IV. C. Intake Screening and Assignment

Effective December 31, 2007

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Intake screening is a process of focused fact gathering from the reporter and gathering other readily available information to determine whether the problem presented is appropriate for a child protective services assessment.


With this policy we commit to making a decision within 24 hours of receiving a CA/N report whether to assign for CPS Assessment, Refer to Contract Agency for Assessment, or Screen Out. This decision may be delayed only by the need for collateral contacts in order to better understand the circumstances the child is in.


With this policy we commit to seeing alleged child abuse/neglect victims within 72 hours of approving the report or sooner – even immediately – if a more rapid response time is indicated by relevant information in the report.


Intake staff will gather facts which may be signs of safety in addition to facts which may be signs of risk or danger.


In its criteria for reports which are appropriate to accept for child protective assessment, this policy clarifies that when serious substance abuse, uncontrolled mental illness, or active domestic violence by parents or caregivers is reported, and there are children under 6 in the household, the risk of maltreatment is high and likely to cause harm to the child even when the facts reported do not contain observed evidence of impact to the child.


This policy requires that a determination be made as soon as possible if this is an Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) case.


This policy also provides categories of referrals appropriate for service and requests which may not be accompanied by a substantive allegation.




Intake Unit:  The D.H.H.S. organizational unit based in the Augusta Central Office operating a 24-hour "hot line" which is responsible for the receipt, screening, and disposition of reports of suspected child abuse and/or neglect.


Intake Unit: is synonymous with:

§Child Protective Intake
§Childrens Emergency Services
§Central Intake Unit
§Adult & Childrens Emergency Services or ACES
§Statewide Intake Unit

Appropriate Report – A report that meets the statutory definition of child abuse and/or neglect and meets the Appropriate to Accept for Assessment Criteria.


Screened Out Report – A report that does not meet the statutory definition of child abuse and/or neglect and does not meet the Appropriate to Accept for Assessment Criteria.



1.        USexual AbuseU

a.Sexual abuse by a parent/caregiver or other adult in the home where there is reason to believe the child will not be protected.
b.Adult sexual offender has access to children in the home.
c.Sexual contact between children residing in the home involving the use of force or coercion, or actions outside the normal range of child sexual explorations and development, and/or involving significant developmental or chronological age differences where there are reasonable grounds to assume parental involvement or failure to take action.
d.Extreme or bizarre sexual behavior exhibited by a young child where there are reasonable grounds to assume parental involvement or failure to take action.
e.Parent/caregivers have subjected child to sexually suggestive remarks, or behaviors, sexual activities, and/or creating a sexualized environment for the purpose of sexual abuse or exploitation.


2.        Physical Abuse

Inflicted, non-accidental physical injury by a parent or caregiver. The injury may have resulted from severe physical discipline or altercation with no intent to cause injury to the child.

a.Death of a child by inflicted injury and there is another child in the home.
b.A major physical injury including but not limited to head injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, and second or third degree burns
c.A pattern of minor physical injuries to external soft tissue (cuts. bruises, welts, first degree burns).
d.Physical punishment or shaking of an infant with or without an apparent injury.
e.Suspicious physical injury to a non-ambulatory child.
f.Abusive behavior to a young/physically vulnerable child likely to cause physical injury such as punching, kicking, throwing, biting, yanking, hair pulling, vigorous shaking
g.Hitting repeatedly with or without an implement, with sufficient force that is likely to cause injury.
h.Physically violent behavior in the presence of a child which places the child at significant risk of physical injury.


3.        Neglect

a.Death of a child due a failure to provide adequate care or supervision with other children in the home.
b.Dangerous housing/shelter where those conditions within the home environment causes or is likely to cause a child to experience a moderate injury, illness, level of deprivation or distress which requires medical attention.
c.Pattern of failure to provide necessary personal care (hygiene), or clothing, to protect the child from injury, illness, or impairment and there is a demonstrated impact to the child.
d.Pattern of failure to provide a level of nutrition that protects a child from illness or malnutrition, and there is a demonstrated impact to the child including (but not limited to) medically diagnosed non-organic failure to thrive.
e.Failure to seek or obtain medical or mental health services when this will likely result in illness, injury, or impairment of a child in the immediate future,  except when treatment is being provided by spiritual means by an accredited practitioner of a recognized religious organization. (Religious exceptions exist in Title 22, ss4010; however, if the factual basis of any exception is not known to the reporter, an assessment may be needed to establish those facts.)
f.Withholding medically indicated treatment from disabled infants with life-threatening conditions.
g.Failure to provide the level of supervision and protection required by a childs age and/or development that protects the child from accidents, injury, illness, exploitation, and victimization when that failure causes or is likely to cause a child to experience a moderate injury, illness, level of deprivation or distress which requires medical attention.
h.Abandoned / "throw away child" in need of shelter.
i.Physical or Sexual abuse by person no longer in the home or who no longer has access to the child but because of questions of whether the parent/caregivers plan is adequate to protect the child, and/or there is significant DHHS history with this family, or a pattern appears in the facts which suggests that the child may be at continued risk of harm, it is necessary to evaluate the parent/caregivers safety plan for its strengths, weaknesses, and support system.
j.Serious substance abuse by a caregiver of a young child that causes or is likely to cause the caregiver to be unable to provide adequate care or supervision to protect the child from harm.
k.Failure to ensure compliance with school attendance requirements under Title 20-A, by a person responsible for the child when the child is at least 7 years of age and has not completed grade 6.


