when do schools report to social services

What Parents Need to Know: School Reports to CPS, Communicating with the School, and Advocating for Your Child

December 03, 2019 by rise, an interview with the bronx defenders.

Interview by Ray Watson, Shakira Paige, Sarah Harris and Keyna Franklin

Throughout Rise’s series on schools and child welfare, parents describe how school reports to child protective services took them by surprise. Sometimes, the calls were made without sufficient cause . Other times, problems at home escalated when schools were not willing or able to adequately address a child’s behavior problems . Even for families who got help, the trauma of child welfare involvement far over-shadowed the benefits.

Here, Asia Piña and Crystal Baker-Burr, a social worker and an education attorney at The Bronx Defenders, warn parents that some schools may call in reports far more quickly than others. They suggest ways parents can navigate challenges and improve their relationship with their child’s school to avoid unnecessary reports.

Q: Who trains school staff to be mandated reporters and how to decide what reports to call in?

Baker-Burr : In order to become a certified teacher in New York State, there is a two-hour online self-guided course . There could be school-by-school training as well.

As far as I know, there’s no real way that the New York City Department of Education is evaluating how people are taking in this information. There is no refresher course that we know of. That means we could have people that are teaching or working in schools that have forgotten the rules about reporting and could be calling in cases that don’t need to be called in.

In my experience, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the huge impact that these calls can have on a family. When that one call is made, it can trigger a lot of serious life consequences for a family and for a child. The impact and the trauma from having family court involvement can be enormous. That can compound any struggles the child was going through to begin with, rather than help the child, who was the subject of the report.

Q: Is spanking a child considered abuse, and is a school required to call in a report if a child says, ‘Mom hit me’? 

Baker-Burr : According to New York State law, corporal punishment itself does not constitute neglect, but “excessive corporal punishment” does. What excessive corporal punishment means is not clearly defined in the law. It is litigated in family court because people interpret that differently. There’s a whole body of case law—how judges have ruled in past cases about what could make something excessive or not—but there isn’t a clear answer across the board.

In most of the cases that I have seen, ACS sees corporal punishment as excessive when the child has marks or bruises, or the child reports being hit by objects.

We are all informed by our life experiences, that is why it is important to have diverse educators. A teacher or school staff member who grew up kneeling on rice as a punishment might not call in a case when a child reports that is the way they are disciplined. On the contrary, a school staff member who wasn’t disciplined in that manner may see it as cruel and unusual and call in the case.

I want to highlight the fact that the decision to make these calls depends very much on the life experiences of the people in the school making the decision. Piña: How schools define excessive corporal punishment is a conversation to have with the school because every principal runs their school differently. For example, if a child says, ‘My mom hit me,’ some school officials may decide that they are required to call ACS.

Q: Parents can be reported for “educational neglect” if children are not attending school. Are schools required to call in a report after a certain number of absences, or do they have a choice?

Baker-Burr : We see many cases that are called in because the child has missed a lot of school days, but there’s no statute that defines how many days a child can or cannot miss. 

Piña : Sometimes schools call and other times they don’t. We often see phone calls to ACS if kids have been absent for 10 days or more. 

Baker-Burr: What is considered educational neglect by the court really is case specific . I’ve seen cases where a child has a disability classification and the court sees the absences more critically because they’re saying that the student isn’t receiving the services that are mandated.

On the other hand, a child may miss 20 days but is still doing well in school and is getting promoted to the next grade. In that situation, the attorney in the neglect case can fight against an educational neglect finding and say there was no harm or impairment to the child, which is a requirement to prove any neglect against a parent. 

The New York state law about educational neglect was recently modified. The new law gives leverage to parents and advocates who are working with a disgruntled school prior to a call to ACS. Now, ACS has to show that the school or the agency tried to take steps to solve whatever the problem was before getting a finding of educational neglect against the parents in Family Court. Without this, the petition can be dismissed. Therefore, we can use that to make suggestions to schools about what steps we think they should take to help the family, before calling ACS.

Q: If a student is missing a lot of school because of a housing problem or a health or mental health issue, how should a parent communicate with the school about it?

Baker-Burr: If your child is missing school for medical reasons, it’s important to get a letter from the doctor and to give a separate letter every single time there’s an absence in order to create a record. I suggest emailing the letters to create a paper trail. If the school has already threatened to call ACS, I think it makes sense to reach out to an advocacy organization like The Bronx Defenders before disclosing sensitive mental health or medical issues. Those disclosures could be used against a parent if a case is called in to ACS.

Piña: If it’s a housing matter, a letter needs to be written by the Department of Homeless Services or anyone at the shelter to explain the child’s absences. Providing proof of the reasons for the absences can minimize the chances of an ACS report. Parents can send documentation through emails, letters or even text messages to the teachers and school staff. If for any reason, the school calls in a case despite the provided written materials, the parents can show the ACS worker the communication with the school.  

Also, having personal conversations with the teachers and staff at the school can reduce the chance of a report being called in. 

Q: How can parents expect schools to work with them?

Baker-Burr : Parents and schools should be partners. If the school is having an issue with a parent or a child, they should be actively working to find solutions together with the parent, and when appropriate, the child as well.

I received a call today because my client’s young child had an incident at school. The school told the parent that she had to leave work and pick up her child or they would call the police. My client couldn’t leave work without losing her job, so she contacted me about what to do. I told her that she could ask the school what interventions they had tried with her child. For instance, she could tell the school the best way that she knows to calm her child and see if the school social worker, guidance counselor, or psychologist would be able to try that. By giving suggestions to the school about how to respond, she reminded them of their responsibility to try interventions before taking more extreme actions.   

Q: What other advice do you have for how parents can interact with a school to decrease the likelihood that a school will call a case on them? Piña:  Building rapport with school staff, teachers, and social workers can reduce the chances of a school calling in a case. This is especially important if the child receives any special education services. It’s important to always go to any meetings and be present at school activities and events. If you can volunteer, please do so. That way the school knows who you are as a parent and starts to know who you are as a person. 

Baker-Burr: Even before a call is made to ACS, there are groups that can stand by a parent. In the Bronx, there’s The Bronx Defenders . In Brooklyn, there’s Brooklyn Defenders Services . In Queens and sections of Manhattan, it’s the Center for Family Representation . In Harlem, parents can reach out to Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem . You can call and say, “I’m being threatened with ACS. I’d like some assistance.” The advocate can step in and help mediate the relationship with the school.

You can also call these organizations for legal representation during an investigation. With some recent new City Council funding, all of the parent defense organizations will have early defense teams that can assist parents and try to prevent an ACS case.

If the relationship between the parent and the school has soured because of a disagreement regarding special education services, I recommend the parent reach out to an education advocacy group. INCLUDEnyc has a hotline where a parent can call (212-677-4660) or text (646-693-3175) to get advice or a referral for legal representation in an education-related matter. The hotline operates Monday through Thursday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. Advocates for Children provides low-income families with educational legal assistance and has an education helpline that parents can call (866-427-6033) Monday through Thursday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

If the relationship between a parent and a school cannot be improved, there’s also the option of getting a transfer. That’s not the answer all the time. But if you’re not being respected by the school, it’s OK to start fresh with a new administration that’s going to treat you properly.

If a school is continuously calling an ACS case against a parent, the parent has the right to file a complaint and go to the school district to discuss the situation. Parents can also reach out to a family defense organization to explore whether they have a claim that can be brought in court.

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Here’s What Every Educator Needs to Know About Calling CPS

When to call CPS and what happens after you do.

when to call cps

As an educator, a day will come when you need to call child protective services. Perhaps you have already been through this experience—or even face it many times a year. One thing is for sure: It never gets easier.

But we do it because we have to. We do it because children need us and because it’s our job. More than three million children in the US are abused each year. Of the cases reported, 16 percent are submitted by educators . That might seem like a low number, but educators reported abuse more often than any other professional group. Here are a few of the things we all need to know about when to call CPS:

1. You don’t have to be absolutely certain that abuse is taking place.

If you have a strong suspicion and feel that there is reasonable cause, that is enough reason to call. The hotline operator can help you determine if the information is reportable. If you have a CPS liaison in your district, start with that person. Carolyn Segal, principal of Woodrow Wilson Elementary in Sloan, New York, admits, “Often, we are unsure if CPS will take the [report], especially if it is focused on something such as heavy absences from school.”

Segal’s school has a CPS co-location liaison on site, and she says, “Having the liaison [helps us] to ensure that we are making the correct decision.” She also points out that the liaison can tell them if there is already a CPS caseworker on the case the school can contact.

2. Do not investigate on your own.

If you suspect abuse or neglect, it’s tempting to want to get as many details as possible. The more information, the better, right? Actually though, your responsibility does not go beyond reporting. The teacher or other school representative shouldn’t interrogate the child or conduct an in-depth interview. You only need enough information for reasonable cause. Dean Tong, MSc., CFC, a forensic child abuse specialist, says, “Educators should conduct a minimal-facts interview only.” This means getting a general understanding of who, what, where, and when.

3. The closest observer  should make the call.

Whoever made the observations or heard the student’s story firsthand told should make the CPS call . Some teachers are hesitant and may want a school leader or counselor do it for them. Segal says either she or the school social worker sits with the teacher to make the call since “a teacher is often uncomfortable.” She adds, “Because we are more versed in making a report, the teacher feels more comfortable having someone to help, but also is still the person on the phone with CPS making the report.”

4. Administrators must provide  back-up.  

There can and will be tricky situations with CPS reporting. For instance, what if the person in question is an employee of the district or has a personal connection with members of the staff? You or others might feel a sense of loyalty to that person. However, it’s important that educators who need to make a CPS call feel they have the backing of their administration when they make a report. 

5. Beware of the penalties for failing to report.

Sometimes educators may feel as if making a report is too much trouble or will cause too many problems. But if your state lists educators as mandated reporters, you must report an incident that falls under the state description of child abuse. Failing to report can lead to serious legal consequences . In the past, states did not enforce this provision, and so some educators didn’t feel compelled to make reports. But recently some states have begun to enforce the rules. Segal says that in her district they wait as long as possible to report educational neglect and try to resolve the problem with the family directly while keeping in mind the need to report.

6. Reporters are protected.

It’s common for reporters to fear that they might be sued or face other legal ramifications for making a report. Some also worry that an unfounded report means they’ll face criminal penalties. However, all states give immunity from civil and criminal penalties to mandated reporters who report abuse in good faith. So educators can feel confident that making the call won’t come back to bite them, in a legal sense. 

7. Designate one staff member to communicate with the family.

It’s fairly common for parents to contact the school to complain about the report or try to gather information. Designate one employee, usually a social worker, nurse, or administrator, as the point of contact for these situations. Any attempt by a parent to discuss the report should be referred to that point of contact. Segal says, “Occasionally, [the social worker and I] will speak to a parent together on speaker phone in special cases, but one of us takes the lead, and the other is pretty much just the witness to the conversation.”

Talking with the family can be challenging in this situation. Let parents know conversations about active abuse reports are not confidential. When taking these calls from parents, Segal suggests discussing the potential benefits of making the call. “The call was made because a CPS referral is often how families can receive resources.” This can help frame things in a more palatable way and help preserve the relationship with the family. Because helping to improve the child’s situation is the ultimate goal.

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when do schools report to social services

What Happens When Your Child’s School Reports Suicidal Ideation

August 21, 2020

By Kareem A. Jones, M.Ed.

when do schools report to social services

Many parents do not know the legal obligations of school faculty when a student reports having suicidal ideations.

While schools do differ on their policies regarding suicide, there is a legal obligation for them to react in a way that gets the child help and ensures that they are safe.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth aged 10 to 24. So when child is crying out for help, these cries cannot be ignored by the school or parents.

As a licensed professional school counselor, here are a few of the common questions I receive from parents when this situation happens.

Who determines my child is having suicidal ideations at school? 

The fact your child reports she wants to kill herself is enough for any school staff to make the call. They are then legally required to report it to the school who then contacts the child’s parents or legal guardian.

The process for determining the likelihood your child needs immediate assistance considers the following three levels of suicidal ideation:

Telling someone on staff she desires to kill herself

Having a history of attempting to kill herself

​Having access to the means to follow through with it

Are there staff at school who are qualified to assist my child when she is having suicidal ideations?  

Some schools and outpatient mental health facilities have a contract to have a therapist in the school. This therapist is not the same as the school counselor. The therapist does not have any access to your child without your consent. However, during the process for determining the seriousness of her suicidal ideation, the school counselor is qualified to do an initial assessment as well as contact local hospitals to have someone do another assessment.

Why do I have to pick my child up from school while school is in session?

Each school has a different policy for handling suicidal ideations. I think it is in the best interest of the child to get her the immediate help she needs. However, if you are not able to pick up your child, there are things the school can do in order to make sure your child is safe until you or someone is able to get her. Ask the school what they have in place until you get there.

What if the psychiatric hospital wants to admit my child, but I do not want to take her? 

In some cases, when parents do not take the appropriate action, it can lead the school to report medical neglect to the Department of Children’s/Child Services (DCS) or Child Protective Services (CPS). If a hospital assessment determines she needs additional care, please get your child the help she needs. In some cases, that might mean a hospital stay, which is usually around one to two weeks. The hospital will determine if your child needs to stay additional time. Some insurance companies will view your hesitation as a non-emergency and will not pay for the bed if you wait a certain number of days. 

What if the psychiatric hospital did not admit my child? 

The psychiatric hospital will do a thorough assessment to determine your child's needs. It's important to keep in mind that there are times when suicidal ideations do not require immediate hospitalization.

What is a Safety Plan?

A Safety Plan is a written document completed by the therapist or social worker assigned to your child during her hospital stay. You and your child will sign the document stating that you agree to follow the plan. The document lists warning signs, coping skills, professional organizations to contact and how to make the child’s environment safe.   The Safety Plan lists people, such as family members and friends of your choosing, who will be available to talk to your child and to pick her up from school if you are not. Please inform family members and friends you have them on your child’s Safety Plan. They will need a copy of the plan as well. It’s a good idea to have them attend a suicide prevention training to help them understand suicidal ideation and their responsibilities outlined in the Safety Plan. Also, you need to provide a copy of the plan to the principal and school counselor.

Will my child be bullied at school because of this?

Your child's admission to a mental health facility is confidential. If your child tells some of her friends she has been to a psychiatric hospital, chances are this information will get to other students. The best thing to do is educate.   School counselors and therapists are advocates for students. Ask the ones at your child’s school to have classroom guidance lessons about mental health and to dispel myths. In addition, your child needs to have a strong support system and good coping skills.   When a child reports she is thinking about suicide, it is a cry for help. That’s why it is very important for parents, educators and mental health professionals to work together to do what is in the best interest of the child during this time. It is a matter of life and death.   It is important your child attends her regularly scheduled individual counseling sessions. It is also important for parents and guardians to attend their scheduled family sessions. Understanding the levels of suicidal ideation, knowing your child’s triggers, helping her to use her coping skills and contacting the appropriate people are all essential for your child’s safety.  

Kareem A. Jones is a licensed professional school counselor and has worked in the mental health and educational fields for 14 years. Kareem currently works for a school district as a career counselor. He has written articles as a staff reporter and columnist for the University of Mississippi’s newspaper, The Daily Mississippian.   

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Responsibilities of Schools for Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

Amendments to Child Protective Services Law 23 P.S. §§ 6311, 6313 and 6319

In addition to the recent legislative changes to The Educator Discipline Act, there have been changes to the obligations for reporting child abuse and suspected child abuse for schools and their employees who have contact with children. The Governor signed these new changes into law on May 14, 2014. The effective dates vary.

23 P.S. § 6311. Persons required to report suspected child abuse.

There are two amendments to this section, the first amendment is effective June 14, 2014 until December 31, 2014 and the second amendment is effective on December 31, 2014.

Effective June 14, 2014 until December 31, 2014, a staff member of a school is required to immediately notify the person in charge of the school .  The person in charge of the school shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be filed with Child Protective Services.  The law does not require more than one report from the school.

Effective December 31, 2014, the persons required to report (mandated reporters) are expanded to include:

1.  A school employee.

2.  An individual paid or unpaid, who, on the basis of the individual’s role as an integral part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service, accepts responsibility for a child.

3.  An individual supervised or managed by a person listed in 1. and 2. above.

4.  An independent contractor.

5. An attorney affiliated with an agency, institution, or organization that is responsible for the care, supervision or control of children. (this requirement takes effect June 14, 2014)


Direct contact with children : The care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children.

Independent contractor : An individual who provides a program, activity or service to an agency, institution, organization, or entity, including a school, that is responsible for the care, supervision, guidance, or control of children.  The definition does not include an individual who has no direct contact with children.

