To make a child abuse or neglect report, call 1-800-842-2288
The Careline is open 24 hrs/7 days a week and staffed by full-time, highly-skilled professionals who are available to answer questions and gather critical information from callers to determine if a report meets Connecticut's statutory criteria for child abuse or neglect. Reports that meet the criteria are forwarded to a DCF case investigator for prompt and appropriate action. Current law requires that DCF make its best effort to begin an investigation within two hours if there is imminent risk of physical harm and within 72 hours for other reports. In situations where it has been determined that an investigation is not warranted, the Careline worker may refer the caller to an appropriate service program in his/her community. If child abuse or neglect is substantiated, a case may be opened by the Department for protective services provided by staff from the DCF Regional Office or sub-office covering the child's hometown.
The Careline also provides evening, weekend, and holiday investigation responses to immediate situations concerning abuse and neglect of children. In addition, the Special Investigation Unit investigates reports of abuse and neglect of children in residential care facilities. Careline staff is available to provide information to the community and professionals. The Careline is also available to employers in need of child protective services background checks.
Can I be sued if I make a report?
Definitions of Abuse and Neglect
Do I have to notify the parents that I made a report?
How to Report
Mandated Reporters Form: DCF-136, Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
What happens after I report?
What information must be reported?
Who do I need to contact if I suspect child abuse?
Will my report be confidential or anonymous?
A. Tell the child that you believe them and that you are going to contact people who can help. Respect the privacy of the child. The child will need to tell their story in detail later, so don't press the child for details. Remember, you need only suspect abuse to make a report. Don't display horror, shock, or disapproval of parents, child, or the situation. Don't place blame or make judgments about the parent or child. Believe the child if she/he reports sexual abuse. It is rare for a child to lie about sexual abuse.
A. When making a report, a reporter is required to provide the following information, if known:
- names and addresses of the child and his parents or responsible caregiver(s)
- child's age and gender
- nature and extent of injury, maltreatment or neglect
- approximate date and time the injury, maltreatment or neglect occurred
- the circumstances in which the injuries, maltreatment or neglect became known to the reporter
- previous injury, maltreatment or neglect of the child or siblings
- name of the person suspected to have caused the injury, maltreatment or neglect
- any action taken to treat or help the child
- any other information the reporter believes would be helpful
Mandated reporters are required to report or cause a report to be made when, in the ordinary course of their employment or profession, they have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child under the age of 18 has been abused, neglected or is placed in imminent risk of serious harm. (Connecticut General Statutes §17a-101a)
Child abuse occurs where a child has had physical injury inflicted upon him or her other than by accidental means, has injuries at variance with history given of them, or is in a condition resulting in maltreatment, such as, but not limited to, malnutrition, sexual molestation or exploitation, deprivation of necessities, emotional maltreatment or cruel punishment. (Connecticut General Statutes §46b-120)
Child neglect occurs where a child has been abandoned, is being denied proper care and attention physically, emotionally, or morally, or is being permitted to live under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to his well-being. (Connecticut General Statutes §46b-120)
Mandated reporters who, outside the ordinary course of their employment or profession, have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child under the age of 18 is in imminent risk of being abused or has been abused or neglected, can and should make a report to the Careline.
If you as a parent are concerned that your child has been abused or neglected, for example, in a day-care home or center, in school or in any other out-of-home care setting, please call the Careline.
If you would like information about services available to you and your children in your area of the state, please call the DCF Information and Referral Services through the Careline at 1-800-842-2288. The Information and Referral line is available from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Reporters must report orally to the Department of Children and Families' (DCF) Careline or a law enforcement agency within 12 hours of suspecting that a child has been abused or neglected and must submit a written report (DCF-136 form) to DCF within 48 hours of making the oral report. DCF is required to tape record all reports to the Careline.
Special reporting requirements may apply for staff members of a public or private institution or facility that cares for such child, or a public or private school.
