Reporting Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect
Suspected child abuse or neglect should be reported to Indiana Department of Child Services. They operate a 24-hour, 7-day a week hotline:
There is also a local number for every county listed at the Indiana Department of Child Services website http://www.in.gov/dcs/2372.htm
Prevent Child Abuse Indiana does not take abuse or neglect reports. You may also contact your local law enforcement agency to report abuse or neglect.
Remember, Indiana law requires the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect. Callers can remain anonymous and are immune from all civil and criminal liability, provided they have made the report in good faith.
When you call Indiana Department of Child Services, it is important that you have all of the identifying information in front of you: name, age of each child, address, phone number. You may call without this information, but it helps Indiana Department of Child Services quickly investigate. When you are describing a situation, remain calm and maintain a “factual” manner with dates, eyewitness observations and direct conversations. Biased language is often a “red flag” for a Indiana Department of Child Services report, which is why it is important to keep your report factual.
Frequently Asked Questions about Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect
What information do I have to give to Indiana Department of Child Services?
• Generally, reports that are made with the following information are well received:
• Exact name, address and telephone number of the parent, guardian or custodian.
• Exact description of what you saw or what the child said to you.
• If you have kept a log of behaviors that have concerned you, have the log available when you call.
• Be professional and courteous.
• The more specific your information and the details you provide, the easier it is for the person taking the report to assess the situation quickly.
Do I have to investigate to provide all this information to Indiana Department of Child Services when I report?
No. You are not legally responsible for deciding if the report actually happened. Provide as much information as you can, but do not interview or confront the alleged abuser. By doing that, you may actually put the child in greater danger. You may also give the abuser time to coerce the child into telling a different story or to leave the area to avoid investigation.
How soon will a report be investigated?
If there is reason to believe that a child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm, a report will be investigated within one hour. In other cases of abuse, the report will be investigated within 24 hours. Reports of neglect are investigated within five days.
Why are so many cases “unsubstantiated?”
A case may be classified as “unsubstantiated” for a variety of reasons: There might not have been enough information about the identity of the family. The caseworker may not have found evidence to support taking action. The caseworker may have determined that the child was not seriously endangered and that a minimum level of care was being met in the home. In some instances, services were provided to the family, but no court action was taken.
Sometimes, if you are sure that there has been abuse or neglect, you may have to report more than once, or ask to speak with a supervisor/Director. With multiple reports, a case history is established for future investigations. Click here for your local Indiana Department of Child Services phone number http://www.in.gov/dcs/2372.htm
Anyone who believes DCS failed to protect the health or safety of a child, or failed to follow laws, rules or written procedure, may file a complaint with the DCS Ombudsman Bureau. For more information, please visit http://www.in.gov/idoa/2610.htm or call 1-877-682-0101.