Making the decision to call Child Protective Services because you believe a child has been abused is never an easy decision to make. You don’t want to accuse an innocent parent, but if you really believe that the child has been mistreated then you really should do something to help that child.
Here are some tips to help you deal with Child Protective Services.
What Are The Signs To Look Out For?
Firstly, you want to make sure that you have some sort of evidence to back up your suspicion. Tell-tale signs that a child is being abused or neglected include:
- You have seen constant bruising on the child
- The child cringes, hides or raises an arm defensively for no good reason
- The child becomes withdrawn
- The child experiences a loss of appetite or looks malnourished
- The child’s school work begins to suffer or they become uncontrollable in the classroom
- You are aware that the child is left at home alone or unsupervised for a long period of time
- You have evidence of drug or alcohol use by the parents (especially in front of the children)
- An unsafe or extremely dirty home environment
What Does Not Constitute Child Abuse?
The following situations are not reason enough to call Child Protective Services:
- A parent not vaccinating their child
- Custody battles
- A child playing unsupervised in their own yard
- A parent spanking a child (within reason)
- Parents yelling at children
- A one-time accident that causes injury to the child
What Happens After Child Protective Services Receive a Call?
You can make a call anonymously, but even if you give your name and contact information, this is never released to the family involved. After you make the call, Child Protective Services must follow up on it.
They will organize a social worker to visit the family and talk to the parents. This may be done on two separate occasions. After the visit, they will need to review the case and call references. They must then decide whether there is any need for further action.
If not, there will be no record of the call kept on file. If further action is needed, an investigation will be opened. In most cases, Child Protective Services do not wish to remove the children from their home. This is usually only done in extreme cases, where the child’s safety is in jeopardy.
If protecting children is something that you are very passionate about you may like to consider studying for a masters in political science online at a prestigious institution such as George Washington University. An online masters in political science will allow you to get involved with the rules and regulations that govern organizations such as Child Protective Services.
Another option that you have if you suspect a child is being abused is to simply call the police. They will then go and investigate and decide whether Child Protective Services need to be involved.
If you truly believe that a child is being abused or neglected, don’t hesitate to contact either the police or Child Protective Services.
Best interests – If needed, you can phone Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) before filing a report. These counselors can help with the situation you’re experiencing and provide resources. Keep in mind that CPS is designed to operate with the child’s best interests in mind.
First and foremost, take photos and/or video of the abuse you have witnessed or seen. This will be valuable evidence to substantiate the abuse you are reporting. Also, the more reports that are submitted about the same abused child, the more chances something will be done quicker. Have the child’s teacher, neighbors, friends, church folks or whoever has any contact with the child, start complaining LOUDLY and OFTEN.
1) Contact LEGAL AIDE and find legal representation — your case should be tried in a court of law to petition the court for an abuse or neglect investigation, temporary guardianship, and/or full custody.
2) Contact the NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE — make a national abuse report. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD
3) Call the police or dial 911 directly – especially if the child is in immediate danger! If the child has current immediate/obvious bruising, abuse, neglect or any signs that the police or EMS workers can visibly see, I guarantee CPS will be forced to step in after they contact them. (Having police reports to coincide with CPS reports helps to bring the case immediate attention!!)
4) Contact the CPS office and ask to speak the the SUPERVISOR—report the worker behind the recommendation. You probably initially spoke to an intake worker. Next time ask to speak to the Intake Worker’s supervisor (they are who decides whether a case is accepted or not). There are two types of investigations: a GPS case/investigation- General Protection Services (and) a CPS case/investigation – Child Protection Services.
5) Contact the child’s school and speak directly to his teacher, principal, coach or school counselor. They are mandated reporters and can help to bring attention to the child’s abuse.
6) Document, document, document. Take pictures. Tell the children that if they are hit they are to call the police IMMEDIATELY and reassure them that you will never get angry at them for calling the police. Tell them that if they become that afraid, they are to run to a neighbor’s house and call the police. Police take that kind of stuff very seriously BECAUSE of the number of children who have been seriously injured or worse because of neglect and abuse that went unpunished. Record and document everything—-keep a journal with dates, times, notes. Write down in detail what the child did to be “punished” for, when and where thy were hit and with what object, etc… Remember to take pictures and/or video of any/all abuse. This is crucial!! If possible, install a “nanny or spy cam” to catch the abuse on tape.
7) If all else fails, please contact your state governor’s office and speak to the commission’s office!!! They will record an “in-take” report and investigate. Contact your state legislature/governor’s office/District Attorney and ask for assistance. Report the CPS office that is behind this unacceptable recommendation. Do not take no for an answer…be persistent. Call them, write them, go in person to their offices and tell them you need help.
NOTE: The laws state that parents are allowed to parent as they see fit provided the child isn’t being physically/emotionally/mentally abused nor neglected to the point that it puts the child’s life in danger. Physical abuse is the easiest to prove in a court of law. Emotional/Mental Abuse is about impossible to prove with a younger child, especially if there aren’t other kids in the home displaying the same behaviors and if the behaviors aren’t extreme. Spanking isn’t illegal, spanking with an implement is highly frowned upon, but if it isn’t causing severe pain, bruising or impairment, it’s not (technically) illegal….Just morally and ethically wrong.
Lastly, CPS or DHS should be utilized only to protect children in danger. It should never be used for individuals who do not agree with the way a family or other parent is raising the child. DHS is always going to try to rehabilitate the parent. Jurisdictions vary, but you need to keep reporting to DHS (CPS or whatever it is called where you live) EVERY TIME. They have to come out and investigate each report by law. Stay in close touch with the school counselor and make sure the children know that the counselor is someone to be trusted and they will NEVER be in trouble for telling the counselor the truth.
Here are more articles on steps you can take to protect your child:
The Shame of Governmental Child Protection — with “Melody,” a former CPS worker
IF YOU ARE “FALSELY” ACCUSED OF ABUSE BY CPS: