Suspected child abuse or neglect should be reported to
Department of Child Services (DCS).
They operate a 24-hour, 7-day a week hotline:
There is a nationwide crisis line which is open 24/7 where people can
text (SMS): 741741
Any individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect must make a report. Anonymous reports are accepted. Failure to make a report can be a Class B misdemeanor. Reports should be made to the statewide, centralized Hotline: 1-800-800-5556.
When you call DCS, it is important that you have all of the identifying information in front of you: name, age of each child, address, phone number. You may call without this information, but it helps DCS quickly investigate. When you are describing a situation, remain calm and maintain a "factual" manner with dates, eyewitness observations and direct conversations. Biased language is often a "red flag" for a DCS report, which is why it is important to keep your report factual.
Frequently Asked Questions about reporting abuse
What information do I have to give to DCS?
Generally, reports that are made with the following information are well received: Exact name, address and telephone number of the parent, guardian or custodian.Exact description of what you saw or what the child said to you.If you have suspected abuse and kept a log of behaviors that have concerned you, have the log available when you call.
Be professional and courteous.The more specific your information and the details you provide, the easier it is for the person taking the report to assess the situation quickly.
Do I have to investigate to provide all this information to DCS when I report?
No. You are not legally responsible for deciding if the report actually happened. Provide as much information as you can, but do not interview or confront the alleged abuser. By doing that, you may actually put the child in greater danger. You may also give the abuser time to coerce the child into telling a different story or to leave the area to avoid investigation.
How soon will a report be investigated?
If there is reason to believe that a child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm, a report will be investigated within one hour. In other cases of abuse, the report will be investigated within 24 hours. Reports of neglect are investigated within five days.
Why are so many cases "unsubstantiated"?
A case may be classified as "unsubstantiated" for a variety of reasons: There might not have been enough information about the identity of the family. The caseworker may not have found evidence to support taking action. The caseworker may have determined that the child was not seriously endangered and that a minimum level of care was being met in the home. In some instances, services were provided to the family, but no court action was taken. Sometimes, if you are sure that there has been abuse or neglect, you may have to report more than once. With multiple reports, a case history is established for future investigations.
Important Phone Numbers
Department of Child Services, St. Joseph County: 800.800.5556
Department of Child Services, Elkhart County: 800.800.5556
Family Violence Special Victims Unit: (574) 235-7818
Law Enforcement Emergency: 911
National Hotline Number: 1 (800) 244-5373 (1-800-Children)