Identity and Location - Can CPS identify and locate the child and family being reported?
Age of Child - Depending on state law, CPS usually only investigates cases of children under 18 years old.
Jurisdiction - Does CPS have jurisdiction? For example, California CPS has jurisdiction over cases where the abuse happened in California. California CPS also has jurisdiction if the abuse happened in another state, but the child now lives in California.
Person Legally Responsible - Is the abuser a parent, legal guardian, foster care provider, or other adult responsible for the child's care? If not, CPS does not have jurisdiction.
Allegations - Does the alleged conduct constitute abuse? If CPS determines that the alleged conduct is not abuse, then there probably won't be any investigation.
If CPS determines that there may be abuse or neglect, a report will be registered, and CPS will begin an investigation. CPS will probably also make a report to the police who may conduct their own investigation.
The investigation will usually occur within 24 hours of a report. In this phase, CPS will take the following steps:
Interviews - The caseworker will either call or visit your home to interview you, the alleged perpetrator, the child, or other members of the family or household. While the caseworker may want to interview your child alone, they are usually required to record the interview.
Examinations - The caseworker may request medical or psychological examinations of your child to determine if abuse or neglect has occurred.
Explanations- Within a reasonable time, usually 24 hours after all interviews, the caseworker will explain to you the allegations against you or another family member, and allow you to explain the circumstances of any injuries or safety concerns.
If the caseworker determines that there is no evidence of abuse or neglect, the case is closed and the records are usually sealed.
If the caseworker determines that there is evidence of abuse or a risk of abuse, CPS may:
Create a Service Plan: In most cases, CPS will try to work with the family to protect the interests of the child. CPS offers many services including psychiatric counseling, group therapy, parent support services, and more.