Manitoba

Manitoba Family Services

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Volume 1:
Agency Standards
Chapter 3:
Child Protection
Section 4:
Provincial Child Abuse Investigations
Approved:
2009/01/21
Last revised:
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Provincial Child Abuse Investigations

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This manual section pertains to child abuse investigations conducted by the Director of Child and Family Services (Child Protection Branch). It explains the policies and procedures followed by the branch and the responsibilities of child and family services agencies and their mandating authorities in these situations.

Legislation
Policy
Standards


Legislation

Child and family services agencies are required under section 18.6 of The Child and Family Services Act to immediately report to Child Protection Branch alleged abuse by a person who provides work for or services to an agency or to a child care facility or other place where a child has been placed by the agency. The director must investigate the matter and take such further steps as required by the Act, prescribed by regulation, or as the director considers necessary.

Section 1 of the Act defines a child care facility as foster home, group home, treatment centre or any other place designated in the regulations as a child care facility. Section 2 of the Child Care Facilities (Other than Foster Homes) Licensing Regulation lists the facilities to which the regulation applies.

Policy

Mandatory Provincial Child Abuse Investigations
Discretionary Provincial Child Abuse Investigations
Reporting Agency
Reporting to the Child Protection Branch
Foster Homes and Family Residences
Intervention Options
Child Protection Records
Personnel Records
Findings and Conclusions

Mandatory Provincial Child Abuse Investigations

Child abuse investigations conducted by the Child Protection Branch under section 18.6 of The Child and Family Service Act are in addition to investigations conducted by agencies. Section 18.6 does not replace an agency’s duty under section 18.4 to conduct a child protection investigation and to intervene to protect a child. The intent of section 18.6 is to minimize any conflict of interest to agency persons conducting an investigation.

Provincial investigations include but are not limited to employees, board members and volunteers. Employees include regular field staff, supervisors, managers, homemakers, parent aides, child support workers, service-purchase staff, or any person that works for an agency or facility as defined in the Act.

While section 18.6 includes any place an agency places a child, the branch gives priority to situations considered to have a high conflict of interest or requiring a large-scale investigation due to multiple potential victims. For other persons such as a foster or place-of-safety parent.

While section 18.6 includes any place an agency places a child, the branch gives priority to situations considered to have a high conflict of interest or requiring a large-scale investigation due to multiple potential victims. For other persons such as a foster or place-of-safety parent, the branch may rely on a report from an investigating agency unless there is a perceived or real conflict of interest, or there are concerns about the way the investigation was handled. However, the branch investigates all cases involving alleged abuse by a foster or place-of-safety parent who is also an employee of an agency or child care facility. This policy is covered in more detail under Foster Homes and Family Residences in this section.

Discretionary Provincial Child Abuse Investigations

Discretionary provincial child abuse investigations are in addition to mandatory investigations referred to earlier in this section. The Director of Child and Family Services (Child Protection Branch) has discretionary powers under subsection 4(2) of The Child and Family Services Act to conduct enquiries and carry out investigations with respect to the welfare of any child dealt with under the Act.

At the request of a child and family services authority, the Child Protection Branch will investigate alleged abuse by a person who provides work for or services to an authority.

The branch has also agreed to investigate incidents of alleged abuse of a child (youth) while detained or in custody in a youth correctional facility. The branch may refer a case to an agency regarding child protection concerns in the youth’s family. When the youth is also a child in care, the branch will advise the placing or guardian agency, as the case may be, of the allegation and outcome of an investigation.

The branch is also available to provide case consultations and to assist agencies in challenging investigation such as cases involving third-party child sexual exploitation or sexual exploitation networks (see Section 1.3.5, Child Sexual Exploitation).

Reporting Agency

Section 18.6 was added to The Child and Family Services Act when agency jurisdiction was based on geographical areas. With the coming into force of The Child and Family Services Authorities Act, many agencies now have jurisdiction throughout the province.

Table 1 provides direction as to which agency is responsible for reporting the alleged abuse under section 18.6 to the Child Protection Branch.

