How the Child Welfare System Works (Fact Sheet)

The child welfare system is a group of services designed to promote the well-being of children by ensuring safety, achieving permanency, and strengthening families to successfully care for their children. While the primary responsibility for child welfare services rests with the States, the Federal Government plays a major role in supporting States in the delivery of services through funding of programs and legislative initiatives.

The primary responsibility for implementing Federal child and family legislative mandates rests with the Children’s Bureau within the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Children’s Bureau works with State and local agencies to develop programs that focus on preventing the abuse of children in troubled families, protecting children from abuse, and finding permanent families for those who cannot safely return to their parents.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), originally passed in 1974, brought national attention to the need to protect vulnerable children in the United States. CAPTA provides Federal funding to States in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities as well as grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations for demonstration programs and projects. Additionally, CAPTA identifies the Federal role in supporting research, evaluation, technical assistance, and data collection activities. CAPTA also sets forth a minimum definition of child abuse and neglect. Since it was signed into law, CAPTA has been amended several times. It was most recently amended and reauthorized on June 25, 2003, by the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-36). To see the 2003 amendment to CAPTA, visit: laws_policies/cblaws/capta03/index.htm

Most families first become involved with their local child welfare system due to a report of suspected child abuse or neglect (sometimes called “child maltreatment”). Child maltreatment is defined by CAPTA as serious harm (neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse or neglect) caused to children by parents or primary caregivers, such as extended family members or babysitters.1 Child maltreatment also can include harm that a caregiver allows to happen or does not prevent from happening to a child. In general, child welfare agencies do not intervene in cases of harm to children caused by acquaintances or strangers. These cases are the responsibility of law enforcement.

The child welfare system is not a single entity. Many organizations in each community work together to strengthen families and keep children safe. Public agencies, such as departments of social services or child and family services, often contract and collaborate with private child welfare agencies and community- based organizations to provide services to families, such as in-home family preservation services, foster care, residential treatment, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, parenting skills classes, employment assistance, and financial or housing assistance.

Child welfare systems are complex, and their specific procedures vary widely by State. The purpose of this factsheet is to give a brief overview of the purposes and functions of child welfare from a national perspective. Child welfare systems typically:

  • Receive and investigate reports of possible child abuse and neglect
  • Provide services to families who need assistance in the protection and care of their children
  • Arrange for children to live with foster families when they are not safe at home
  • Arrange for adoption or other permanent family connections for children leaving foster care
  • Appendix A provides a graphic overview of the process described in the following sections.

What Happens When Possible Abuse or Neglect is Reported?

Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. Most reports are made by people who are required by State law to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect—mandatory reporters. In approximately 18 States and Puerto Rico, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report. Reports of possible child abuse and neglect are generally received by child protective services (CPS) workers and either “screened in” or “screened out.” A report is screened in if there is sufficient information to suggest an investigation is warranted. A report may be screened out if there is not enough information on which to follow up or if the situation reported does not meet the State’s legal definition of abuse or neglect. In these instances, the worker may refer the person reporting the incident to other community services or law enforcement for additional help.

In 2006, an estimated total of 3.3 million referrals involving 6 million children were made to CPS agencies. Approximately 61.7 percent were screened in, and 38.3 percent were screened out (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], 2008).

What Happens After a Report is “Screened in?”

CPS workers, often called investigators, respond within a particular time period, which may be anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the type of maltreatment alleged, the potential severity of the situation, and requirements under State law. They may speak with the parents and other people in contact with the child, such as doctors, teachers, or childcare providers. They also may speak with the child, alone or in the presence of caregivers, depending on the child’s age and level of risk. Children who are believed to be in immediate danger may be moved to a shelter, foster care placement, or a relative’s home during the investigation and while court proceedings are pending. An investigator’s primary purpose is to determine if the child is safe, if abuse or neglect has occurred, and if there is a risk of it occurring again.

Some jurisdictions now employ an alternative response system. In these jurisdictions, when risk to the children involved is considered to be low, the CPS caseworker may focus on assessing family strengths, resources, and difficulties and identifying supports and services needed, rather than on gathering evidence to confirm the occurrence of abuse or neglect.

At the end of an investigation, CPS workers typically make one of two findings— “unsubstantiated” (“unfounded”) or “substantiated” (“founded”). These terms vary from State to State. Typically, a finding of “unsubstantiated” means there is insufficient evidence for the worker to conclude that a child was abused or neglected, or what happened does not meet the legal definition of child abuse or neglect. A finding of “substantiated” typically means an incident of child abuse or neglect, as defined by State law, is believed to have occurred. Some States have additional categories, such as “unable to determine,” that suggest there was not enough evidence to either confirm or refute that abuse or neglect occurred.

