Child Protective Services and Police
Child Protective Services protects children from caregivers who may be harming them
Child Protective Services (CPS) is a branch of your state’s social services department that is responsible for the assessment, investigation and intervention regarding cases of child abuse and neglect, including sexual abuse. In all of its procedures, CPS must follow state and federal laws. CPS typically takes cases where a child has been abused or is believed to be at risk of abuse by someone who has care giving responsibilities for that child.
Child protective services are called by different names in different states.
Some examples of names used in other states for child protective services are Department of Family Services, Department of Social Services, and Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). Your state may even have a different name.
When a report has been filed, the role of child protective services is to:
- Determine if a child has been abused or neglected
- Protect the child from immediate danger
- Assess the risk of continuing danger to the child
- Decide if or what interventions are needed to keep the child safe, and implement these steps, sometimes with the help of other state agencies or programs.
- Decide on the need for ongoing support of the family such as case management, counseling or medical care. Ongoing support can include programs and services from organizations besides CPS.
"Will CPS remove my child from home?"
First and foremost, CPS is committed to finding safety for a child within the home. In situations where the home is identified as unsafe for children, CPS’s strong preference is to remove the abuser. CPS removes children from the home only as last resort after all other options have been considered or explored.
CPS compared to Police or Law Enforcement
Because child sexual abuse is a crime in all 50 states, police and law enforcement may also become involved in the investigation of child sexual abuse. The focus of law enforcement is on the person who has offended and on any criminal proceedings that are involved. The focus of CPS is on the family and on the protection of the child.
Your Help CenterPrivacy
- Recognizing Warning Signs
- Definitions of Child Sexual Abuse
- How Abuse Happens
- Understanding Sexual Behavior in Kids
- Warning Signs in Adults and Children
- Warning Signs of Abuse in Children (Behavioral and Physical)
- Signs an Adult May be At-Risk to Harm a Child
- Behaviors to Watch Out for When Adults are with Children
- How Can I Tell if My Child Has Been Sexually Abused?
- Warning Signs a Young Person May Be a Target of Online Sexual Abuse
- Warning Signs of Someone's Dangerous or Illegal Online Activity
- Prevention and Safety
- Keys to Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children
- Creating a Plan for Safety
- Considering Filing Reports
- Talking About It
- Finding the Courage to Speak Up
- Speaking to Someone with a Sexual Behavior Problem
- When a Child Tells About Sexual Abuse
- How Should I Respond to the Child?
- What Should I Do after a Child Tells?
- How Can I Better Understand What My Child is Going Through?
- Possible Reactions of Non-Offending Parents and Caring Adults
- Is the Child Telling Me the Truth?
- What Might the Person Who Has Offended Be Thinking or Feeling after a Disclosure?
- Recovery and Therapy
- For Children and Adults Who Have Been Abused
- For Those At-Risk to Abuse Others or Who Have Offended
- For Parents and Caregivers
- Reporting and Legal Issues
- Filing Reports
- Child Protective Services and Police
- Legal Issues