Important Links & Documents
Child Protective Services (CPS) Focus
Child Protective Services (CPS) is the first step
to ensure the safety and permanency of children who are reported as being
abused or neglected. The focus of CPS is on protecting the child from harm or
risk of harm and to make it safe for the child to live with the parent or
caretaker. The CPS worker assesses family functioning and identifies strengths
and risks in the home. As part of the assessment to ensure that the home is
safe for the child(ren), the CPS worker and family will develop a plan to
address any problems that have been identified.
CPS Agencies Respond to Reports of Abuse or Neglect of Children Under the Age of Eighteen
CPS agencies respond to reports of abuse or neglect of children
under the age of eighteen. Abuse or neglect complaints are defined in statute,
and include mental injury, physical injury, sexual abuse and exploitation,
negligent treatment or maltreatment, and excessive corporal punishment.
Referrals are also made to community-based services to assist families to
prevent their entry into the child welfare system. Clark County Department of
Family Services receives fifty percent of the referrals to CPS agencies,
thirty-two percent are received by Washoe County Department of Social Services
and the balance are received by DCFS agencies.
Nevada Child Protective Service Agencies Conduct Activities in Preventing, Investigating, and Treating Child Abuse and Neglect
In accordance with Chapters 432 and 432B
of the Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS), and Nevada’s Regulations for the
Protection of Children From Abuse and Neglect (NAC 432B).
Intake is the first stage of the child protective services (CPS)
process and is one of the most important decision-making points in the child
protection system. It is the point at which reports of suspected child abuse
and neglect are received. Information gathered by caseworkers is used to make
decisions regarding safety (e.g., Is the child at risk of imminent harm?),
risk (e.g., What is the likelihood that maltreatment will occur sometime in
the future?), and the type of CPS response required. At intake, caseworkers
also perform a critical public relations function by responding professionally
and sensitively to the concerns raised by community professionals and
citizens, and by clarifying the role of the agency regarding referrals of
suspected abuse or neglect. Referrals are accepted from all sources, and each
report is treated as a potential case of child maltreatment.
Upon receiving a referral, the intake worker attempts to gather as
much information as possible about each family member, the family as a whole,
and the nature, extent, severity, and chronicity of the alleged child
maltreatment. Once the initial intake information is collected, the caseworker
conducts a check of agency records and the Central Registry to determine any
past reports or contact with the family. Then the caseworkers must collect
and analyze the information and determine if it meets the criteria outlined
in Statute regarding the definition of child abuse and neglect and the
requirements for response. CPS prioritizes the investigation response time
based on a number of factors including the nature of the allegations and the
age of the child. The response times are immediate, within twenty-four hours,
forty-eight hours, seventy-two hours, or ten days. The average response time
for CPS agencies in Nevada is at the 90th percentile level.
Upon completion of the investigation of a report of abuse or
neglect, a determination of the case findings are made based on whether there
is reasonable cause to believe that a child is abused or neglected or
threatened with abuse or neglect. The findings are classified as
“Substantiated,” meaning that a report made pursuant to NRS 432B.220 was
investigated and that credible evidence of the abuse or neglect exists.
“Unsubstantiated” means that a report made pursuant to NRS 432B.220 was
investigated and that no credible evidence of the abuse or neglect exists.
The type of abuse categories include: neglect, medical neglect, physical
abuse, emotional abuse or neglect, and sexual abuse.
Of the substantiated reports received, re-abuse in the form of
another substantiated report will occur in some cases. Repeat maltreatment
occurs when interventions with the family have not been successful in
preventing subsequent victimization. The standard for recurrence of
maltreatment has been established by the Federal Children’s Bureau. The
standard states that for all children who were victims of substantiated child
abuse and/or neglect during the first six months of the year, that 6.1% or
fewer should have another report within six months. Nevada’s rate was at 7.6%
during calendar year 2003.
Community-Based Child Protection Initiatives
Over the past 10 years, promising, community-based
child protection initiatives have been implemented that broadened the base of
responsibility for supporting families and protecting children. Initially,
model programs evolved from targeting intervention activities in high-risk
neighborhoods and rebuilding a sense of community toward empowering individual
families by teaching and mentoring, building on strengths, and respecting
cultural diversity. More recent child welfare reforms have focused on a more
flexible and differential response for investigating reports of child abuse
and neglect, including the diversion of low and moderate-risk families to
community-based services. Nevada was one of the first States to support the
flexible response to community-based services.
child abuse and neglect are complex and multidimensional, CPS alone cannot
effectively intervene in the lives of maltreated children and their families.
A coordinated effort that involves a broad range of community agencies and
professionals is essential for effective child protection.