28-713. Reports of child abuse or neglect; law enforcement agency; department; duties; rules and regulations.

(1) Unless an intake is assigned to alternative response, upon the receipt of a call reporting child abuse and neglect as required by section 28-711:

(a) It is the duty of the law enforcement agency to investigate the report, to take immediate steps to protect the child, and to institute legal proceedings if appropriate. In situations of alleged out-of-home child abuse or neglect if the person or persons to be notified have not already been notified and the person to be notified is not the subject of the report of child abuse or neglect, the law enforcement agency shall immediately notify the person or persons having custody of each child who has allegedly been abused or neglected that such report of alleged child abuse or neglect has been made and shall provide such person or persons with information of the nature of the alleged child abuse or neglect. The law enforcement agency may request assistance from the department during the investigation and shall, by the next working day, notify either the hotline or the department of receipt of the report, including whether or not an investigation is being undertaken by the law enforcement agency. A copy of all reports, whether or not an investigation is being undertaken, shall be provided to the department;

(b) In situations of alleged out-of-home child abuse or neglect if the person or persons to be notified have not already been notified and the person to be notified is not the subject of the report of child abuse or neglect, the department shall immediately notify the person or persons having custody of each child who has allegedly been abused or neglected that such report of alleged child abuse or neglect has been made and shall provide such person or persons with information of the nature of the alleged child abuse or neglect and any other information that the department deems necessary. The department shall investigate for the purpose of assessing each report of child abuse or neglect to determine the risk of harm to the child involved. The department shall also provide such social services as are necessary and appropriate under the circumstances to protect and assist the child and to preserve the family;

(c) The department may make a request for further assistance from the appropriate law enforcement agency or take such legal action as may be appropriate under the circumstances;

(d) The department shall, by the next working day after receiving a report of child abuse or neglect under this subsection of this section, make a written report or a summary on forms provided by the department to the proper law enforcement agency in the county and enter in the tracking system of child protection cases maintained pursuant to section 28-715 all reports of child abuse or neglect opened for investigation and any action taken; and

(e) The department shall, upon request, make available to the appropriate investigating law enforcement agency and the county attorney a copy of all reports relative to a case of suspected child abuse or neglect.

(2)(a) In addition to the responsibilities under subsection (1) of this section, upon the receipt of any report that a child is a reported or suspected victim of sex trafficking of a minor or labor trafficking of a minor as defined in section 28-830 and without regard to the subject of the report, the department shall:

(i) Assign the case to staff for an in-person investigation. The department shall assign a report for investigation regardless of whether or not the subject of the report is a member of the child's household or family or whether the subject is known or unknown, including cases of out-of-home child abuse and neglect;

(ii) Conduct an in-person investigation and appropriately coordinate with law enforcement agencies, the local child advocacy center, and the child abuse and neglect investigation team under section 28-729;

(iii) Use specialized screening and assessment instruments to identify whether the child is a victim of sex trafficking of a minor or labor trafficking of a minor or at high risk of becoming such a victim and determine the needs of the child and family to prevent or respond to abuse, neglect, and exploitation. On or before December 1, 2019, the department shall develop and adopt these instruments in consultation with knowledgeable organizations and individuals, including representatives of child advocacy centers, behavioral health providers, child welfare and juvenile justice service providers, law enforcement representatives, and prosecutors; and

(iv) Provide for or refer and connect the child and family to services deemed appropriate by the department in the least restrictive environment, or provide for safe and appropriate placement, medical services, mental health care, or other needs as determined by the department based upon the department's assessment of the safety, risk, and needs of the child and family to respond to or prevent abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

(b) On or before July 1, 2020, the department shall adopt rules and regulations on the process of investigation, screening, and assessment of reports of child abuse or neglect and the criteria for opening an ongoing case upon allegations of sex trafficking of a minor or labor trafficking of a minor.

(3) When a preponderance of the evidence indicates that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect as a result of being a trafficking victim as defined in section 28-830, the department shall identify the child as a victim of trafficking, regardless of whether the subject of the report is a member of the child's household or family or whether the subject is known or unknown. The child shall be included in the department's data and reporting on the numbers of child victims of abuse, neglect, and trafficking.

Source:Laws 1977, LB 38, § 152; Laws 1979, LB 505, § 4; Laws 1982, LB 522, § 5; Laws 1988, LB 463, § 45; Laws 1992, LB 1184, § 10; Laws 1996, LB 1044, § 72; Laws 1997, LB 119, § 2; Laws 1997, LB 307, § 13; Laws 2005, LB 116, § 3; Laws 2007, LB296, § 37; Laws 2014, LB853, § 5; Laws 2019, LB519, § 11.
Effective Date: September 1, 2019