State child protection involves situations where parents are investigated by that state for allegedly neglecting or abusing their child. Each state's Department of Social Services or the division of Child and Family Services, often called Child Protective Services, handles state child protection.
State Child Protection Procedures
The procedure for state child protection is as follows:
- A report of suspected abuse or neglect is made to the appropriate state agency.
- By law, a caseworker or law enforcement officer must investigate the report's validity. A protective services investigation is a fact-finding process. It includes gathering information through interviews, observations, reviewing documents and use of the risk assessment tool.
- If the child is determined to be at risk, the child may be put in temporary placement out of their homes to ensure their safety.
- Usually, the child will be kept with his or her parents unless there is an unequivocal safety concern.
- If the situation is serious, the Court will become involved in the child's life and determine what should be done, such as removing the child and placing it in a group home.
- Social services can provide rehabilitative services to children, parents, and other family members if needed.
Who is Required to Report Evidence of Child Abuse?
Ethically, all people should report child abuse that is known to them. However, some people are legally required to report suspected cases of child abuse. The individuals include:
- Medical and hospital personnel
- School officials
- Social service workers
- Residential care workers
- Law enforcement personnel
Do I Need an Attorney Experienced with State Child Protection Issues?
If your child has been removed from your household by a child protection agency, it may be wise to consult with an experienced family law attorney for two reasons. First, consulting with a lawyer will assist you in reacquiring custody of your child as soon as possible. Second, a lawyer will be able to defend you from any possible criminal charges if they should arise. At the very least, speaking with the proper attorney will inform you of your rights as well as preserve any possible remedies you may have.