Child Protective FAQs
- What is the Multiple Response System?
North Carolina law requires that local county departments of social services ensure children's safety in their homes. When a Child Protective Services (CPS) report meets the legal definition of neglect, the Department of Social Services (DSS) will decide whether to conduct a Traditional Investigation response or whether to conduct a Family Assessment. All abuse reports, and some neglect and dependency reports require the Traditional Investigation response. Since there may be more than one option for the type of response from DSS, this process is called the Multiple Response System.
- How do we get Reports?
The law requires that anyone who suspects a child is being abused and/or neglected or dependent must report their concerns to Child Protective Services of the Department of Social Services. We receive reports from many different sources. (NC General Statute 7B-301) We must assume that reports are made in good faith, with the welfare of the children in mind.
(NC General Statue 7B-302).
- Who made the Call?
North Carolina law does not allow us to disclose who made the report. Who called is NOT the issue. The issue is whether the children are safe. (NC General Statue 7B-302)
- What is the Family Assessment?
Whereas an Investigative response determines whether abuse or neglect has occurred, the Family Assessment response determines whether a family is in need of services to ensure child safety. Your family may be eligible for the Family Assessment response. It involves working together to ensure that your child is safe.
- What Can My Family Expect During the Family Assessment Process?
1. When possible, the social worker will contact you before visiting your home or your child. During the first visit, the Social Worker will interview the family together and complete a Safety Assessment.
2. When possible and agreeable, you and the social worker will gather information from people, such as: teachers, doctors, neighbors, babysitters, and other professionals. This process is expected to be completed within 45 days.
3. From this information, DSS will make a Case Decision. The Case Decision will be one of the following:
a. Services Needed - this means that services are mandatory and a social worker will be in contact with you and your family to begin supportive services
b. Services Recommended - this means that services are voluntary and you will be given recommendations.
c. Services not Recommended - this means that the case is closed.
d. Services Provided, Child Protective Services no Longer Needed - This means that the case will be closed if supervision is no longer needed to ensure child's safety.
- What Can My Family Expect During The Traditional Investigation Process?
1. The first step in an investigation is to see the children and interview them alone. The law gives us the right to see and speak with children at school or daycare without a parent's permission or prior knowledge. (NC General Statute 7B-302)
2. The next step is to address the concerns reported with one or both parents or caregivers, most often on the same day, at which a Safety Assessment will be completed with the parent(s).
3. It is also required that we make at least one visit to your home and that we speak with everyone who lives in the home.
4. We also talk with other people who might have information that might be helpful to us in understanding your family's situation. We would like you to provide us with the names of people you know who can tell us about your parenting. We also might need to talk with other people, who know you, such as: teachers, doctors, neighbors, babysitters, and other professionals, etc. We will do everything possible to protect and respect your rights to privacy.
5. We try to complete investigations within 30 days; however; sometimes cases do take longer. Once we have all the information we need, we make a decision about the outcome of your case.
6. Case decisions are never made by one person; decisions are made jointly with at least the social worker and a supervisor who considers all information gathered during our investigation. Possible case decisions:
a. No abuse and/or neglect found - unsubstantiate and close case.
b. Abuse and/or neglect found - substantiate and case will be assigned to a social worker who will provide in-home services to the family.
Safety is Priority
If at any time it is determined that your child's safety cannot be ensured in your home, or if your family chooses not to participate in the Family Assessment process, or if new allegations of abuse, neglect, or dependency arise during the process, DSS has the legal obligation to take one or more of the following actions:
- Evaluate continuing the Family Assessment Process
- A Traditional Investigation response
- The court may become involved with your family
- You may be asked to choose a safe place for your child other than your home
- It may be necessary for DSS to take custody of your child/children
It is important that you communicate with your social worker if you have any concerns about the process or if you need additional help creating a safe environment in your home.
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