Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

2.15 Specialized Investigations

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
2.15 Specialized Investigations

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Legal Authority/Introduction



Specialized investigations are traditionally more complex, as they typically involve multiple victims, agencies, centers, or facilities rather than families.  As a result, additional investigative considerations need to be addressed when handling these types of reports.  It is strongly recommended that experienced Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) investigative social workers be assigned to conduct specialized investigations.  A SSW with prior experience in conducting these types of investigations, as well as having completed the necessary training, is also suggested. 

KRS 620.030(3) requires agencies to cooperate with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS/Cabinet) while conducting child protective services (CPS) investigations.

The procedures in this standard of practice (SOP) are organized as the foundation for specialized investigations involving the following:

  • DCBS or private child-placing (PCP) foster and adoptive homes;
  • Private child-caring (PCC) facilities;
  • Crisis stabilization units;
  • Registered family child care homes or licensed child care facilities;
  • Registered (subsidized) or family child care providers;
  • School employees;
  • Supports for community living (SCL);
  • Community mental health centers (CMHC)  and mental retardation center (CMHC);
  • Psychiatric residential treatment facilities (PRTF);
  • Psychiatric hospitals;
  • Camps;
  • Day treatment facilities; and
  • Human trafficking.

The following SOP Standards of Practices (SOP) are also provided for additional guidance for the specific investigation: as follows:

  • SOP 2.15.1 Investigations of Foster or Adoptive Homes (DCBS or Private Child-Placing (PCP) Agencies);
  • SOP 2.15.2 Investigations of Licensed Private Child-Caring Facilities;
  • SOP 2.15.3 Investigations of Licensed Child Care Centers;
  • SOP 2.15.4 Investigations of Registered (Subsidized) Family Child Care Homes;
  • SOP 2.15.5 Investigations of School Personnel;
  • SOP 2.15.6 Investigations of Supports for Community Living (SCL) and Community Mental Health/Intellectual Disability (CMHC);
  • SOP 2.15.7 Investigations of Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF), Crisis Stabilization Units, or Psychiatric Hospitals;
  • SOP 2.15.8 Investigations Involving DCBS Employees; and
  • SOP 2.15.9 Investigations of Human Trafficking.

The following procedures in this SOP do not apply to allegations involving maltreatment at hospitals (other than psychiatric) or Department for Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities/DJJ operated or contracted detention centers.  The Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigates allegations of maltreatment in hospitals and the Internal Investigations Unit (IIU)of the Justice Cabinet investigates allegations of maltreatment in DJJ facilities.  DCBS does investigate youth committed to DJJ who are placed in PCC facilities or PCP and DCBS foster homes. 

A tip sheet has been created for the handling of reports in hospitals and DJJ facilities; refer to the Allegations at Hospitals and DJJ Facilities Tip Sheet.  

Practice Guidance

  • DCBS foster homes include child-specific foster homes.
  • The SSW has access to all records and documentation to complete an investigation regarding the child alleged to have been abused or neglected and the alleged perpetrator.
  • In a combined investigation with OIG, the SSW and OIG staff may prepare a final report.
  • The SSW may comment and make recommendations that may be incorporated into the combined investigation report.
  • If the OIG staff and the SSW do not agree on issues of concern, a collaboration between the two agencies is encouraged.
  • Consultation with the Child Protection Branch is highly recommended during an investigation that involves systemic issues in a specialized setting, or if an allegation involves a director, program director, administrator, or other designated management staff. 
  • Requests for information regarding the final report by those outside the Cabinet are to be handled through open records procedures, as outlined in SOP 30.12 Request from the Public for CA/N Checks and Central Registry Checks.
  • The SSW may consult with the Child Protection Branch when seeking to access additional information such as Children’s Review Program reviews or exit interviews.


The investigative SSW: 