Program, activity or service : A public or private educational, athletic or other pursuit in which children participate, including but not limited to: a youth camp or program, a recreational camp or program, a sports or athletic program, an outreach program, an enrichment program, and a troop/club or similar organization.

School employee : An individual who is employed by a school or provides a program, activity, or service sponsored by a school, but excluding individuals who do not have direct contact with children.

A mandated reporter shall make a report of suspected child abuse or cause a report to be made to Child Protective Services immediately if the mandated reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse under any of the following circumstances:

  • The  mandated reporter comes into contact with the child in the course of employment, occupation and practice of a profession or through a regularly scheduled program, activity or service.
  • The mandated reporter is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of the child, or is affiliated with a school that is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of  the child.
  • A  person makes a specific disclosure to the mandated reporter that an identifiable child is the victim of child abuse.
  • An individual 14 years of age or older makes a specific disclosure to the mandated reporter that the individual has committed child abuse.

Nothing in this section shall require a child to come before the mandated reporter in order for the mandated reporter to make a report of suspected child abuse.

Nothing in this section shall require the mandated reporter to identify the person responsible for the child abuse to make a report of suspected child abuse.

The mandated reporter is required to immediately notify the person in charge of the school.  Upon notification, the person in charge of the school shall assume the responsibility for facilitating the cooperation of the school with the investigation of the report.

Concluding, in § 6311 (effective December 14, 2014) the definitions of mandatory reporters are expanded. No longer is the mandatory reporter solely the person in charge of the school and the person in charge of the school has an expanded obligation to assume the responsibility for facilitating the cooperation of the school with the investigation of the report.

23 P.S. § 6313. Reporting procedure.

There are two amendments to this section, the first amendment is effective until December 31, 2014 and the second amendment is effective on December 31, 2014.

Effective until December 31, 2014, mandatory reporters are required to report suspected child abuse to Child Protective Services immediately by telephone and in writing within 48 hours after the oral report.

The written report shall include the following information if available:

  • The names and addresses of the child and the parents or other person responsible for the care of the child if known.
  • Where the suspected abuse occurred.
  • The age and sex of the subjects of the report.
  • The nature and extent of the suspected child abuse, including any evidence of prior abuse to the child or siblings of the child.
  • The name and relationship of the person or persons responsible for causing the suspected abuse, if known, and any evidence of prior abuse by that person or persons.
  • Family composition.
  • The source of the report.
  • The person making the report and where that person can be reached.
  • The actions taken by the reporting source, including the taking of photographs and X-rays, removal or keeping of the child or notifying the medical examiner or coroner.
  • Any other information which the department may require by regulation.

Effective December 31, 2014, the oral report shall be made to a Statewide toll-free number and a written report shall be submitted using electronic technologies [1]  The Department of Welfare is required as of October 12, 2014 to provide specific information related to the recognition and reporting of child abuse on its website.

The contents of the report are expanded to include the name, telephone number and e-mail address of the person making the report. The reported actions of the mandated reporter are expanded to include medical tests of child, whether the child was taken into protective custody, whether the child was admitted to a private or public hospital, and whether a death of a child is related to suspected child abuse.  Additionally, the mandated reporter is obligated to include any other information required by Federal law or regulation.

Concluding, § 6313 (effective December 14, 2014) expands the contents of the mandatory report and changes the process of reporting to a standardized electronic process.

23 P.S. § 6319. Penalties for failure to report or to refer.

There is one amendment to this section that is effective June 14, 2014.

Until June 14, 2014, failure to report is a misdemeanor of the third degree for the first violation and a misdemeanor of the second degree for a second or subsequent violation.

Subsequent to June 14, 2014, failure to report is a felony of the third degree if:

  • the mandated reporter willfully fails to report;
  • the child abuse constitutes a felony of the first degree or higher; and
  • the mandated reporter has direct knowledge of the nature of the abuse.

If the offense is not specified as a felony in the third degree the offense is a misdemeanor of the second degree. Importantly, a report of suspected child abuse to law enforcement or the appropriate county agency by a mandated reporter, made in lieu of a report to Child Protective Services, shall not constitute an offense under this section provided that the report was made in a good faith effort to comply with the obligation of mandatory reporting.

If a mandatory reporter’s failure to report continues while the person knows or has reasonable cause to believe the child is actively being subjected to child abuse, the person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, except if the child abuse constitutes a felony of the first degree or higher, the person then commits a felony of the third degree.

If a mandatory reporter commits a second or subsequent offense of failing to report that person commits a felony of the third degree, except if the child abuse constitutes a felony of the first degree or higher, the penalty for the mandatory reporter is a felony in the second degree.

The statute of limitations for failing to report shall be either the statute of limitations for the crime committed against the minor child or five years, whichever is greater.

Privileged communication between any professional required to report and the patient or client of that professional SHALL NOT APPLY TO SITUATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE and does not constitute grounds for failure to report, except in TWO limited circumstances : Confidential communications made to a member of the clergy within the scope of that privilege, or to an attorney under attorney-client privilege and attorney work product rules, such as a direct confession of the child abuse.

NOTE: Guidance counselors, social workers and school psychologists have an absolute legal duty to report suspected abuse, with no exceptions. (Effective June 14, 2014)

In conclusion, after December 14, 2014, the persons required to directly report to Child Protective Services (mandatory reporter) with notice to the person in charge of the school are greatly expanded. The reporting procedure will change from an oral report and a follow up written report within 48 hours to a single call using a Statewide toll-free hotline established by the Department of Welfare.  The penalties for failure to report will be raised from misdemeanor of the third and second degree to felony of the third degree, misdemeanor of the second degree, with the possibility of felonies of greater degrees. The statute of limitations has been increased to the same for the crime committed against the child or five years whichever is greater.

[1] Effective December 31, 2014, in § 6305, the Department of Public Welfare shall establish procedures for the secure and confidential use of electronic technologies to transmit the mandated written reports that will provide a confirmation of receipt of the report to the mandated reporter. Using this technology will relieve the mandated reporter from making the oral and written report required in § 6313.



23 P.S. §§ 6311, 6313 and 6319

If you have any questions, please contact Judy Shopp at [email protected] or Alfred Maiello at [email protected].

Alfred C. Maiello

Alfred C. Maiello is the founding member of MBM and has represented area school districts as solicitor for 50 years. He counsels school districts and educational institutions on leading developments in school law and guiding them through their day-to-day and long-term challenges.

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When schools use child protective services as a weapon against parents

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child protective services

This story about schools and child protective services was produced as part of a series, “Twice Abandoned: How schools and child-welfare systems fail kids in foster care,” reported by HuffPost and The Hechinger Report , a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

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CHICAGO and NEW YORK — Tiffany Banks sat in her living room, a ruby-red wall decorated with family photographs behind her, listing all the ways her life had unraveled over the past year. Her 6-year-old son had been removed from her care for more than a month. She was forced to close an in-home child care business, and she’d been temporarily displaced from her preschool teaching job, which she’d held for 17 years. Her teenage daughter refused to talk to the 6-year-old, blaming him for the family’s troubles.

Banks didn’t blame her little boy. She blamed his school, and the investigators from the state’s child welfare agency they’d sent to her door.

Until last fall, Banks had only good things to say about her children’s school. She’d carefully chosen the K-8 institution, a magnet school across town from her single-family house on Chicago’s West Side, for its academic rigor and diverse student body. Her daughter, now 16, had thrived there, she said, and her middle son did well too. But when her youngest son entered first grade last year, he started misbehaving and making trouble for teachers. “He really struggles behavior-wise,” said Banks, a tall, self-assured woman who’d attended neighborhood public schools in Chicago and desperately wanted something different for her kids. “And at this school they have a low tolerance for it.”

“Calling ACS is one of the tools in [a school’s] repertoire to make the parents comply.”

The school wanted the boy to enroll in classes exclusively for students with disabilities. But Banks felt differently: Despite his behavior problems, for which he was eventually diagnosed with attention deficit and mood disorders, he did well academically, she said. Banks pushed back, going so far as to make complaints to the city’s education board and entering mediation with the school.

This was unfolding around the time the workers from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, or DCFS, began investigating her for alleged child abuse and neglect.

School employees in most states have a legal obligation to report any suspicion of abuse and neglect, and they can play a critical role in helping keep children out of harm’s way. But in nearly three dozen interviews conducted by The Hechinger Report and HuffPost, parents, lawyers, advocates and child welfare officials said that schools occasionally wield this authority in inappropriate ways. Fed up with what they see as obstinate parents who don’t agree to special education services for their child, or disruptive kids who make learning difficult, schools sometimes use the threat of a child-protection investigation to strong-arm parents into complying with the school’s wishes or transferring their children to a new school. That approach is not only improper, but it can be devastating for families, even if the allegations are ultimately determined to be unfounded.

