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Searching 2023-2024 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.

NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.

Title 33 : Human Services

Chapter 049 : Child Welfare Services

Subchapter 002 : Reporting Abuse of Children

(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 4915)
  • § 4915. Assessment and investigation

    (a) Upon receipt of a report of abuse or neglect, the Department shall promptly determine whether it constitutes an allegation of child abuse or neglect as defined in section 4912 of this title. The Department shall respond to reports of alleged neglect or abuse that occurred in Vermont and to out-of-state conduct when the child is a resident of or is present in Vermont.

    (b) If the report is accepted as a valid allegation of abuse or neglect, the Department shall determine whether to conduct an assessment as provided for in section 4915a of this title or to conduct an investigation as provided for in section 4915b of this title. The Department shall begin either an assessment or an investigation within 72 hours after the receipt of a report made pursuant to section 4914 of this title, provided that it has sufficient information to proceed. The Commissioner may waive the 72-hour requirement only when necessary to locate the child who is the subject of the allegation or to ensure the safety of the child or social worker.

    (c) The decision to conduct an assessment shall include consideration of the following factors:

    (1) the nature of the conduct and the extent of the child’s injury, if any;

    (2) the accused person’s prior history of child abuse or neglect, or lack thereof; and

    (3) the accused person’s willingness or lack thereof to accept responsibility for the conduct and cooperate in remediation.

    (d) The Department shall conduct an investigation when an accepted report involves allegations indicating substantial child endangerment. For purposes of this section, “substantial child endangerment” includes conduct by an adult involving or resulting in sexual abuse, and conduct by a person responsible for a child’s welfare involving or resulting in abandonment, child fatality, malicious punishment, or abuse or neglect that causes serious physical injury. The Department may conduct an investigation of any report.

    (e) The Department shall begin an immediate investigation if, at any time during an assessment, it appears that an investigation is appropriate.

    (f) The Department may collaborate with child protection, law enforcement, and other departments and agencies in Vermont and other jurisdictions to evaluate risk to a child and to determine the service needs of the child and family. The Department may enter into reciprocal agreements with other jurisdictions to further the purposes of this subchapter.

    (g) The Department shall report to and receive assistance from appropriate law enforcement in the following circumstances:

    (1) investigations of child sexual abuse by an alleged perpetrator 10 years of age or older;

    (2) investigations of serious physical abuse or neglect requiring emergency medical care, resulting in death, or likely to result in criminal charges;

    (3) situations potentially dangerous to the child or Department worker; and

    (4) an incident in which a child suffers:

    (A) serious bodily injury as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1021, by other than accidental means; and

    (B) potential violations of:

    (i) 13 V.S.A. § 2602 (lewd or lascivious conduct with child);

    (ii) 13 V.S.A. chapter 60 (human trafficking);

    (iii) 13 V.S.A. chapter 64 (sexual exploitation of children); and

    (iv) 13 V.S.A. chapter 72 (sexual assault). (Added 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. April 25, 1982; amended 1995, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 300; 1999, No. 78 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2007, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 7, 2007; 2007, No. 168 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2015, No. 60, § 17.)