Table 1: Reporting agency

Suspected Abuser

Reporting Agency

Related Manual Sections

Foster parent

Licensing agency and, when applicable, managing agency (1)

Section 1.5.4, Care Responsibilities (see Incident Reporting)
Volume 2, Facility Standards (see Policies and Procedures under Part 3)

Place-of-safety parent

Placing agency

Section 1.4.2, Places of Safety (see Family Residences)

Agency employee or contractor

Employing or contracting agency

Section 1.4.2, Place of Safety (see Apartments and Houses)
Section 1.4.3, Use of Hotels

Group home or treatment centre employee or contractor

Placing agency and child care facility (2)

Volume 2, Facility Standards (see Policies and Procedures under Part 3)

  1. When the alleged abuse occurs in a foster home managed by a group home or treatment centre, the facility must report the incident to the Child Protection Branch as well as the licensing agency. The licensing agency, however, has the statutory duty to ensure the matter is reported to the branch.
  2. When the alleged abuser works for or provides services to a group home or treatment centre, the placing agency may rely on the facility to report the details to the Child Protection Branch. The placing agency, however, has the statutory duty to ensure the matter is reported to the branch.

Reporting to the Child Protection Branch

The Child Protection Branch has established procedures and forms for reporting suspected child abuse that falls under section 18.6 of The Child and Family Services Act. They apply to child and family services agencies and to child care facilities other than foster homes. Reporting is mandatory for agencies under the Act and for facilities under section 34 of the Child Care Facilities (Other than Foster Homes) Licensing Regulation.

Agency reporting involves the following steps:

  1. The reporting agency contacts the provincial child abuse investigation unit (PCAI) at the branch within one working day of receiving information of suspected child abuse. This is done calling the receptionist at (204) 945-6964 and asking to speak to a provincial investigation specialist, or by sending a fax to PCAI at (204) 945-6717. Preliminary information about the incident or situation must include:
    • name of the person suspected of abusing a child
    • where the person works or provides services including a foster parent or place-of-safety provider
    • name and age or birth date of the child if known
    • legal status of the child (for example, living at home, in care, voluntary placement, order of guardianship)
    • where and when the alleged abuse occurred
  2. The reporting agency completes the provincial child abuse investigation reporting form and submits it to PCAI within five working days of receiving information of the suspected abuse. Form PCAI is available through the Child and Family Services Information System or the branch. The report may be sent by email to the provincial investigation specialist assigned to the case, if known, or by fax to PCAI at (204) 945-6717.

Child care facilities are required to report an incident involving suspected abuse of a resident to the Child Protection Branch and the child’s placing agency. They must provide preliminary information to a licensing specialist at the branch and the child’s case manager within one working day of receiving the information. They are also required to submit an incident report on the departmental incident reporting form to a licensing specialist within five working days of receiving the information of suspected abuse. A copy of the incident report is then given to a provincial investigation specialist.

Foster Homes and Family Residences

As noted under Mandatory Provincial Child Abuse Investigations in this section, the Child Protection Branch generally relies on agencies to report the results of their investigations of alleged abuse of a child in a foster home or family residences used as a place of safety. The branch investigates all cases involving alleged abuse by a foster or place-of-safety home operated by an employee of an agency or child care facility.

Unless an alternative arrangement has been agreed to by the branch and the four authorities for a specific geographical area, the agency that has licensed a foster home or approved a family residence as a place of safety has the primary responsibility for:

    • ensuring the safety and well-being of all children in the home (see Contact with Children in Section 1.1.0, Introduction to Case Management),
    • addressing potential or actual conflict-of-interest issues,
    • coordinating a child protection investigation (see Child Protection Investigations in Section 1.1.2, Assessment),
    • collaborating with other agencies involved to determine the best course of action for children placed in the home,
    • providing supportive services to the foster or place-of-safety family when indicated to mitigate damaging effects on all members of the household,
    • reporting detailed results of the investigation to the provincial child abuse investigation unit (PCAI), and
    • bringing the case to closure in a timely fashion.

When a perceived or actual conflict of interest cannot be effectively addressed, investigating agency must consider alternative ways to conduct the investigation. Options include requesting:

    • another agency to conduct the investigation as a courtesy,
    • the agency’s mandating authority to assign another agency or to request assistance from another authority, or
    • the assistance of the provincial child abuse investigation.