Related: The opioid crisis took their parents, now foster kids left behind are being failed again

Banks’ first brush with DCFS came after the school sent her son to the hospital because he was acting out, she said. They wanted him to receive a psychiatric evaluation, she said, but Banks refused because he already had an appointment with his doctor for the following week. The second time a caseworker investigated her, she said, it was because her son’s doctor had prescribed him a new medication and the school hadn’t been properly notified. Next came an investigation after her middle child wrote a paper that Banks was told contained troubling content. One time, she gave her youngest son a spanking for running away from school. After he told school employees about it the next day, he was removed from her home for more than a month and sent to live with her sister-in-law while the child welfare agency investigated her for abuse, according to Banks. The most recent case was the most incomprehensible to her: Banks said she was investigated for letting her middle child go to school with a bad haircut he’d given himself. The haircut, Banks said she was told by an investigator, could amount to emotional abuse.

As a teacher, Banks herself had sometimes called the state child welfare hotline over the years, when she worried that her students were being abused or neglected. But in her case, she believes the school simply wanted her son gone. Banks said she’d heard from a handful of other parents who’d found themselves in similar situations, all of whom are African-American like her and whose children have disabilities. “All I’m looking for is a good education for my kid,” said Banks. She felt the allegations against her had been twisted and exaggerated to fit a narrative that she was a bad mother. “It severed the relationship that we’re supposed to have as a parent and teacher community.”

“When you go through this, it’s not just a nightmare for you, it’s a nightmare for your child, because the stress level it creates for our family is horrible.”

Emily Bolton, a spokesperson for the Chicago Public Schools, wrote in an email that the agency cannot comment on specific cases but that employees take seriously their responsibility as mandated reporters of abuse and neglect, and that there is no evidence of widespread misuse of the DCFS child-welfare hotline.

But even some former child welfare officials say the practice isn’t as rare as they’d like. “If schools don’t get the parents to agree to what’s being recommended — not all the time, but sometimes — they will call ACS [the Administration for Children’s Services, New York City’s child welfare agency] to pressure them,” said Don Lash, a former lawyer with ACS and author of the book, “ ‘When the Welfare People Come’: Race and Class in the US Child Protection System.”

He and many other experts also note that because of legitimate fears of overlooking kids at risk and vague definitions of abuse and neglect , school workers may sometimes be overzealous, calling in allegations over relatively minor issues such as broken eyeglasses, inappropriate clothing or small scratches. In interviews, more than a dozen lawyers said these investigations disproportionately affect low-income families of color, who tend to live in neighborhoods and attend schools that have bigger police and social services presences and whose children are more likely to show markings of poverty that can be confused with neglect .

Such families also have fewer resources to fight back. When a family in a wealthy Brooklyn neighborhood learned roughly two years ago that their child’s school had initiated an ACS investigation against them, they sued the city education department . Parents from lower-income, majority-black and Latino neighborhoods, few of whom can afford that option, say such investigations can be a regular, even expected, part of parenting. According to ACS data , there were 2,391 abuse and neglect investigations last year in East New York/Starrett City, a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, compared with 255 in the affluent, and far more populous, Upper East Side .

Race, and racial bias, can also play a role in whether families are referred to and investigated by child protective services, research suggests. Nationally, black children are roughly twice as likely as white children to enter foster care , and in New York and Illinois, more than four times as likely . Research reveals racial disparities at every step , from the numbers of calls to the child welfare hotline to the numbers of investigations and court findings of neglect.

“I don’t think I can think of a white family where I’ve ever seen it arise,” Chris Gottlieb, co-director of New York University’s Family Defense Clinic, which represents clients in child welfare cases, said of these types of school-driven investigations.

An intimidation tool?  

Accusations that officials with Success Academy Charter Schools have sometimes threatened parents with ACS involvement have been a focal point of legal and civil complaints against the charter school network, New York City’s largest. One lawsuit against a Success Academy school in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn alleges that the school unfairly singled out kids with disabilities for discipline. In an August ruling allowing the suit to proceed, a judge said allegations that school employees called police or child protective services on 4- and 5-year olds, would, if true, help to demonstrate enough “bad faith or gross misjudgment” to sustain the discrimination claims.

“It’s very hard because the whole system isn’t adequate in addressing families’ needs. It would be much easier to call ACS if you could count on them as a holistic agency to families that are marginalized.”

Nicey Givens, one of the parents in the suit, said she was told at least twice that Success might involve ACS if she didn’t quickly pick up her child from school in the middle of the day. The boy, who’d been given diagnoses of attention deficit and oppositional defiant disorder, often misbehaved, and Givens said she felt the school was pressuring her to remove him. Once, she said, the threat to involve ACS came after she’d sent the boy to school in boots instead of his uniform shoes on a cold, wet day.

“Calling ACS is one of the tools in their repertoire to make the parents comply,” said Irene Mendez, a staff attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, one of several groups that filed the suit. A 2016 civil complaint filed with the federal Department of Education includes an allegation that a Success school in Manhattan initiated an ACS investigation against the mother of a 6-year-old as part of an effort to encourage her to send him to another school. Another lawsuit alleges that one of the network’s Bronx schools repeatedly threatened to call ACS to pressure a parent to remove her son from the school.

Success Academy officials dispute the suggestion that any of the network’s schools misuse calls to ACS. Ann Powell, executive vice president of public affairs for the charter network, said she could not comment on the specifics in the lawsuit involving the Fort Greene school because it is ongoing, but said that the network disagreed with the way Givens described her interactions with the school. Success also disputes the allegations made against the Manhattan and Bronx schools. Powell noted that as legally mandated reporters of child abuse, school employees must report any suspicion of abuse and neglect, and that “using that in a threatening way is just not credible.”

A legal obligation

Mandated reporter laws date to the 1960s, and in most states, school employees are among the professionals (along with doctors, social workers and others) obligated to report any suspicion of abuse or neglect. Mandated reporter trainings remind school employees that it’s not their responsibility to decide whether abuse is taking place but simply to pick up the phone if they have a concern, and the child welfare agency will take over from there. Mandated reporters typically have immunity from prosecution for making needless calls, so long as those calls are made in good faith.

“All of the pressure on mandated reporters is to report, report, report,” said Richard Wexler, executive director of the nonprofit National Coalition for Child Protection Reform.

If they fail to report their suspicions, and something terrible happens to the child, they can face fines or even jail time and wind up on the front page of a newspaper. Child welfare is often described as being caught in a scandal-reform cycle , with reports of neglect and entrances to foster care rising after high-profile child deaths. Both Chicago and New York are dealing with the repercussions of recent scandals — Chicago Tribune reporting on sex abuse in schools is spurring fresh resources and protocols, while in New York, calls to the child abuse hotline spiked after the deaths of two young boys under ACS monitoring in 2016.

“Our focus is always on the student, the child,” said Powell, the Success Academy VP. “Not to say that the parent doesn’t matter and those kinds of investigations can’t be awkward and disruptive, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, and there are just too many examples that you read of something that was overlooked.”

School officials also note that they have a unique responsibility in policing child neglect in many states. Child welfare laws in New York and 23 other states (not Illinois) list the denial of education as a form of abuse or neglect . In some parts of New York, school employees are required to initiate educational neglect allegations if a child has a prolonged absence and parents don’t respond to the school. Last year, school personnel in New York City made 16,301 reports to ACS, more than any other type of mandated reporter, according to agency data provided to Hechinger/HuffPost. Of those, about 43 percent involved an allegation of educational neglect.

Related: Teachers are first responders to the opioid crisis

child protective services

But critics say these too are misused or fall into gray areas of the law. Phillip and Tina Hankins, a couple in the South Bronx, have been tussling with the New York City Department of Education for more than a decade over where and how to educate their son David, who has a disability. They’ve been investigated at least seven times by ACS, including on occasions when they kept David out of class while fighting to get him into what they considered to be a more suitable institution, documentation shows.

“The schools have the right to call in whatever they think is not appropriate,” said Baffour Acheampong, an ACS worker who investigated several of the Hankins’ cases. “But in dealing with Mrs. and Mr. Hankins, what I saw was they have the best interests of their son.”

