Who should report?
First off, mandated reporters must report or they could face charges.
Some examples of Mandated Reporters:
But, you don't have to be a mandated reporter to report. Anyone in the community can report suspected child abuse. Be on the safe side, please call if you have any concerns. CPS doesn't investigate every call. Let CPS decide whether or not they want to investigate it. They are the professionals, they should be the ones to decide, not the community.
How do I make a Report?
Call or visit your local CPS during regular business hours Monday through Friday. (Do not leave a report on someone's voice mail).
If it is an emergency, and I'm talking life or death, feel free to call after-hours, on weekends, and on state holidays. When calling during non-business hours, understand you are calling someone at home, most likely a mother, so if you hear kids screaming in the background, a tv, dogs barking, please ignore that. Also, make this call as quickly as possible. Do not call and ask questions about a certain case or questions about something that needs to be looked up in the system, as most on-call workers can't do that. The on-call worker will not give you another worker's home number, ever ever. If you need to reach someone specifically, please call during business hours.
If you heard about something at 3pm on a Wednesday, don't wait until 10:30 pm that night to call.
What Information Should I Have On Hand?
Try to have as much information on hand as possible, including the names of the child's parents/caretakers; the child's name, date of birth, and school or childcare facility; and the nature and extent of the injuries or allegations of abuse.
Stick to the facts, not how you feel about the situation. Try not to say "This is what you need to do". Trust the CPS agency to know what to do, it's their job. Also, try not to use the phrase "I just know in my heart" when you have absolutely no proof and you've never seen any type of abuse or neglect.
Also, many agencies only take first hand information, so if your sister or friend saw something but they want you to call for them, convince them that they need to be the ones to call, not you. We want to know what you know, not what your sister's boyfriend's cousin's hairdresser's best friend's aunt saw the other day. But if your sister, etc. refuses to call, please call for her. At least tell us about it.
What Happens When I Report?
A social worker will question you about the child's situation, record the information you provide, and turn it over to his/her supervisor. The one you speak to on the phone may or may not be the one to be assigned to that case. Also, in some cases, ask you to gather more information and call them back. They will ask you for your name, number and address. Your name adds more credibility to your report. Your number is in case the investigator needs to call you back and ask more questions. Your address is so you can get a piece of paper in the mail letting you know whether or not the case was investigated. That's all the paper is going to tell you. You will not be able to learn the actual outcome of the case, so don't bother asking.
You DO NOT have to give them your information, but as I said before, it adds more creditability.
What If I Am Not Sure That What I Suspect Is Abuse?
I kinda went over this earlier, but just to go over it again...
Please call us for advice if you are not sure whether a report is warranted. Remember, you do not have to prove that a child has been abused. That is our responsibility.
You may also want to seek our advice if you are thinking about telling the parents that you reported as, in some cases, this could endanger the child and hinder the investigation.
What Happens If It's Accepted?
We will typically begin an investigation within 72 hours; however, we will start sooner if a child is in immediate danger.
Will My Report Be Kept Confidential?
We will not divulge your identity to any client. Sometimes, a client will call around trying to find out who called, saying "They told me it was you". Please don't fall for this.
Can I Be Sued?
The law provides you with immunity from civil or criminal liability as long as your report was made in good faith.
What About HIPAA?
The HIPAA privacy rule allow covered entities to disclose protected health information in order to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect, if the report is made to a government authority that is authorized by law to receive such reports.
Basically, your doctor can hand over your medical records to us if they are the ones making the report. That's why, if you know a situation that could be medical neglect, speakiing to the doctor and urging them to call would be better than if you called.
If a child discloses abuse, can I tell the non-offending parent that I am making a report?
Please call CPS first to discuss this with an intake worker. You cannot be sure that the parent will protect the child and may therefore place the child at further risk. Informing the parent could also hinder the investigation.
The intake worker will help you to consider the following: Will the child's safety be at risk if the parents are informed? Will they be open to CPS involvement? What is the perpetrator's relationship with the child and with the parents? Are the parents likely to leave the area if they become aware that you are making a report to CPS?
Reasons NOT to call: (my opinion only)
1. You are a relative or parent and the custodial parent will not let you see the kids or is not following visitation. That is a civil matter and CPS does not get involved with visitation.
2. You are mad at your neighbor or relative and even though you know they are not abusing their kids, you just want to get back at them.
3. Your neighbor does not give her kids organic food and lets them stay up late.
4. Her kid beat up your kid.
5. That lady (you don't know her name) who lives out that way (don't know the street) might be doing drugs b/c you heard that 20 years ago, she went to jail for drugs.
Please understand that most of this post is my opinion only. If you have any questions about reporting, please contact your local CPS agency.