All reports of child abuse are first directed to the Child Protective Services agency of state of residence. When reporting a case of child abuse, each state requires certain professionals and institutions to report suspected maltreatment. Examples of these professionals include health care providers and facilities, mental health care providers, teachers and other school staff, social workers, police officers, foster care providers, and daycare providers.
Screening: The first report of suspected child abuse or neglect is called a referral. Referrals that have been screened in are then investigated or assessed by the CPS agency to determine the possibility that maltreatment has occurred, or that the child is at risk of maltreatment. Some referrals are screened out if: The referral did not concern child abuse or neglect; it did not contain enough information to enable an investigation or assessment to occur; the children in the referral were the responsibility of another agency or jurisdiction (military) or the alleged victim was older than 18 years.
Investigation: During this process the CPS agency conducts interviews with family members, the alleged victim, and friends and relatives of the family. The CPS agency then determines whether the child is a victim of abuse, or is at risk of abuse or neglect. This determination often is called a disposition.
It is imperative to understand that the Child Protection Services is different in each state. While every U.S. state and the U.K. has a Child Protection Agency, the standards, conditions, and contact for each CPS agency is different.
CPS Child Abuse Statistics related to reporting abuse:
- Approximately 3.2 million referrals of child abuse and neglect that included approximately
- 5.8 million children were made to CPS agencies.
- About 62 percent (61.7%) of those referrals reached the second stage, became a report, and were either investigated or received an assessment.
- More than 25 percent (25.2%) of the investigations that reached the report stage determined that at least one child was a victim of child abuse or neglect.