The goal of Child Protective Services (CPS) is to identify, assess and provide services to children and families in an effort to protect children, preserve families, whenever possible, and prevent further maltreatment. Child Protective Services is non-punitive in its approach and is directed toward enabling families to provide adequate care for their children.
Local departments of social services are responsible for receiving reports of abuse and neglect; conducting investigations to determine the validity of the CPS reports; and providing services that enhance child safety and prevent further abuse and neglect to families and children.
CPS also develops statewide public awareness and education programs and administrates state and federal grants to prevent abuse and neglect.
Child Abuse & Neglect Hotline
The Virginia Department of Social Services operates a statewide Child Protective Services (CPS) Hotline 24/7 to support local departments of social services by receiving reports of child abuse and neglect and referring them to the appropriate local department of social services. The CPS Hotline is staffed by trained Protective Service Hotline Specialists.
Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect to a local department of social services or to the CPS Hotline. Callers will be asked to provide as much information as possible about the child, the alleged abuser and the incident. You are not required to give your name when you make the report, but if you do identify yourself, the local department of social services will be able to contact you for further information if needed and will be able to inform you of actions that were taken.
Each report is sent to the proper local social service agency to be evaluated to determine whether the report information meets the legal definition of child abuse or neglect and whether CPS has the authority and responsibility to conduct a family assessment or an investigation to determine the child's immediate safety needs and to determine if the family needs services.
Criteria for Child Abuse
- Alleged victim is under the age of 18 at the time of the report
- Alleged abuser is in a caretaking role
- Alleged abuse or neglect meets the definition of abuse or neglect as defined by the CPS laws, regulations and policy
- The Virginia Department of Social Services local agency has jurisdiction to respond to the report
CPS Hotline staff may provide general information and educational materials about child abuse or neglect to callers from the general public, child care providers, school educators and medical professionals on recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.