If it is determined that the referral warrants investigation, a Child Protective Services (CPS) worker will first have contact with the child and the reporting person. The caseworker will assess the situation and determine the immediate protection needs of the child. A worker's contact with the child is determined on a risk scale. It can be within a period of 24 hours, 48 hours or 3-5 days, depending upon the severity of the referral.
Once the caseworker has completed the investigation, they will make one of three findings:
- The report is “unsubstantiated” if there is no credible evidence that the child was abused or neglected
- The report is “substantiated” when there is credible evidence that abuse or neglect occurred
- The report is “unable to substantiate” when there is not enough credible evidence to make a finding
The investigation must be completed within 60 days. Depending on the results of the investigation, the family may be offered in-home voluntary services, services in the home through a court order, family preservation services or shelter care. If the child is at imminent risk, this may include substitute care services, such as relative placement or foster care.