Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect. Child abuse is a crime that often goes undetected. No matter what your role is—parent or other family member, coach, teacher, religious leader, babysitter—you have the power to make a positive difference in this child’s life.
Reporting a crime like child abuse may not be easy, and it can be emotionally draining. Keep in mind that reporting abuse gives you the chance to protect someone who can’t protect themselves.
Depending on where you live and your role in the child’s life, you may be legally obligated to report suspicions of abuse. Are you a New York State mandated reporter? Find out if you are a mandatory reporter.
Who do I call?
If you believe a child is in immediate danger of being harmed, call 911 or your local police department.
- Child Abuse Hotline
If the child is not in immediate harm, reports of suspected child abuse or maltreatment should be made as soon as possible to the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, commonly known as the Child Abuse Hotline, at 1-800-342-3720. This hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Calls to the hotline are anonymous; callers’ identities are protected from disclosure.
- Outside of New York State:
If the child you are concerned about lives outside of New York State, find child abuse hotline numbers by state.
- You cannot report suspected child abuse to the Warren-Washington CARE Center. The CARE Center can prepare you to make the call or support you after you have reported suspected abuse but you are responsible for reporting all suspected cases of child abuse.
What do I report?
Prepare your thoughts. Provide a complete, honest account of what you observed that led you to suspect the occurrence of child abuse or neglect. You will likely be asked for identifiable information about the child, the nature of the abuse, and your relationship with the child.While anonymous tips are always an option, identified reporting increases the likelihood of prosecuting the perpetrator.
- Do NOT attempt your own investigation.
- Do NOT probe or question the alleged victim or family members to confirm your suspicion this can cause further harm to the child. If the child discloses abuse to you, learn what you can do.
- Any reasonable suspicion is sufficient.
- Call the Child Abuse Hotline.
The person who answers your telephone call to the hotline is a child protective specialist. It is his or her responsibility to interview to get as much information as possible during your telephone call to determine if a report should be registered. Among the questions they may ask you are:
- What is the nature and extent of the child’s injuries or the risk of harm to the child?
- Have there been any prior suspicious injuries to this child or his or her siblings?
- What is the child’s name, home address, and age?
- What is the name and address of the child’s parent or other person legally responsible who caused the injury or created the risk of harm to the child?
- What are the names and addresses of the child’s siblings and parents if different from the information provided above?
- Do you have any information regarding treatment of the child or the child’s current whereabouts?
What Happens After I Make a Call?
If and when the report is accepted by the NYS Child Abuse Hotline it will be sent to Child Protective Services and/or Law Enforcement.
CPS and/or LE will conduct their initial investigation to evaluate the safety of the child named in the report and any other children in the home. It also will include a determination of risk if they continue to remain in the home.
The case will then be referred to the CARE Center by CPS, LE, or District Attorney’s Offices. CARE Center staff will coordinate with MDT members to set up a forensic interview and medical exam, if necessary.
At the time of the interview there will be a victim advocate present to provide information regarding the legal process and answer any questions that the child and non-offending family members have. The advocate will also provide information regarding referrals for mental health/counseling services.
CPS has 60 days after receiving the report of child abuse or maltreatment to determine whether the report is “indicated” or “unfounded.” The law requires CPS to provide written notice to the parents or other subjects of the report concerning their rights under the New York State Social Services Law. CPS also will report back to the Statewide Central Register the final determination of their investigation.