Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

2.12 Completing the Assessment and Documentation Tool (ADT) and Making a Finding

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 2-Child Protective Services (CPS) Intake and Investigation
2.12 Completing the Assessment and Documentation Tool (ADT) and Making a Finding

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Legal Authority/Introduction


The Assessment and Documentation Tool (ADT) is a stand-alone document. It is utilized to conduct a thorough assessment of all reports received, regardless of the assessment path. To conduct a thorough assessment, the SSW must take into consideration information received from all alleged victims, alleged perpetrators, non-offending caretakers, collaterals, and records received. All information is to be documented in the assessment. 

Practice Guidance 

    • Abused or neglected child as defined in KRS 600.020 is a child whose health or welfare is harmed or threatened with harm when his or her parent, guardian, person in a position of authority or special trust, as defined in KRS 532.045 or other person exercising custodial control or supervision of the child:
      • Inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical or emotional injury as defined in this section by other than accidental means;
      • Creates or allows to be created a risk of physical or emotional injury as defined in this section to the child by other than accidental means;
      • Engages in a pattern of conduct that renders the parent incapable of caring for the immediate and ongoing needs of the child including, but not limited to, parental incapacity due to alcohol and other drug abuse as defined in KRS 222.005;
      • Continuously or repeatedly fails or refuses to provide essential parental care and protection for the child, considering the age of the child;
      • Commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or prostitution upon the child;
      • Creates or allows to be created a risk that an act of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or prostitution will be committed upon the child;
      • Abandons or exploits the child;
      • Does not provide the child with adequate care, supervision, food, clothing, shelter, and education or medical care necessary for the child's well-being.  A parent or other person exercising custodial control or supervision of the child legitimately practicing the person's religious beliefs shall not be considered a negligent parent solely because of failure to provide specified medical treatment for a child for that reason alone.  This exception shall not preclude a court from ordering necessary medical services for a child; or
      • A person twenty-one (21) years of age or older commits or allows to be committed an act of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or prostitution upon a child less than sixteen (16) years of age.

Unable to locate:

    • The investigator does not make a determination of “Unable to Locate” until efforts have been made, presented to the supervisor, and approved.  The investigator does not make a determination of “Unable to Locate” if either the victim or caretaker have been located and interviewed.

No Finding: 

Beginning on June 28, 2019, if information was discovered resulting in the basis of the report no longer meeting the acceptance criteria, the SSW can request to discontinue the investigation with a “no finding” determination within 10 business days of receipt of report.  A no finding determination cannot:

  1. Be utilized for reports received prior to June 28, 2019;
  2. With reports designated as specialized investigations, including fatality or near fatality reports, as defined in SOP 2.15; 6 or
  3. If multiple interviews have been conducted.

A no finding determination can only be used in familial investigations, and when there are no other risk factors identified in the report, found during interviews with the child(ren) and/or caregivers, or during worker observations of the family and environment. 7

The SRA or designee must approve the no finding determination within 10 business days of receipt of report.



The SSW:

    • Completes the assessment and documents why the assessment is unsubstantiated or in the Risk Assessment Conclusion section;
    • Closes the assessment without an aftercare plan if there are no further issues;
    • Completes an aftercare plan and closes the referral if there are issues that need to be clarified to assist in preventing future abuse or neglect.


Family in need of services

The SSW:

    • Assesses the situation using all available information and:
      • If the overall assessment indicates moderate risk in the Maltreatment Conclusion section, the SSW considers substantiating the case;
      • If the issue or concern identified falls below the level that would indicate that a protection case needs to be opened, the parent is refusing services, or the results of the Maltreatment Factors section are in the low risk  category, the assessment may be closed and an aftercare plan developed with the family that links them to community resources to prevent the reoccurrence of the reported incident;
    • Consults with the FSOS when a family is found in need of services, but refuses ongoing preventive services.  


