Who participates in the investigation?
Investigations may be managed by child protective services (CPS), by the police, or by both. When criminal acts may have taken place, only the police can make arrests. The team of professionals involved in investigations can include a child protective services worker, a doctor, therapist, social worker and law enforcement officials. Interviews may be held with the child, a non-offending parent, and the person suspected of sexually abusing. Sometimes interviews are also held with the child’s siblings, and anyone else who may have knowledge about possible danger to the child such as neighbors, teachers, child care providers, doctors and therapists. As part of the investigation, the child is sometimes given a physical exam for the purpose of collecting evidence or attending to medical needs. Legally admissible confessions or disclosures often must be made directly to an investigator or professional.
The difference between an “unsubstantiated” report and one that is “substantiated”:
If after investigating, CPS or police find that the report is “unsubstantiated” this means that from the information they were able to gather, abuse or neglect were not clearly indicated. In this kind of situation, a report is written and the case is closed.
If the investigation “substantiates” the report, or concludes that the report indicates abuse or considerable risk, interventions are taken to protect the child from immediate harm. Police are also involved when criminal acts have taken place. Once the child is out of immediate danger, CPS decides what kind of follow-up actions are needed to keep the child safe. Follow-up actions might include ongoing supervision by the Department of Social Services, counseling for the child who experienced abuse, and support programs for family members.