H. B. 2141
(By Delegate Gillespie)
[Introduced January 14, 1998; referred to the
Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact section nine, article six-a, chapter forty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, relating to providing safeguards for the documentation and investigation procedures of child abuse cases.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That section nine, article six-a, chapter forty-nine of the
code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as
amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 6A. REPORTS OF CHILDREN SUSPECTED TO BE ABUSED OR
§49-6A-9. Establishment of child protective services; general
duties and powers; cooperation of other state agencies.
(a) The state department shall establish or designate in
every county a local child protective services office to perform
the duties and functions set forth in this article.
(b) The local child protective service shall investigate all
reports of child abuse or neglect: Provided, That under no
circumstances shall investigating personnel be relatives of the
accused, the child or the families involved. In accordance with
the local plan for child protective services, it shall provide
protective services to prevent further abuse or neglect of
children and provide for or arrange for and coordinate and
monitor the provision of those services necessary to ensure the
safety of children. The local child protective service shall be
organized to maximize the continuity of responsibility, care and
service of individual workers for individual children and
families: Provided, however, That under no circumstances may the
secretary or his or her designee promulgate rules or establish
any policy which restricts the scope or types of alleged abuse
or neglect of minor children which are to be investigated or the
provision of appropriate and available services.
Each local child protective service office shall:
(1) Receive or arrange for the receipt of all reports of
children known or suspected to be abused or neglected on a
twenty-four hour, seven-day-a-week basis and cross-file all
such reports under the names of the children, the family, any person
substantiated as being an abuser or neglecter by investigation of
the department of human services, with use of such the
cross-filing of such the person's name limited to the internal
use of the department;
(2) Provide or arrange for emergency children's services to
be available at all times;
(3) Upon notification of suspected child abuse or neglect,
commence or cause to be commenced a thorough investigation of the
report and the child's environment. As a part of this response,
within fourteen days, there shall be: A face-to-face interview
with the child or children, and the development of a protection
plan, if necessary for the safety or health of the child, which
may involve law-enforcement officers or the court;
(4) Respond immediately to all allegations of imminent
danger to the physical well-being of the child or of serious
physical abuse. As a part of this response, within seventy-two
hours, there shall be: A face-to-face interview with the child
or children; and the development of a protection plan which may
ve law-enforcement officers or the court.
(5) In addition to any other requirements imposed by this
section, when any matter regarding child custody is pending, the
circuit court or family law master may refer allegations of child abuse and neglect to the local child protective service for
investigation of the allegations as defined by this chapter and
require the local child protective service to submit a written
report of the investigation to the referring circuit court or
family law master within the time frames set forth by the circuit
court or family law master.
All interviews of children regarding child abuse or neglect
shall be audio and videotaped. This shall include all interviews
of the children by social workers, police officers or employees,
psychological evaluators, and other interviewers or therapists.
The tapes shall be accessible to the prosecuting attorney,
defense counsel, and parents, guardians or custodians of the
child, and shall be admissible as evidence in court by both the
prosecuting attorney and defense counsel.
(1) The interview shall be videotaped in a manner as to
provide a clear view of both the interviewer and the child.
Facial expressions, hand gestures and body movement of the
interviewer shall be fully visible on the videotape at all times.
(2) If anatomical dolls are used during the interview,
close-up views of the dolls' front, back and genitals shall be
included on the videotape either at the beginning or at the end
of the videotape.
(3) Each interview with the child for investigative purposes shall be thoroughly documented in both the child's and
the department's records, with reference to the appropriate audio
and videotape: Provided, That, if a child is interviewed and no
legal action or child protective services intervention is
necessary, a copy of all videotapes and audiotapes shall be given
to the parents, guardians or custodians of the child.
(c) In those cases in which the local child protective
service determines that the best interests of the child require
court action, the local child protective service shall initiate
the appropriate legal proceeding.
(d) The local child protective service shall be responsible
for providing, directing or coordinating the appropriate and
timely delivery of services to any child suspected or known to
be abused or neglected, including services to the child's family
and those responsible for the child's care.
(e) To carry out the purposes of this article, all
departments, boards, bureaus and other agencies of the state or
any of its political subdivisions and all agencies providing
services under the local child protective service plan shall,
upon request, provide to the local child protective service
assistance and information as will enable it to fulfill its
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to provide adequate
documentation and safeguarding of child abuse investigations.
The bill sets forth requirements for the videotaping and
audiotaping of all interviews with victims of child abuse.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken
from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language
that would be added.