The agency will initiate a court action if it determines that the authority of the juvenile court (through a child protection or dependency proceeding) is necessary to keep the child safe. To protect the child, the court can issue temporary orders placing the child in shelter care during the investigation, ordering services, or ordering certain individuals to have no contact with the child. At an adjudicatory hearing, the court hears evidence and decides whether maltreatment occurred and whether the child should be under the continuing jurisdiction of the court. The court then enters a disposition, either at that hearing or at a separate hearing, which may result in the court ordering a parent to comply with services necessary to ameliorate the abuse or neglect. Orders can also contain provisions regarding visitation between the parent and the child, agency obligations to provide the parent with services, and services needed by the child.

In 2006, approximately 905,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect (HHS, 2008).

What Happens in Substantiated (Founded) Cases?

If a child has been abused or neglected, the course of action depends on State policy, the severity of the maltreatment, an assessment of the child’s immediate safety, the risk of continued or future maltreatment, the services available to address the family’s needs, and whether the child was removed from the home and a court action to protect the child was initiated. The following general options are available:

  • No or low risk—The family’s case may be closed with no services if the maltreatment was a one-time incident, the child is considered to be safe, there is no or low risk of future incidents, and any services the family needs will not be provided through the child welfare agency but through other community-based resources and service systems.
  • Low to moderate risk—Referrals may be made to community-based or voluntary in-home CPS services if the CPS worker believes the family would benefit from these services and the child’s present and future safety would be enhanced. This may happen even when no abuse or neglect is found, if the family needs and is willing to participate in services.

    Moderate to high risk—The family may again be offered voluntary in-home CPS services to address safety concerns and help ameliorate the risks. If these are refused, the agency may seek intervention by the juvenile dependency court.

Once there is a judicial determination that abuse or neglect occurred, juvenile dependency court may require the family to cooperate with in-home CPS services if it is believed that the child can remain safely at home while the family addresses the issues contributing to the risk of future maltreatment. If the child has been seriously harmed, is considered to be at high risk of serious harm, or the child’s safety is threatened, the court may order the child’s removal from the home or affirm the agency’s prior removal of the child. The child may be placed with a relative or in foster care.

In 2006, an estimated 312,000 children were removed from their homes as a result of a child abuse investigation or assessment. Nearly two-thirds (63.6 percent) of the victims who were removed from their homes suffered from neglect; 8.6 percent from physical abuse; 3.2 percent from sexual abuse; and 16.8 percent from multiple types of maltreatment (HHS, 2008).

What Happens to People Who Abuse Children?

People who are found to have abused or neglected a child are generally offered support and treatment services or are required by a juvenile dependency court to participate in services that will help keep their children safe. In more severe cases or fatalities, police are called upon to investigate and may file charges in criminal court against the perpetrators of child maltreatment. In many States certain types of abuse, such as sexual abuse and serious physical abuse, are routinely referred to law enforcement.

Whether or not criminal charges are filed, the perpetrator’s name may be placed on a State child maltreatment registry if abuse or neglect is confirmed. A registry is a central database that collects information about maltreated children and individuals who are found to have abused or neglected those children.6 These registries are usually confidential and used for internal child protective purposes only. However, they may be used in background checks for certain professions, such as those working with children, so children will be protected from contact with individuals who may mistreat them.

What Happens to Children Who Enter Foster Care?

Most children in foster care are placed with relatives or foster families, but some may be placed in group homes. While a child is in foster care, he or she attends school and should receive medical care and other services as needed. The child’s family also receives services to support their efforts to reduce the risk of future maltreatment and to help them, in most cases, be reunited with their child. Parents may visit their children on a predetermined basis. Visits also are arranged between siblings, if they cannot be placed together.

Every child in foster care should have a permanency plan that describes where the child will live after he or she leaves foster care. Families typically participate in developing a permanency plan for the child and a service plan for the family. These plans guide the agency’s work. Except in unusual and extreme circumstances, every child’s plan is first focused on reunification with parents. If the efforts toward reunification are not successful, the plan may be changed to another permanent arrangement, such as adoption or transfer of custody to a relative.7 Whether or not they are adopted, older youth in foster care should receive support in developing some form of permanent family connection, in addition to transitional or independent living services to assist them in being self-sufficient when they leave foster care between the ages of 18 and 21.

