent of the parent, guardian or custodian of the child unless either:
(a) The child initiates contact with the investigator.
(b) The child who is interviewed is the subject of, is the sibling of or is living with the child who is the subject of an abuse or abandonment investigation pursuant to paragraph 4, subdivision (b) of this subsection.
(c) The interview is conducted pursuant to the terms of the protocols established pursuant to section 8-817.
4. After the receipt of any report or information pursuant to paragraph 2 of this subsection, immediately do both of the following:
(a) Notify the appropriate municipal or county law enforcement agency if they have not already been notified.
(b) Make a prompt and thorough investigation of the nature, extent and cause of any condition that would tend to support or refute the report of child abuse or neglect when investigating allegations pursuant to paragraph 2 of this subsection. A criminal conduct allegation shall be investigated with the appropriate municipal or county law enforcement agency according to the protocols established pursuant to section 8-817.
5. Take a child into temporary custody as provided in section 8-821. Law enforcement officers shall cooperate with the department to remove a child from the custody of the child’s parents, guardian or custodian pursuant to section 8-821. A child welfare investigator who is responding to or investigating a report containing a criminal conduct allegation shall have the primary responsibility for making the decision whether to take a child into temporary custody.
6. Evaluate conditions created by the parents, guardian or custodian that would support or refute the allegation that the child should be adjudicated dependent. The investigator shall then determine whether any child is in need of child safety services.
7. Identify, promptly obtain and abide by court orders that restrict or deny custody, visitation or contact by a parent or other person in the home with the child and notify appropriate personnel within the department to preclude violations of a court order in the provision of any services.
8. On initial contact with the parent, guardian or custodian of a child who is the subject of an investigation pursuant to this section, provide the parent, guardian or custodian with the allegation received by the department. This paragraph does not require the department to disclose details or information that would compromise an ongoing criminal investigation.
9. Have access to all records and information of the department necessary to carry out this section.
F. Unless a dependency petition is filed, a child shall not remain in temporary custody for a period exceeding seventy-two hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. If a petition is not filed, the child shall be released to the child’s parent, guardian or custodian.
G. In conducting an investigation pursuant to this section, if the investigator is made aware that an allegation of abuse or neglect may also have been made in another state, the investigator shall contact the appropriate agency in that state to attempt to determine the outcome of any investigation of that allegation.
H. The office of child welfare investigations shall submit a report by August 15 each year to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate and the secretary of state that includes the following information for the most recently completed fiscal year:
1. The number of DCS reports that involve criminal conduct allegations.
2. The number of joint investigations conducted pursuant to section 8-817.
3. For each case in which a joint investigation did not occur pursuant to section 8-817, the reasons why the joint investigation did not occur.
I. All records gathered or created by the department during an investigation conducted under this section are confidential and shall be protected and released as prescribed in sections 8-807 and 8-807.01, except the department shall not release records if the department determines that the release of these records may compromise an ongoing investigation.
J. Notwithstanding any other law, the office of child welfare investigations is not responsible for conducting the criminal investigation of a criminal conduct allegation.