Child Protective Services

Abuse and neglect of children is a serious problem in Virginia. Each year in this state over 48,000 children are reported for suspected abuse or neglect. The Code of Virginia requires local social services departments to respond to all valid reports and to assist families in protecting their children from harm.

The purpose of the child protective services program is to protect children; support and preserve families, when possible; arrange protective and other needed services; and prevent maltreatment.

Child Abuse & Neglect Definitions
Section 63.1-248.2 of the Code of Virginia defines an abused or neglected child as any child under 18 whose parent, or other person responsible for the care of the child:
  • Causes or threatens to cause a non-accidental physical or mental injury;
  • Neglects or refuses to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, emotional nurturing, or health care;
  • Abandons the child;
  • Fails to provide adequate supervision in relationship to the child’s age and level of development; and
  • Commits or allows to be committed any illegal sexual act upon a child, including incest, rape, fondling, indecent exposure, prostitution, or allows a child to be used in any sexual explicit visual material.
Infants who have been medically diagnosed for exposure to non-prescription drugs or alcohol during pregnancy are also considered to be at risk of abuse or neglect. Attending physicians are required to report these cases to CPS.
  1. Community Partnership

    The safety and well being of children is a community responsibility shared by families, neighborhoods, service providers, schools, community leaders, the faith community, and others.

  2. CPS Authorities & Responsibilities

    The Code of Virginia empowers CPS with designated authorities and responsibilities in responding to reports of suspected abuse and neglect and ensuring child safety.

  3. Differential Response System

    Since the enactment of Virginia’s child abuse and neglect statutes in 1975, all valid reports of suspected child abuse and neglect have been investigated by CPS.

  4. Family Assessment Response

    Reports may be considered for a Family Assessment Response when there are no immediate child safety concerns and/or the report is not required by law to be investigated.

  5. Feedback from CPS

    Read the Code of Virginia that permits a CPS worker to provide feedback to persons of interest.

  6. Investigation Response

    Valid CPS reports will be considered for an Investigation Response when there are immediate child safety concerns and/or the type of report is required by the Code of Virginia to be investigated.

  7. Ongoing Child Protective Services

    At the completion of a family assessment or founded investigation in which moderate or high risk to a child is established the Family Services Specialist will consult with the family to provide or arrange for necessary protective and rehabilitative services for the child and family, to the extent funding is available.

  8. Reclassification of CPS Response

    The local department of social services may investigate any valid CPS report.

  9. Required Reporting

    Anyone may report suspected child abuse and neglect; however, pursuant to the Code of Virginia, certain professionals are required to report.

  10. Reporting Child Abuse & Neglect

    The Code of Virginia requires that mandated reporters immediately report suspected child abuse or neglect to the local department of social services or to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline.