Couple Says They Were Falsely Accused Of Child Neglect And Emotional Abuse
How to Claim Child Neglect
If someone who is supposed to be caring for a child is failing to provide that child the food, clothing, or guidance that he or she needs, they may be neglecting the child. Like child abuse, neglect is a crime in all states. If you have evidence that a child is being neglected, you should report the activity as soon as possible. People in certain roles, such as teachers and doctors, often have a legal duty to report any serious suspicion of child abuse or neglect.If you suspect your own child is being neglected, particularly by the child's other parent who has primary custody, you have additional options available through the court system to help protect your child.
Reporting Abuse or Neglect
Locate the child.Before you report child abuse or neglect to authorities it's important that you know where the child is and that he or she is relatively safe.
- Keep in mind that without a location, authorities will be unable to help the child. Even if you don't know where the child lives, you should at least be able to provide details about where the child goes to school.
Decide if you want to report anonymously.Even though you may not have to provide your name to report child abuse or neglect, there are benefits to providing your name and contact information.
- Keep in mind that although in most states you have the ability to make an anonymous report, law enforcement and child welfare authorities tend to discourage doing so. Providing your name gives workers a contact during the investigation, and you may be needed as a witness if the case goes to court.
- Even if you don't feel comfortable providing your name and contact information, you still may be asked your relationship to the child or how you found out about the child's situation.
- In every state, you are protected for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect, even if your suspicions turn out to be incorrect, as long as you made the report in good faith.
Search for local hotlines.Most areas have toll-free numbers you can call to report child abuse or neglect.
- You can always call the national Childhelp hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. Professional crisis counselor work the hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and all calls are anonymous.
- The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website has a list of state hotlines to report child abuse and neglect, available at .
Call the police.If you believe the child is in immediate danger you should consider calling the police to protect the child or remove him or her from the home.
- The police will want to know specific information such as the name and location of the child, the names of the people currently with the child, the name of the person you suspect of abuse or neglect and his or her relationship to the child.
- Don't worry if you don't know the specific answers to all of the questions you're asked, but try to provide as many details as possible.
- If law enforcement decides to arrest anyone or press charges for child abuse or neglect, you may be contacted to serve as a witness in the criminal proceeding.
- Typically, if you notify police first, they will notify your state's child services agency and take action to investigate your report.
Follow up on your report.If you provided a phone number or email address, you may be contacted by an investigator with further questions.
- Keep in mind that unless you are a professional, such as a teacher or childcare worker, or a close relative of the child, you may not be able to learn any details about the investigation or what has happened to the child.
- The agency will weigh your interest in the case against the family's interest in privacy and confidentiality, and the family's interest nearly always wins out.
Working with Your State Agency
Collect evidence of your claim.Before you talk to a state caseworker, you should have solid reasons to believe the child is being neglected.
- Any person can report child abuse or neglect – it isn't necessary that you are a parent, teacher, or have any other specific relationship to the child.
- Keep in mind investigations often are prioritized depending on the danger to the child and the evidence available. The more reliable information you have about the situation, the more likely it is that a caseworker will investigate the situation promptly.
- At the same time, you don't need legal evidence or first-hand knowledge of the abuse or neglect – all you need is reasonable cause or suspicion to believe the child is being neglected based on your observations. The child welfare agency will investigate the claim and determine if the child is at risk.
- You will need to know some basic information about the child and his or her living situation, such as the people in the home and whether the child has any siblings. If you don't already know, try to learn the address of the home and as many names and approximate ages as possible.
- A claim of child neglect means you suspect the child isn't being properly cared for. Children who are neglected don't have adequate food or clothing, or may be left home alone for hours on end to fend for themselves. These children typically also have significant health problems.
Contact the appropriate agency.Although it goes by a different name in each state, you need to contact the agency in charge of child protective services, which typically is a part of the state's social services department.
- The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a list of state child welfare agency websites available at .
- Keep in mind that many agencies are short on funds and staff, so it may take awhile for someone to get in touch with you regarding the specifics of your claim. You may have to call more than once to get the ball rolling.
Talk to a caseworker.The caseworker assigned the case may wish to interview you regarding the information you provided.