Police must report to DCF immediately upon receipt of any oral report of abuse or neglect.
Upon receipt of any oral report alleging sexual abuse or serious physical abuse or serious neglect, DCF must report to the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency within 12 hours.
A. Anyone participating in good faith in the making of a report of child abuse and who has reasonable grounds for making the report, shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed with respect to the making or content of such report. Any such participant shall have the same immunity with respect to participating in any judicial proceeding resulting from such report.
Immunity from civil or criminal liability is granted to people who make required reports in good faith. Immunity is also granted to people who in good faith have not reported. However, failure to report could result in fines, which range from $500 to $2,500 and the individual will be required to participate in an educational and training program. In addition, mandated reporters could also be sued for damages if further injury is caused to the child because they did not act.
Anyone who knowingly makes a false report of child abuse or neglect shall be fined up to $2,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. The identity of any such person shall be disclosed to the appropriate law enforcement agency and to the perpetrator of the alleged abuse.
Employers may not discharge, discriminate or retaliate against an employee for making a good faith report or testifying in an abuse or neglect proceeding. The Attorney General can bring a court action against any employer who violates this provision, and the court can assess a civil penalty of up to $2,500 plus other equitable relief.
A. DCF is responsible for immediately evaluating and classifying all reports of suspected abuse/ neglect/imminent risk. If the report contains information to warrant an investigation, DCF must make its best effort to begin an investigation within two hours if there is an imminent risk of physical harm to a child or another emergency; and within three days for all other reports. In all cases, DCF must complete the investigation in 45 calendar days.
When conducting a child abuse or neglect investigation, DCF or a law enforcement agency must coordinate activities to minimize the number of interviews with any child.
DCF must obtain consent from the parent, guardian or person responsible for the child's care for any interview, unless DCF has reason to believe such person or a member of the child's household is the alleged perpetrator. When such consent is not required, the interview must be conducted in the presence of a 'disinterested adult' (typically, a person who is impartial and has no self-interest in the case). If a disinterested adult is not available after reasonable search and immediate access is necessary to protect the child from imminent risk of serious harm, DCF or a law enforcement agency will still interview the child.
If, after the investigation has been completed, serious physical abuse or sexual abuse is substantiated, DCF must notify the local police, and either the Chief State's Attorney/designee or a state's attorney in the judicial district where the child lives or in which the abuse occurred. A copy of the investigation report must also be sent.
A. Mandated reporters are required to give their name when they make a report to DCF, however, reporters may request anonymity to protect their privacy. This means that DCF would not disclose their name or identity unless mandated to do so by law (Connecticut General Statutes, Sections 17a-28 and 17a-101). Unless a reporter gives written consent, his or her name will not be disclosed except to:
- a DCF employee
- a law enforcement officer
- an appropriate state's attorney
- an appropriate assistant attorney general
- a judge and all necessary parties in a court proceeding
- a state child care licensing agency, executive director of any institution, school or facility or superintendent of schools
If DCF suspects or knows that the reporter knowingly makes a false report, his or her identity shall be disclosed to the appropriate law enforcement agency and the person may be subject to the penalty described in the next section.
A. Mandated reporters are under no legal obligation to inform parents that they have made a report to DCF about their child. However, depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary and/or beneficial to do so.
- When a child is suspected of being abused, neglected or placed at imminent risk of serious harm by a member of the staff of a private or public school or an institution that cares for the child, the person in charge of the school or facility must notify the child’s parent or other person responsible for the child’s care that a report has been made. It is DCF’s responsibility to notify the head of such school, facility or institution that a report has been made.
- Health care professionals may need to talk with parents to assess the cause of the child’s injury(ies). Mental health professionals or members of the clergy may want to talk with the parents to offer support and guidance.
However, in cases of serious physical abuse or sexual abuse, it may not be wise to talk with parents before reporting the case to DCF. This may put the child at greater risk and could interfere with a potential criminal investigation.