The SSW:

  1. Completes the assessment in TWIST using the appropriate ADT template;
  2. Documents the following information in the Chronology Related Data section of the assessment:
    1. All interview and evidence content;
    2. Dates, times, locations, full names and relationships of everyone interviewed; and
    3. Information gathered/steps taken to assess and protect a child during the assessment;

  3. Ensures that all identifying information including full names, social security numbers, and dates of birth are accurate and associated with the correct individuals in the case (Refer to the Case Naming Tip Sheet when updating information in TWIST);
  4. Identifies and documents safety and risk issues for all children in the home; 
  5. Makes a determination of finding on each child on all reports based upon assessment of credible information and supportive documentation gained in the investigation and the assessment process;
  6. Uses the following guidelines for credible information when determining the finding of an investigation:
    1. Personal observations of the home, child(ren), neighborhood and family interaction;
    2. Interviews with caretakers, alleged victims, alleged perpetrators and collateral sources including witnesses, teachers, neighbors or other sources of information regarding family functioning;
    3. Written statements from caretakers, alleged victims, alleged perpetrators and collateral sources;
    4. Pictures of injuries and/or hazardous living conditions; and
    5. Expert opinions or statements from medical or other professionals who are able to make statements diagnosing a specific condition; or
    6. An adjudication of same by the court;
  7. Ensures that the social work finding is consistent with statute and regulation;
  8. Consults with the FSOS as appropriate when determining the investigative finding;
  9. Completes the assessment within thirty (30) working days; 
  10. Provides the caretaker and alleged perpetrator written notice of the outcome of the investigation, and each receive a DPP-154 Protection and Permanency Service Appeal form. The alleged perpetrator receives a DPP-155 Request for Appeal of Child Abuse or Neglect Investigative Findings form.
  11. If an ongoing case is opened, the SSW provides a copy of the Case Planning Meeting Brochure to custodial parent(s) in person or when sending the notification letter(s).

Making a finding

  1. After obtaining all information needed to complete the assessment (using the ADT Worksheet), the investigator determines whether the referral is:
    1. Substantiated;
    2. Unsubstantiated;
    3. Family in need of services.
  2. Prior to substantiation or finding a family in need of services, the investigator affirms that:
    1. Injury or risk of injury was inflicted, or that the basic needs of the child are not met;
    2. The injury, risk or omission of care was inflicted non-accidentally; “intentional” is defined in statute (KRS 600.020);
    3. A caretaker was responsible; “caretaker” is defined in statute (KRS 600.020); and
    4. Injury or risk of injury met a threshold recognized by statute, “injury” is defined in statute (KRS 600.020).


    • Caretaker:  Parent, guardian or other person exercising custodial control or supervision of the child
    • Non-accidental:  Conduct where the actor’s conscious objective is to cause that result or engage in that conduct
    • Injury:  Substantial physical pain or impairment of physical condition
    • Serious Physical Injury:  Physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious and prolonged disfigurement, prolonged impairment of health, or prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ
    • Needs of the Child: Necessary food, clothing, health, shelter, and education necessary for the child’s well-being
    • Emotional Injury:  Injury to the mental or psychological capacity or emotional stability of a child as evidenced by a substantial and observable impairment in the child's ability to function within a normal range of performance and behavior with regard to his age, development, culture, and environment as testified to by a qualified mental health professional
    • Preponderance of evidence:  The documented evidence is to be sufficient to allow a reasonable person to conclude that the child victim was abused or neglected, and that it is more likely than not that the alleged perpetrator committed the act of commission or omission as governed by KRS 600.020(1).
    • Found and substantiated:  Physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or dependency that was not originally reported by the referral source, but was found and substantiated during the investigation/assessment
    • Unsubstantiated:  Sufficient evidence, indicators, or justification does not exist for the substantiation of abuse, neglect, or dependency.

Following a substantiation

The SSW:

  1. Considers completing, based on identified risks and the caregivers' high risk behaviors:
    1. An aftercare plan if the case will be closed; or
    2. A prevention plan if the case will be opened (Refer to SOP 3.3 Tools for Case Planning); 
  2. Takes age into consideration as follows:
    1. If an investigation of abuse or neglect is substantiated on a child under three (3) years of age, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 5106a(b)(2)(xxi), the SSW makes a referral for early intervention services to the regional service provider for early intervention services using established regional protocol/procedures, and documents the referral in the Chronology Related Data section of the assessment (Refer to Child Development Milestones and First Steps Regional Contact Information);
    2. If the alleged perpetrator of abuse, neglect or dependency is a child age twelve (12) to eighteen (18), and the child/youth was in a caretaking role:
      1. That child/youth is identified as the alleged perpetrator if the investigation/assessment is determined to be substantiated;
      2. Does not release the name of the alleged perpetrator except by court order pursuant to KRS 620.050.
  3. When it is determined that a case will be opened, the SSW ensures that the DCBS-1B Application for Services is completed by all appropriate family members.