- The caseworker will ask you questions about the child and about the people you suspect of neglecting the child, as well as the reasons for your suspicions. Be open and honest, and give the caseworker as many details as you have about the situation.
- If you know of anyone else who potentially has witnessed the abuse or neglect, give their names and contact information to the caseworker so he or she can contact them.
Make yourself available during the investigation.As the caseworker looks into the child's situation, he or she may contact you with further questions.
- The caseworker's investigation will focus on whether abuse or neglect is occurring, and assess the immediate and long-term risk to the child.
- If the caseworker determines the child is in imminent danger, he or she may be removed from the home and into emergency protection. A hearing then will be held to determine the continued custody of the child.
- The caseworker will investigate by evaluating the home environment where the child lives and interviewing people around the child, including parents, family members, family friends, and other professionals such as teachers who have regular contact with the child.
- If the caseworker determines the child is at imminent risk of abuse or neglect, he or she may file a petition with the court to have the child removed from the home.
Filing a Petition in Court
Make sure the child is safe.Because it can take a significant amount of time for the court to rule on a petition, you should consider taking emergency measures if you don't believe the child will be safe for that long.
- If you feel that the child is in immediate danger, you should contact local law enforcement to have the child removed from the situation before you start any court procedures. Not taking immediate action gives the judge who evaluates your petition more reason to doubt your claims.
Decide what you want the court to do.Your relationship to the child also may dictate what actions the court will take to protect the child.
- For example, if you are the non-custodial parent of the child and believe the custodial parent is neglecting him or her, you may want to file a motion to have the custody order modified so you can care for the child.
- Other individuals such as grandparents may be limited in their ability to ask for custody of the child, but may be able to file an emergency petition asking for temporary guardianship.
Choose the correct court.Depending on the type of petition you want to file, you may need to use juvenile court or family court.
- Typically you must use the court in the county where the child lives. However, if the child was the subject of a prior court order such as a custody order, that court may have continuing jurisdiction even if the child has moved elsewhere in the interim.
- Many states such as California start a juvenile dependency case in situations where a child's parents are not able to protect him or her from abuse or neglect.
- Juvenile dependency cases typically are started when the caseworker who investigated the initial report files a petition with the court to protect the child.
- If you are a non-custodial parent, you may be able to remedy the situation by filing a motion to modify child custody or an emergency petition for custody. This petition typically would be filed in family court.
Consider consulting an attorney.Particularly if you believe a parent or other person may dispute your claims, an attorney can best protect you and the interests of the child.
- If you're petitioning the court to modify an existing child custody order because you believe your child is being neglected by the other parent, seek out a family law attorney who has experience in child abuse or neglect claims.
- Keep in mind that accusations of child abuse and neglect are common between parents who don't get along or who are upset by the custody arrangements ordered by the court. Having an attorney on your side can help legitimize your claims.
- If you're concerned about the cost of hiring an attorney, check with your local legal aid society to find out if you qualify for legal assistance there. Even if you don't qualify for legal aid services, they typically can connect you with lower cost solutions such as attorneys who offer sliding-scale fees based on your income.
- If you live near a law school, you also may be able to find a family law clinic staffed by law students and attorneys who can help you for free or for a significantly reduced rate.
- You also may be able to hire an attorney for certain parts of your case, such as drafting your court motion, without hiring him or her to represent you for the entire matter. This is referred to as "unbundled" services or limited representation, and typically costs much less than full representation for all aspects of the case.
Collect evidence to support your claim.The court will not act on your claims unless you provide factual evidence that the child is being abused or neglected.
- The caseworker also will present his or her findings from the investigation of your claim.
- Some courts also may appoint a guardian ad litem, a legal professional who investigates the situation and files a report with the court on behalf of the child's best interests.
- Evaluate the source of your information. If you learned of the possible abuse or neglect from a neighbor, friend, or family member, you should ask what the person's motivation would be in telling you.
- Keep in mind that neglect can be extremely difficult to prove. Your case my hinge on eye-witness testimony. For example, if the child is being left home alone all evening, neighbors may be able to testify regarding their observations of when the child is left without adult supervision.