On the one occasion that ACS substantiated an educational neglect allegation against the Hankinses, a family court judge later overturned that finding. The judge noted that David’s intelligence test scores actually improved when the boy was kept out of school awaiting placement, and that the Hankinses had been doing all they could to fight for educational services. “In light of the Appellants’ year-long battle to get the child into an appropriate school, it is not clear what else they could have done to have enrolled David,” the judge wrote, adding that the agency did not provide a “single credible instance where they failed to exercise the required minimum degree of care.”

In response to questions about this case, spokesperson for the New York City schools Miranda Barbot said that the Department of Education works “closely with families to support them,” and “when there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect, we have clear policies in place that ensure it is reported.”


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Michael Arsham, executive director of ACS’s Office of Advocacy, which responds to complaints from those involved in the child welfare system, said the agency acknowledges that hotline calls from schools do not always contain serious safety concerns, and it is working more closely with the education department to minimize needless reporting. Two years ago, ACS developed a “tiered response” system with the DOE to prioritize urgent matters and reduce the impact on families of investigations over smaller concerns. “We do want people to call potential dangers to children to our attention,” Arsham said. “But I think it’s fair for us to expect other human services professionals — whether they be in education, health care, anybody who is a mandated reporter — to use their independent judgment and discretion and understand there are consequences to making that call.”

Part of the challenge facing school officials, according to Leila Ortiz, a social worker in New York City public schools, is that ACS is primarily oriented to investigate families, not provide support. Chronic absenteeism could indeed be the canary in the coal mine, she said, signaling deeper troubles within a family. “If you don’t call that in, something could potentially be happening to the student,” she said. “You don’t know, they’re not in the building.”

“But at the same time,” Ortiz added, “you could be adding more stress and damage to a family that already has a lot on their plate. It’s very hard because the whole system isn’t adequate in addressing families’ needs. It would be much easier to call ACS if you could count on them as a holistic agency to families that are marginalized.”

Antagonistic approach

Despite ACS’s efforts to be more sensitive to families facing investigations, parents don’t tend to experience child welfare investigations as even remotely helpful. A New York City parent named Gabriela — who is going by her middle name for this article because her case is still ongoing and she fears retaliation — knows the type of havoc that a call to ACS can wreak on a family. Over the course of her decades-long career as an advocate for immigrants in East Harlem, she has developed an acute understanding of ways in which families can get unfairly wrapped up in an opaque process. Some of these cases have made sense to her. Many more have seemed unfounded, with cultural differences in child-rearing clearly playing a role.

But she never expected to have to use this ACS expertise with her own family.

Last January, when Gabriela received a knock on the door of her Bronx home from an ACS caseworker, she was shocked to learn that she was the subject of a child abuse investigation. Even more surprising was the source of the complaint: her 10-year-old child’s school.

“Our focus is always on the student, the child. Not to say that the parent doesn’t matter and those kinds of investigations can’t be awkward and disruptive, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, and there are just too many examples that you read of something that was overlooked.”

Days prior, Gabriela’s daughter had gone to her teacher with a secret: That her daddy — amid grief from the death of his mother — had started regularly drinking. Gabriela said that she had tried to keep this behavior from her daughter, and thought she hadn’t noticed the new wrinkles in family life.

What happened next was a whirlwind. The child, hysterically crying and scared, was pulled into a room with several adults and questioned about her home life. Under pressure — and wanting to provide the right answer — she said that her mom, Gabriela, had hit her, a charge that Gabriela denies.

Gabriela recognizes that the school was trying to help — and in some ways was carrying out a professional duty — but says they brought a “nightmare to my house.”

A Mexican immigrant who came to America as a teenager, Gabriela has been deeply involved in the education of her daughter at every step. Over the years, Gabriela has taken the time to get to know her daughter’s teachers and school principal, while advocating for the school’s immigrant families who need extra services. How could the school’s leaders, whom Gabriela knew so well, see her as anything less than a devoted parent?

“Why didn’t they use the social worker outside? Why didn’t they call me with concerns? Why did they go straight for the kill and call ACS?” questioned Gabriela.

Related: Institutions for foster kids aren’t doing enough to educate them

She wonders if, in the delicate balancing act of being an involved parent but trying not to overstep her role, she landed on the wrong side of the equation. Or if, in her role as an advocate for immigrant families, she pushed too hard.

She also wonders if this process would have played out differently if she had a different ACS caseworker. (Charges against her were sustained and she is currently amid the appeals process.) This caseworker has asked her on three separate occasions about her immigration status, apparently unable to believe that Gabriela is an American citizen, Gabriela recounts.

“When you go through this, it’s not just a nightmare for you, it’s a nightmare for your child, because the stress level it creates for our family is horrible,” said Gabriela, through tears, one Tuesday afternoon in August.

A representative for the school said that all employees receive training on child abuse and follow state law regarding reporting.

child protective services

Even for parents who have their records cleared, the pernicious consequences of investigations can be permanent. In 2015, Sandra, a mother of three in Chicago, was investigated by DCFS after her youngest son went to school with what she describes as a minor scratch he sustained from roughhousing with his brothers.

After a DCFS worker arrived on her doorstep, her entire life was thrown under suspicion. The flowers that were a Valentine’s Day gift from her husband, for example? The investigator asked if they were evidence of her husband trying to repair damage from a marital fight.

Ultimately the abuse allegation against Sandra was overturned. But three years and $15,000 in legal fees later, she said she’s still reluctant to meet with or talk to school employees. Recently, the assistant principal at her youngest son’s school called Sandra and her husband in for a meeting to discuss the boy’s behavior, as he’d been getting frustrated in class and acting out. When the administrator suggested she take a stronger disciplinary approach, Sandra pushed back hard: “I am not going to yell at him or touch him because you guys already put me through this one time.”

Growing awareness

According to NYU’s Gottlieb, there needs to be a greater understanding of the damage caused by needless investigations and the higher rates at which parents of color are caught up in them. “You want to help parents make better choices for their kids,” she said, “and starting out by saying, ‘You’re abusive,’ is not the way to do it.”

One step forward, say critics of child welfare, could be to modify mandated reporter training — by using it in part to educate people about implicit racial bias, for example. The training that has long been offered to Illinois’ school employees is a one-time online course that takes 60 to 90 minutes to complete and includes no mention of race. Chicago Public Schools says that starting this year, it has begun offering an in-person, annual training.

Related: When foster kids are moved around, schooling becomes an afterthought

Meanwhile, experiments to reduce racial and socioeconomic inequities in the child welfare system have shown some success. New York’s Nassau County was able to significantly reduce the numbers of black kids put in foster care after placing an emphasis on workforce diversity among human services employees and withholding children’s demographic information from staff meetings. A second New York county, Onandaga, began removing fewer black kids from their parents after investing in afterschool and other school-based programs .

There were 2,391 abuse and neglect investigations last year in East New York/Starrett City, a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, compared with 255 in the affluent, and far more populous, Upper East Side

In New York City, ACS is rolling out a new approach to responding to low-risk calls that focuses on assessing which services fragile families need, said ACS’s Arsham.

Neil Skene, a spokesperson for the Illinois DCFS, wrote in an email that while a child welfare investigation is a “painful experience for anyone,” the agency feels it has a “particular obligation to be responsive to the concerns and professional knowledge of mandated reporters.” Skene added: “We are starting to work with local communities to identify cultural and racial disparities and how we can respond better.”

Out of options

Change can’t happen soon enough for families embroiled in school-driven investigations. For them, transferring schools can feel like the only way out.

In 2015, after the harassment Givens says she endured at Success Academy, she sent her son to a different elementary school nearby. “From first to fourth grade, no problems, no incidents, no suspensions, no fighting, no nothing,” she said.

Gabriela’s daughter has also switched schools, after feeling uncomfortable and mistrustful of the adults who called ACS on her parents. “She went from asking me, ‘Please don’t take me to school, can I stay with you?’ ” Gabriela said of her daughter, “to getting up in the morning, getting ready, excited to participate.”

Banks considered removing her two boys from their magnet school after the child-protection investigations began. Relatives, colleagues, even her kids’ pediatrician — they all warned that the hotline calls wouldn’t stop until her children left the school. Because she worked with kids, the investigations were particularly worrisome for her , she said, even though ultimately none of the cases against her had been substantiated.

But at the same time, she was reluctant. The magnet school offered four foreign languages, math teams and movie nights, things she worried her kids wouldn’t get at their neighborhood school. “I feel like they are winning,” she said. “I understand his behavior is poor,” she said of her youngest son, “but he does deserve to be at a school where he can get a good education.”

