What Situations Commonly Frustrate Mandated Reporters and CPS

Not all calls to the Child Abuse Hotline can be registered as a report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment.

If no report can be registered, Child Protective Services does not have the legal authority to intervene in the situation.

Why does this happen? Often because mandated reporters do not understand the KEY CONCEPTS of the state law that regulates what CPS can and cannot do. Often, a call cannot be registered as a report because of one of the following:

  • The report involves primary prevention, which State Law does not authorize.
  • The report does not have enough information to allow CPS to locate the child and his/her family to investigate.
  • The report involves corporal punishment—sometimes in a public place—which is permitted by law.
  • The report involves a child who is not being well cared for, but whose situation does not meet the legal definition of child abuse or neglect.

It depends on the circumstances: Here are some examples of Hotline calls that cannot be registered, depending on the circumstances. This chart provides information on the questions you will be asked when you make a report, and the information the Child Abuse Hotline needs to register the report and begin an investigation.

1. Caller says a child has been hit by his/her parent.

2. Caller says child’s parents are abusing alcohol or using or selling drugs.

3. Caller says child is home alone without adult supervision

4. Caller says child often comes to school dirty and disheveled