  1. Assesses the risk to all children in the setting, and determines if children in the legal commitment of the Cabinet are to be removed during the investigation;
  2. Consults with the service region administrator (SRA), regional staff, ongoing staff, and central office specialists as needed, to decide, based on the assessed level of risk, whether or not to move children who were not named in the allegations;
  3. Immediately notifies (via fax or email) the appropriate agencies as described in the CPS Investigative Distribution Chartwhen it is determined by the SSW, in consultation with the SRA or designee, that a child in the legal commitment  of the Cabinet is at risk or is in imminent danger and it is necessary to remove the child or take other action regarding a home, facility, or program;
  4. Documents this information in the assessment;
  5. Documents the verbal notification of the allegations in the assessment;
  6. In referrals designated as human trafficking, emails a copy of the DPP-115 to the Child Protection Branch at . distributes a copy of the DPP-115-Confidential Suspected Abuse, Neglect, Dependency or Exploitation Reporting Form, as applicable for human trafficking to the Child Protection Branch by faxing or e-mailing (, as applicable, to the:1 
    1. The Division of Protection and Permanency Child Protection Protective Services Branch for human trafficking.  the following:
      1. DCBS and private child-placing agency foster/adoptive homes;
      2. Private child-caring facilities;
      3. Crisis stabilization units;
      4. SCL/CMHC facilities;
      5. Psychiatric residential treatment facilities;
      6. Psychiatric hospitals;
      7. Cabinet employees;
      8. Camps;
      9. Day treatment facilities; and
      10. Human trafficking;
    2. Other appropriate parties, per the distribution chart;
  7. Does not share the DPP-115 form with the individual(s) or agency under investigation;
  8. Partners with OIG when that office is involved in an investigation and:
    1. Shares information regarding the agency or facility history and the investigation; and
    2. Conducts a combined investigation whenever possible.
  9. Conducts an unannounced visit to the setting;
  10. Conducts, with OIG staff when applicable/available, an entrance interview with the agency/facility administrator or designee upon arrival at the agency, facility, or hospital setting, to include the following: 
    1. Outlining the nature of the report of child abuse or neglect without disclosing the name of the reporting source;
    2. Determining if the alleged perpetrator is to be reassigned until the investigation is complete; and
    3. Providing only enough information to the administrator or designee to indicate that there has been a report and which child(ren) is to be interviewed.
  11. Determines whether to interview the child(ren) in a neutral location or at the placement setting based upon the allegations and the required response time;
  12. Conducts the interview with the child(ren) in a private setting, unless the SSW determines that it is in the best interest of the child for other personnel to be present during the interview;2
  13. Completes the following steps if it is determined that other personnel will be present:
    1. Makes the personnel aware that they are subject to subpoena to court for any disclosure statements that the child may make; and
    2. Instructs the personnel to remain:
      1. Silent during the interview; and
      2. Out of the line of sight of the child.
  14. Gives consideration to conducting random interviews with children who are presently in the setting or who have previously been in the setting; 
  15. Gives consideration to conducting interviews with a random sample of children of appropriate age who have previously been in the setting;
  16. Completes the following tasks if other children are interviewed as collaterals:
    1. Obtains the parent or guardian's permission, if possible;
    2. Informs the parent as soon as possible after the interview if the parent is not contacted prior to the interview;
    3. Explains to the parent that his/her child is not the alleged victim; and
    4. Determines in conjunction with the FSOS and child’s parent(s) an appropriate place to interview the child.
  17. Conducts an unannounced visit and interview with the alleged perpetrator in a private setting;
  18. Determines the location of the interview with the alleged perpetrator based upon the allegations, the required response time, and the alleged incident location;
  19. Notifies the alleged perpetrator subject to an investigation of the allegations during the initial face-to -face contact with the alleged perpetrator by:
    1. Verbally informing the alleged perpetrator of the basic allegations, void of any specifics that may compromise the investigation; and
    2. Verbally informing the alleged perpetrator that they will be provided notification of the findings upon completion of the investigation.
  20. Conducts the aforementioned procedures (#17–19) during the initial face-to-face contact with the adult caretaker(s) or appropriate supervisor, director, or designee during the entrance interview if the identity of the alleged perpetrator is unknown at the outset of an investigation;
  21. Reviews and/or copies the following types of records that are pertinent to the allegations in the referral or identified safety issues:
    1. Incident reports for the child and staff;
    2. Shift or communication logs;
    3. Previous citations from OIG/Division of Regulated Child Care or Division of Heath Care Facilities Services;
    4. Staff training manuals and records;
    5. Internal directives (such as policy, procedure, requirements, or recommendations);
    6. Previous allegations;
    7. Personnel records (including criminal records);
    8. Child’s file; and
    9. Child assessment information.
  22. Upon consultation with the FSOS and regional management, contacts the central office Child Protection Safety Branch or the director of the Division of Protection & Permanency (DPP) to address the issue and seek resolution if an agency does not cooperate with the investigation;
  23. Considers who in the line of supervision may have had a role in the incident that resulted in abuse or neglect to a child;
  24. Requests an organizational chart of the facility to determine lines of authority over each program area;
  25. Assesses restraint techniques used by staff in the setting, if alleged physical abuse is a part of the investigation, by reviewing and obtaining documentation on all reports involving restraint and the following information:
    1. Events leading to the use of restraint, including whether de-escalation techniques were used to avoid restraint;
    2. Specific reasons for the use of restraint;
    3. The type of restraint that was chosen and whether it is the least restrictive, based on the size of the child and adult;
    4. How the child’s behaviors were addressed in their treatment plan;
    5. Use of restraint with regard to this child prior to the incident;
    6. Whether there is agency monitoring of the use of child restraint;
    7. The child’s description (or physical demonstration) of the restraint;
    8. Therapist/treatment notes and individual crisis plans for the child;
    9. The child’s medical condition; and
    10. The type and number of hours of training and/or re-certifications the facility staff have completed, as well as applicable procedures, training material, incident reports, and any other written information on child restraint that applies to the home, facility or program;
  26. Reviews prior reports on a facility, DCBS, or PCP foster/adoptive home to determine any systemic patterns of behavior or issues that may need to be addressed; 
  27. Considers any ongoing issues or concerns by giving particular attention to previous aftercare plans developed at the end of an investigation;
  28. Provides an update to the SRA or designee on the status of the assessment no less than once per week;
  29. Justifies findings in the assessment documentation and service recordings connected to the investigation;
  30. Includes in the assessment any citations made by OIG as a result of an investigation;
  31. Utilizes procedures in SOP 2.12 Completing the Assessment and Documentation Tool (ADT) and Making a Finding to make a determination of a finding in a specialized investigation;
  32. Considers substantiation of maltreatment of an individual responsible for the management of the program if there is a well-documented systemic pattern of child abuse or neglect; 
  33. Determines which management individual(s) is responsible for the systemic abuse or neglect by considering who in management knew or reasonably should have known about the systemic issues that led to the abuse or neglect;3
  34. Takes the following steps prior to a finding of substantiation due to systemic issues against a director, program director, administrator or other designated management staff:
    1. Consults with the FSOS; and 
    2. If the FSOS agrees with the SSW’s recommendation, consults with the regional attorney and documents the consultation in TWIST;
  35. Notifies the DPP director's office that a consultation should occur for a determination of the finding against management staff if the regional attorney agrees with the recommendation to substantiate against a director, program director, administrator, or other designated management staff;
  36. Makes the determination for a finding on the current alleged incident that occurred and does not base the finding on whether or not the facility has taken any corrective actions (The substantiation must name an individual and cannot be made against an agency or facility);4  
  37. Submits the substantiated assessment to the SRA, or designee, for review when completed;
  38. Discusses with OIG staff, as applicable, prior to conducting an exit interview with the administrator or designee the following:
    1. Findings; 
    2. Any needed follow-up actions; and
    3. Which agency is assigned to the follow-up privately.
  39. Convenes, with OIG as applicable, an exit conference with the agency/facility or hospital program director and license holder, regardless of the finding.  The exit conference is held no later than ten (10) working days after the assessment has been completed and approved;
  40. Facilitates development, during the exit conference, of an aftercare plan (if appropriate), and all participants are asked to participate and sign; and 
  41. Discusses concerns with the recruitment and certification (R&C) FSOS/worker for the family for investigations involving a DCBS foster home.5  

