What to Expect During & After Making a Report
What Will Be Asked
When you contact law enforcement, child protection, or another responsible agency, the agency worker will need the following information unless you are choosing to remain anonymous as a voluntary reporter:
- Your name
- Phone number
- Your relationship to the family of child
- Where the child is now and whether the child is in immediate danger
- A description of any injuries or the present condition of the child
- A description of what happened to the child, including information about when and where the incident occurred
- The names and addresses of the child, parents, or caregivers
- A report of any witnesses to the incident and the names of the witnesses
- Any additional information you have about the child, family, or caregivers that may be helpful
- A description of what action the facility or school has taken in response to the incident, if the incident occurred in a licensed facility or a school
Once a Report is Made
Once a report is made, it is screened by a team of child protection professionals within 24 hours. The report is screened to determine if any allegations meet criteria for possible abuse or neglect. If screened in, the report is then assessed using a family assessment or family investigation response.
The majority of the reports are assessed through the family assessment process. During this assessment period, child protection professionals engage the family in a strengths-based relationship to try and resolve the presented issues. Many families are successful with this process and do not need services beyond the investigation.
In some cases, a family investigation process is used. During an investigation, the child protection social worker interviews the child who is the alleged victim of the maltreatment, as well as the child’s parents, the alleged offender of the maltreatment, and other people who may have information regarding the child’s safety, such as school personnel or medical professionals.
Social workers often coordinate or team their investigation with law enforcement, which may need to be involved if there are criminal allegations in the report. The social worker assesses the child’s safety, as well as risk for the possibility of future maltreatment. When needed, the social worker and family will create a safety plan to ensure that the child is safe.
Once the assessment or investigation is completed, a determination as to the need for ongoing services is made. If a family is determined to be in need of ongoing services, a social worker works with the family to assess strengths and needs and develop a service plan to address child safety issues and other issues that impact child and family.
Child protection services are provided on a voluntary basis, without court involvement. However, if a parent or caregiver refuses to participate with services, despite the agency’s determination that services are needed to ensure child safety, a decision may be made to file a Child in Need of Protection or Services (CHIPS) petition. The CHIPS petition would seek either temporary legal custody of the child, or to have the court order the parent or caregiver to participate in services.