B. Making a Report

DFPS sets out the mandatory requirements for an investigation in CPS Handbook § 2200.[1]

1. Call to the Hotline

An investigation of child abuse or neglect usually starts with a call to the hotline. The reporter may identify himself or remain anonymous, but the identity of the reporter is confidential. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.201(a)(1). However, a court may order disclosure of the identity of the reporter or the information obtained through the investigation. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.201(b).

2. Lay Person's Duty to Report

Any person having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(a).

In addition to the duty to report pursuant to Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(a), a person must also report if the person has cause to believe that an adult was a victim of abuse or neglect as a child and the person determines in good faith that the disclosure of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of another child. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(b-1).

3. Professional's Duty to Report

If a professional has cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected, the professional shall make a report no later than the 48th hour after the professional first suspects that the child has been abused or neglected. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(b).

A professional may not delegate to or rely on another person to make the report. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(b).

A professional who has the duty to report under Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(b) must also report if the professional has cause to believe that an adult was a victim of abuse or neglect as a child and the professional determines in good faith that the disclosure of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of another child. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(b-1).

The requirement to report under Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101 applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, an employee or member of a board that licenses or certifies a professional, and an employee of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(c).

4. Failure to Report

A person commits an offense if the person is required to make a report under Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(a) and knowingly fails to make a report. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.109(a).

Failure to report when required is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if the child was a person with an intellectual disability who resided in a state supported living center or a facility licensed under Tex. Health and Safety Code Chapter 252 and the actor knew the child suffered serious bodily injury. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.109(b).

A professional as defined by Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(b) commits an offense if the person is required to make a report under Tex. Fam. Code § 261.101(b) and knowingly fails to make a report. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.109(a-1).

An offense under Tex. Fam. Code § 261.109(a-1) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the actor intended to conceal the abuse or neglect. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.109(c).

5. Immunities

A person acting in good faith who reports or assists in an investigation is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be imposed. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.106(a).

6. False Reports

Knowingly making a false report is punishable as a state jail felony, unless it is shown that the person has previously been convicted under this section, in which case the offense is a third-degree felony and carries a civil penalty of $1,000. Tex. Fam. Code § 261.107(a) and Tex. Fam. Code § 261.107(e).