The SRA or designee:

  1. Should conduct at least one consultation using the form for all specialized investigations in this section;
  2. Seeks assistance, as needed, from a specialist in the Child Protection Safety Branch when consultation is needed during the course of the investigation such as when:
    1. A home, facility, or program is not cooperative;
    2. There is difficulty in obtaining information; or
    3. There are concerns involving other agencies’ participation in the assessment.
  3. Requests, upon staffing the investigation with the SSW, approval from the DPP director if the following are recommended:
    1. Suspending DCBS referrals; or
    2. Terminating an agreement or contract.

Related Information

  • ​Division of Protection and Permanency Child Protection Branch:
Phone:  (502) 564-2136
Fax:  (502) 564-3096

  • Division of Protection and Permanency Director's Office:
​Phone:  (502) 564-6852


  1. Each service region may establish a centralized point of distribution of information to other staff, foster family, agencies, or license holder as appropriate.
  2. While a private interview of the child is desirable, there may be occasions when the child requests the presence of a teacher, counselor, or other school personnel.  
  3. Factors or conditions that may indicate that there are systemic conditions could include a lack of supervision by management over a period of time, or a lack of training that creates a risk of harm to children.  
  4. Final approval on a substantiation must be approved by the DPP director’s office.
  5. Discussions are held to consider whether a foster home review is recommended and to include the R&C FSOS and R&C SSW in aftercare planning, when applicable.


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