What should I do if I think a child has been abused or neglected? Call the local child protective services agency or department of human services. If you have concerns about a family residing in Lucas County, call Children Services 24 hours a day at (419) 213-CARE. You will be connected to a specialist in the Intake department.
What if the person causing the harm or neglect is someone I know? Can I call anonymously?
We understand that you may be reluctant to tell us who you are, or even hesitant about calling at all. Reporting child abuse is not pleasant, especially when it involves the children of a relative, neighbor or friend. However, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Before you make the decision not to call, remember that the abuse or neglect the child may be experiencing will likely continue if you fail to act. Yes, you can make a report anonymously, but we prefer that you give us your name. Your identity will be kept confidential; we will not give your name to the person allegedly harming the child, nor to the child's family.
What information do I need when I make a report?
The more information you can provide, the better we will be able to assess the level of risk to the child. At a minimum, we'll need:
In order to better assess the situation, you will also be asked to provide, if possible, the following:
What information am I entitled to?
Just as you have confidentiality rights as a reporter of child abuse and neglect, the family of the child has an expectation of privacy as well. Therefore, in accordance with the law we do not provide any information about our investigations.
However, if you are a mandated reporter (see below) you are by law entitled to certain information:
Does the law require me to report child abuse and neglect?
Although Ohio law encourages everyone to report alleged child abuse and neglect, in most cases it is an option left for personal and moral decision. The exception is those professions that have an inherent responsibility to report. The ethical commitment to families and children that these professionals have accepted through virtue of their positions is recognized under Ohio law, and thus they are mandated to report alleged child abuse and neglect.
The Ohio Revised Code Section 2151.421 clearly removes the option of choice, and requires immediate reporting of known or suspected alleged child abuse and neglect for the following professionals:
How do I know that Children Services is investigating my report?
We take every report seriously, rest assured. If there is enough information available to suggest a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, we will most certainly investigate.
However, because we must keep case information confidential, and because we try our best to keep children in their own homes, there may be occasions when those who report child abuse and neglect do not see any immediate change in the situation. Because the child is not removed from the home or they do not hear back from Children Services, they may mistakenly conclude that we are not taking action.
But in fact, we are taking action. If we determine that children are at risk of abuse or neglect, we're already working to connect the family with community services that will help them toward stability.
What if my concerns about a child being abused or neglected are later found to be unsubstantiated? Can I be sued or charged?
Although no statute can forbid the filing of civil or criminal charges, state law protects the reporter of alleged child abuse or neglect from any decision or award which might be sought through the filing of a claim, provided that the reporter acted in good faith and did not knowingly make a false claim.
For more information, call Lucas County Children's Services
or go to www.lucaskids.net