After making a report through the Child Abuse Hotline the following steps will be taken:
- A Department of Human Services (DHS) supervisor screens the report of child abuse to determine whether the allegation meets the statutory definition of abuse and neglect and whether the report falls within DHS responsibility. DHS is mandated to investigate substantiated allegations of abuse perpetrated by a caretaker. If the alleged abuse is someone other than a caretaker, DHS will forward the report to law enforcement.
- Next, DHS assigns a child welfare worker to begin the investigation. If the case involves possible criminal acts, the DHS investigator will contact the appropriate law enforcement agency. DHS and law enforcement will make every attempt to conduct a joint investigation.
- The investigators assigned to the case may choose to utilize The CARE Center’s services. The CARE Center brings together medical, mental health, investigative and legal professionals from multiple agencies to determine whether child abuse has occurred. The CARE Center’s centralized approach is designed to provide more efficient, more accurate, and less traumatic investigations of child abuse cases.
- After the child is forensically interviewed at The CARE Center, the investigators will use that information to continue their investigations.
- When the investigation is completed, the investigators submit their findings and recommendations to the District Attorney’s Office. The DHS child welfare caseworker will submit his/her report to the Juvenile Division of the District Attorney’s Office and the detective will submit his/her report to the Criminal Division of the District Attorney’s Office.