How Does A Child Abuse Or Neglect Case Begin?

A child abuse or neglect case begins when someone files a report of child abuse or neglect. Neglect and abuse means that the adult responsible for taking care of a child caused emotional or physical harm, or risk of harm, to the child. Abuse and neglect include failing to protect a child from harm caused by other people.

Anyone can file a report of child abuse or neglect in New York State.

In New York, there are also “mandated reporters”, professionals who are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect when they are presented, with “reasonable cause” to suspect abuse or neglect.

Some examples of mandated reporters are medical doctors, hospital personnel, mental health professionals, teachers and school personnel, police officers, among others.

If a mandated reporter suspects abuse or neglect, he or she must file a report with the New York State Central Register (SCR) of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. Mandated reporters can face criminal or civil punishment for failing to report child abuse or neglect.

Child abuse and neglect proceedings are heard in Family Court. Sometimes in addition to a case being brought against a person suspected of child abuse or neglect, criminal charges may be brought against the person.

What Happens After The Case Is Opened?

When a report is filed with the New York State Central Register (SCR) of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, the child protective agency (either Administration of Children’s Services or Child Protective Services) will investigate the report of suspected child abuse or neglect.

ACS or CPS will notify the parents or other caregivers to the child that a case has been opened and that an investigation will occur, and will speak with the parents/caregivers and the child. The caseworker may make a home visit to observe the home where the child is living.

About The Author


Jessica H. Ressler has been practicing exclusively matrimonial and family law for the past ten years in New York. She is a member of the panel for attorneys for children in Westchester and Putnam Counties. She appears regularly in the New York Family and Supreme Courts representing both adults and children.