Court involvement

The SSW:

  1. Determines whether the local judge wants the SSW to tender any Administrative Office of the Court (AOC) form partially or fully completed with the relevant information pertaining to that child for the judge's signature;
  2. Contacts, within forty-eight (48) hours after an adjudicatory finding, the Office of Legal Services (OLS) regional attorney for consultation if the court makes a finding that conflicts with the Cabinet’s finding if the FSOS believes that there is enough evidence to support the original investigative finding;
  3. Decides, after consultation with the FSOS and OLS, whether to proceed with contesting the court’s adjudicatory finding on appeal. 1


  1. Changes the department’s finding to match the courts, following any hearing where the court hears evidence on the petition and makes a finding on the allegations presented in the petition;
  2. Only changes the finding of the assessment and:
    1. Documents in TWIST, on the "Amend Results" tab, (refer to Amend Results Tip Sheet, for step by step instruction on this process) the reason the finding is being changed;
    2. Files a hard copy of the court order;
  3. Refers the individual to the CAPTA fair hearing process if a petition is informally adjusted, dismissed, or an agreement made without proof being heard;
  4. Following a CAPTA, files a copy of the final CAPTA order in the case record. 2  3
  5. Sends a notification of findings letter to the caretaker and alleged perpetrator if the finding was overturned via CAPTA process.

Contingencies and Clarifications

Request for an extension

  1. If the investigative worker is unable to complete the assessment within thirty (30) working days (forty-five (45) calendar days from receipt of the investigation), the SSW utilizes the following guidelines in determining the need to request an extension: 
    1. The first extension request is approved by the FSOS and may be requested for the following reasons:
      1. Another agency is expected to make available information that is necessary to a finding during an extension period; 4
      2. A specialized investigation requires a large number of individual interviews or consultations with central office; or
      3. Law enforcement is conducting a criminal investigation and has not completed their work on the case. 5
    2. If a second extension becomes necessary it must be approved by the SRAA supervising the FSOS. 
    3. Extension requests are submitted in TWIST to the FSOS or designee by the SSW or by e-mail if TWIST is not available. 
    4. All approved extensions are documented in TWIST in the Risk Assessment Conclusion section of the assessment.
  2. During the extension time period, the SSW makes monthly contacts with the family until:
    1. The investigation is closed and the agency’s work with the family is complete; or
    2. A case is opened with the family and monthly contacts begin in the ongoing function. 




  1. If the decision is to proceed, the OLS regional attorney has ten (10) days to file a motion to alter, amend or vacate the order; or thirty (30) days to file an appeal.
  2. If the final order from a CAPTA fair hearing process overturns the Cabinet's substantiated finding that a child has been dependent, neglected or abused, the Commissioner's office staff changes the finding and notes the reason for the change in the Risk Assessment Conclusion section.
  3. Although the finding is changed, no changes are made to the case record or the assessment.
  4. A finding should not be delayed to wait for a court determination.
  5. CPS findings are not contingent upon law enforcement’s findings.  In cases where law enforcement asks CPS staff to delay making their finding so as not to compromise a law enforcement investigation, CPS staff should seek guidance from regional office.
  6. Examples of additional risk factors include but are not limited to:
    1. The family’s high risk patterns of behavior;
    2. History or current indicators of substance misuse;
    3. Family violence;
    4. Mental health issues;
    5. Agency history;
    6. AOC results;
    7. Worker observations of injuries;
    8. Unsafe environment; and/or
    9. Indicators of maltreatment; etc.
  7. Similar to the unable to locate determination, the ADT does not populate with a no finding determination.  SSW includes a statement in the Assessment Conclusion narrative box documenting:
    1. That the report no longer meets the acceptance criteria;
    2. There are no other risk factors or indicators of maltreatment identified or observed to continue the investigation; and
    3. The no finding determination was agreed upon and approved by the SRA or designee within ten (10) business days of receipt of report.




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