28-728. Legislative findings and intent; child abuse and neglect investigation team; child advocacy center; child abuse and neglect treatment team; powers and duties.

(1) The Legislature finds that child abuse and neglect are community problems requiring a coordinated response by law enforcement, child advocacy centers, prosecutors, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies or entities designed to protect children. It is the intent of the Legislature to create a child abuse and neglect investigation team in each county or contiguous group of counties and to create a child abuse and neglect treatment team in each county or contiguous group of counties.

(2) Each county or contiguous group of counties will be assigned by the Department of Health and Human Services to a child advocacy center. The purpose of a child advocacy center is to provide a child-focused location for conducting forensic interviews and medical evaluations for alleged child victims of abuse and neglect and for coordinating a multidisciplinary team response that supports the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of children who are alleged victims of abuse or neglect. Each child advocacy center shall meet accreditation criteria set forth by the National Children's Alliance. Nothing in this section shall prevent a child from receiving treatment or other services at a child advocacy center which has received or is in the process of receiving accreditation.

(3) Each county attorney or the county attorney representing a contiguous group of counties is responsible for convening the child abuse and neglect investigation team and ensuring that protocols are established and implemented. A representative of the child advocacy center assigned to the team shall assist the county attorney in facilitating case review, developing and updating protocols, and arranging training opportunities for the team. Each team must have protocols which, at a minimum, shall include procedures for:

(a) Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect as outlined in section 28-711 to include training to professionals on identification and reporting of abuse;

(b) Assigning roles and responsibilities between law enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services for the initial response;

(c) Outlining how reports will be shared between law enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services under sections 28-712.01 and 28-713;

(d) Coordinating the investigative response including, but not limited to:

(i) Defining cases that require a priority response;

(ii) Contacting the reporting party;

(iii) Arranging for a video-recorded forensic interview at a child advocacy center for children who are three to eighteen years of age and are alleged to be victims of sexual abuse or serious physical abuse or neglect, have witnessed a violent crime, are found in a drug-endangered environment, or have been recovered from a kidnapping;

(iv) Assessing the need for and arranging, when indicated, a medical evaluation of the alleged child victim;

(v) Assessing the need for and arranging, when indicated, appropriate mental health services for the alleged child victim or nonoffender caregiver;

(vi) Conducting collateral interviews with other persons with information pertinent to the investigation including other potential victims;

(vii) Collecting, processing, and preserving physical evidence including photographing the crime scene as well as any physical injuries as a result of the alleged child abuse and neglect; and

(viii) Interviewing the alleged perpetrator;

(e) Reducing the risk of harm to alleged child abuse and neglect victims;

(f) Ensuring that the child is in safe surroundings, including removing the perpetrator when necessary or arranging for temporary custody of the child when the child is seriously endangered in his or her surroundings and immediate removal appears to be necessary for the child's protection as provided in section 43-248;

(g) Sharing of case information between team members; and

(h) Outlining what cases will be reviewed by the investigation team including, but not limited to:

(i) Cases of sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and neglect, drug-endangered children, and serious or ongoing domestic violence;

(ii) Cases determined by the Department of Health and Human Services to be high or very high risk for further maltreatment; and

(iii) Any other case referred by a member of the team when a system-response issue has been identified.

(4) Each county attorney or the county attorney representing a contiguous group of counties is responsible for convening the child abuse and neglect treatment team and ensuring that protocols are established and implemented. A representative of the child advocacy center appointed to the team shall assist the county attorney in facilitating case review, developing and updating protocols, and arranging training opportunities for the team. Each team must have protocols which, at a minimum, shall include procedures for:

(a) Case coordination and assistance, including the location of services available within the area;

(b) Case staffings and the coordination, development, implementation, and monitoring of treatment or safety plans particularly in those cases in which ongoing services are provided by the Department of Health and Human Services or a contracted agency but the juvenile court is not involved;

(c) Reducing the risk of harm to child abuse and neglect victims;

(d) Assisting those child abuse and neglect victims who are abused and neglected by perpetrators who do not reside in their homes; and

(e) Working with multiproblem status offenders and delinquent youth.

(5) For purposes of this section, forensic interview means a video-recorded interview of an alleged child victim conducted at a child advocacy center by a professional with specialized training designed to elicit details about alleged incidents of abuse or neglect, and such interview may result in intervention in criminal or juvenile court.

Source:Laws 1992, LB 1184, § 1; Laws 1996, LB 1044, § 73; Laws 1999, LB 594, § 6; Laws 2006, LB 1113, § 24; Laws 2007, LB296, § 40; Laws 2012, LB993, § 1; Laws 2014, LB853, § 17.