Child Protective Services
CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE
The abuse and neglect of children are serious problems in Virginia. Each year in this state over 33,000 reports about possible abuse or neglect are investigated. Virginia Law requires social services departments to investigate all such reports, and to provide or arrange protection for children id protection is needed. (The law is Chapter 12.1, Section 63.1-248 et seq.). The purpose of child protective services intervention is to protect children, to preserve families whenever possible, and to prevent further abuse and neglect.
What is Child Abuse or Neglect?
Under the law, an abused or neglected child is any child under 18 whose parent, or any other person responsible for the care of the child:
- Causes or threatens to cause, a physical or mental injury except for an accident
- Fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or caring support
- Abandons the child
- Fails to provide the kind of supervision necessary for a child's age or level of development
- Commit, or allows to be committed, any sexual act involving the child-including incest, rape, fondling, indecent exposure, prostitution-or allows the child to be used in any sexually explicit visual material.
What happens during the investigation?
During the investigation, the CPS worker routinely:
- Checks for reports of abuse or neglect
- Talks face to face with the child involved.
- Observes the child for injuries or signs of abuse or neglect
- Observes the child's home and where the alleged abuse/neglect took place
- Talks face to face with the person who someone claims has abused or neglected the child.
- Talk with other people who know about the child's care, such as doctors, teachers, other relatives, etc
- Interview and observe other children in the home
- Arrange for medical or psychological examination of the child
What kind of services are provided?
If there is a need for services, the social worker will work out a plan which will include:
- Steps that can be taken to meet the child's need such as making and keeping medical appointments, making sure the child gets to school, learning new ways of discipline
- The services needed for the family and child
- How the services will be given and who will give them
- The parent(s) responsibilities, social services' responsibilities and the responsibilities of any others involved in the plan
- The date by which the needed steps are to be taken and the length of the time that service may be offered
At what age may a child be left unsupervised?
There is no law in Virginia stating the age a child may be left alone. It is left to the discretion of the caretaker. This agency encourages parents to assess not only their age but maturity and developmental abilities of each child before they are left unattended. Parents should develop an emergency call list and practice an emergency evacuation plan.
How can I help prevent child abuse and neglect?
Don't ignore child abuse or neglect. If you or any member of your family needs help coping with children, don't let your pride keep you from asking for help. You may choose to join a parents group, take classes in parenting skills to learn alternative ways to handle children, or seek counseling.
To report child abuse or neglect, call the local social service department or the state's toll-free hot line. The state Child Abuse Hotline is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.