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Child Protective Services Program
Child Protective Services/Abuse Hotlines
|LOCAL||City of Chesapeake's Child Protective Services Hotline: 757-382-2020|
|STATE||Virginia State Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-552-7096 (After hours, weekends, holidays)|
The goal of Child Protective Services (CPS) is to identify, assess, and provide services to children and families in an effort to protect children, preserve families, whenever possible, and prevent maltreatment.
Reports of abuse and neglect of children under the age of 18 are investigated with the goal of protecting children from physical, mental, and medical neglect, and from sexual abuse and exploitation. We provide services to prevent and alleviate family crises. Child Protective Services is a federally mandated program and accepts reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. These services are provided 24/7.
How do you recognize abuse and neglect?
The most commonly recognized types of abuse and neglect are physical abuse, physical neglect, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, and sexual abuse or exploitation. Signs of abuse and neglect include:
- A child with repeated injuries such as bruises, welts, or burns
- A child who is withdrawn, angry, depressed, aggressive
- A child who exhibits extremes in behavior, such as being excessively aggressive or being overly compliant; being afraid to go with a caretaker or clinging and not wanting to separate
- A child who is inadequately dressed for the weather, is malnourished, physically dirty, tired, or unsupervised; or is not receiving needed medical treatment
- A child who shows signs of or reports sexual abuse or has a sexually transmitted disease.
What can you do?
- Learn to recognize the warning signals and indicators of child abuse and neglect.
- If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact the Child Protective Services Hotline at 757-382-2020
- Encourage schools to provide classes in parenting education for students and parents.
- Start or join community efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect, especially during April, Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Does CPS become involved in child custody or visitation disputes?
Child Protective Services becomes involved ONLY when there is a legitimate complaint that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect by the child's caretaker (parent, guardian, etc.).
At what age can a child be left alone and for how long?
Virginia state statutes do not set a specific age after which a child legally can stay alone. Age alone is not a very good indicator of a child's maturity level. Some very mature 10-year-olds may be ready for self-care while some 15-year-olds may not be ready due to emotional problems or behavioral difficulties. In determining whether a child is capable of being left alone and whether a parent is providing adequate supervision in such situations, child protective services (CPS) will assess several areas. These areas include:
- A Child's Level of Maturity. CPS will want to assess whether the child is physically capable of taking care of himself; is mentally capable of recognizing and avoiding danger and making sound decisions; is emotionally ready to be alone; knows what to do and whom to call if an emergency arises; and has special physical, emotional, or behavioral problems that make it unwise to leave be left alone. It is important to note that a child who can take care of him/herself may not be ready to care for younger children.
- Accessibility of Those Responsible for the Child. CPS will want to determine the location and proximity of the parents, whether they can be reached by phone and can get home quickly if needed, and whether the child knows the parents' location and how to reach them.
- The Situation. CPS will want to assess the time of day and length of time the children are left alone; the safety of the home or neighborhood; whether the parents have arranged for nearby adults to be available in case a problem arises; and whether there is a family history of child abuse or neglect.
- It is also helpful to have this Safety Plan including parent’s phone numbers, the arranged neighbor’s name, address and phone numbers and other pertinent information written down and posted somewhere visible in the home.
Child Protective Services Ongoing Services
Families that have findings for abuse and neglect are referred to the CPS Ongoing Services Team for continued service needs. The family services specialist will schedule a Family Partnership Meeting to establish the needed services to assist the family and to prevent further abuse and neglect. The family and their support system are encouraged to fully participate in these meetings.