Frequently Asked Questions About Reporting Abuse
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If you have reason to suspect abuse, but are not sure, report it. If you have any doubts about whether or not it is abuse, call the hotline. They can advise you on whether the signs you observed are abuse.
- Abuse is mental, emotional, physical, or sexual injury to a child or person 65 years or older, or an adult with disabilities or failure to prevent such injury.
- Of a child includes failure to provide a child with food, clothing, shelter and or medical care and or leaving a child in a situation where the child is at risk of harm.
- Of a person 65 years or older or an adult with disabilities that results in starvation, dehydration, over or under-medication, unsanitary living conditions, and lack of heat, running water, electricity, medical care, and personal hygiene.
- Exploitation is misusing the resources of a person 65 years or older or an adult with disabilities for personal or monetary benefit. This includes taking Social Security or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) checks, abusing a joint checking account, and taking property and other resources.
Please provide as much details as possible. Partial names, addresses, and date of birth are useful information for locating the people involved. Even an approximate age or street name is helpful.
You will answer questions in three main sections: People Involved, What Happened, and Safety Concerns.
- In the People Involved section, you will be asked to provide detailed information about everyone involved in the incident:
- The person you suspect is being abused (alleged victims).
- The person you suspect is responsible for the abuse (alleged perpetrators).
- Others living in the home and anyone one else who can provide information about the incident..
- In the What Happened section, you will be asked to provide detailed information on the specific concerns and reasons you have for reporting the incident.
- In the Safety Concerns section,you will be asked to provide detailed information regarding domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, living conditions and other safety concerns. Share any concerns you have about weapons, gang involvement, or if there are people, pets, or conditions that could be a danger.
Information helpful to have on hand when filing an abuse report (if known) includes:
- Name, age, and address of the child or person 65 years or older or an adult with disabilities.
- Your name and contact information.
- Brief description of the situation and the child or vulnerable adult.
- Current injuries, medical problems, or behavioral problems.
- For a child: Parents' names and names of siblings in the home.
- For an adult: Names of relatives in or outside the home and name of perpetrator.
- Explain how you know about the situation.
If your information does not meet the definitions of abuse or neglect according to the Texas Family Code or the Texas Human Resource Code, your report will not be sent to a local office for investigation.
To help Statewide Intake accurately assess the need for an investigation:
- Answer all the questions as thoroughly as possible.
- Provide detailed and descriptive information about the situation you are reporting.
The Online Report Confirmation number is a system-generated number that acknowledges that DFPS received the information you submitted via the Internet. You can find the online report confirmation number on the confirmation page of the Texas Abuse Hotline Website.
The Report Identification number is the number that DFPS uses to track the information you submitted in DFPS system after an intake worker has reviewed and assessed it. You will find the report identification number in the e-mail that we send back to you.
We recommend you save both numbers.
The subject line of the e-mail only includes the report identification number (see previous FAQ for more information about report identification number) and does not contain any language that would mean anything to anyone other than the person who reported it to us. This number will verify that you have reported the suspected abuse or neglect to our statewide hotline.
We reference the child only by their initials in the body of the e-mail to help you match our e-mail response to the particular situation you reported. We do not include any of the information from your report in our response.
We also provide a general statement regarding how we have assessed the information you reported. You may select the option to not receive e-mails in response to your report.
You can use a TTY to type conversations to a relay agent who then reads the typed conversation to a hearing person. The relay agent transmits the hearing person's spoken words by typing them back to you ( TTY user).
If you are having problems viewing the Google Captcha when using Internet Explorer (IE), follow the steps below to resolve the issue.
- Click on the wheel at top right corner.
- Click on "Compatibility View Setting" (if you are using Internet Exlorer). The Compatibility View Setting dialog box will appear.
- The two check boxes MUST NOT be checked. If they are checked, uncheck them. The two check boxes are:
- Display intranet sites in Compatibility View.
- Use Microsoft compatibility lists.
Yes, cookies must be enabled to access the DFPS internet reporting forms.
DFPS staff are required by law to keep the reporter’s identity confidential [Texas Family Code, Section 261.101 (d)] when the reporter is making a report of possible abuse, neglect or exploitation of children or the elderly and adults with disabilities [Texas Human Resources Code Chapter 48 101(2)].Providing your name and contact information allows field investigators to contact you, if they need additional information from you. Your identity may be revealed only to a judge or law enforcement personnel in certain situations.