Federal law requires the court to hold a permanency hearing, which determines the permanent plan for the child, within 12 months after the child enters foster care and every 12 months thereafter. Many courts review each case more frequently to ensure that the agency is actively pursuing permanency for the child.

In fiscal year 2003, 55 percent of children leaving foster care were returned to their parents. The median length of stay in foster care was 12 months. The average age of a child exiting foster care was 10 years old (HHS, 2006).


The goal of the child welfare system is to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of children and families. Even among children who enter foster care, most children will leave the child welfare system

safely to the care of their birth family, a relative, or an adoptive home.

For more detailed information about the child welfare system, please refer to the resources listed below. For more information about the child welfare system in your State or local jurisdiction, contact your local public child welfare agency.


Badeau, S. & Gesiriech, S. (2003). A child’s journey through the child welfare system. Washington, DC: The Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care. Retrieved April 20, 2006, from

Goldman, J. & Salus, M. (2003). A coordinated response to child abuse and neglect: The foundation for practice (The User Manual Series). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved April 20, 2006, from foundation/index.cfm

McCarthy, J., Marshall, A., Collins, J., Milon, J., Arganza, G., Deserly, K. (2003). A family’s guide to the child welfare system. Washington, DC: National Technical Assistance Center
for Children’s Mental Health at Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. Retrieved May 1, 2007, from resources/AFamilysGuideFINAL%20WEB%20VERSION.pdf

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). Child maltreatment 2006. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). Child welfare outcomes 2003: Annual report. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved May 1, 2007, from 

Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect: Signs and Symptoms (Fact Sheet)

The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. The presence of a single sign does not prove child abuse is occurring in a family, but a closer look at the situation may be warranted when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination.

If you do suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect the child and get help for the family. Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse and neglect. Some people (typically certain types of professionals) are required by law to make a report of child maltreatment under specific circumstances—these are called mandatory reporters. For more information, see the Child Welfare Information Gateway publication, Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect: systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/manda.cfm

For more information about where and how to file a report, contact your local child protective services agency or police department. An additional resource for information and referral is the Childhelp® National Child Abuse Hotline (800.4.A.CHILD).

Recognizing Child Abuse

The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect.

The Child:

  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents’ attention
  • Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Lacks adult supervision
  • Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
  • Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home

The Parent:

  • Shows little concern for the child
  • Denies the existence of—or blames the child for—the child’s problems in school or at home
  • Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
  • Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
  • Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
  • Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs

The Parent and Child:

  • Rarely touch or look at each other
  • Consider their relationship entirely negative
  • State that they do not like each other

Types of Abuse

The following are some signs often associated with particular types of child abuse and neglect: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. It is important to note, however, that these types of abuse are more typically found in combination than alone. A physically abused child, for example, is often emotionally abused as well, and a sexually abused child also may be neglected.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the child:

  • Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes
  • Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
  • Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
  • Shrinks at the approach of adults
  • Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver

Consider the possibility of physical abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child’s injury
  • Describes the child as “evil,” or in some other very negative way
  • Uses harsh physical discipline with the child
  • Has a history of abuse as a child

Signs of Neglect

Consider the possibility of neglect when the child:

  • Is frequently absent from school
  • Begs or steals food or money
  • Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses
  • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
  • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs
  • States that there is no one at home to provide care

Consider the possibility of neglect when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Appears to be indifferent to the child
  • Seems apathetic or depressed
  • Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner
  • Is abusing alcohol or other drugs

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the child:

  • Has difficulty walking or sitting
  • Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
  • Reports nightmares or bedwetting
  • Experiences a sudden change in appetite
  • Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age 14
  • Runs away
  • Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child’s contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
  • Is secretive and isolated
  • Is jealous or controlling with family members

Signs of Emotional Maltreatment

Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the child:

  • Shows extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity, or aggression
  • Is either inappropriately adult (parenting other children, for example) or inappropriately infantile (frequently rocking or head-banging, for example)
  • Is delayed in physical or emotional development
  • Has attempted suicide
  • Reports a lack of attachment to the parent

Consider the possibility of emotional maltreatment when the parent or other adult caregiver:

  • Constantly blames, belittles, or berates the child
  • Is unconcerned about the child and refuses to consider offers of help for the child’s problems
  • Overtly rejects the child

Resources on the Child Welfare Information Gateway Website

Child Abuse and Neglect:

Identifying Child Abuse and Neglect:

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect:

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect: reporting.cfm 

This information in this article reprinted with permission from the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Available online at


Leaving Your Child Home Alone (Fact Sheet)

Every parent eventually faces the decision to leave their child home alone for the first time. Whether they are just running to the store for a few minutes or working during after-school hours, parents need to be sure their children have the skills and maturity to handle the situation safely. Being trusted to stay home alone can be a positive experience for a child who is mature and well prepared. It can boost the child’s confidence and promote independence and responsibility. However, children face real risks when left unsupervised. Those risks, as well as a child’s ability to deal with challenges, must be considered. This factsheet provides some tips to help parents and caregivers when making this important decision.

