What is Child Protective Services (CPS)?
Protective Services for Children is a legally mandated service which is available 24 hours and 7 days a week. This service is provided to children and their parents/caretakers in response to instances of actual or suspected child neglect, abuse, or dependency. Protective Services social workers assess safety risk of harm to children and provide services to remedy the causes of the maltreatment of children. This includes assessing or investigating reports of neglect, abuse, dependency or exploitation and evaluating the safety of the children.
Social Workers work with the children's family toward the solution and prevention of problems causing neglect, abuse, or dependency. The social worker helps arrange for the provision of services to help the family such as health care services, mental health services, and if necessary, foster care. Social workers cooperate with law enforcement agencies and initiate court action if necessary for the protection of the children. The Protective Services Unit is made up of intake workers, family assessors, and investigators.
What is considered child maltreatment?
North Carolina law defines child abuse as follows:
• The alleged victim must be under the age of 18 years old or under 18 at the time the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.
• The person responsible for the alleged abuse or neglect must be a parent, guardian, custodian or caretaker.
• The reported allegations must meet the legal definition of abuse, neglect or dependency in order to start a CPS assessment.
Child maltreatment encompasses three areas, abuse, neglect, or dependency.
Additionally, North Carolina law protects against trafficking of children, which is defined as coercion, deception, involuntary servitude, minor status, and sexual servitude. North Carolina’s child welfare system has jurisdiction over child trafficking victims.
Abuse may include, but is not limited to:
• Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
• Moral turpitude
Neglect may include, but is not limited to:
• Improper care, supervision, or discipline
• Lack of medical and remedial care.
• Injurious environment.
• Illegal adoption.
Dependency may include, but is not limited to:
• Absence of a caretaker.
• Caretaker is unable to provide for the child.
Signs of child trafficking may include, but is not limited to:
• Is providing sexual acts or work in exchange for services/benefits.
• Not free to leave or come and go as they wish.
• Under 18 and is providing paid sex acts.
• Has a pimp/manager or someone who will never leave their side.
• Unpaid or paid very little by tips off the record (in cash).
• Works long and/or unusual hours.
• Is not allowed breaks or has unusual restrictions at work.
• Fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, or nervous/paranoid.
• Unusually afraid or anxious around law enforcement.
• Avoids eye contact.
• Overly attached to one person.
• No access to health care.
• Appears malnourished or thin.
• Shows signs of physical/sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture-like bruises, cuts, etc.
Who must report suspected child abuse or trafficking?
Per North Carolina law, any person or organization who has cause to suspect that any juvenile is abused, neglected, or dependent, or has died as a result of that treatment, shall report the case of that juvenile to the department of Social Services in the county where the child lives or is found.
Any person or organization who knowingly fails to report child abuse may be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Any person who reports suspected child abuse and cooperates with the county department of social services in good faith will be immune from any civil or criminal liability.
How do I report suspected child abuse or trafficking?
Child Protective Services (CPS) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact our CPS team by phone, in person, or after hours and on weekends and holidays.
By phone: Call Chatham County Social Services at (919)-642-6988 and let the CPS worker know you wish to make a report.
In person: During normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8am to 5pm), you can make a report to the Child Protective Services unit at Chatham County Social Services at 102 Camp Drive, Pittsboro, NC 27312.
After hours and on weekends and holidays: Call (919)-542-2911 and say you wish to make a Child Protective Services report. The operator will contact an after-hours social worker who will return your call.
Please have ready:
• The name, address, and age of the child or children.
• Name and address of the child’s caregiver, if one exists.
• The child’s condition, including any injuries or extent of the maltreatment.
Even if you do not have all of the above information, do not hesitate to contact CPS if you believe the child is a victim of abuse, neglect, or dependency. All citizens in North Carolina are legally required to make a report if they suspect a child is being abused or neglected.
What will happen when I make a report?
The social worker will complete an intake form and ask a series of questions about your concerns. The social worker will use the information gathered to determine whether the information meets criteria for CPS to conduct an assessment on the family.
Your name cannot be disclosed without a court order, though you do have the option of reporting anonymously. If your contact information is provided, you will be notified by mail of the decision on whether or not the report was accepted, as well as the agency’s final decision. Additionally, anyone reporting suspected child maltreatment in good faith is immune from any civil or criminal liability.
If the report is accepted for assessment, the report will be assigned to a social worker who will conduct either a Family Assessment or Investigative Assessment. The goals of assessments are to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children involved, and to provide families with support and referral information. Investigations are conducted with a family-centered approach, and with respect for the rights and needs of the families involved.
What is Multiple Response System?
The Multiple Response System (MRS) is an effort to reform the entire continuum of child welfare services in North Carolina, from intake through placement services. The reform is based upon the application of family centered principles of partnership through seven strategic components of MRS.
North Carolina's seven strategies for system reform are:
• Collaboration between the Work First Family Assistance and child welfare programs
• A choice of two approaches to reports of child abuse, neglect, or dependency (Family assessment or Investigative)
• A redesign of in-home services
• A strengths-based, structured intake process
• Coordination between law enforcement agencies and child protective services for the investigative assessment approach
• Implementation of Child and Family Team meetings during the provision of in-home services
• Implementation of Shared-Parenting meetings in child placement cases
For more information about the Multiple Response System visit the website for the Department of Health and Human Services.