What action steps should you take? You’ll learn how to respond to the child or youth, and how to report to the appropriate authorities as required by law.
When responding to the child or youth, you must first know that: The child demonstrates incredible strength. You, the listener, are honored with the trust the child shows. You will need to respond with heightened sensitivity.
When responding to a child: Listen, really listen, to what is being told to you. Reassure the child that he/she has done the right thing by telling you. Keep your own feelings under control. Use the child’s own vocabulary. Do NOT promise not to tell. Tell the truth. Be specific. Assess the child’s immediate safety. Be supportive. Try to help the child regain control.
Be aware of secondary trauma and take care of yourself. Know that you have done your part, and that you may have little control beyond this point.
State law requires every person who has reason to believe that a child under 18 is being abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected, to report the suspicion of abuse promptly to the Department of Human Services.
Failure to report abuse: Is a crime. No person is exempt from reporting suspected abuse. By law, reporting child abuse is an individual responsibility. Keep in mind, a person reporting in good faith is immune from both civil and criminal liability.
When you make a report of Suspicion of Child abuse or neglect, you are making a request for an investigation to gather facts and protect the child. The reporting person does not need proof to report. The Investigation and validation of reports are the job of DHS or Law Enforcement.
Is your report confidential? Yes. DHS policy and state law require strict maintenance of the confidentiality of reports of child abuse and neglect.
How can you make a report? Call then number on the screen.
It is critical to accurately reflect the nature and extent of the abuse or neglect. Make sure to get the names, addresses and whereabouts of the child and the child’s caregivers, the child’s age, any positive test on the child for alcohol or other substances, and any other information regarding cause of injury or identity of responsible persons.
What happens after I make a report of suspected child abuse or neglect? The Report is screened: The questions are asked: Does it meet statutory requirements? Does it fall within the scope of DHS responsibility? If not screened out, there will be either an Investigation, or assessment
What’s the difference between an investigation and an assessment? Investigation: Is conducted when the report concerns abuse or neglect that is serious, could be extremely dangerous, or when there have been many previous reports of child abuse and/or neglect. Assessment: Is conducted when the report concerns abuse or neglect that is not serious or extremely dangerous. Assignment to either Investigation or Assessment is based on the potential risk to the children named in the report based on 2 priority levels:
Priority One: indicates the child is in imminent danger of serious physical injury. Allegations of abuse and neglect may be severe and conditions extreme. The situation is responded to immediately, the same day of receipt of the report. If a complete assessment is not possible, a safety measure is put in place to ensure the child’s protection. (Priority One continued) A safety measure is an action taken that protects the child, such as protective child care, perpetrator leaves the home, or other similar protective actions Priority Two: indicates there is no imminent danger of serious injury but without intervention and safety measures it is likely the child will not be safe. Priority two assessments are initiated within two to 15 calendar days from the date the report is accepted for assessment. In addition, reports that meet the criteria for “serious abuse and neglect”, will be investigated.
Child is seen first. Information is gathered. Family is interviewed. Others may also be interviewed
There are no findings for assessments. Safety plans are developed as determined after assessments. A determination is made on findings from an investigation. These include: Ruled out Unsubstantiated, services recommended. Substantiated, services recommended. Substantiated, court intervention recommended.
All reports on investigation findings are forwarded to the District Attorney Note: No findings are made on assessments.
So, I reported suspicion of Child Abuse and/or neglect . . .what info can I learn about the results of my report? If the case was investigated, assessed, or screened out. If screened out, the reason for this decision. If investigated or assessed, the finding of the investigation or that the assessment has been concluded. You are not entitled to details of the investigation.
State law specifies that schools are not responsible for notifying parents that a child was interviewed at school regarding a CAN report. The task for notifying parents is the responsibility of DHS.
School personnel, medical, public health, mental health professionals, or any other professional person interacting with children should NOT delve into a child’s situation beyond determining whether there is a reason to believe the child is being abused or neglected, in danger of being abused or neglected, assessing the risk of harm for reporting purposes and obtaining enough information to report to DHS.
Oklahoma Law is very clear that professionals who maintain strict ethical guidelines related to confidentiality are required to report child abuse and neglect just as every other person in the state. Duty to Report supersedes professional confidentiality codes when there is reason to believe that a child is abused or neglected.
Additional Facts for you to know … Law enforcement is the only entity that can take a child into protective custody. Without a court order, DHS cannot remove children from their homes. If you are unsatisfied with the way an investigation was handled, it is critical to provide feedback through the supervised structure of an investigating agency, e.g., the county’s child welfare supervisor, then follow the chain of command to County Director, etc. Law enforcement also has a chain of command.
Here is some information on CCFI’s policies and procedures regarding child abuse and neglect:
Here’s where you can find out even more info!
Child Abuse and Neglect
Center for Children and Families, Inc.
What action do I take?
I need to report the
suspected abuse of
CCFI Child Abuse and Neglect
Policy and Procedures
• Shared Folders/Policy and
Procedures/Legal and Risk
• Under “Forms”:
– CAN Report form
– CAN Report log
More complete Child Abuse and Neglect
information is available on Disc:
CAN Symptoms and Signs
Frequently Asked Questions
or online at www.otac.info