28-712.01. Reports of child abuse or neglect; alternative response assigned; criteria; Review, Evaluate, and Decide Team; duties; department; duties; Inspector General's review.

(1)(a) The department may assign a report for alternative response consistent with the Child Protection and Family Safety Act.

(b) No report involving any of the following shall be assigned to alternative response but shall be immediately forwarded to law enforcement or the county attorney:

(i) Murder in the first or second degree as defined in section 28-303 or 28-304 or manslaughter as defined in section 28-305;

(ii) Assault in the first, second, or third degree or assault by strangulation or suffocation as defined in section 28-308, 28-309, 28-310, or 28-310.01;

(iii) Sexual abuse, including acts prohibited by section 28-319, 28-319.01, 28-320, 28-320.01, 28-320.02, 28-322.01, 28-322.02, 28-322.03, 28-322.04, 28-322.05, 28-703, or 28-707;

(iv) Labor trafficking of a minor or sex trafficking of a minor as defined in section 28-830;

(v) Neglect of a minor child that results in serious bodily injury as defined in section 28-109, requires hospitalization of the child, or results in an injury to the child that requires ongoing medical care, behavioral health care, or physical or occupational therapy, including a growth delay, which may be referred to as failure to thrive, that has been diagnosed by a physician and is due to parental neglect;

(vi) Physical abuse to the head or torso of a child or physical abuse that results in bodily injury;

(vii) An allegation that requires a forensic interview at a child advocacy center or coordination with the child abuse and neglect investigation team pursuant to section 28-728;

(viii) Out-of-home child abuse or neglect;

(ix) An allegation being investigated by a law enforcement agency at the time of the assignment;

(x) A history of termination of parental rights;

(xi) Absence of a caretaker without having given an alternate caregiver authority to make decisions and grant consents for necessary care, treatment, and education of a child or without having made provision to be contacted to make such decisions or grant such consents;

(xii) Domestic violence involving a caretaker in situations in which the alleged perpetrator has access to the child or caretaker;

(xiii) A household member illegally manufactures methamphetamine or opioids;

(xiv) A child has had contact with methamphetamine or other nonprescribed opioids, including a positive drug screening or test; or

(xv) For a report involving an infant, a household member tests positive for methamphetamine or nonprescribed opioids at the birth of such infant.

(c) The department may adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to (i) provide additional ineligibility criteria for assignment to alternative response and (ii) establish additional criteria requiring review by the Review, Evaluate, and Decide Team.

(d) A report that includes any of the following may be eligible for alternative response but shall first be reviewed by the Review, Evaluate, and Decide Team prior to assignment to alternative response:

(i) Domestic assault as defined in section 28-323 or domestic violence in the family home;

(ii) Use of alcohol or controlled substances as defined in section 28-401 or 28-405 by a caregiver that impairs the caregiver's ability to care and provide safety for the child; or

(iii) A family member residing in the home or a caregiver that has been the subject of a report accepted for traditional response or assigned to alternative response in the past six months.

(2) The Review, Evaluate, and Decide Team shall convene to review reports pursuant to the department's rules, regulations, and policies, to evaluate the information, and to determine assignment for alternative response or traditional response. The team shall utilize consistent criteria to review the severity of the allegation of child abuse or neglect, access to the perpetrator, vulnerability of the child, family history including previous reports, parental cooperation, parental or caretaker protective factors, and other information as deemed necessary. At the conclusion of the review, the report shall be assigned to either traditional response or alternative response. Decisions of the team shall be made by consensus. If the team cannot come to consensus, the report shall be assigned for a traditional response.

(3) In the case of an alternative response, the department shall complete a comprehensive assessment. The department shall transfer the case being given alternative response to traditional response if the department determines that a child is unsafe or if the concern for the safety of the child is due to a temporary living arrangement. Upon completion of the comprehensive assessment, if it is determined that the child is safe, participation in services offered to the family receiving an alternative response is voluntary, the case shall not be transferred to traditional response based upon the family's failure to enroll or participate in such services, and the subject of the report shall not be entered into the central registry of child protection cases maintained pursuant to section 28-718.

(4) The department shall, by the next working day after receipt of a report of child abuse or neglect, enter into the tracking system of child protection cases maintained pursuant to section 28-715 all reports of child abuse or neglect received under this section that are opened for alternative response and any action taken.

(5) The department shall make available to the appropriate investigating law enforcement agency, child advocacy center, and county attorney a copy of all reports relative to a case of suspected child abuse or neglect. Aggregate, nonidentifying data regarding reports of child abuse or neglect receiving an alternative response shall be made available quarterly to requesting agencies outside the department. Such alternative response data shall include, but not be limited to, the nature of the initial child abuse or neglect report, the age of the child or children, the nature of services offered, the location of the cases, the number of cases per month, and the number of alternative response cases that were transferred to traditional response. Other than the office of Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare, the Public Counsel, law enforcement agency personnel, child advocacy center employees, and county attorneys, no other agency or individual shall be provided specific, identifying reports of child abuse or neglect being given alternative response. The office of Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare shall have access to all reports relative to cases of suspected child abuse or neglect subject to traditional response and those subject to alternative response. The department and the office shall develop procedures allowing for the Inspector General's review of cases subject to alternative response. The Inspector General shall include in the report pursuant to section 43-4331 a summary of all cases reviewed pursuant to this subsection.

Source:Laws 2014, LB853, § 4; Laws 2017, LB225, § 2; Laws 2020, LB1061, § 4.