Depending on the laws and child protective policies in your area, leaving a young child unsupervised may be considered neglect, especially if doing so places the child in danger. If you are concerned about a child who appears to be neglected or inadequately supervised, contact your local child protective services (CPS) agency. If you need help contacting your local CPS agency, call the Childhelp® National Child Abuse Hotline at 800.4.A.CHILD (800.422.4453). Find more information on their website:

What to Consider Before Leaving Your Child Home Alone

When deciding whether to leave a child home alone, you will want to consider your child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as laws and policies in your State regarding this issue. There are many resources you can refer to for guidance. (See the end of this factsheet for some of them.) These resources typically address the considerations below.

Legal Guidlines

Some parents look to the law for help in deciding when it is appropriate to leave a child home alone. According to the National Child Care Information Center, only Illinois and Maryland currently have laws regarding a minimum age for leaving a child home alone.1 Even in those States other factors, such as concern for a child’s well-being and the amount of time the child is left alone, are considered. States that do not have laws may still offer guidelines for parents. For information on laws and guidelines in your State, contact your local CPS agency. If you need help contacting your local CPS agency, call Childhelp® at 800.422.4453.

Age and Maturity

There is no agreed-upon age when all children are able to stay home alone safely. Because children mature at different rates, you should not base your decision on
age alone.

You may want to evaluate your child’s maturity and how he or she has demonstrated responsible behavior in the past. The following questions may help:

  • Is your child physically and mentally able to care for him- or herself?
  • Does your child obey rules and make good decisions?
  • Does your child feel comfortable or fearful about being home alone?


When and how a child is left home alone can make a difference to his or her safety and success. You may want to consider the following questions:

  • How long will your child be left home alone at one time? Will it be during the day, evening, or night? Will the child need to fix a meal?
  • How often will the child be expected to care for him- or herself?
  • How many children are being left home alone? Children who seem ready to stay home alone may not necessarily be ready to care for younger siblings.
  • Is your home safe and free of hazards?
  • How safe is your neighborhood?

Safety Skills

In addition to age and maturity, your child will need to master some specific skills before being able to stay home alone safely. In particular, your child needs to know what to do and whom to contact in an emergency situation. Knowledge of basic first aid is also useful. You may want to consider enrolling your child in a safety course such as one offered by the Red Cross. The following questions may also help:

  • Does your family have a safety plan for emergencies? Can your child follow this plan?
  • Does your child know his or her full name, address, and phone number?
  • Does your child know where you are and how to contact you at all times?
  • Does your child know the full names and contact information of other trusted adults, in case of emergency?

Tips for Parents

Once you have determined that your child is ready to stay home alone, the following suggestions may help you to prepare your child and to feel more comfortable about leaving him or her home alone:

  • Have a trial period. Leave the child home alone for a short time while staying close to home. This is a good way to see how he or she will manage.
  • Role play. Act out possible situations to help your child learn what to do.
  • Establish rules. Make sure your child knows what is (and is not) allowed when you are not home. Some experts suggest making a list of chores or other tasks to keep children busy while you are gone.
  • Check in. Call your child while you are away to see how it’s going, or have a trusted neighbor or friend check in.
  • Talk about it. Encourage your child to share his or her feelings with you about staying home alone.
  • Don’t overdo it. Even a mature, responsible child shouldn’t be home alone too much. Consider other options, such as programs offered by schools, community centers, youth organizations, or churches, to help keep your child busy and involved.


American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – Home Alone Children (Facts for Families No. 46) –


KidsHealth (The Nemours Foundation’s Center for Children’s Health Media) Leaving Your Child Home Alone home/home_alone.html 

National Child Care Information Center – Children Home Alone and Babysitter Age Guidelines

National Network for Child Care – Home Alone html

Prevent Child Abuse America – “Home Alone” Child Tips parents/downloads/home_alone.pdf 

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect (Fact Sheet)

The statistics can feel overwhelming. In 2006, an estimated 905,000 children in the United States were found to be victims of child abuse and neglect. However, child abuse and neglect can be prevented. State and local governments, community organizations, and private citizens take action every day to protect children. You can help.

