Reports or referrals of possible child abuse and neglect are generally received by child protective services intake staff. Often, statewide, toll-free hotlines are used to receive calls. In some cases, reports are received by local police departments. Staff use criteria to decide if the report should be accepted for investigation or assessment; these are often called screened-in reports. Reports that do not meet the criteria may be screened out and referred to other services. Resources include State and local examples.
Making and Screening Reports of Child Abuse and Neglect
Measurement Tools for Child Welfare
California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
Includes screening and assessment tools commonly used in child welfare or by related professionals.
State and local examples
Actions DCF takes when child abuse or neglect is reported
Massachusetts Department of Children and Family (DCF)
Provides the type of information DCF screeners collect for reports of suspected child abuse or neglect; the screening process for determining whether the allegation meets the criteria of suspected abuse or neglect; and whether there is immediate danger to the safety of a child, response timelines, and possible response outcomes.
Child Abuse and Neglect Screening and Response Time Assessment Policy and Procedures Manual (PDF - 218 KB)
Indiana Department of Child Services
Provides information on the preliminary screening of a report of suspected child maltreatment, screening criteria by maltreatment type, the process for screening in or out a report, and response time decision-making. The Child Abuse and Neglect Screening and Response Time Assessment is provided at the beginning of the document.
Child Welfare Screening in Wisconsin: An Analysis of Families Screened Out of Child Protective Services and Subsequently Screened In (PDF - 715 KB)
Dumas, Elzinga-Marshall, Monahan, van Buren, & Will (2015)
Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Presents the findings of a study that analyzed the characteristics of families screened out of child protective services and subsequently screened into child protective services in Wisconsin. The study concludes with recommendations for policy and practice improvements.
Minnesota Child Maltreatment Intake, Screening and Response Path Guidelines (PDF - 833 KB)
Minnesota Department of Human Services (2016)
Provides information on the intake, screening, and response process. The guidelines include types of information that the screening team must consider when screening in or out a report, such as the credibility of a report, risk of harm, child vulnerability, and prenatal exposure to alcohol or other drugs.