Residential & Placement Licensing

Regulations 102 CMR 3.04(3)(e) and 5.04(3)(d) require licensees to conduct internal investigations of suspected incidents of child abuse and neglect, serious incidents involving the health and safety of children, and the death of any child in residential and placement. This requirement pertains to any incident reported to DSS pursuant to M.G.L. chapter 119, section 51A, regardless of whether the report is screened-in for investigation by DSS. Internal investigations are also required for incidents that are not reported to DSS but still raise health and safety concerns . Examples of incidents requiring internal investigation include: any serious injury; a serious illness that may not have received proper medical treatment; sexual involvement among clients or between staff and clients; a major disturbance by residents of a facility; a fire; an extraordinary runaway incident, such as one involving theft of an agency vehicle; and allegations of substance abuse by staff while on duty.

Upon learning of an allegation or serious incident, the licensee's chief administrative person or designee must notify the Office within twenty-four hours.

The internal investigation must begin immediately upon request of the Office as required by EEC regulation 102 CMR 3.04 (3)(e). However EEC, DSS, or another investigating or law enforcement agency such as the local police, or the District Attorney's office, may request a provider to stop or delay the internal investigation. This will occur in cases of serious allegations or injuries, and may include allegations regarding sexual abuse, or serious physical abuse that involve assault charges reported to the police or the DA's office. When requested, the provider must always cooperate and stop or delay the internal investigation process.

Personnel who can review the issue with some degree of objectivity - that is, an agency administrator, a team of staff, or an outside consultant must conduct the internal investigation. The investigator(s) must interview involved persons and witnesses, individually, and must gather documentation, such as signed statements, incident reports, medical reports, log entries, children's records and personnel files. After reviewing the evidence, the investigator(s) must write a report that describes the investigative activities, states the findings, and draws conclusions that analyze what went wrong. The report must also describe any corrective action taken by the licensee, and should include recommendations to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. This report must be made available to the Office and will be reviewed as part of the Office's investigation activities.

Internal investigations must be completed as quickly as possible in order to assure the safety of children, protect the rights of all involved parties, and minimize disruption within the program. Generally one week should be sufficient; however, a complex investigation involving numerous interviews and extensive documentation might require more time.

Information provided by the Department of Early Education and Care . Created: March 25, 1995 Last Reviewed: January 7, 2005