FAQs about CPS
How do I report child abuse?
If you know or suspect that a child is currently being abused, has been abused in the past, or is at risk of abuse, please call the Child Protective Services Hotline at:
If a child is in immediate danger, please call 911.
If I report abuse or neglect, do I have to identify myself?
Most people who report child abuse may remain anonymous, though it is helpful to leave your name and telephone number so social workers can contact you for details.
However, certain professionals are legally required to report suspected child abuse they encounter on the job. These mandated reporters include teachers, doctors, firefighters, child care workers, clergy, therapists, and others. For a complete list of mandated reporters under California law, click here or check with the California Department of Social Services.
Can I be sued for making a report?
A person who reports known or suspect child abuse is protected from civil and criminal liability, unless it can be proven that the report was false and that the person reporting knew it was false.
What happens after a report is made?
Reports are handled differently, depending upon the facts of the case. Child Protective Services will usually interview the child, the parents, and others with first-hand knowledge of the situation before deciding how to proceed.
When a report is made, is the child always removed from the home?
No. In fact, most reports of child abuse do not result in children being removed from the homes.The agency's goal is to reduce problems in the family so children can remain safely in the home. Social workers will usually work with the family to make positive changes, connect with community resources, and actively improve conditions for children at risk.
While care is taken to keep families together, the agency's primary legal responsibility is to protect the child. If abuse is severe or the home is unsafe, children may be removed immediately and placed in a safe setting, either with responsible relatives or in emergency foster care.
If my child is removed from our home, is it permanent? Can I get my child back?
San Mateo County is committed to family reunification, whenever possible, and will work with you to achieve that goal.
However, if a child has been removed from your home because of abuse or neglect, you must work with San Mateo County's Juvenile Court to resolve family problems before your child can be returned. The Juvenile Court may order you to participate in specific programs, such as parenting classes or drug abuse treatment, and will monitor your progress.
Permanent removal of the child from the parents takes place only when parents fail to complete court-ordered programs, and fail to make the home environment safe for the child. A child in this situation may be placed in long-term foster care, or with an adoptive family.
Where can I find out more about child abuse prevention and services?
Here are links to helpful websites:
Child Welfare Information Gateway is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It provides access to print and electronic publications, websites, and online databases covering a wide range of topics from child welfare to child abuse and neglect, adoption, search and reunion, and much more.
Child Welfare League of America is a national non-profit organization developing and promoting policies and programs to protect children and strengthen families. Good source of information on child protection issues.
American Humane Association is an informative source of child abuse facts sheets and data.