Allegations of child abuse or neglect are high-stakes legal matters that carry serious consequences for those accused. Because Child Protective Services (CPS) takes these cases seriously, those making accusations must have a reasonable suspicion of possible harm done to a minor.
Specific criteria exists for CPS staff members to assess and investigate allegations. They include the following:
Age of the Child
If a child suspected of being abused that are under 18, the CPS has jurisdiction. Those 18 and older mandate police intervention. Legal adults (18 to 21) who are handicapped and living in a residential facility are the exception. Alleged abuse or neglect committed by facility staff may require CPS involvement.
Identity and Location
The CPS needs valuable information to launch an investigation, specifically the identity and location of the child. Whatever information provided (name, address, phone number, etc.) can help the process move along.
In many cases, the suspect is the individual legally responsible for the child allegedly abused. Specific examples of those in authority include legal guardians, foster or day care providers, residential facility employees/volunteers, or other adults.
For physical abuse to occur, the person legally responsible must have inflicted the injury, allowed it to be inflicted, or created or allowed imminent danger. Sexual abuse involved the person legally responsible to have or allowed sexual contact or used a child in a sexual performance, including prostitution.
The child must have been harmed or placed in imminent danger of harm. In addition, the person legally responsible must have failed to provide a minimal degree of care under the circumstances.