PUBLIC SAFETY AND WELFARE
CHILD PROTECTION ACT
169-C:34 Duties of the Department of Health and Human Services.
I. If it appears that the immediate safety or well-being of a child is endangered, the family may flee or the child disappear, or the facts otherwise so warrant, the department shall commence an investigation immediately after receipt of a report. In all other cases, a child protective investigation shall be commenced within 72 hours of receipt of the report.
II. For each report it receives, the department shall promptly perform a child protective investigation to:
(a) Determine the composition of the family or household, including the name, address, age, sex, and race of each child named in the report, and any siblings or other children in the same household or in the care of the same adults, the parents or other persons responsible for their welfare, and any other adults in the same household;
(b) Determine whether any person in the same family or household was named in a prior report of abuse or neglect, and, if there are 2 or more prior unfounded or unfounded but with reasonable concern reports involving any family or household member, conduct an administrative review of all identified reports;
(c) Determine whether there is probable cause to believe that any child in the family or household is abused or neglected, including a determination of harm or threatened harm to each child, the nature and extent of present or prior injuries, abuse, or neglect, and any evidence thereof, and a determination of the person or persons apparently responsible for the abuse or neglect;
(d) Determine the immediate and long-term risk to each child if the child remains in the existing home environment; and
(e) Determine the protective treatment, and ameliorative services that appear necessary to help prevent further child abuse or neglect and to improve the home environment and the parents' ability to adequately care for the children.
II-a. The department may issue a confidential letter of concern to a person or persons responsible for the safety and welfare of the child that although there is insufficient evidence to substantiate a finding of abuse or neglect or of unfounded but with reasonable concern, the department encourages the person or persons responsible for the safety and welfare of the child to seek family support services and provide contact information to obtain such services. Upon initiating an assessment, the department may offer the family ameliorative services to reduce risk and address child safety concerns.
II-b. The department may make a confidential determination of unfounded but with reasonable concern.
III. The department may request and shall receive from any agency of the state or any of its political subdivisions or any schools, such assistance and information as will enable it to fulfill its responsibilities under this section.
IV. Upon notification by the department that the immediate safety or well-being of a child may be endangered, the court shall, upon finding probable cause to believe that the child's immediate safety or well-being is endangered, order a police officer or a juvenile probation and parole officer or child protection service worker, accompanied by a police officer, to enter the place where the child is located, in furtherance of such investigation.
V. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the department may offer voluntary services to families without making a determination of the person or persons responsible for the abuse or neglect. The department shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, relative to the provision of voluntary services under this paragraph. The rules shall include provisions relative to the development of metrics to measure the effectiveness of voluntary services. The costs of voluntary services provided by the department under this paragraph shall not be eligible for reimbursement under RSA 169-C:27.
V-a. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the department may offer voluntary services to any child who prior to his or her eighteenth birthday was found to be neglected or abused, who was in legal custody of the department as of his or her eighteenth birthday, and who is less than 21 years of age. The costs of voluntary services provided by the department under this paragraph shall not be eligible for reimbursement under RSA 169-C:27.
VI. At the first contact in person, any person investigating a report of abuse or neglect on behalf of the department shall verbally inform the parents of a child suspected of being a victim of abuse or neglect of the specific nature of the charges and that they are under no obligation to allow a social worker or state employee on their premises or surrender their children to interviews unless that social worker or state employee is in possession of a court order to that effect. Upon receiving such information, the parent shall sign a written acknowledgement indicating that the information required under this paragraph was provided by the person conducting the investigation. The parent and department shall each retain a copy of the acknowledgment.
VII. If the child's parents refuse to allow a social worker or state employee on their premises as part of the department's investigation, and the department has probable cause to believe that the child has been abused or neglected, the department shall seek a court order to enter the premises. If the court finds probable cause to believe that the child has been abused or neglected, the court shall issue an order permitting a police officer, juvenile probation and parole officer, or child protection service worker to enter the premises in furtherance of the department's investigation and to assess the child's immediate safety and well-being. Any juvenile probation and parole officer or child protection service worker who serves or executes a motion to enter issued under this paragraph shall be accompanied by a police officer.
VIII. The department shall develop a methodology to notify the child's primary health care provider regarding the nature of the investigation in those cases in which the investigation has identified the primary health care provider.
IX. The use of medication restraint shall be limited as provided in RSA 126-U.
Source. 1979, 361:2. 1987, 402:12. 1994, 411:15-17. 1995, 310:175, 181. 2000, 294:9. 2001, 279:1. 2006, 276:1. 2008, 204:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2009. 2015, 127:1, 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2016. 2017, 112:7, 8, eff. June 14, 2017. 2018, 337:6, 7, eff. July 1, 2018. 2019, 45:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2020. 2021, 182:4, eff. Jan. 1, 2022.