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When To Call Child Protective Services

June 30th, 2018 | 1 min. read

By Brianna Blackburn

Being an educator comes with more responsibilities than just teaching and keeping children entertained Monday-Friday from 8am-3pm. Educators have to make hundreds of decisions every day to ensure children are physically and psychologically safe. If a child isn't safe in these ways and is, therefore, being neglected, educators often have to take action immediately without thinking. This need for immediate action can overwhelm and confuse educators if they have never been in such a position.

Educators spend around 7 hours a day with children in their classrooms. They need to know the types, risk factors, and signs of neglect. Beyond those things, educators also need to know how to report neglect and the prevention and intervention strategies of neglect. Ginger Welch, Laura Wilhelm, and Heather Johnson give details and advice about these topics in their book The Neglected Child.

If you are in a situation where you believe a child is being neglected, it needs to be reported despite the fear you may have of contacting child protective services. If a child is in immediate danger, 911 should be called; however, if there is no imminent danger, you should contact your local child abuse prevention hotline. It is common to be nervous or doubtful about yourself when calling child welfare authorities, but having the following information when you call will help you prepare yourself:

A notepad listing the reason you are calling

  • Child’s full name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Date of birth
  • Child’s development status (delays)
  • A notepad with the child's information and the reason you are calling

Also required may be:

  • Parents’ names
  • Parents’ address(es)
  • Telephone number(s)
  • Approximate ages
  • Employers’ names
  • Employers’ addresses
  • Employers’ telephone numbers
  • Any emergency contacts listed with your facility

Common questions for the authorities to ask include:

  • “Are there other adults or children living in the house?”
  • “Do you know if there is any drug use in the house?”
  • “Do you know if the family owns a gun?”
  • “Do you have reason to believe that the family may run or hide from the authorities?”
  • “Does the family know you are making this call today?”
  • “What is your relationship like with this family?”

Author(s)Laura Wilhelm, Ginger Welch, PhD, Heather Johnson

Brianna Blackburn

A graduate of Western Carolina University with a BA in English, Brianna served as a marketing and editorial Intern with Gryphn House in the Summer 2018.