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A Parent’s Guide to a Child Abuse Investigation

If You Have Been Contacted by ACS
During the Investigation
Making a Determination
What Happens to My Record?

If you have been contacted by ACS:

  • ACS has received a report from the New York State Central Register (SCR) of Child Abuse and Maltreatment that a child in your care is alleged to have been abused or neglected. ACS is required to investigate all reports received.

When ACS receives a report from the SCR, ACS must ensure the safety and well-being of every child listed on the report and take steps to find out if there is some credible evidence of the alleged abuse or neglect.

During the investigation, CPS will:

  • Contact the person who made the report within 24 hours, to gather more information.
  • Make an unannounced visit to your home within 24 – 48 hours of the report. CPS must see and speak to all your biological children living with you or with other caretakers, as well as all children that are present in the home during the investigation.
  • Speak to all adults or caretakers living in the home.
  • Give you a letter called a Notice of Existence, informing you that you have an open investigation of abuse or maltreatment. If you are not home, CPS will leave a Notice of Home Visit letter informing you of the visit.
  • Check to make sure your home is free of hazards, has adequate food, safe sleeping arrangements, etc.
  • Go to your child’s school, talk to family members and other people who may know your child, like a neighbor, building superintendent, teacher, doctor, nurse, NYPD, etc.
  • During the investigation, if it is determined that services are required, ACS will refer you to services and work with you to help you receive those services.
  • The CPS may offer you Community Based Services, Preventive Services, or ask you to attend an Initial Child Safety Conference (ICSC) as a result of concerns noted during the investigation.

Making a Determination

Within 60 days or fewer, CPS will make a determination of whether or not the report is “indicated” or “unfounded”.
Indicated means that:
  • CPS found enough evidence to support the claim that a child has been abused or neglected.
  • You will receive a letter from CPS called a “Notice of Indication,” telling you that the report was indicated. The letter will also notify you of your right to ask for a review of that decision, which must be done within 60 days of the receipt of the letter.
Unfounded means that:
  • CPS did not find enough evidence to support the claim that a child has been abused or neglected.
  • You will receive a letter from the New York State Central Register (SCR) that the report was unfounded.
  • You may still be offered community-based service and/or preventive services to help support your family.

What Happens to My Record?

All reports made to the SCR are kept on record until the youngest child in the family at the time of the investigation turns 28 years old.

If you would like information about your case, including appeals, expunging of records, or obtaining copies of your records, you may write to the Director of the State Central Register of Child Abuse:

New York State Office of Children and Family Services State Central Register
P.O. Box 4480
Albany, NY 12204-0480
Phone: (518) 474-5297

For more information about your rights if you are named in a report, go to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services