When a report of potential abuse or neglect is made:
- Child abuse and neglect reports are received by child protective staff at the Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) Central Intake Unit. The Intake Unit accepts or screen out the report.
- If the report is accepted, it is electronically sent to the DHHS District Office responsible for the particular geographic area in which the child resides.
- A Child Protection Social Worker (CPSW) is assigned to assess allegations in the report.
- The CPSW is required to obtain information that will enable DCYF to determine if the allegations can be substantiated.
- NH Law requires DCYF to forward all reports of child sexual abuse or severe physical abuse to law enforcement.
The assessment process requires:
- Meeting with family and all household members.
- Interviewing the child victim.
- Making collateral contacts.
- Making a determination regarding safety of the child and the potential risk of harm. Determination outcomes:
- Allegations are not substantiated.
- Family may be referred to community services for support.
- Allegations are substantiated.
- Services provided to ensure continued safety and well being of child.
Responsibilities of the Child Protective Service Workers:
- Assess suspected cases of abuse and neglect.
- Assist the family in identifying areas of concern.
- Provide in-home visits and supportive services to help children stay at home with their families.
- Develop a case plan with the family.
- Coordinate community and DCYF services for the family.
- Consult with domestic violence specialists, drug and alcohol counselors, and mental health therapists when appropriate.
- If the child is in immanent danger, petition the court for assistance or removal of the child from the home.
- Arrange for the child's placement in out of home care, preferably with a relative.
- Review the family's case plan every 6 months.
The involvement of DCYF in a family's life to protect a child is a highly sensitive and confidential matter. DCYF is restricted by NH Law and federal laws regarding information it can discuss with individuals outside of the child's immediate family.