Child Protective Services

Virginia law, Chapter 12.1, Section 63.1-248 requires social services departments to investigate all suspected reports of abuse and neglect. Protective Services is a specialized continuum of casework services to abused, neglected or exploited children and families. The focus of the service is identification, assessment and service provision in an effort to protect children, preserve families and prevent further maltreatment. Child Protective Services is non-punitive in its approach and is directed toward enabling families to provide adequate care and nurturing for their children. If this is not possible, then alternative plans for protection may be necessary.

Mandated Reporters

Certain individuals are mandated reporters if they learn of abuse or neglect in their professional capacity. Mandated reporters include:

  • Any mediator eligible to receive court referrals
  • Any person associated with or employed by any private organization responsible for the care, custody or control of children
  • Child care providers
  • Doctors
  • Hospital residents or interns
  • Institutional staff
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Mental health professionals
  • Nurses
  • Probation officers
  • Social workers
  • Teachers in public and private schools

Submit a Report

Anyone who suspects that children are being abused or neglected may call anonymously to the local Department of Social Services or to the State Hotline 800-552-7096 which receives calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. After the call is received a worker will evaluate the information and determine validity of the complaint. In order for the complaint to be valid the following criteria must be met:


If accepted for investigation the worker has 45 to 60 days to complete the investigation and arrive at a finding. In order for the complaint to be Founded a worker must have clear and convincing evidence that abuse and neglect has occurred. If this evidence cannot be established the complaint is classified as Unfounded. An assessment of needs is completed and, if indicated, services are provided to the child and family.

Child Protective Services (CPS) Intervention Services

Services may include social casework, referrals for indicated services, legal proceedings and other activities to support families. Families who are eligible for these services are those involved in a founded case of child abuse and/or neglect, or where there is moderate to high risk of abuse and/or neglect and the parent(s) or guardian(s) sign an application requesting such services, or where a child or family is before the court and the court orders such services through this department.