Plus, by the time she came to grips with the unrelenting nature of the investigations, the December deadline for applying to specialized schools had already passed. She looked into private schools before deciding they were too expensive.

This fall, feeling out of options, she sent her boys back to the magnet school. On the second day of the semester, she texted: “I am praying it is better this year.”

This story about schools and child protective services was produced by The Hechinger Report , a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter .

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Letters to the Editor

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information. We will not consider letters that do not contain a full name and valid email address. You may submit news tips or ideas here without a full name, but not letters.

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I’m in need of a lawyer my two children with special needs ADHD has been neglected and abused by CPS it’s was reported investigated and the Teacher resigned , before resigning the School retaliated and called Dcfs on me several times .

I am currently going through something similar with my son’s school and would like to reach out. They’ve harassed me with dfacs on more than one occasion but the most recent is over a parasite they found in my son’s stool but no one even notified me or his father and now it seems like they are trying to pressure me into signing up for a parent aide program. Can the school legally force that? I live in Rome GA

Hi my name is Jennifer my daughters in 8th grade and her old teacher has been asking her to move in with her and telling her all kinds of things to make her want to live with her but my daughter refuses so one day last week 04/19/2021 my daughter was pulled to the side by the teacher not her teacher but was asked if she was still dating a guy she been dating for over a year now well the teacher just kept telling her he was worthless he is a loser and always will be and much more well my daughter came home from school crying and wouldn’t tell us why she was upset well finally later that night I got her to open up about what was wrong then she told me what the teacher had said so I wrote that teacher politely asked her to not give my daughter relationship advise or any advise just stay out of it if we as parents find a problem then we will decide not her so that was sent to her 04/23/2021 and then today I get a visit from CPS on neglect of my child said she was not eating and we didn’t cook or take care of her well in my town we are plaques with drug addicts and kids growing up without there parents all because of the opioids and neglect well we aren’t rich we are poor but everything we have we put towards are children they never go without but yet this teacher is trying to destroy a family that’s not drug addicts not neglect our children this is the second or third time we have had a visit from CPS because the school would see a troubled teen just trying to figure themselves out they see abuse ? If you have a teen they are emotional and hormonal and when there having a bad day or been depressed because what a teacher had said we are being treated like we did something wrong when I’m fact it was the teacher gaslighting my daughter. I just don’t understand how a school or a teacher someone kids trust and as a parent you tell them to trust teachers just to have a teacher try and rip your daughter out of your home for there own isn’t right what so ever. During these times you would think schools would be the place where your child is safe other then home but how can it be safe at school if a teacher is emotionally destroying my daughter I have filed a complaint with the school about this teacher but what makes a teacher want to take your child away from you for themselves and your daughter is afraid she is trying to get her taking now we will be found innocent AGAIN but how do you make this stop what are my options it’s not right not fair and teachings my kid not to trust teachers at school cause they will try and take them away now CPS involved and we have to go threw the stress of proven ourselves. Something needs to be done with that whole system the schools and CPS they ruin families without hesitation even when they don’t have the full story your guilty untill proven innocent we are god loving people and I teach my children to be fair ,honest ,respectful and kind . So how do I teach them that there are bad teachers and good when I can’t tell the difference myself how do we keep our kids and families safe when others try and break your family apart with all that’s going on with COVID we are all already stressed then we have this just adds to the stress and makes my children worry they will be taken even tho I told them they won’t take them all they ever hear around here is broken families all in this town this was out of retaliation from the teacher could someone please help me do something about this it’s wrong and sometimes they don’t always know best most theses CPS workers don’t have kids but think they no better then someone who has raised kids for 21 years I have 5 children total and this is the first with someone wanting to steal my daughter away .

I’ve been harrased for over 4 years with my son with preventive services and ACS. THEY wanted an update of my son’s new high school and I refuse to give them information on him and his new location. How can I refuse to give them any new information? We live in the Bronx If any advocacy available please email me. Thank you!

Mi nombre es jose valentin,soy Padre soltero y tengo la custoria de mis dos hijas y un hijo desde 2012 ,Emily es especial las escuelas me an acusado tres ves y dos tuvieran que seral los casos en menos de 30 dias ahora lo an ello porque me canbiaro la escuela de Emily sin mi conosimieto o mi consemtimiento. La itoria es larga. THE new york time en 12/25/2012 hiso un reportaje.Caring for a Toddler Who Rules the House.

This is not because she or her sons race. This happened to my family also. Its the FACT that the schools use child services to punish parents and children alike. Our case took many years because the school kept making up lies to get rid of me and my kids. They refused to let us be transferred to any other school and tortured us for nearly 5 years until i took legal steps and got the principle fired. The new principle had no issues and found no reason to make issues even commended me on being a “great dad that fights for my children. ”

Then once a case is opened our faulty system actually gives cash bonuses to child protective services workers for each new child they take from a home. Dont believe me? Look up the details yourself it can all be googled. cps workers in most states are only supposed to handle around 30 cases at a time and most are taking 100 or more at a time. ( already breaking there own rules) then many cps workers will openly say they “like to keep cases open for 6 months or more” this is because they get cash rewards for taking these children and having them long enough for the state to start charging child support this brings the courts fees and fines making millions a year under faulse or illegal pretext while having legal immunity for the most part and zero accountability. Please look all this up google a few of these facts and you will find the actual data sheets showing the uptick of cases after the cash incentives where added and the number of children taken and many hurt or killed while in cps custody or paid foster care. The fact is the schools cps and the courts make millions through cps cases started by the schools.

I am responding in reference to the above, named Jim and his letter.

I have not heard about this particular snide endeavor however I do know that the public schools have to have a certain amount of students that go a specific amount of days to get their state funding. This makes for alot of child abuse cases in which I have and still am caught up in. I have chosen my life path actually all due to how the public system works in it’s entirety. The government is only out for one thing and it doesn’t care how it gets it. They use children as a means the most, given they have no voice and can be swept under the rug easier. I am choosing to be a voice for children in particular juveniles. I am striving to be a youth self empowerment/motivational speaker, attending elementary, middle school, foster homes and juvenile delinquent facilities are my main focus and moving along from that point. Our children are our future and if we look at our children now (I am talking about YouTube and Tik Tok idiots that influence our children) then we are doomed for any improvement within socialism, racial issues, etc. The government is Using and abusing our children that are vulnerable from birth all through adult hood. Foster care abuse usually ends them up in juvenile abuse, released at 18 to act in criminal behavior and then discriminated by cops while being pursued. This could be prevented if we cared more for our children, their needs instead of adults that abuse for their power and money. I don’t believe enough parents know their rights and how much power we have outside of the public school system. Homeschool is the way to go until every child has a web cam on them at all times during school will I ever feel safe to allow my children in their hands.

This is true CPS is using dcfs as a power to go against parents that are looking for help for their special need child . My son was only 5 when he started hes first year in school. He would cry and throw himself on the floor because he would want to go with me home. Hes kindergarten teacher and the school administration decided one day to put him on a behavior hospital without me knowing what was going on. I got to my sons school to pick him up and i got called inside just to get the news of him being put in a behavior hospital. I tried to refuse but they told me if i didn’t comply with them they would call dcfs. I was scared my baby would be taken away so i complied. Once my son was in the hospital i couldn’t sleep i would spend days crying and my heart would break every time he would talk to me and say he wanted to come home. After weeks of him being hold in that hospital i got help and hes case was evaluated by another behavioral specialist . They came to a conclusion that due to hes age cps shouldn’t of put him in a behavioral hospital due to my baby just had turned 5 .

Hello I am a mother of 10 children Acs was called on me in 2020 for Doe neglect during covid I had a mental break after the Acs phone call and now my children are in the system one have been left on a bus for 2 hours one was recently burnt and they are refusing to move him from the foster parents one has come to the visit with a black eye and neither of the foster parents are following protocol nor letting the agency know about what took place I am doing everything they have asked of me to do for my children to return home none of the agencies follow guidelines nor what’s being told of them during the court conference I found out I was pregnant during the time and they also removed my baby from my care as well and added him to the case this has been going on for 17 months now and now I am on trial

I’ve seen this kind of thing happen first hand to a white family.

