Child Abuse & Neglect

Are Children Service Records Confidential?

OAC 5101:2-33-21 Confidentiality and Dissemination of Child Welfare Information

According to this rule each report and assessment/investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect is confidential. This rule provides directive to the agency as to when and to whom confidential records can be released. This rule also states that the identity of persons making reports are confidential and can only be released to police and prosecutors who are making their own investigation about the report. Every reporter has the right to ask to be anonymous and refuse to provide identifying information as a result.

Am I mandated to report abuse or neglect?

ORC 2151.421 is the law that defines what professionals are mandated to report knowledge or suspicion of child abuse/neglect. Some examples are: teachers, nurses, day care providers, counselors. The list is much longer but these are the people that families typically have contact with the most. Mandated reporters are permitted by law to know if their referral was accepted as an investigation as well as what the outcome of the investigation is. At Columbiana County Children Services; we send a letter to mandated reporters within days of their referral advising them if there is an investigation and who the assigned worker is. At the end of the investigation, the mandated reporter gets a second letter telling them if the case is being closed or opened for other services.

What does ABUSE look like?

  • Physical abuse is physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caretaker intended to hurt the child.
  • Sexual abuse includes activities by a parent or caretaker such as fondling a child's genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.
  • Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance.  This can also include any acts by the parents which may create psychological trauma to the child. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.

What does NEGLECT look like?

  • Neglect is failure to provide for a child's basic needs. Neglect may be:
  • Physical (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision)
  • Medical (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment)
  • Educational (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special education needs)
  • Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child's emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs)
  • These situations do not always mean a child is neglected. Sometimes cultural values, standards of care in the community, or poverty may be contributing factors, indicating the family is in need of information or assistance. When a family fails to use information and resources, and the child's health or safety is at risk, then child welfare intervention may be required.

What is a disposition?

A disposition is the determination of whether or not abuse or neglect has occurred or is occurring. Dispositions occur in the following ranking order from highest to lowest:

  • Substantiated (means the report disposition in which there is an admission of child abuse or neglect by the person(s) responsible; an adjudication of child abuse or neglect; or other forms of confirmation deemed valid by the PCSA.)
  • Indicated (means the report disposition in which there is circumstantial or other isolated indicators of child abuse or neglect lacking confirmation; or a determination by the caseworker that the child may have been abused or neglected based upon completion of an assessment/investigation.)
  • Unsubstantiated (means the report disposition in which the assessment/ investigation determined no occurrence of child abuse or neglect.)
  • If the perpetrator does not agree with or wishes to appeal the disposition, they may do so for 30 days after they receive notice. They may call the Children Services Administrator to request the paperwork to do so.

Intake

Children Services investigates allegations of physical and sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment. The determination if referrals will be investigated is based on guidelines provided by the state. If the referral meets the guidelines criteria, it is screened in and becomes a report. If the referral does not meet the guidelines criteria, it is screened out and further action is not taken.

Children Services also accepts self referrals from parents. This type of case is referred to as a FINS case (a Family In Need of Services.) These self referrals need to be free from any concerns of abuse or neglect already occurring to a child. Parents are encouraged to contact the agency when there are circumstances in their lives involving their children that could lead to potential safety threats or future harm if left unaddressed. Examples of this would include: homelessness, teenagers with severe behavior problems and other services providers have been utilized, assistance in getting utilities turned on, etc…

Children Services began practicing Differential Response, in March of 2013. This is also known as DR.  DR allows us to have two different approaches to engaging families we serve. For more significant allegations of physical or sexual abuse, the agency uses a Traditional Response (TR) and conducts an investigation of the report, which concludes with a formal disposition. When the agency receives a referral that meets the state guidelines where the concerns are of lesser nature, the agency uses an Alternative Response (AR) to engage the family and build on family strengths and supports. There are no formal findings with AR.

 

Child Abuse & Neglect FAQs

What are Abuse & Neglect?
Abuse is an act inflicted against a child which causes injury. It could be physical, sexual or emotional. 

Neglect is a failure to act on a child's behalf. It may not produce visible signs, and it usually occurs over time. Neglect can be physical or emotional.
Who should report Abuse or Neglect?
Anyone who suspects or knows a child has been maltreated or is at risk of abuse or neglect is encouraged to make a report. This includes family, friends and neighbors. Professionals who work with children, such as school employees, counselors and medical practitioners, are required to report. The identity of the reporter is confidential and will not be revealed unless a court determines it necessary.
At what age can a child be left at home? How long can a child be left alone?
When determining the appropriateness of leaving an older child alone, there are many factors to consider:
  • The child's age and maturity.
  • Responsibilities expected of the child.
  • The child's knowledge of safety techniques.
  • The length of time and the time of day the child is left alone.
  • The proximity and accessibility of trusted adults.
The important question to ask is, "Does the situation place the child at risk of harm?" If you are unsure, err on the side of safety.
Do you remove children from their homes?
We do everything we can to keep families together whenever possible. When parents cannot provide a safe home for their children, we first look for other relatives or friends for help.
If a child is removed, will he/she ever get to go home?
Parents are required to work a case plan which is designed to help eliminate the risks and safety concerns that led to removal. The Court evaluates progress when deciding whether to reunite the child.