Child Protective Services (CPS) responds to reports of child abuse in Oregon. Trained CPS workers review and respond to each report of child abuse to determine whether abuse occurred, whether the child is safe and whether the family needs supportive services.
How to report abuse or neglect
If CPS is involved with you or your family
This means someone made a report of child abuse and a CPS worker has been assigned to conduct a CPS assessment. Contact your local Child Welfare office to find out how to reach your caseworker. They can help you understand what is happening and what you need to do.
CPS workers respond to reports of abuse in every county in Oregon and often collaborate with community partners and law enforcement. We also know the value of family connections and keeping children safely in their own homes and communities whenever possible. We always consider whether the reported information was accurate and whether there are other possible explanations for what happened.
ODHS may become legally involved with a family if necessary to ensure a child's safety. Legal involvement does not always mean a child is placed out of their parents' care. Of all the children assessed by CPS in a year, fewer than 5 percent were placed outside of their homes.
CPS and law enforcement agencies share the legal responsibility for taking child abuse reports and responding to them. This is required under
Oregon’s Child Abuse Reporting Law (ORS 419B.005 to 419B.050). CPS is part of the Child Welfare Division in the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS). ODHS is responsible for cross-reporting child abuse information to law enforcement agencies. However, ODHS is not responsible for the prosecution of crimes.
There are laws that require ODHS to conduct a CPS assessment when a report of abuse is received. A CPS worker will be assigned to conduct a comprehensive CPS assessment. To do this, the CPS worker will follow the rules outlined in Oregon Administrative Rules 413-015 and do the following:
- Talk to the child, the child's family and caregivers, and other people who may be involved with the child to understand the concerns.
- At the conclusion of the assessment, the CPS worker is required to determine whether abuse occurred, whether the child is safe, and whether the family needs supportive services.
- If the family needs supportive services, the CPS worker will help connect families to community resources.
If the assessment concludes that the child is unsafe, the CPS worker will do the following:
- Work with the family to plan for safety and determine whether additional supports from the community can provide safety while the child remains in the home.
- If in-home safety planning is not possible, the CPS worker may need to place the child into protective custody for placement out of the parents' care to ensure safety. The child's relatives and those who are familiar to the child will be considered for placement first.
- If protective custody is needed, the CPS worker will notify the court and request a hearing. At that hearing, the court will decide whether the child will return to a parent or remain in protective custody.
When a child is determined to be unsafe, ODHS must develop a safety plan to manage the safety threat.
The first step in safety planning is determining whether the child’s safety can be managed in the home with the help of friends, family or community supports or services. This process builds upon the family’s strengths to meet the child’s need for safety and attachment. This will involve the family and will often include relatives, friends and other supportive individuals.
- A safety plan may require an individual to leave the home, or it may require a relative or family friend to move into the home.
- If safety cannot be managed in the home, the child’s safety must be managed in an out-of-home safety plan, which may include foster care. In these circumstances, relatives or others known to the child will be considered as potential resources for the child before any other placement options.
ODHS is one of the many agencies that works to support children in the community. The best way to protect children and make families stronger is for community providers and agencies to work together and coordinate services for the child and family.
District attorneys are required to bring together a team of people from different agencies and organizations to review child abuse cases. This includes law enforcement, medical professionals, school officials, juvenile justice representatives, child abuse intervention centers, county health and mental health department personnel and others specially trained in child abuse. There are multi-disciplinary teams working in every county in Oregon.
When parents who are involved with Child Welfare struggle with substance use disorders, addiction recovery teams are available to remove barriers that may keep parents from attending treatment. These teams are in place to assist parents in achieving success in their treatment and support them in their ongoing recovery efforts, including relapse prevention.
Each team has:
- Professional staff experienced in addiction services and achieving recovery
- Connections to all local treatment providers and support groups, and
- A focus on family strengths as the family is the greatest motivation for sustaining recovery.
How CPS caseworkers are trained
All caseworkers, including CPS workers, complete a training program that covers all aspects of child abuse. Cultural responsiveness, trauma informed practices and family-centered practices are included in this training. Ongoing learning, coaching and training further develop their knowledge and skills.
- Recognizing characteristics, signs and symptoms of child abuse
- How to assess present and impending danger
- How to assess families with moderate to high needs
- How to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the child and family behaviors, conditions and circumstances
- Cultural responsiveness, including information on cultural practices that could be mistaken as abuse and how to recognize personal cultural biases
- How to interview children, alleged victims, witnesses and those alleged to be responsible for the abuse
- When and how to collaborate with law enforcement
- Determining whether abuse occurred
- How to determine whether a child is safe
- Developing a safety plan with a family
- How and when to seek a legal intervention, and
- How to determine when child welfare involvement is no longer needed.