A friend of mine would occasionally visit my farm during which time I would have plenty of time to engage with her children. One day, however, she told me that one child’s school told her that they believe the child had ADHD and that if the parent didn’t consent to medications they would use CPS to remove the child. The problem was that I was certain this child didn’t have ADHD. I spent enough time with the child to know that for certain. Instead, I suggested, that maybe the child was suffering from silent siezures (also known as absence seizures). I explained that the outward symptoms of silent siezures are often misdiagnosed as inattentive ADHD by persons who don’t spend enough time observing the child in question. I referred the family to a good neurologist I knew and a month later the school was forced to back off because it was confirmed that the child did indeed suffer from silent siezures.

For those who don’t understand the difference: In a silent seizure a child will appear to stare off into space for 10 to 30 seconds with no apparant reason. There’s no jerking or loss of conciousness. It’s this symptom that often gets it confused with inattentive ADHD, but the difference is that while you can get the attention of a child with ADHD in some manner such as clapping your hands you can’t get the attention of a child in the middle of a silent seizure. Even if someone knows to test for this it needs to be tested more than once because it could be a coincidence that the seizure ended when you clap your hands. Another key difference, and an easier one to notice, is that a child with silent seizures will stop whatever they are doing – even walking or playing – then resume the activity the moment it ends. In contrast a child with ADHD will continue what they are doing will stop when it no longer captures their focus. It may be disrupted because they get bored of it or because something more interesting comes along.

Had I not been there the child could have died. If a young child with silent siezures is treated as if they have ADHD the drugs they are given will not be effective. This typically results in an ever increasing dosage until the child dies of a drug overdose. It happens far too often. Sure, children often get blood work to make sure their livers aren’t damaged, but the blood work can be infrequent and a complication can occur rather quickly especially due to their small body size.

I find it abhorrent that a school can force a child to take drugs under the threat of CPS especially when that school doesn’t bother to spend enough time to be able to tell the difference between ADHD and Silent Siezures. They shouldn’t be allowed to do that. Sure, they’ll often refer a child to a Psychiatrist, but a one hour session with a person not trained to recognize the difference isn’t enough time to make that determination and most families are not informed of their right to seek a second opinion. The failure to properly test these children constitutes medical neglect in my opinion. The tendency to then order drugs without a proper medical evaluation constitutes attempted medical abuse in my opinion.

A lack of oversight clearly contributes to the harm children are put through. That’s why when I become a parent I will be home schooling my child. My state has education restrictions, but my education happens to be superior to most teachers at any school so I’d qualify. It’s sad that I can’t trust that a child will be free from abuse if placed in public school though and it’s especially sad that CPS – whose job is supposed to protect children – is used to facilitate abuse.

Single mum of 4, ages 19, 13, 10, 3 My 10 yr old suffers with CKD and Autism, and against my better judgment he started a new school after we moved, and for a month he has tried to run away and come home from that school almost every day., we live down the block. Protocol is for the teachers to call me and the principal so we can help deescalate the situation. October 2nd 2023 the teachers broke protocol and his blood pressure was elevated to 154/100 and climbed to 173/120. And since I already had CWS case because school systems are not the only ones that like to abuse their power. I disagreed with one particular Nephrologist about my son’s medical stand point and she called CWS and blatantly lied to make her case. I explained that the doctor was lying and the proof was in his medical records but the worker said that was ok and they have to listen to Nephrologist because she was a doctor. Since then and this incident I’ve been completely blamed and all truth has gone out the window. I’ve never seen so many professionals lie to cover themselves before. My son was removed from my care and given to my mother. I’m happy my son is safe but I still miss him everyday. From Oct 2nd 2023 to Jan 17 2024 he was held at hospital because of his CKD and then removed till he is reunited with me in 3-6 months according to CWS “if all goes well” what ever that means. My son was never abused by me and I fought hard to keep him safe and healthy but I failed. I would like to sue the hospital, the CWS and the school for the damage caused to all my children and myself but because of corruption here and lack of a million dollars I cannot get a lawyer to represent us to save my family.

I am a woman of color and have been railroaded in the system So I too agree with everyone above who are dedicated parents that are being bullied and abused by all three systems. The corruption in Hawaii is no different and in any case is worse than any other state. This is not Paradise! I’m definitely homeschooling my younger two. And I definitely know this would not have happened if I homeschooled my 10 yr old too.

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when do schools report to social services

What Do Schools Report to CPS? One State’s Experience


The vast majority of reports of child abuse and neglect emanate from adults outside a child’s family or neighborhood. Most calls come from so-called “mandated reporters,” who are required to disclose any concerns about child safety with protection officials. Some states classify all adults as mandated reporters, but generally, the term refers to professionals in the community such as police officers, doctors and nurses, or mental health counselors. 

It is school officials that produce the most reports of abuse or neglect each year. In 2018, 20.5% of the 4.3 million maltreatment reports in the country came from school or day care workers, according to the annual “ Child Maltreatment ” report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

The vast majority of those reports, 90% according to federal data, did not lead to a substantiated case of abuse or neglect. The Imprint was able to obtain recent data from one state, Georgia, to assess what the educators’ contribution to maltreatment allegations looks like. 

In 2018 and 2019, there were 300,168 maltreatment reports made to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. As is the case nationally, the vast majority of these reports do not end in a confirmed victim of abuse or neglect – just 5% of these Georgia reports resulted in what’s called a substantiated allegation.

Just over 30% of Georgia’s hotline calls in that time frame were made by education or child care staff – well above the national rate of 21% for those workers. In the time between March 16 and last week, when the state school year ended, maltreatment reports from this segment of the community were all but erased.

That first week schools were closed, calls from education and child care sources dropped 84% compared with the average number from the previous two years. The comparative drop-off reached a peak of 91% the week of April 6. 

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So what types of maltreatment are schools reporting? 

In Georgia, they supplied one third of reports falling under the state’s most frequently cited allegation: inadequate supervision. The specific definition of this charge varies from state to state, but generally refers to leaving a child unattended in an unsafe environment, or failing to watch over children because of drug use, or a mental health episode. Inadequate Supervision is the allegation associated with 64% of all hotline calls in the state. 

Predictably, schools provided the majority of educational neglect, which in Georgia can occur only after a student has 10 unexcused absences and a documented effort has been made to intervene and address that without court involvement. Sixty-one percent of calls about educational neglect came from education and child care reporters.

Educators were also the source of more than half of the sort of reports that can lead to confirmed physical abuse: “lacerations, cuts or punctures,” and “bruises, welts or abrasions.” And they also supply between 20 and 30% of reports about alarming alleged sexual abuse.

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John Kelly is senior editor for The Imprint.

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The School Counselor and Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention

(Adopted 1981; revised 1985, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2015, 2021)

ASCA Position

The rationale, the school counselor's role.

  • Understand child abuse and neglect and its impact on children’s academic, career and social/emotional development 
  • Provide interventions promoting resiliency, healthy interpersonal and communication skills and self-worth
  • Make referrals to outside agencies when appropriate
  • Engage families in the school community
  • Identify barriers and limitations that affect healthy family functioning and may lead to child abuse or neglect
  • Identify instances of child abuse and neglect and respond on both individual and systemic levels
  • Provide professional development in consultation on child abuse to school staff, families and the school community 
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State by state, here's how well schools are doing at supporting kids' mental health

Rhitu Chatterjee

when do schools report to social services

With many kids struggling emotionally, group of mental health organizations are pushing for increased investment in mental health services in schools. SDI Productions/Getty Images hide caption

With many kids struggling emotionally, group of mental health organizations are pushing for increased investment in mental health services in schools.

There's a growing consensus that the pandemic has taken a big emotional toll on young people. Among other troubling signs, children's hospitals across the country have seen more kids showing up in their emergency rooms for mental health reasons, seeking care for everything from severe anxiety and eating disorders to suicide attempts.

The vast majority of Americans – 87% – are concerned about the wellbeing of the next generation, according to a new poll .

In response to the crisis, a group of 17 national mental health organizations are calling for a new investment in school-based mental health support for kids. The group published a new report this week rating states based on how well they are addressing the crisis through programs and services in schools.

The report highlights states that have invested in building a culture and system of care at schools that reduces the risk of emotional problems and ensures kids who are struggling don't fall through the cracks.

"This report card really aims to give us a better understanding and overview of what's currently happening in our schools specific to mental health, what are the areas we might be able to improve," says psychologist Benjamin Miller , president of Well Being Trust, which was also involved in the report. "And most importantly, where should policymakers be prioritizing their limited resources to help our youth in this time of crisis?"

