From Buncombe County Health and Human Services press release:
BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. – Effective January 1, 2016, the Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) will be the sole agency investigating alleged child abuse and neglect in licensed child care settings. These changes are included in Senate Bill 578 (www.ncleg.net). Prior to this change DCDEE and Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) worked together to investigate these reports.
This change will apply to licensed family child care homes and child care centers. A family child care home is offered in the provider’s residence and three to five preschool or school age children can be in care. Child care centers are larger programs that provide care for three or more children, in a nonresidential setting (e.g., a child care facility or religious-sponsored child care facility).
The elimination of duplication of work between DCDEE and BCHHS will result in a more streamlined approach to investigations in child care, eliminating duplication of work between DCDEE and BCHSS, and will lead to more timely case closure.
It is important for every citizen in the State of North Carolina to know that they are required to report suspected maltreatment. The following provides important information on the definition of child maltreatment, the process for reporting concerns, the investigatory process, remedies and actions and a Child Maltreatment Registry that will be available to the public.
What is Child Maltreatment?
The new law defines “child maltreatment” as: “Any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. Acts of commission include, but are not limited to, physical, sexual, and psychological abuse. Acts of omission include, but are not limited to, failure to provide for the physical, emotional, or medical well-being of a child, and failure to properly supervise children, which results in exposure to potentially harmful environments.”
Who is a Caregiver?
The new law defines “caregiver” broadly, and includes: the operator of a licensed child care facility or religious-sponsored child care facility, a child care provider (as defined in G.S. 110-90.2(a)(2)), a volunteer, or any person who has the approval of the provider to assume responsibility for children under the care of the provider.
Who can Report Child Maltreatment?
Every citizen of the State of North Carolina is required to report suspected maltreatment. You can make a report to DCDEE by calling (919) 527-6500 or in NC, dial (800) 859-0829. You can also call BCHHS at (828) 250-5500.
How is the new process better than the old?
The DCDEE consultants will continue to cite violations and issue administrative actions when there are concerns. Operators will still be required to correct any violations consultants cite. In addition, consultants will continue to work with operators to make any needed corrections. Consultants can now put immediate measures in place to ensure children are safe.
In addition, the new child maltreatment registry will ensure that individuals who maltreat a child are not able to work in child care. Currently, people who have seriously neglected or abused a child are placed on the Responsible Individuals List (RIL) with DSS. DCDEE will now have a similar list called the Child Maltreatment Registry. This list will include names of caregivers who maltreat a child in child care. A caregiver will have the opportunity to appeal.
The names of individuals on the Child Maltreatment Registry are public information. DCDEE will maintain the registry. People on the registry may not work in child care. The public can submit a form to DCDEE to find out if someone is on the Child Maltreatment Registry. The form will be available on our website in January 2016.
What information is available to the public at the end of a child maltreatment investigation?
If DCDEE determines that child maltreatment DID occur, DCDEE will share the investigation findings, the dates of all visits made during the investigation, and any corrective action taken.
If DCDEE determines that child maltreatment did NOT occur, DCDEE will share violations of child care licensure law or rules resulting from the investigation and any administrative action taken as a result. DCDEE cannot post on the website that a child maltreatment investigation occurred if the maltreatment was unsubstantiated.
Please visit www.ncchildcare.nc.gov for more information on the new law.