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Child Protective Services Frequently Asked Questions

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What is child abuse?

Child abuse includes physical abuse, severe neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional maltreatment. Any act that endangers or impairs a child's physical or emotional health should be suspected as child abuse, regardless of degree of severity.

Do I have to make a report if I think a child is being abused?

Any person who suspects child abuse or neglect should report it. However, certain individuals such as day care providers, school personnel, medical personnel, law enforcement, social workers, eligibility workers, and commercial film and photographic print processors are required by law to file such reports. They are called mandated reporters.

If I report suspected child abuse or neglect, will you tell the parents who reported it?

No, all persons who report suspected child abuse remain anonymous. The name can be released only by court order. However, the parents may guess, based on the information provided, who reported the abuse.

Will I have to testify in court if I report abuse or neglect?

Occasionally, a mandated reporter may be called upon to testify in court. It is rare for a non-mandated reporter to become involved in the court process.

What gives social workers the authority to talk to a child without the parents' permission?

The California Welfare and Institutions Code allows workers in child protection agencies to speak to children without their parents' permission when they are investigating allegations of abuse or neglect.

Why can a child be taken out of school and removed from his or her home?

 A child may be removed from his/her own home if the child is in imminent risk of abuse or neglect and there are no other means to ensure the child's safety.

What are my rights if my child is taken into protective custody?

Parents have the right to be notified immediately if their child has been taken into protective custody. They have the right to an attorney. They have the right to be notified and to be present at all court hearings involving their child. They also have the right to visit and maintain contact with their child.

I think my children are being abused in the home of my ex-spouse.  What do I do?

If you suspect abuse of your child by the other parent, you are primarily responsible for taking action to protect your child. You may need to go back to family court to have you child custody order modified. You may also report the allegations to Children's Services or to law enforcement, especially if a crime has been committed.

What is legal guardianship and how do I get it?

Legal guardianship is a court process by which an individual is granted certain rights to care for a child without the termination of parental rights. Legal forms can be purchased at the court clerk's office and an attorney or paralegal can assist with the paperwork. Parents must be notified of all court proceedings.