The Value of the Education Professional Investigation Unit (EPIU)
In the past year, the executive and leadership teams at the Department of Children and Families (DCF) along with school administrators, teachers and their union representatives, have come together to learn how we can improve our collaborative relationships. Among the many important points of discussion were the impact that Careline reports about education professionals have on the schools, the individual personnel involved, and the overall capacity to educate students.
In response to these concerns, a major change is being made that we think will significantly improve the investigation process.
DCF is creating a new unit entitled, the Education Professional Investigation Unit (EPIU), which we believe will shorten the time investigations require and create greater consistency in response to allegations. This unit will respond to Careline reports concerning education professionals - in their professional capacity with students - with two dedicated units of Investigations Social Workers. Each unit will have five Investigators and be overseen by a Social Work Supervisor. A Program Supervisor will manage the two units.
The ten Investigators, who will work out of local Department offices across the state, will receive specialized training in school-based investigations and will develop particular expertise and experience. In addition, the protocol for these investigations will be streamlined to reflect the unique nature of school reports.
The EPIU will complete the investigations in a more expedient manner -- a standard of 33 business days compared to 45 days under the existing process. In addition, the centralized supervision and management will lead to more consistent procedures and findings.
The two Supervisors and the Program Supervisor will be located in Central Office of DCF and fall within the structure of the Child Abuse and Neglect Careline. The Program Supervisor is responsible for statewide investigations and each Social Worker Supervisor oversees investigations according to specific regions.
An additional change is that the investigations disposition will receive a higher level of oversight. In the event an investigation has a substantiated finding or any programmatic/systems related concerns, the Program Supervisor shall be consulted and must give approval of such dispositions. An Assistant Legal Director will provide additional legal consultation to the EPIU when there is a decision to substantiate the allegations and will be available as needed for case consultation.
Once the investigation dispositions are approved, an immediate communication shall be sent by DCF to the State Department of Education and Superintendent of the school district where the investigation occurred. A verbal discussion between the Program Supervisor and Superintendent (or designee) may take place as needed.
This change offers greater timeliness and consistency, but also the opportunity to make communication between the Department and the school administration, educators, and their representatives more direct, convenient, and transparent.