- You typically will need to have the child evaluated by a mental health professional who can testify at the hearing regarding the care of the child.
Search for forms.Most courts have forms you can fill out to initiate a case regarding child abuse or neglect.
- To find forms for a motion to modify child custody, look on the website for the court that issued the original order, or contact the clerk's office.
- Some legal aid societies and family law clinics also have forms you can use to ask the court to modify a child custody order.
- If you're the non-custodial parent of the child, you need forms for a motion to modify a child custody order.
- Forms for dependency petitions are available, but these petitions typically are initiated by a state caseworker who has investigated the child's situation after an abuse or neglect report was filed.
Complete your paperwork.The forms require information about the child and the abuse or neglect that child is suffering.
- If you've filed a motion to modify the custody order, you must explain to the court not only why the parent who currently has custody should not, but also how you are the better caretaker for the child.
- Since the court will evaluate your motion based on the child's best interests, you must include information that supports your contention that it is in the child's best interests to be removed from the other parent's home and come to live with you.
File your paperwork with the clerk of court.The clerk will process your paperwork to begin your case so you can help get the child out of his or her current situation.
- When you file your motion or petition with the clerk, you typically must pay a filing fee. This fee varies greatly among states and even among courts within a particular court, so call the clerk's office before you file so you know the amount of the fee and the methods of payment accepted.
- Some courts also may have filing fee schedules available online, but call the clerk's office to confirm the amount.
- If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee, ask the court if you can fill out an application for a waiver. The application will require details regarding your income and assets, which the court will use to assess your eligibility. If you qualify for a waiver, you won't have to pay any court fees for your case.
- Make sure you bring enough copies of your paperwork so you can have a file-stamped copy for your own records as well as copies to deliver to other parties involved in the case, such as the other parent.
Have the appropriate parties served.Before the court can begin evaluating a claim of child abuse or neglect the parents and others with an interest in the child must have notice of the proceeding.
- Typically you can have your paperwork served on the other parent or any other interested parties using certified mail with returned receipt requested. The person receiving the documents must sign for them and this proves to the court that they have notice of the proceeding.
- You also can have the forms hand-delivered, typically either using the sheriff's department or a private process serving company. If your paperwork is hand-delivered, the person who completed the delivery must complete a proof of service form and file it with the court.
Appear in court for the hearing.Once you've filed your petition, your presence in court is crucial if you want the judge to act on your claim.
- You also should attend the first hearing – typically called a dependency or detention hearing – if a caseworker has filed a petition to remove your child for abuse or neglect. You should attend this hearing even if you're not the custodial parent.
- Keep in mind that some jurisdictions will require you to attend parenting or family law training classes before your hearing is scheduled.The clerk will let you know of any additional steps that must be completed before your hearing.
- If you've filed a motion to modify child custody, you will have to present your evidence and explain to the judge why you believe the original order should be modified.
QuestionI'm writing a story where the main character is neglected. Is being left home alone for weeks since she was 7, and her guardian always being too drunk to care for her neglect?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI would say so.Thanks!
- If you're afraid your child will be removed from the home and placed with strangers due to the risk of abuse or neglect, give the caseworker contact information for relatives who are able to take care of the child while the custody issues are sorted out.
- Never report child neglect out of spite or as a way to get an upper hand in a child custody battle. If you knowingly file a false report, you can be charged with a crime in most states. In some states such as Florida, it is a felony to file a false report of child neglect.
Video: ‘I Recognize Child Abuse,’ Says Homeless Woman Claiming Family Who Hosted Her Neglects Their Kids
12 Celebs Who Make Bed Head LookHot
The Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot has found its Harvey
Punk Couture by M.A.C
How to Set Up a Stoploss Order
How to Keep Your Laptop from Overheating
How To Wear Stripes In Mens Suits Casual Wear
25 Badass Rib Tattoos to Inspire Your Next Ink
Women Who Changed Fashion: The Models
Vera Wang FallWinter 2019RTW – NYFW
How to Be a Guest During Birth
Harry Styles and his One Direction bandmates have made 100 million in just two years
How to Look for Auto Body Jobs
When to See a Pain Expert for Back Pain
Chicken Osso Buco