Making reports anonymously means you do not provide your name and contact information when you make the report and field investigators are unable to contact you.
When you make a report anonymously, you are not given a online confirmation number for your records.
You can report in the following three ways. Each of the options below are secure methods for reporting suspicions of abuse, neglect and exploitation of children, adults with disabilities, or people 65 years or older.
As a Registered User, you will create an account with your name and contact information. You will receive confirmation of your report, and will be able to save a draft.
As a Guest User you will be asked to identify yourself and give us contact information such as a phone number and email address. This will allow us to confirm your report by email and allow an investigator to follow up for more information, if needed.
As an Anonymous User you will not be asked to identify yourself or give contact information. Since we won't know who you are or how to contact you, you will not receive any confirmation of your report. If you need to provide additional information later, you will be required to submit an entirely new report.
The most likely reason is that you entered your username and or password incorrectly. You can reset your password if you have forgotten it. You will have to know your username and the answer to your security question in order to reset your password. If you do not know your username or the answer to your security question, then you will need to create a new account.
You may not be able to log into your account because inactive accounts are routinely deleted. As part of the maintenance of our system, accounts that have not been used within 12 months are purged from the system. When an account has not been used within 11 months, an email is sent warning the user that the account will soon be deleted and encourages the user to log in to keep the account active. If your account has been deleted, you will need to create a new account to use the web site.
Please contact the Texas Abuse Hotline by phone at 1-800-252-5400 to update information submitted using the Online Texas Abuse Hotline (https://www.txabusehotline.org).
Yes, the new form has spell check built in. Spell check will be available on each page when reviewing your information.
If you set up an account as a registered user, you may save a draft of your work and come back and finish later. However, please note a draft that is not completed will auto submit after 48 hours.
To make sure the information you report is confidential, we have designed the web site so the information cannot be saved on your computer.
On the Summary page, once you have finished reviewing your information, click the Print tab to print your report.
When you click Finish, your report is submitted and you will be taken to the Confirmation page, which also contains the Print tab to print your report. You may also print out this page. It will contain your online confirmation number and the date and time you submitted the report.
Specialists at the Abuse Hotline, known as Statewide Intake Specialists, assess the information you submit via the Internet. The staff are trained, degreed professionals and are some of the same intake workers you are accustomed to speaking with on the phone.
If you are reporting concerns about an 18 year old and not sure which form to use, you may use either form and Statewide Intake staff will assess the information send it to the program with jurisdiction.
Yes. If you are in the middle of filling out a report and leave your computer unattended for 30 minutes, the session will time out for security reasons and you will lose what you have entered. A draft that is not completed will auto submit after 48 hours.
The Website's security is sufficient to permit Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) covered entities to file reports of child abuse or neglect, as mandated by state law. The session between the reporter and the server is encrypted, using Secure Socket Layer technology (SSL). The transmission is secure. The data flow is one way, from the reporter to the server. The reporter sees only a blank form. The reporter cannot access any data submitted in the DFPS computer operating system.
No. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was never intended to prohibit, delay, or otherwise interfere with reporting or providing information necessary to investigate suspected child abuse or neglect. Texas Family Code, Section 261.101 requires everyone to report suspected child abuse, including medical professionals. The HIPAA Privacy Rules, specifically 45 Code of Federal Regulations Section 164.512(b)(1)(ii), authorizes the disclosure of protected health information to DFPS, without the need for an authorization from the individual, for purposes of reporting and investigating suspected child abuse or neglect.
Texas Family Code, Section 261.101. Persons Required to Report; Time to Report
(a) A person having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter.
(c) The requirement to report under this section applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, and an employee of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services.
45 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 164.512 Uses and disclosures for which an authorization or opportunity to agree or object is not required. A covered entity may use or disclose protected health information without the written authorization of the individual, as described in § 164.508, or the opportunity for the individual to agree or object as described in § 164.510, in the situations covered by this section, subject to the applicable requirements of this section.
(b) Standard: uses and disclosures for public health activities.
(1) Permitted disclosures. A covered entity may disclose protected health information for the public health activities and purposes described in this paragraph to:
(ii) A public health authority or other appropriate government authority authorized by law to receive reports of child abuse or neglect.