N.J. Admin. Code § 10:44D-3.1 - Responsibilities of the Office of Investigations

(a) The Office of Investigations shall investigate incidents occurring in community programs or facilities licensed, contracted, or funded by the Department of Human Services, or State-operated developmental centers that serve individuals with developmental disabilities.
(b) The Office of Investigation shall notify the guardian when an investigation of an incident involving an individual has been initiated, as set forth in P.L. 2017, c. 238 (designated as Stephen Komninos' Law). If there is no guardian, an authorized family member of the individual may be notified, unless the individual has expressly excluded the family member.
1. The guardian or family member, as appropriate, may submit information pertinent to the investigation for consideration by the investigators.
2. The guardian may attend the investigative interview of the individual and may terminate the interview, unless attendance or termination would impede the investigation.
3. Scheduling the participation of the guardian shall not impede the timely arranging of an interview. The guardian shall sign a confidentiality agreement limiting disclosure of information concerning other individuals obtained during the interview and agree to protect the confidentiality of any information obtained concerning other individuals. The interview shall not be recorded.
4. At the request of the investigator during the interview, the guardian may aid in the interpretation or recognition of the individual's speech or speech patterns. The guardian may present documentation prior to the interview of previous relevant incidents. The guardian may identify the familiar names of persons mentioned by the individual during the interview. At the request of the investigator during the interview, the guardian may describe the meanings of gestures or symbols used by non-verbal individuals.
5. The guardian shall allow the interview to be conducted by the investigator. The investigator shall determine the scope of the investigation and the questions to be asked of the individual. To ensure the integrity of the investigation, the guardian shall not prompt the individual or suggest answers to the individual. The guardian may explain terms and identifiers to the investigator after the individual has used the terms or identifiers.
6. The guardian and the investigator shall cooperate, so as to avoid intimidating the individual by attempting to correct responses to questions, embellish responses, or interrupt the dialogue between the investigator and the individual. The guardian and the investigator will avoid distracting the individual from concentrating on the interview. The investigator will provide the guardian with an opportunity to write down any concerns or questions generated during the interview. At the conclusion of the interview, the investigator will afford the guardian the opportunity to review and discuss those concerns or questions.
7. The guardian and the investigator shall cooperate to provide necessary support to the individual, facilitate communications among all participants, and to maintain the integrity of the interview as an ordered question and answer process to determine the individual's perception of the incident.
(c) The investigating unit shall make a good faith effort to notify the caregiver accused of abuse, neglect or exploitation of the allegation, the possibility of being placed on the Central Registry if the allegations are substantiated and the consequences of a failure to cooperate with the investigation of the allegations.
(d) The investigating unit shall provide notification of the investigation to the appropriate parties as applicable, including, but not limited to, the alleged victim, as appropriate, the alleged victim's guardian, the alleged perpetrator's employer and the alleged perpetrator(s).
(e) The investigating unit shall work collaboratively with law enforcement personnel in the investigation of the allegations. The guardian of the individual with a developmental disability shall also be authorized to request appropriate assistance from local and State law enforcement officials.
(f) No information received in potential Central Registry investigations shall be considered as a public or government record within the meaning of P.L. 1963, c. 73 (NJ.S.A. 47:1A-1 et seq.) or P.L. 2001, c. 404 (N.J.S.A. 47:1A-5et seq.). Information shared with a guardian in connection with attendance at an investigative interview pursuant to (b) above, or under circumstances described in (e) above is for the private use of the guardian or law enforcement unit, remaining covered by Federal and State privacy and medical information laws.
(g) All records of a report made pursuant to this chapter, all information obtained by the Department in investigating such reports and all reports of findings forwarded to the Central Registry pursuant to the Act shall be kept confidential and may be disclosed only under circumstances expressly authorized by rules and regulations promulgated by the Commissioner or by court order. The Department shall only disclose information that is relevant to the purpose for which the information is required; except that the Department shall not disclose information that would likely endanger the life, safety or physical or emotional well-being of an individual with a developmental disability or the life or safety of any other person or which may compromise the integrity of a departmental investigation, civil or criminal investigation or judicial proceeding. If the Department denies access to specific information on any of these bases, the requesting entity may seek disclosure by making application to the Law Division of Superior Court. Nothing in the Act or this chapter shall be construed to permit the disclosure of any information deemed confidential by Federal or State law.
(h) Upon the initiation of an investigation, the Department shall:
1. Ensure that any communication concerning the alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an individual with a developmental disability between a caregiver, case manager of the caregiver, the case manager's supervisor, or other staff at the Division of Developmental Disabilities is identified, safeguarded from loss or destruction, and maintained in a secure location; and
2. Contact the Office of the Attorney General, which shall determine whether to participate in the investigation.
(i) The Office of Investigations shall issue a written report within 30 days of the completion of the investigation that includes the conclusions of the unit, the rationale for the conclusion, and a detailed summary of any communication secured pursuant to the investigation. The report shall also include an assessment of the role of any case manager of a caregiver or the case manager's supervisor, if applicable, in the allegation of abuse, neglect, or exploitation and a recommendation about whether any civil or criminal action should be brought against the case manager or supervisor. The report shall be made part of the record for review in any civil or criminal proceeding that may ensue, pursuant to the requirements of N.J.A.C. 10:41-3.2.
(j) The Office of Investigations shall retain a record of all unsubstantiated incidents, as set forth in P.L. 2012, c. 69 (designated as Tara's Law).
(k) The Office of Investigations, the Department, or other investigating entity shall also forward to the Commissioner, or the Commissioner's designee, all unsubstantiated incidents of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an individual with a developmental disability, as set forth in P.L. 2012, c. 69 (designated as Tara's Law).

Notes

N.J. Admin. Code § 10:44D-3.1
Amended by 51 N.J.R. 85(a), effective 1/7/2019

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