Nebraska Revised Statute 28-713

Chapter 28

28-713.

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

(1) Unless a report is assigned to alternative response, upon the receipt of a call reporting child abuse and neglect as required by section 28-711, 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 consistent with section 43-247 if the child is seriously endangered in the child's surroundings and immediate removal is necessary for the protection of the child. The law enforcement agency may request assistance from the department during the investigation and shall, by the next working day, notify either the hotline established under section 28-711 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.

(2)(a) When a report is assigned for traditional response, the department shall utilize an evidence-informed and validated tool to assess the safety of the child at the time of the assessment, the risk of future child abuse or neglect, the need for services to protect and assist the child and to preserve the family, and whether the case shall be entered into the central registry pursuant to section 28-720. As part of such investigation, the department may request assistance from the appropriate law enforcement agency or refer the matter to the county attorney to initiate legal proceedings.

(b) If in the course of an investigation the department finds a child is seriously endangered in the child's surroundings and immediate removal is necessary for the protection of the child, the department shall make an immediate request for the county attorney to institute legal proceedings consistent with section 43-247.

(3) When a report contains an allegation of out-of-home child abuse or neglect, a law enforcement agency or the department shall immediately notify each person having custody of each child who has allegedly been abused or neglected that such report has been made unless the person to be notified is the subject of such report. The department or the law enforcement agency shall provide such person with information about the nature of the alleged child abuse or neglect and any other necessary information. 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.

(4) In situations of alleged out-of-home child abuse or neglect, if the subject of the report of child abuse or neglect is a school employee and the child is a student in the school to which such school employee is assigned for work, the department shall immediately notify the Commissioner of Education of receipt of the report, including whether or not an investigation is being undertaken by the law enforcement agency or the department.

(5) The department shall, by the next working day after receiving a report of child abuse or neglect under 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.

(6) 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.

(7)(a) In addition to the responsibilities under subsections (1) through (6) 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.

(8) 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.

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