What Happens After a Report of Child Abuse


What Happens After a Report of Child Abuse Has Been Made?

Children are seldom removed permanently from their homes. If Child Protective Services decides to investigate the case, they must initiate an investigation within 24 hours for abuse and within 72 hours in cases of suspected neglect. A full assessment will be made to determine future actions involving the child and the family. Help may be provided to the family in the form of counseling, referrals to other helping agencies, emergency foster care services, intensive in-home services, and/or help with housing, finances, medical needs, and child care.

When a Child Discloses

When a child tells you that he or she has been abused, they may be feeling scared, guilty, ashamed, angry, and powerless. You may feel a sense of outrage, disgust, sadness, or disbelief. It is important for you to remain calm and in control of your feelings in front of the child. Reassure them that you will try to help keep them safe.

You can show your care and concern by:

  • listening carefully to what the child is saying
  • telling the child that you believe them
  • telling the child that the abuse was not their fault
  • letting the child know that you will make a report to help stop the abuse

You will not be helping the child if you:

  • make promises that you can't keep, such as promising not to tell anyone
  • push the child to give you details about the abuse (your role is to listen to what the child wants to tell you)
  • ask direct questions of the child (this might interfere with the investigation)
  • discuss what the child told you with others who are not directly involved with helping the child