Investigations of Child Abuse and Neglect Reports
State law requires anyone who believes a child is being abused or neglected to report it so CPS can investigate. CPS interviews children, parents, and others who know about the family to help determine if abuse or neglect happened, if children are safe, and to gauge the risk of further harm. CPS investigators also consider physical evidence such as injuries, illegal drug use, and other factors such as lack of food or medical care. If needed, CPS investigators may refer families to services to help stabilize the family and address their needs. However, if services are not enough to make a child safe, CPS may ask a judge to remove the child from the parents' custody and place the child in a relative’s care or foster care. On September 1, 2017, the new DFPS Investigations program began conducting child abuse and neglect investigations on September 1, 2017. This includes investigations formerly handled by the CPS, Special Investigations, and Child Care Licensing program.
In FY 2015, CPS started using an alternative to traditional investigations in a few parts of the state. Alternative Response lets CPS handle less serious allegations of abuse or neglect in a more flexible way – engaging families while still focusing on the safety of the children. CPS provides services and support to help families resolve safety issues and reduce future involvement with CPS. In FY 2017, CPS added Alternative Response in three additional regions (Regions 4, 5, and 10) for a total of eight regions. Regions 1 and 11 started in fiscal year 2015, and Regions 3, 7, and 9 began in FY 2016. The Alternative Response program transferred to the DFPS Investigations program on September 1, 2017. DFPS will continue to expand the Alternative Response approach with a goal of using it statewide by December 2018.
For more information, see Alternative Response in the CPS section of DFPS Data Book.
Family-Based Safety Services
CPS provides services to help stabilize families and reduce the risk of future abuse or neglect. Family-Based Safety Services, sometimes called in-home or family preservation services, can help avoid removing children from their homes. These services often make it possible for children to return home by helping families understand and protect their children from danger. Services include family counseling, crisis intervention, parenting classes, substance abuse treatment, domestic violence intervention, and daycare. Most children receiving these services live at home while CPS works with their families. In some cases, children may live elsewhere until they can safely return home, usually with relatives or family friends.
For more information, see Family Preservation in the CPS section of DFPS Data Book.