Always call 9-1-1 anytime there is an emergency situation with child abuse or neglect!
Child Protective Services (CPS) Intake receives and screens reports of abuse and neglect of children under the age of 18 years. Calls are screened based on state policy and guidelines. Valid reports of child abuse and/or neglect are assigned to a CPS investigator who provides either an investigation or family assessment. Allegations of abuse or neglect must be investigated within 45-60 days from the date of the report. In cases where an allegation may involve criminal charges, the investigation is done jointly with law enforcement.
An interview with the child must be done and may occur without permission from the parents. Interviews are also conducted with the alleged abuser and other parties as needed.
1. Can I make an anonymous complaint or am I required to leave my name?
Answer: You are not required to leave your name. Complaints and reports of suspected child or adult abuse or neglect may be made anonymously. However, if you do not give your name, you will not be given additional information such as the name of the investigator and the case status. Due to confidentiality rules, we can only share this type of information with the complainant if they provide a name at the time of reporting.
2. Will I be contacted by the Child Protective Service Investigator?
Answer: The complainant may be contacted by the CPS Investigator for additional information regarding the allegations. The complainant can share additional information with the CPS Investigator. The CPS Investigator is not able to share with the complainant what is occurring in the process of the investigation/ family assessment.
3. Is my name shared with the family?
Answer: The Department of Social Services is required by State Policy and Regulations to keep the complainant’s name confidential. When the referral is deemed a joint investigation with the police, however, complainant information is provided to the police.
4. How long does it take to complete a Child Protective Service investigation/family assessment?
Answer: The Department of Social Services has 45 days to conduct an investigation/family assessment. In certain circumstances, the Department of Social Services can request an additional 15 days to complete the investigation.
5. What constitutes a valid report?
Answer: Child Protective Service policy, developed by the Department of Social Services, outlines the criteria to determine the validity of a complaint. The criteria states that the child shall be under the age of 18; the alleged abuser/neglector was in a caretaker role; the department has jurisdiction to conduct the family assessment or investigation; and the allegations meet the criteria for the alleged abuse and/or neglect.
6. How long does it take for someone to begin the Child Protective Service investigation/family assessment?
Answer: When a report has been determined to be valid, a response time is assigned. There are three different response times depending on the particular situation: 4-hour response; 24-hour response and 72-hour response.
7. How long does it take for someone to begin the Adult Protective Service investigation?
Answer: When a report has been determined to be valid, a worker will respond within 24 hours.
8. When is the Protective Service Hotline open?
Answer: The Department of Social Services ensures that adult and child neglect/abuse can be reported at any time. The Protective Services Hotline, (703) 792-4200 (TTY: 711), screens for allegations of adult and child abuse and/or neglect from the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. After 5 p.m., reports can be made through the County Police dispatch at (703) 792-6500 (TTY: 711), who will contact the Emergency Duty (ED) worker with Social Services. The ED worker will screen for allegations of abuse and/or neglect. In addition, allegations can be made through the State Hotline, 24 hours a day, at (800) 552-7096 (TTY: 711)
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