110 CMR 9.04 - Closing a Supported Case

The Department may close a case with a supported 51A at any time after completion of its investigation.

Commentary:

It is generally but erroneously assumed that the decision to support a 51A report after investigation automatically means that the case should be left open. However, there are some types of circumstances where "support and close" would be the decision of choice:

(1) Supporting an allegation of child abuse or neglect does not necessarily mean that a child is at ongoing risk. Example: abuse that is found to have occurred by a babysitter. The child was definitely injured, by a caretaker. However, the family is in no way responsible for the injury, or for choosing an inappropriate caretaker. Also, the family is appropriate in preventing any further contact between the child and babysitter. The incident must be supported, (as well as perhaps reported to the District Attorney - See 110 CMR 4.50 ), but the Department does not need to conduct an assessment, nor to keep the case open, if there is no ongoing risk to the child. Of course, the Department's services would be offered to the child and family.
(2) The second set of circumstances has to do with families that have disappeared. Example: Boston City Hospital examines a child and discovers welt marks on his back. The parents are interviewed, admit that they struck their child, and are informed that a 51A report will be filed. When the Department investigator goes out, s/he discovers that the address given does not exist. The investigator spends the rest of ten days attempting to locate the family through all other means, but is unsuccessful. There is reasonable cause to believe that the incident of abuse did occur, so the 51A must be supported. However, the Department can provide no services because the family cannot be located. Therefore, the Department does not keep the case open.

Notes

110 CMR 9.04

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