Child Abuse or Neglect
What happens when I
report child abuse?
Who should report allegations of abuse or neglect to
Children and Family Services?
What should be reported to Children and Family Services?
If you believe a child has been abused or neglected call the
county Children and Family Services office, or law enforcement in
To report child abuse call:
are the criteria for reporting suspected child
pertains to a child under the age of 18 years.
alleges harm or imminent risk of harm to the child.
a parent or
or other person living in the home
educator, volunteer, or employee of a
recreational/organizational setting who is
responsible for the child; or any individual
providing treatment, care or supervision for the
Nature of the
harm or specific incident(s) that precipitated the
descriptions(s) of the injuries or dangers
of perpetrator(s) and their relationship/s to the
to the incident(s) and how they may be reached
any physical evidence available
perpetrator’s have current access to the child
condition of the child (alone, in need of medical
location of the child and directions to get there
statements from the child
reporter came to know the information and the reporter's
thoughts about the likelihood of further harm to the
These are just several examples of the questions that may be
asked when reporting abuse or neglect. The reporter's
identity is confidential, but a name should be given so the
Department could follow-up contact with the reporter if
necessary. The reporter is free from civil or criminal
liability for reports of suspected child abuse or neglect
made in good faith.
What happens when I
report child abuse?
When a person notifies the Department of Children and Family
regarding possible abuse or neglect of a child, Children and
Family Services social work staff determines how quickly to proceed
with an investigation by assessing the referral information
and focusing on the present and future risks to the child.
Considering the condition of the child and the risk of
future maltreatment helps a social worker determine how
quickly to respond to a CFS referral and what priority to
assign that referral. This process involves accepting oral
or written allegations of child abuse or neglect for further
investigation, gathering the information to determine the
need for CFS and the urgency of the situation and initiating
the appropriate response and an investigative plan.
- What Happens When a Report is Made?
Who should report
allegations of abuse or neglect to Children and Family
The Department of Children and Family Services encourages everyone
to report suspected child abuse and neglect. The exception
is those professions that have an inherent responsibility to
report by virtue of their positions, and thus they are
mandated to report suspected child abuse and neglect.
Mandated reporters are those individuals who in the course
of their work come in contact with families and children.
The following professionals are Mandated reporters (Penal
Code Section 11165.7) and as such are required to report
suspected/alleged child abuse and neglect to a child
protective agency (police or CFS) and file a mandated
reporter form within 36 hours of submitting an oral report.
The California Child Abuse and Neglect
Reporting Law - Issues and Answers for Mandated Reporters
whose duties require direct contact and supervision of
and Hospital Personnel.(including: physicians, surgeons,
dentists, residents, interns, podiatrists,
chiropractors, licensed nurses, dental hygienists,
optometrists, medical examiners, coroners, emergency
medical technicians I & II, paramedics,
Professionals and Counselors (including psychiatrists,
psychologists, licensed and unlicensed marriage, family
and child counselors and trainees, psychological
Officials and Educators (including public, classified or
private: teachers, instructional aides, teacher’s
assistants, administrative officers, supervisors of
child welfare and attendance, administrators or
employees of a county office of education or the
California Department of Education, school police.)
Personnel (including: public assistance workers, social
workers, clinical social workers, child visitation
monitors, county welfare employees.)
(including priests, ministers, rabbis, religious
practitioners, or similarly functionary of a church,
temple or recognized denomination or organization.)
Day Camp or
Child-Care Providers (including public or private:
administrators, licensees & employees of any youth
center, youth recreational program, youth organization,
licensed community care or child day care facility.)
and Photographic Print Processors (including those that
develop exposed negatives, slides, or prints.)
Personnel (including: any employee of any police
department, county sheriff’s department, and county
probation department. This includes probation officers,
parole officers, police officers, & peace officers.)
To download the Mandated Reporter form (PDF)
or go to
What should be
reported to Children and Family Services?
Child abuse and neglect occurs when a child is mistreated,
resulting in injury or risk of harm. Abuse can be physical,
verbal, emotional or sexual.
is defined as non-accidental physical trauma or injury
inflicted by a parent or caretaker on a child. It also
includes a parent's or a caretaker's failure to protect
a child from another person who perpetrated physical
abuse on a child. In its most severe form, physical
abuse is likely to cause great bodily harm or death.
Neglect is defined, as the failure to provide for a
child's physical survival needs to the extent that there
is harm or risk of harm to the child's health or safety.
This may include, but is not limited to abandonment:
lack of supervision, life endangering physical hygiene,
lack of adequate nutrition that places the child below
the normal growth curve, lack of shelter, lack of
medical or dental that results in health threatening
conditions, and the inability to meet basic clothing
needs of a child. In its most severe form, physical
neglect may result in great bodily harm or death.
includes penetration or external touching of a child's
intimate parts, oral sex with a child, indecent exposure
or any other sexual act performed in a child's presence
for sexual gratification, sexual use of a child for
prostitution, and the manufacturing of child
pornography. Child sexual abuse is also the willful
failure of the parent or the child's caretaker to make a
reasonable effort to stop child sexual abuse by another
includes verbal assaults, ignoring and indifference or
constant family conflict. If a child is degraded enough,
the child will begin to live up to the image
communicated by the abusing parent or caretaker.
Child abuse can happen anywhere;
in poor, middle-class or well-to-do homes, in rural or urban