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Indiana CHINS (Child in Need of Service) Definition and Policies

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 is as follow:

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.

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

Any individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect must make a report. 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 may 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 assess or arrange for assessment and coordinate the assessment 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