When a report of child abuse or neglect is made, an initial assessment is made to determine if Child Protective Services should become involved. If the report meets the criteria for agency involvement, the case is investigated by a social worker or special investigator. Law enforcement may also investigate if a joint investigation is warranted. If it is determined that a child is unsafe, then a recommendation is made by Child Protective Services or law enforcement to the court regarding what action should be taken regarding the child's safety.
The court is ultimately responsible for the decision to remove a child from the home. Removal may require placing the child in foster care or in the care of a relative. When making a recommendation to remove a child, Child Protective Services must weigh the emotional harm to the child of being removed from the home with the likelihood of harm that could occur if the child remains in the home. Information for parents is available Child Protective Services Brochure
Services may be provided in non-abuse or neglect situations in cases where a child appears to be without proper parental care and control, in cases of truancy and in the cases of runaways. Assessments often result in families being referred to services such as family preservation, foster care or other services available in the community.