Indiana Laws


Definitions: Child abuse or neglect refers to a child who is alleged to be in need of services (CHINS).

The complete text of the CHINS law.

IC 31-34-1 A child is in need of services if before the child’s 18th birthday:
• The child’s physical or mental health condition is seriously impaired or seriously endangered as a result of the inability, refusal, or neglect of the child’s parent/guardian/ custodian to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, or supervision
• The child’s physical or mental health is seriously endangered due to injury by the act or omission of the child’s parent/guardian/custodian. An omission is an occurrence in which the parent/guardian/custodian allowed that person’s child to receive an injury the parent/guardian/custodian had a reasonable opportunity to prevent or mitigate
• The child is the victim of a sex offense under the criminal citations incorporated into the CHINS definition
• The child’s parent/guardian/custodian allows the child to participate in an obscene performance
• The child’s parent/guardian/custodian allows the child to commit a sex offense

And needs care, treatment, or rehabilitation that the child is not currently receiving and that is unlikely to be provided or accepted without the coercive intervention of the court.

This definition includes a child with a disability that is deprived of:
• nutrition necessary to sustain life
• medical or surgical intervention necessary to remedy or ameliorate a life threatening medical condition if the nutrition or medical or surgical intervention is generally provided to similarly situated children with or without disabilities

Religious Beliefs/Provision of Medical Treatment:
When a parent/guardian/custodian fails to provide specific medical treatment for a child because of the legitimate and genuine practice of the parent/guardian/custodian’s religious beliefs, a refutable presumption arises that the child is not a child in need of services because of such failure. However, this presumption does not prevent a juvenile court from ordering, when the health of the child requires, medical services from a physician licensed to practice medicine in Indiana. The presumption does not apply to situations in which the life or health of a child is in serious danger.

Any individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect must make a report. In agencies in which there are established reporting protocols, the report may be made to the individual in charge or another designated agent, who also becomes responsible to report or cause a report to be made. This does not relieve individuals who make a report to another staff person of their own obligation to report directly to child protection services or law enforcement unless a report has already been made by the agency liaison. Anonymous reports are accepted. Failure to make a report can be a Class B misdemeanor. Reports should be made to the statewide, centralized Hotline: 1-800-800-5556.

Immunity from liability:
Any person, other than the accused, who reports child abuse or neglect or is involved in the investigation or disposition of child abuse or neglect reports is immune from criminal or civil liability, unless the person acted maliciously or in bad faith.

All reports made to Indiana Department of Child Services are confidential and will only be released to Indiana Department of Child Services workers, police, prosecutors, doctors, or other authorized personnel.

Department of Child Services:
Each County Office will be the primary agency responsible to investigate or arrange for investigation, and coordinate the investigation of all reports of known or suspected child abuse or neglect. Indiana Department of Child Services must:
• Provide protective services to prevent a child’s exposure to further incidents of child abuse or neglect. Indiana Department of Child Services must provide or arrange for, coordinate, and monitor the provision of services to ensure the safety of children. Reasonable efforts must be made to prevent a child’s removal from the home
• Cooperate with and seek and receive cooperation of appropriate public and private agencies and programs providing services related to prevention, identification or treatment of child abuse or neglect

Indiana’s Safe Haven Law…No one has to abandon an infant


The Indiana Safe Haven Law enables a person to give up an unwanted infant anonymously without fear of arrest or prosecution.

A parent, family member, friend, minister or priest, social worker or any responsible person may give up custody of a baby less than 30 days old to an Indiana…
• …Firefighter
• …Law Enforcement Officer
• …Paramedic
• …Physician
• …Nurse
• …Emergency Medical Technician
• …or Other Person who provides Emergency Medical Services
As long as there are no signs of intentional abuse on the baby, no information is required of the person leaving the baby. Any knowledge of the date of birth, race, parent medical history, child’s health or anything that would be useful to the child’s caregiver would be greatly appreciated.

Once the baby is examined and given medical treatment (if needed), the Indiana Department of Child Services will take the baby into custody through Indiana Department of Child Services where it will be placed with a caregiver.

Distressed parents can receive counseling and get addresses and directions for any hospital, fire station or police station in Indiana by calling the Safe Haven Hotline, 1-877-796-HOPE (4673), or 2-1-1.

Parents can learn more by visiting the National Safe Haven Alliance in Indiana website to get more information.

If you need more information about this or other parenting topics call 1-800-CHILDREN.