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The Division of Children and Family Services is mandated by law to investigate complaints about child abuse and neglect. If you suspect a child to be a victim of abuse or neglect, call the ACCESS number 262-605-6582.
In your report, you should tell the ACCESS worker the following:
First-hand information is very important.
It is the mistreatment or neglect of a child by parent(s) or other caretaker(s) resulting in injury or harm. Abuse of a child can be physical, sexual or emotional.
Neglect is typically defined in two ways:
Under Wisconsin Law, child abuse is a crime.
When you know or have reasonable suspicion that a person who cares for a child, lives with a child, or works with or around children has caused injury/harm or put the child at risk of physical injury.
Reports should be made in good faith. A report of child abuse can have a lifelong impact on a child and his or her family. Never make a false or malicious report.
If you have any doubts about whether to report a situation, call the DCFS ACCESS number at 262-605-6582 and discuss your concerns with them.
Individuals who report abuse or neglect in good faith cannot be held liable for damages under criminal or civil law. Your name is not given to the person named as the abuser or anyone else, unless ordered by a hearing officer or judge. Members of the public may make reports without giving their names.
All reports of abuse or neglect remain strictly confidential. However, if the matter goes to court, the court may obtain access to the reporter's identity.
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 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.
No. Most reports of child abuse and or neglect do not result in the child being removed from the home. The goal of DCFS is to enable the child to remain safely in their own home.
However, if the Child Protective Worker finds that the child is at risk of harm, they may, with the approval of Juvenile Court Intake, detain the child until the investigation is complete and the child’s safety assured.