4.        Emotional Maltreatment

a.Severe and chronic attacks on childs development of self and social competence.
b.Patterns of psychologically destructive behavior such as rejecting, terrorizing, shunning, isolating, and corrupting.
c.Parental Substance abuse or mental health issues which are likely to result in serious mental or emotional injury or impairment, which now or in the future is likely to be evidenced by serious mental, behavioral, or personality disorder, including severe anxiety, depression or withdrawal, untoward aggressive behavior, seriously delayed development or similar serious dysfunctional behavior.
d.Pattern of coercive behavior by a caregiver against family or household members (domestic violence) punctuated by episodes of physical violence and psychologically destructive behavior in the presence of a child.
e.Intentional harming of pets/animals with the intent to threaten or intimidate.


5.        Other

High risk of maltreatment to children under six, caused by parent/caregivers serious substance abuse, uncontrolled mental illness, or active domestic violence.


6.        Referrals Appropriate for DHHS for other Assessment or Service Requests

a.Studies requested under the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children.
b.Request from CPS agents in another state on behalf of a child not in that states custody for a Relative/Kinship home review when that state is considering the use of relative resources in Maine.
c.Referrals from the judiciary that may be absent substantive allegations of abuse/neglect but the Judge believes the situation meets the Departments mandate.
d.Self-referrals for placement amidst a family medical or emotional crisis.
e.Self-referrals for placement where there is a high risk of child abuse and neglect by parent or caretaker.
f.Infants born affected by substance abuse or after prenatal exposure to drugs (ss4004-B).
g.Referral from Law Enforcement for Domestic Violence Homicide Emergency Assessment.  The primary purpose of this specialized safety assessment is to find a safe, temporary placement for a child who has lost both parents to a homicide, or one parent to a homicide with the other detained.



1.All calls that relate to suspected child abuse and/or neglect will be immediately routed to the Intake Unit.
2.The Intake Unit will determine if the report is Appropriate.
a.Frequently, information from the reporter will be sufficient to determine that the report is appropriate.

The Intake worker will gather facts from the reporter regarding:

(1)The identity and location of the participants (parents, children, relative resources).
(2)The nature of suspected abuse/neglect & impact on the child.
(3)Signs of Safety, Signs of Danger, and Signs of Risk.
(4)The reporter's actions taken thus far, if any.
(5)Other persons who may have direct knowledge, and how to contact them.
(6)The reporters wishes regarding confidentiality and familys awareness of report.
(7)Any safety concerns, such as guns in the home, aggressive dogs, history of serious violence by a household member, abuse to animals.
(8)The reporters knowledge of substance abuse, mental health problems, animal abuse, and incidents of family violence.
(9)Identify, if possible if this is an ICWA case and if tribal representatives should be contacted.
(10)Identify Language needs, and any cultural/ethnic factors that need to be considered.
b.If the information is not sufficient to determine whether the report is appropriate or should be screened out, the Intake worker may, with supervisor approval, contact at least one professional person, if available, whom the Intake worker believes will have direct knowledge of the child's current condition.
c.The Intake worker will also review previous child welfare history regarding the family and the alleged abuser(s).
d.The Intake worker will use the Appropriate to Accept for Assessment Criteria to determine if a report is appropriate for Child Protective Services.