Research has shown that parents and caregivers who have support—from family, friends, neighbors, and their communities—are more likely to provide safe and healthy homes for their children. When parents lack this support or feel isolated, on the other hand, they may be more likely to make poor decisions that can lead to neglect or abuse.

Increasingly, concerned citizens and organizations are realizing that the best way to prevent child abuse is to help parents develop the skills and identify the resources they need to understand and meet their children’s emotional, physical, and developmental needs and protect their children from harm.

Prevention Programs

Prevention activities are conducted by many State, local, and Tribal governments, as well as community and faith-based organizations. The services they provide vary widely.

Some prevention services are intended for everyone, such as public service announcements (PSAs) aimed at raising awareness about child abuse within the general population. Others are specifically targeted for individuals and families who may be at greater risk of child abuse or neglect. An example of this might be a parenting class for single teen mothers. Some services are developed specifically for families where abuse or neglect has already occurred, to reduce the negative effects of the abuse and prevent it from happening again.

Common activities of prevention programs include:

  • Public awareness, such as PSAs, posters, and brochures that promote healthy parenting, child safety, and how to report suspected abuse
  • Skills-based curricula that teach children safety and protection skills. Many of these programs focus on preventing sexual abuse
  • Parent education to help parents develop positive parenting skills and decrease behaviors associated with child abuse and neglect
  • Parent support groups, where parents work together to strengthen their families and build social networks
  • Home visitation, which focuses on enhancing child safety by helping pregnant mothers and families with new babies or young children learn more about positive parenting and child development
  • Respite and crisis care programs, which offer temporary relief to caregivers in stressful situations by providing short- term care for their children
  • Family resource centers, which work with community members to develop a variety of services to meet the specific needs of the people who live in surrounding neighborhoods

Two elements have been shown to make prevention programs more effective, regardless of the type of service or intended recipients. Involving parents in all aspects of program planning, implementation, and evaluation helps ensure that service providers are working in true partnership with families. Parents are more likely to make lasting changes when they are empowered to identify solutions that make sense for them.

Another key to success is providing prevention services that are evidence based. This means that rather than relying on assumptions or “common sense,” research has been conducted to demonstrate that a particular service improves outcomes for children and families. This helps service providers feel confident in what they are doing. It can also help justify a program’s continued funding when resources are scarce.

Protective Factors

Prevention programs have long focused on reducing particular risk factors, or conditions that have been found through research to be associated with child abuse and neglect in families. Increasingly, prevention services are also recognizing the importance of promoting protective factors, conditions in families and communities that research has shown to increase the health and well-being of children and families. These factors help parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing or neglecting their children to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress.

The following protective factors have been linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect:

  • Nurturing and attachment. When parents and children have strong, warm feelings for one another, children develop trust that parents will provide what they need to thrive.
  • Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development. Parents who understand how children grow and develop can provide an environment where children can live up to their potential.
  • Parental resilience. Parents who are emotionally resilient have a positive attitude, creatively problem solve, effectively address challenges, and are less likely to direct anger and frustration at their children.
  • Social connections. Trusted and caring family friends provide emotional support to parents by offering encouragement and assistance in facing the daily challenges of raising a family.
  • Concrete supports for parents. Parents need basic resources such as food, clothing, housing, transportation, and access to essential services that address family-specific needs (such as child care, health care, and mental health services) to ensure the health and well-being of their children.

How You Can Help

Parenting is one of the toughest and most important jobs in America, and we all have a stake in ensuring that parents have access to the resources and support they need to be successful. Entire communities play a role in helping families find the strength they need to raise safe, healthy, and productive children.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Get to know your neighbors. Problems seem less overwhelming when support is nearby.
  • Help a family under stress. Offer to babysit, help with chores and errands, or suggest resources in the community that can help.
  • Reach out to children in your community. A smile or a word of encouragement can mean a lot, whether it comes from a parent or a passing stranger.
  • Be an active community member. Lend a hand at local schools, community or faith-based organizations, children’s hospitals, social service agencies, or other places where families and children are supported.
  • Keep your neighborhood safe. Start a Neighborhood Watch or plan a local “National Night Out” community event. You will get to know your neighbors while helping to keep your neighborhood and children safe.
  • Learn how to recognize and report signs of child abuse and neglect. Reporting your concerns may protect a child and get help for a family who needs it.

Resources on the Child Welfare Information Gateway Website

Child Abuse and Neglect:

Identifying Child Abuse and Neglect:

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect:

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect: reporting.cfm 

This information in this article reprinted with permission from the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Available online at