Communicating with CPS

Did you know that not all cases called to Child Protective Services (CPS) actually get passed on and investigated by a caseworker?

Language and information you provide to the CPS intake worker is vital to reporting a case accurately.

When filing any CPS report

  • Have the hotline worker read back your report to make sure they understand the point you are trying to make.
  • Request that a case worker call you back.  Give them your name and a contact number.  The case worker will call you and verify your report.  This will give you the opportunity to explain to the worker why you are concerned, what you think needs to happen (removal, services, more medical workup, etc), and what you worry could happen if there is no intervention.
  • Do not use language that implies your opinion, example: “I am not sure the child was abused, this could be an accident, but I thought I should call”.  Simply give the facts.  Be careful about offering opinions.  Saying, “this could be an accident, but I thought I should call”, could give the intake worker the impression that the case is not serious.  It is important to put the case into context for the worker.  It is better to say, “This kind of injury is much more commonly seen with abuse than an accident, so I’m concerned.”  You can also tell them that you would like for them to get a forensics consult to help sort things out.

When reporting physical abuse

  • What was the situation when the child was abused?  An accurate history is imperative
  • What are the physical exam findings?
  • Were critical areas of the body (head, face, neck, genitals, abdomen, kidney area) injured?
  • The possible degree of force used?
  • Number of times the child was injured?
  • What type of object was used?
  • “I’m calling to report a case physical abuse.  I have a 4-month-old with bruises to the head, abdomen, and buttocks.  These are injuries that are indicative of abuse in a child this young.  I’m concerned there could be internal injuries, so I’ve sent the child to Kosair ED for more testing.  The child and parents were escorted to Kosair by a clinic staff member (or sent via EMS), because I don’t feel comfortable leaving the child alone with her caregivers until this is sorted out.  The family is aware that CPS will be seeing them in the ED.”

When reporting neglect

  • How many appointments has the patient missed with both primary care provider and any sub-specialists?
  • How many appointments for labs or tests have they missed?
  • Is the patient getting their medications filled and appropriately given?
  • How could not getting appropriate medical care affect child?  Ex: If asthma is not treated, this could be life-threatening or cause permanent impairment.

When reporting sexual abuse

What was the situation when the child was abused?
What are the physical exam findings?
Does the child have finding concerning for a sexually transmitted disease?
Has the child made a disclosure?