Child Protective Services

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Child Protective Services involve the investigation of valid reports of suspected cases of physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse of children, as well as coordination of services and resources to prevent recurrence of child abuse and/or neglect.

Virginia Law, Chapter 12.1, Section 63.1-248 requires social services departments to investigate all suspected reports of abuse and neglect. Child Protective Services is a specialized continuum of casework services to abused, neglected, or exploited children and families. The focus of the service is identification, assessment, and service provision in an effort to protect children, preserve families, and prevent further maltreatment.

Child Protective Services is non-punitive in its approach and is directed towards enabling families to provide adequate care and nurturing for their children. If this is not possible, then alternative plans for protection may be necessary.

Mandated Reporters

Certain individuals are mandated reporters if they learn of abuse or neglect in their professional capacity. Mandated reporters include:
  • Doctors
  • Hospital residents or interns
  • Nurses
  • Social Workers
  • Probation officers
  • Teachers in public and private schools
  • Child care providers
  • Mental health professionals
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Institutional staff
  • Any mediator eligible to receive court referrals
  • Any person associated with or employed by any private organization responsible for the care, custody or control of children

Reporting Issues

Anyone who suspects that children are being abused or neglected may call anonymously to the local hotline at 757-926-6600 or the statewide toll-free hotline at 1-800-552-7096, which are answerable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After the call is received, a worker will evaluate the information and make a decision whether the complaint is valid. In order for the complaint to be valid, the following criteria must be met:
  • The child / children must be under the age of 18 at the time of the complaint.
  • The alleged abuser must be the child's parent or other person responsible for his/her care.
  • The local department receiving the report must be an agency of jurisdiction.
  • The circumstances described must allege suspected abuse or neglect as defined by policy. The definitions of abuse and neglect include:
    • Bizarre discipline
    • Educational neglect
    • Failure to thrive
    • Medical neglect
    • Mental abuse / neglect
    • Physical abuse
    • Physical neglect
    • Sexual abuse

Investigation Details

If accepted for investigation, an investigation of 45-60 days will be completed ending with a "finding." A complaint is considered "founded" when the preponderance of evidence establishes that abuse and/or neglect has occurred. If this evidence cannot be established, the complaint is classified as "unfounded." An assessment of needs is completed and, if indicated, services are provided to the child and family. A complaint that is founded may be appealed. Information regarding this appeal process may be found on the Virginia Department of Social Services website.

Additional Information

Additional information regarding Child Protective Services may be found at the Virginia Department of Social Services website.