Intervention Options

In responding to alleged child abuse in a foster home or family residence, intervening agencies have a dual responsibility to ensure the safety of all children in the home and to minimize the trauma for them and the foster or place-of-safety family. Intervention options include but are not limited to:

    • the person identified as the alleged abuser removing himself or herself from the home
    • the provision of a twenty-four hour support worker
    • the removal of the abused child
    • removal of all children placed in the home by an agency

When a decision is made to remove a child from a foster home and the police request no discussion of the allegation take place until they interview an alleged offender, information shared with foster parents should be limited to a general statement that the agency believes the child to be in need of protection. This practice is consistent with the intent of section 51 of The Child and Family Services Act. This practice is also recommended for the removal of children from a place-of-safety home.

If a decision to remove a child or the interview process prevents the child form arriving home at the usual time, foster or place-of-safety parents should be informed the child will not be home prior to that time. 

Child Protection Records

The provincial child investigation unit creates a child protection on the Child and Family Services Information System (CFSIS) for all investigations conducted by the unit (see Case Categories in Section 1.7.1, Service Records).  The provincial case pertains to investigating whether a person has abused a child and is separate to a child protection case opened by the agency that licensed or approved the home (see Foster Homes and Family Residences in this section). In the event another agency investigates the alleged abuse for the licensing or approving agency, the investigating agency is attached to the child protection case as an auxiliary agency.

The above-noted policy safeguards confidentiality requirements and provides data regarding workload and case counts for the unit. Provincial cases are closed on completion of the investigation and any follow-up that is required.

As noted under Mandatory Provincial Child Abuse Investigations in this section, provincial investigations are in addition to agency investigations. An intervening agency must also open a child protection case using the provincial automated intake module explained in Section 1.1.1, Intake. The focus of the agency investigation is on child protection.

When an incident of alleged abuse pertains to a foster home or family residence (see Foster Homes and Family Residences in this section), the provincial unit will not open a child protection case unless it undertakes an investigation because the alleged abuser is also an employee of an agency or child care facility, or there are issues relating to conflict of interest that require provincial involvement.

Personnel Records

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) applies to personnel records of provincial government departments and to external agencies designated as government agencies in Schedule B of the Access and Privacy Regulation

Agency and authority personnel records are generally subject to FIPPA. However, section 86.1 states that provisions in The Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) prevail in the event of a conflict between the two statutes. To avoid conflict between access provisions under Division 2 of FIPPA and confidentiality provisions under subsection 76(3) of The Child and Family Services Act (CFSA), information concerning a child protection investigation placed on a personnel file should be identified and some caution clearly noted to indicate the information is subject to CFSA confidentiality provisions.

Findings and Conclusions

In compliance with subsection 76(3) of The Child and Family Services Act and the Child Abuse Regulation, the provincial child abuse investigation unit (PCAI) limits the sharing of detailed information regarding a child abuse investigation to child and family services agencies and police units directly involved in a case. The branch may also share details with a child care facility involved such as group home or treatment centre when necessary for the protection of other residents in the facility.

Consistent with clauses 18.4(2) and (3) of the Act, the branch may report the conclusions of its investigation to other parties involved or may rely on the intervening agency to do so. As a matter of policy, PCAI sends a letter summarizing the findings and conclusions to the alleged abuser and, when applicable, to the person’s employer. For children not in care of an agency, PCAI may contact the child’s parents to explain the results.

Standards

    1. Reporting to Provincial Child Abuse Investigation Unit – Pursuant to section 18.6 of The Child and Family Services Act, all incidents of alleged abuse by a person who provides work for or services to the agency or to a child care facility or other place where a child has been placed by an agency, are reported to the Child Protection Branch (Director of Child and Family Services) in accordance with provincial reporting requirements (see Reporting to the Child Protection Branch in this section).
    2. Agency Child Protection Records – On receiving information that a child is or might be in need of protection in a foster home or family residence used as a place of safety, the child and family services agency that licensed or approved the home opens a child protection record in accordance with the child protection records policy statement in this section.
    3. Agency and Facility Personnel Records – On receiving information on the results of a child abuse investigation conducted by the Child Protection Branch (see Findings and Conclusions in this section), a child and family services agency or child care facility, as the case may be, ensures a notation is made in an employee’s personnel file or volunteer’s file as to the results of the investigation and any disciplinary action taken.

     

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