3.The Intake worker will analyze the information to determine if the report indicates that there is immediate risk of serious harm utilizing Signs of Danger and evaluating the data gathered to determine childs present condition.
4.If it appears that child is in immediate risk of serious harm, Intake worker will contact Intake supervisor (or Standby staff after hours) immediately and the Intake Supervisor will review the report immediately and notify the appropriate district office supervisor.
5.All Appropriate Reports will be completed, and submitted to the supervisor for approval, as soon as possible, prior to the end of the work shift.
6.If a suspected criminal act of abuse is alleged, a referral to the District Attorney will be made.
7.All Screened Out Reports will be completed, and submitted to the supervisor for approval within 24 hours of receipt unless otherwise approved by a supervisor.
8.All Approved Appropriate Reports will be transferred to the District Office without delay in order to allow sufficient time for District Supervisors to make assignment decisions within 24 hours of receipt of the report.



1.District casework supervisors are responsible for making timely assignment decisions.
Emergency reports are reviewed and an assignment decision is made immediately upon receipt.
All Appropriate reports are reviewed and an assignment decision is made within 24 hours of receipt of the report at Intake.
Initial contact with the alleged child victims must occur within 72 hours of  Approval of an Appropriate Report.
Coordination with law enforcement is considered.

2.        The following factors are to be considered when deciding how quickly initial contact with alleged child victims should occur.

The severity of the alleged child abuse and neglect.
The imminence of alleged child abuse and neglect.
Signs of Danger.
The need to develop and implement an effective intervention plan.
The vulnerability of the alleged child victim. Infants and very young children are especially vulnerable.
The alleged absence of protective capacities.
Previous history of agency involvement, including prior interventions.
Coordination with law enforcement is best practice when the situation requires, but should not delay contact if the coordination cannot occur in a timely manner.


REPORT DISPOSITIONS – Informing the Reporter


The Reporter is not entitled to be informed of the disposition of the Report he/she made. All provisions for disclosure of information are under Title 22, Chapter 1071, Subchapter 1, Sub Section 4008


The Reporter may be informed of the decision to Screen Out a Report (Inappropriate).

By mail. Correspondence must not identify the client by name. (See sample text attached)
On the telephone when the Reporters identity is verified by information in the report (Date and Time the report was made and context of the report) but only after calling Reporter back at the telephone number provided in the original report.

The Department does not routinely send out letters on all Screened Out Reports and telephone requests should not be encouraged because of the time involved in reviewing the record and verifying the caller is in fact the person who made the Report.


The Reporter knows of the decision to Assign for Assessment only when a Caseworker contacts the Reporter as part of the Assessment Activity required by the Child Protection Assessment Policy. Requests for disposition on Reports that have a Final Decision of Assigned for Assessment must be directed to the District Office for response from the Assessment Caseworker or their Supervisor.


The Reporter cannot be informed of the decision to refer an Appropriate Report to a Community Intervention Program for Alternative Response. You can explain that Reports accepted as Appropriate for CPS are either assigned to a CPS Caseworker or assigned to the local Community Intervention Program. Community Intervention Programs do not routinely contact Reporters as part of the Assessment Process. Community Intervention Programs may have additional Confidentiality Rules that prevent sharing information regarding their services.


Other conditions may allow for Optional Disclosure, or require under Mandatory Disclosure, the department inform a person that a report was received. See Title 22 Sub 4008


General Practice when a Reporter asks for a disposition should begin with describing what happens to their Report.

All Reports with identifying information are documented in MACWIS.
All documented Reports are kept on file and available for OCFS staff review for a minimum of 18 months.
Reports that are Appropriate for CPS Intervention are directed to the local office Supervisor for Assignment.
Some Appropriate Reports are assigned to a CIP agency for Alternative Response.
Reports that do not meet Appropriate Criteria in Policy are Screened out. No further action is taken beyond review and documentation.



Sample Text for Letter on Screened Out Reports




This letter is to inform you of this agencys decision about the referral concerning possible child abuse and/or neglect that you made on (date). The Intake Caseworker has documented your call, designated as Report # (Report #).


The information you provided and all other information available to us was reviewed by a Child Protective Intake Supervisor in order to determine the appropriate action to be taken. Child Protective Services receives many reports of problematic parenting behaviors that can have a negative impact on child safety and well being. Some of these reports do not require a Child Protective Services Assessment. While the Department of Health and Human Services takes all reports of suspected child abuse/neglect seriously, it has been determined that the circumstances you described does not meet the criteria to assign for a Child Protective Assessment at this time.


The information you presented is important to the Office of Child and Family Services and to ensure the safety of children. The report will remain on file, available for further review should additional concerns come to our attention. If you have new information or additional concerns regarding this family, please do not hesitate to contact us again at 800-452-1999 or by TTY at 800-963-9490.


Again, thank you for bringing your concerns for this family to the attention of Child Protective Services.





Contact Information for Decision maker