Child Protective Services (CPS)

The CPS is the major system of intervention of child abuse and neglect in California. Existing law provides for services to abused and neglected children and their families. The CPS goal is to keep the child in his/her own home when it is safe, and when the child is at risk, to develop an alternate plan as quickly as possible.

When a referral is received, the social service staff obtains facts from the person making the referral to determine if the referral alleges abuse, neglect, or exploitation. The emergency response staff determines if an in-person response is indicated. Whenever a report indicates the need for protection, CPS will:

  • Accept the referral
  • Intervene in the crisis, if required, developing an emergency plan with the goal of keeping children in their home if possible.
  • Gather facts, identify and assess problems, put a plan in place to mitigate them.
  • Provide services, establish goals, identify resources and time frames, engage families in developing and implement the plan.
  • Offer Family Preservation and Support Services to families.
  • When safe close the case.

Children may be able to remain safely in the home while the family receives services. If it is determined that a child cannot remain in the home, even with family preservation and support services, then an alternative living arrangement is established. CPS must first consider placing the child with a non-custodial parent, a close relative, or a close friend before considering a foster home placement. Foster placement is arranged in the most family-like setting that is located close to the parent's home consistent with the best interests of the child.

In most cases, 18 months of services are provided to children and their families when a child has been removed from the home and the family is making progress toward reunification. When a child cannot be returned to a safe home after services have been delivered, the child must be provided with a family-like living arrangement as soon as possible.

For Whom

These services are available to children and their families when children are victims of, or at risk of, abuse, neglect, exploitation, or parental absence.

California law defines child abuse as any of the following:

  • A child is physically injured by other than accidental means.
  • A child is subjected to willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment.
  • A child is abused or exploited sexually.
  • A child is neglected by a parent or caretaker who fails to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care or supervision.

How to Report Child Abuse

Community members have an important role in protecting children from abuse and neglect. If abuse is suspected, a report should be filed with qualified and experienced agencies that will investigate the situation. The California State Child Abuse Reporting Law provides the legal basis for action to protect children and to allow intervention by public agencies if a child is being abused.

You may report abuse in person or by phone at the address and phone numbers listed to the right.

Please contact law enforcement by dialing 911 if the abuse you are reporting immediately threatens the life of a child.

You may report anonymously. CPS makes every effort to protect the identity of reporters, however you may face criminal charges for making false reports of child abuse.

Mandated reporters have absolute immunity both civilly and criminally for making reports of child abuse. Mandated reporters include, but are not limited to:

  • Teacher, teachers aids, and school administrators
  • Child care providers
  • Doctors, nurses, and other health care providers
  • Police officers, firefighters, and other law enforcement officers
  • Pastors, priests, rabbis, and other members of the clergy