Reporting Child Abuse by DSHS Services Contractors
Article II of the General Appropriations Act for fiscal years (FYs) 2008-2009 includes the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Rider 19 relating to the reporting of child abuse. The rider states that DSHS "may distribute or provide appropriated funds only to recipients which show good faith efforts to comply with all child abuse reporting guidelines and requirements set forth in Chapter 261, Texas Family Code." Provisions of the General Appropriations Act became effective on September 1, 2007.
DSHS has always had the understanding and expectation that its providers/contractors report child abuse according to the law. To emphasize that expectation, DSHS has incorporated the requirements of Rider 23 into its contracts.
Grant Contracted Services
Grant contractors and their subcontractors are required to implement and enforce the DSHS Child Abuse Screening, Documenting, and Reporting Policy for Contractors/Providers reporting all suspected instances of child abuse consistent with all requirements of Chapter 261, Texas Family Code. The contractor must train staff on all reporting requirements and use the Checklist for DSHS Monitoring for any client under 14 years of age who is pregnant or has a confirmed sexually transmitted disease acquired in a manner other than through perinatal transmission or transfusion. DSHS expectations for "good faith effort" will be met if a contractor and its subcontractors comply with these requirements.
DSHS staff will monitor to determine compliance by reviewing all contractor records relating to services to minors under age 14 who are pregnant or have a confirmed diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease acquired in a manner other than through perinatal transmission or transfusion, including HIV, to determine if the Checklist was used and if child abuse was reported. For specific monitoring procedures, see attached Quality Assurance Monitoring Division Policy and Procedures for Compliance with Child Abuse Screening, Documenting, and Reporting for Contractors/Providers.
Use of the checklist for DSHS monitoring of reporting of abuse of children younger than 14 who are pregnant or have STDs acquired in a manner other than through perinatal transmission or transfusion does not relieve contractors or subcontractors of the requirements in Chapter 261,Texas Family Code, to report any other instance of suspected abuse of other children.
Medicaid provider agreements incorporate all directives published in the Medicaid Provider Procedures Manual and the bimonthly Texas Medicaid Bulletin. Directives have been published in the Texas Medicaid Bulletin to require providers to make a good faith effort to comply with all child abuse reporting guidelines and requirements in Chapter 261, Texas Family Code. The directive requires the provider to implement and enforce a written policy and train its staff on reporting requirements. The language is also included in the Medicaid Provider Procedures Manual.
The DSHS Checklist for Monitoring may be used by Medicaid providers. While there is no on-site quality assurance process under which the provider's files are routinely reviewed, record reviews may be conducted during compliance activities required by other funding sources.
DSHS requires a report of child abuse to include the following items as required by the Texas Family Code: name and address of the child; name and address of the person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child; and any other pertinent information. The Texas Family Code requires these items only if known by the reporter. Minors tested anonymously for HIV/STD cannot be reported.
DSHS informs and provides technical assistance to its contractors on reporting requirements. DSHS expectations for its contractors/providers and clarification of its policy through Frequently Asked Questions are available through the DSHS website at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/childabusereporting This website is updated as needed and every affected program website is linked to the updated site.
Section 261.103, Texas Family Code, requires a person to make a report of abuse to one of four agencies, depending on the circumstances in which the abuse occurred. Reports are to be made to any local or state law enforcement agency; the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services if the alleged or suspected abuse involves a person responsible for the care, custody or welfare of the child; the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred; or the agency designated by the court to be responsible for the protection of children. A report may be made to the Texas Youth Commission instead of the above-mentioned agencies if the report is based on information provided by a child while under the supervision of the commission concerning the child's alleged abuse of another child.
Failure by a contractor/provider to develop, implement, enforce a policy, or train staff can result in withholding of funds payable to the contractor/provider until the contractor/provider has corrected the failure. Failure by a contractor to complete the Checklist for clients under age 14 who are pregnant or have a confirmed diagnosis of sexually transmitted disease acquired in a manner other than through perinatal transmission or transfusion, when required, or failure by contractors/providers to report suspected child abuse can also result in the temporary withholding of funds until the contractor/provider complies.