CPS/Child Abuse Protocol

  1. Do you have a set protocol at your school?

    Background: Yesterday a counselor brought a 9th grade student to my office who had been attacked by her father the night before. police had been called, she filed a police report but apparently they left her with him because he drove her to school.

    She had told a teacher, who brought her to the counselor, who then brought her to me to assess. She had no visible injuries. I asked the counselor who was reporting this to CPS (teacher, him, or me) - so that there weren't duplicate reports. He said he was going to let the grade-level principal know but I didn't have to do it, he would. He left with the student.

    A few minutes later, grade level principal comes in, somewhat flustered, asking where student is. I say she left with counselor, and I think she was going back to class. He asked why she wasn't in my office anymore (because the counselor took her...) and why I didn't take photos of the injuries (there were no injuries to take photos of, plus I am uncomfortable taking photos of students on my personal cell phone). He later went to the medical director and said he was unsure the health office understood they were mandated reporters and we shouldn't have let the student leave. Medical director (who is an NP and also one of my best friends at work) discussed with me and she also clarified with him what happened after speaking to me. He was more calm and seemed to understand better.

    Questions: Who calls in and fills out the CPS report in your school? It is my understanding duplicate reports don't need to be made (so the teacher, counselor, nurse, principal don't all need to call it in, just 1 of us).
    What do you do with the student? Do you hold them in your office, another office? Call police?

    We have a meeting on Monday to create procedures. Principal also asked for any "resources" we have that will assist in drawing up the plan.
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  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   ruby_jane
    Wow. Well - I am not sure in the event of domestic violence whether the father should/would have been allowed to remain in the home. There's probably a piece I'm missing but in Texas, a call stating someone hit someone else means that the hitter usually has to leave the premises.

    In my state the person to whom the outcry is made is the reporter, and that person has 48 business hours to do so. The teacher brought her to you so you would document anything you saw, but the outcry was to the teacher, so s/he should report.

    Regarding taking pictures....we are very lucky to have a SRO who has a camera for that purpose. Be aware that if you take a picture of any part of a student on your personal phone that the phone may be admitted into evidence, and that would mean no phone for you. If the principal desires photo evidence, let them provide you the device.

    Bottom line - what was your gut? The student left with a counselor. Why was that bad? Was there something that needed to be treated? If not...sometimes I will keep kids in the office, but usually the counselor will grab them while we figure out what happens next with CPS.
  4. by   AdobeRN
    In a situation like this I would think it would be the counselors duty to make the report - the counselor was the first to become aware of the situation. while I would make a statement of the injuries - description of the wounds, bruises etc a part of the report - I would not take any pictures - it is not our duty to do the "evidence" taking part of it, that is a police job and the police should be contacted to file a report and document the injuries. The police can be the ones to take the pictures.
  5. by   WineRN
    You did everything the way I have in the past in these situations.

    If there is no large physical harm, there is no reason for the student to remain with you. The student always has gone back to class when I have dealt with these situations.

    At my school, only one person makes the report, we usually do the person who first found out about the abuse as the one who calls. I had one situation last year where I was called to be a part of the phone call after the teacher called it in because the operator wanted to hear the assessment directly from me. I'm also pretty sure the operator asks if a report has already been made as one of their first questions.

    I had one request from DCFS to take pictures of an injury, which I wasn't comfortable with so the counselor did.

    I don't really have any "resources" unfortunately.
  6. by   mslove
    In the past - Teachers have never seemed to report. They always call me or the counselor to "deal with it" basically after the student confides something in them.

    The AP told the medical director she shouldn't have gone back to class because "what if she left our office, texted her dad that we were calling CPS, and he came to the school and signed her out and killed her." I also later found out that CPS, the police, and her dad were in the principals office... at what point they all got there I'm not sure, but I don't think they wanted her crossing paths with her dad.
    1) she left with the counselor 2) she said the dad had told her when he dropped her off at school: have the school call CPS so that I am rid of you (how freaken sad) 3) the police had left her with the dad

    They also brought her to my office a 2nd time to just wait, basically. She sat here for 40 minutes doing nothing (it was her lunch) and another AP went and got a lunch for her in the cafeteria, then brought her back to her office to eat it. Seemed weird to me
  7. by   Farawyn
    Quote from ruby_jane
    Wow. Well - I am not sure in the event of domestic violence whether the father should/would have been allowed to remain in the home. There's probably a piece I'm missing but in Texas, a call stating someone hit someone else means that the hitter usually has to leave the premises.

    In my state the person to whom the outcry is made is the reporter, and that person has 48 business hours to do so. The teacher brought her to you so you would document anything you saw, but the outcry was to the teacher, so s/he should report.

    Regarding taking pictures....we are very lucky to have a SRO who has a camera for that purpose. Be aware that if you take a picture of any part of a student on your personal phone that the phone may be admitted into evidence, and that would mean no phone for you. If the principal desires photo evidence, let them provide you the device.

    Bottom line - what was your gut? The student left with a counselor. Why was that bad? Was there something that needed to be treated? If not...sometimes I will keep kids in the office, but usually the counselor will grab them while we figure out what happens next with CPS.
    Perfect answer, and good point about the phone!
  8. by   aprilmoss
    Either one of the school counselors or I make the report but we make sure all who interviewed the student are listed. We do get the SRO involved, too. I believe you were correct in declining to take the photos with your personal phone. Often these incidents end up either in my office or in the counselors office so which ever one of us has it tends to write the report. One of the APs is also involved by policy.
  9. by   OldDude
    As Ruby_Jane mentioned above, in Texas, the only role the school nurse would have in this incident would be to document the report of injury by the student and assess if immediate medical attention would be necessary. Otherwise that's it. Initial outcry IS the mandated reporter.
  10. by   SullyRN
    I would make sure your school admin knows and puts into policy (even though they should know this) that if the teacher is the first to hear about it, they can come to you for an assessment, but THEY are the one mandated to report. I've had teachers come to me about student injuries and ask me to call CPS. I let them know if they are concerned, they need to call.

    I would never take a picture with my phone, if for some off chance this picture contains a private area, dad could turn it around and press charges and you would be in possession of child pornography. And even if it isn't a private area, taking pictures with your own phone still feels wrong to me.

    Why would she have needed to stay with you? I feel going to the counselor was probably best.

    I can't figure out why the police left her with dad...That is what is most concerning to me.
  11. by   jaderook01
    I'm a former teacher. Teachers (and school administrators) are also mandated reporters (at least in my state). I've called CPS many a time. Technically, the teacher the student told should have called. However, the counselor, or you, or the principal all could have called.
  12. by   Amethya
    I was told to do the reporting if I see the abuse, and also the teacher if she sees it too.
  13. by   OldDude
    Quote from SullyRN
    I can't figure out why the police left her with dad...That is what is most concerning to me.
    Because this is likely not true or information has been misrepresented or omitted in some way. It's all hearsay. I've said before unless you see it with your own eyes or hear it with you own ears, don't accept it as true.
  14. by   grammy1
    Our policy (per CPS), is that the first one the student tells is the one who calls. The teachers think that by sending the student to me they get out of it. Nope, they still have to make the call. I will sit with them and walk them through it, but first person to know makes the call.

    Edited to add, at our start of year nurse's meeting the subject of abuse came up. We were informed that we are NEVER to photograph an abusive injury to a student. We assess and document, but never photograph, that is for the police to do.
    Last edit by grammy1 on Sep 13 : Reason: Edited to add....

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