Child Protective Services


 CPS Intake, Assessments and In Home Services

The Department of Social Services is mandated by state law to accept reports of abuse, neglect, and dependency of children 24 hours a day 7 days per week. This is accomplished during regular office hours by a social worker that gathers the information from a reporter. The reporter does not have to give their name, although it is helpful if the social worker is able to talk to the reporter during the assessment and it allows the agency to inform the reporter of the outcome of the assessment, which the law requires.

 The after-hours social worker works after regular office hours to accept reports. This worker can be accessed through the county 911 Communications Center. A telephone message at DSS directs callers how to make a report.

 A social worker and supervisor must determine if the allegations contained in the report meet the definition of abuse, neglect, and dependency. DSS only has jurisdiction when maltreatment falls within legal definitions and was committed or allowed by the parent or caretaker. If a report is not accepted for assessment, the reporter has a right to challenge the Department’s decision. DSS is required by law to notify law enforcement to initiate a criminal investigation in cases where severe physical or sexual abuse has occurred. A social worker initiates an assessment within an assigned time frame determined by the allegations which may range from an immediate response to 72 hours.

 North Carolina law requires that local county departments of social services ensure the safety of children while they are in their homes. When a Child Protective Service (CPS) report meets the legal definition of abuse, neglect, or dependency, the Department of Social Services (DSS) will decide whether to conduct a Family Assessment or Traditional Investigation based upon legal guidelines. All abuse reports, and some neglect reports, require the Traditional Investigation. Since there may be more than one option for response from DSS this process is called the Multiple Response System. 

 What is the Family Assessment?

The Family Assessment response determines whether a family is in need of services to ensure their child’s safety. By using the Family-Centered Approach our objective is to instill hope within families by partnering with them and supporting their cultural, racial, ethnic and religious traditions while keeping child safety the first priority. 

What Can The Family Expect During the Family Assessment Process?
1. When possible, the social worker will contact the family before going out to the home or visiting the child. During the first visit the family will be interviewed and a Safety Assessment will be completed

2. When possible and agreeable the family and the social worker will gather information from doctors, teachers, babysitters, etc. This process will take approximately 45 days.
3. From this information a Case Decision will be made and will be one of the following:
A. In Need of Services– services are mandatory
B. Services Recommended– services are voluntary
C. Services Provided – all safety factors have been removed
D. Services not recommended– DSS closes the case 
4. If it is found that services are not recommended then your case will be closed to DSS. If the family is in need of services then a social worker will contact the family within 7 days to discuss the case decision and begin supportive services. If services are recommended, then the family will receive those recommendations in writing to assist the family in determining if they would like to receive the services. Regardless of the case decision, all cases following a Family Assessment track will not have a perpetrator name entered into the database.

What Can A Family Expect During the Traditional Investigative Process?

  1. The first step in an investigation is to see the children and interview them. No child will be interviewed in a manner that will jeopardize his safety. A child will be interviewed in private if deemed necessary. 
  2.  The next step is to address the concerns reported with one or both parents/caregivers, most often on the same day, at which time a Safety Assessment will be developed with the family.
  3.  It is also required that we make at least one home visit to the home and that we speak with everyone who lives in the home.
  4.  We also talk with other people who might have information that might be helpful to us in understanding the family’s situation such as doctors, teachers, neighbors, babysitters, etc. We would like the family to provide us with the names of people you know who can tell us about the family and their parenting. We will do everything possible to protect the family’s right to privacy.
  5.  We try to complete investigations within 30 days; however, cases can take longer in some instances. Once we have all the information we need, a decision is made about the outcome of the case. Case decisions are never made by one person. Decisions are made jointly with, at a minimum, the social worker and supervisor who consider all information gathered during the investigation. Case decisions are as follows:

A. No abuse/neglect found– case is unsubstantiated and closed 
B. Abuse/neglect found– case is substantiated with a worker providing services to the family

CPS In-Home Services are a legally mandated and integral part of the Children’s Services continuum and is provided to families who have had a substantiation of abuse, neglect, dependency, or a finding of services needed. The purpose of CPS In-Home Services is to maintain the safety of the child while helping the parent/caretaker to learn more effective parenting practices. 

The Agency shall provide, arrange for, and coordinate interventions and services, as needed that shall focus on child safety and protection, family preservation and the prevention of further abuse or neglect.

For Additional Information Regarding CPS/Family Assessments and In-Home Services Contact one of our CPS Supervisors: