Reporting Child Abuse Pt. 3 – The Investigation
What happens after a case of suspected child abuse is reported often goes undiscussed. However, this is perhaps the most important part of the reporting process as investigators determine whether or not a report is substantiated.
Who Investigates Child Abuse and What Do They Look For?
Upon being contact and verifying the reported information with the individual who made the report, investigators will be sent to assess whether abuse, neglect, or maltreatment of a child is actually occurring.
One of the first steps is to determine whether the child is in any kind of immediate danger due to the suspected neglect or abuse. If so, the investigating child welfare worker may temporarily remove the child from the at-risk environment and place them with other family members or in foster care.
The investigator may also opt for in-home supervision of the child.
Investigators will also begin looking for motive and attempt to determine whether the alleged abuse was intentional. They will also investigate whether the alleged perpetrator in fact had the capacity and opportunity to abuse the child.
What Happens When a Report is Confirmed?
If evidence substantiating the report of child abuse is found, the authorities will begin to work to determine the severity of the abuse and what level of intervention is needed. This can vary from voluntary assistance and services to help the family to court-ordered supervision to the termination of parental rights.
Authorities may also move to file criminal charges if resulting in fines and or incarceration.
Should parental rights be terminated or out-of-home placement be determined as necessary, the courts is responsible for deciding whether or not kinship care is appropriate. Kinship care occurs when the child is able to live with a relative.
If kinship care is not applicable, then the child will be placed in foster care.