The youth mental health crisis has been growing over many years. Recent studies show that the pandemic made things much worse because of its health and economic impacts on families, isolation, challenges with virtual schooling and ongoing stress and uncertainty.

How to talk — and listen — to a teen with mental health struggles

How to talk — and listen — to a teen with mental health struggles

And mental health care experts agree that the solution will involve investments in many sectors, including families, communities, and the health care system. However, schools are increasingly being recognized as central to solving the problem.

"We need to have a range of services that are offered to children [through schools]," says Miller, so that they can meet the range of needs that kids have.

"Some kids might just simply need to be more supported," he says. "Some kids might actually need to have more intensive counseling. Some kids might need to have access to social services that's going to allow their family additional benefits."

The report grades states based on how well they've developed eight different kinds of programs and services to improve school mental health.

These cover everything from mental health education for students, training for teachers and staff, to access to school counselors and psychologists, says Angela Kimball , senior vice president of policy and advocacy at Inseparable , one of the many advocacy groups involved in the poll. They also include getting funding from Medicaid for eligible kids, developing partnerships with community mental health professionals, and policies that foster a healthy school climate.

States like Colorado, California, Washington, Illinois and Nevada were highly rated in the report, says Kimball, because they've adopted a range of measures.

For example, she says, Colorado has leveraged Medicaid to cover school-based mental health care – including telehealth services – for all eligible students. The state has adopted anti-bullying and anti-discrimination legislation, which help create a more inclusive environment for marginalized students. (Studies show that discrimination and bullying are associated with a higher risk of mental health struggles.)

"They have a legislation that provides alternatives to exclusionary discipline like suspensions and and expulsions, which disproportionately harm students with mental health conditions, and as students of color," adds Kimball. "In addition, Colorado has also adopted mental health excused absences legislation and suicide prevention programs."

Some of the lowest rated states were Georgia, West Virginia, Missouri, New Mexico, Nebraska and South Dakota. These are places which have invested very little in mental health support in schools.

The good news, says Kimball, is that a growing number of states have adopted legislation to incorporate mental health in K-12 health curricula, so that students have the language to understand, talk about and seek help for their emotional health if necessary.

The report also highlights other states for their efforts. For example, New Jersey invested $1 million in 2021 to do regular wellness screenings, so that students who are struggling can be identified and connected to help before their symptoms escalate.

Similarly, Kansas was lauded for creating a School Mental Health Advisory Council, which brings together parents, providers, legislators and others to advise the state Board of Education on ways to address students' emotional health.

At the federal level, lawmakers are paying attention to this issue, and there is bipartisan support towards addressing it. A law passed in 2021 making funding available for school-based mental health services, and Senate leaders this year have pledged to put together a legislative package addressing mental health, including improving kids' access to care.

There have been several Congressional hearings on the issue recently, where both young people, providers and advocates have testified.

Earlier this week, Trace Terrell , a 17-year-old in Oregon, testified before the Senate Finance Committee about his own struggles with depression and suicide, as well as those of teens across the country.

Terrell, who now volunteers at Youthline, a free teen-to-teen crisis hotline, shared messages he's received from kids across the country recently, and urged lawmakers to make schools a focus in their efforts to address this crisis.

"From my experience and many of my peers, mental health efforts in schools are lacking," said Terrell. "Day after day, I hear my friends and those on the line voice about how inaccessible school counselors are due to being overworked and overloaded. This is an especially difficult challenge for the many teens who rely on school mental health professionals for crisis care."

He argued for investments to "create a streamlined approach to free mental health screenings and referrals."

"At my school, four out of every five referrals to external resources are not carried out," he said. "Let that sink in: 80% of referrals go nowhere. Someone who needs help, should receive help."

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Home » How Do I Call In a Report? » What Criteria Must Be Met?

What Criteria Must Be Met?

Five criteria cps needs to register a report:.

You do not need to be certain that child abuse or neglect has occurred before you call the Child Abuse Hotline . However, you do need to have a reasonable suspicion . When you call, Child Abuse Hotline staff member will ask you to explain the information and circumstances that caused your suspicion.

Child Abuse Hotline staff members must use the five criteria based on state law to assess each call. Hotline staff will ask you about the child, the child’s family or persons legally responsible for the child and the circumstances in which you believe abuse or neglect took place. CPS needs this information in order to register a report . “Registering” a report means that CPS has enough information to follow up with the family and begin an investigation .

If you have a reasonable suspicion that abuse or neglect has occurred, you should always call the Hotline. If all of the necessary information is not available when you call the Hotline, CPS cannot register the report and may make other recommendations.

Below are the five criteria CPS uses to assess each call to the Hotline.

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Child Abuse Identification & Reporting Guidelines

Identification of child abuse and neglect.

Child abuse is more than bruises or broken bones. While physical abuse often leaves visible scars, not all child abuse is as obvious, but can do just as much harm. It is important that individuals working with and around children be able to know what constitutes child abuse or child neglect and know how to identify potential signs.

Child Abuse and/or Child Neglect Can Be Any of the Following:

  • A physical injury inflicted on a child by another person other than by accidental means.
  • The sexual abuse, assault, or exploitation of a child.
  • The negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for the child’s welfare under circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child’s health or welfare. This is whether the harm or threatened harm is from acts or omissions on the part of the responsible person.
  • The willful harming or endangerment of the person or health of a child, any cruel or inhumane corporal punishment or any injury resulting in a traumatic condition.

One does not have to be physically present or witness the abuse to identify suspected cases of abuse, or even have definite proof that a child may be subject to child abuse or neglect. Rather, the law requires that a person have a “reasonable suspicion” that a child has been the subject of child abuse or neglect. Under the law, this means that it is reasonable for a person to entertain a suspicion of child abuse or neglect, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person, in a like position, drawing, when appropriate, on his or her training and experience, to suspect child abuse or neglect. 

Red flags for abuse and neglect are often identified by observing a child’s behavior at school, recognizing physical signs, and observations of dynamics during routine interactions with certain adults. While the following signs are not proof that a child is the subject of abuse or neglect, they should prompt one to look further.

Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse in Children

  • Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
  • Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
  • Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
  • Acts either inappropriately adult-like (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums).

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse in Children

  • Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
  • Is always watchful and “on alert” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
  • Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
  • Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
  • Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.

Warning Signs of Neglect in Children

  • Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
  • Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
  • Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
  • Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
  • Is frequently late or missing from school.

Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children

  • Trouble walking or sitting.
  • Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
  • Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
  • Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
  • A sexually transmitted disease (STD) or pregnancy, especially under the age of fourteen.
  • Runs away from home.

Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect

School volunteers, while not mandated reporters, should also be encouraged to report any suspected cases of abuse and neglect. Additionally, school volunteers are highly encouraged by the law to have training in the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect. The training offered online to mandated reporters, is equally available to school volunteers.

Obligations of Mandated Reporters

A list of persons whose profession qualifies them as “mandated reporters” of child abuse or neglect is found in California Penal Code Section 11165.7. The list is extensive and continues to grow. It includes all school/district employees, administrators, and athletic coaches. All persons hired into positions included on the list of mandated reporters are required, upon employment, to be provided with a statement, informing them that they are a mandated reporter and their obligations to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect pursuant to California Penal Code Section 11166.5.

All persons who are mandated reporters are required, by law, to report all known or suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. It is not the job of the mandated reporter to determine whether the allegations are valid. If child abuse or neglect is reasonably suspected or if a pupil shares information with a mandated reporter leading him/her to believe abuse or neglect has taken place, the report must be made. No supervisor or administrator can impede or inhibit a report or subject the reporting person to any sanction.

To make a report, an employee must contact an appropriate local law enforcement or county child welfare agency, listed below. This legal obligation is not satisfied by making a report of the incident to a supervisor or to the school. An appropriate law enforcement agency may be one of the following:

  • A Police or Sheriff’s Department (not including a school district police department or school security department).
  • A County Probation Department, if designated by the county to receive child abuse reports.
  • A County Welfare Department/County Child Protective Services.

The report should be made immediately over the telephone and should be followed up in writing. The law enforcement agency has special forms for this purpose that they will ask you to complete. If a report cannot be made immediately over the telephone, then an initial report may be made via e-mail or fax. A report may also be filed at the same time with your school district or county office of education (COE). School districts and COEs, however, do not investigate child abuse allegations, nor do they attempt to contact the person suspected of child abuse or neglect.

School districts and COEs may have additional policies adopted at the local level relating to the duties of mandated reporters. School staff should consult with their district to determine if there are additional steps that must be taken.

These policies do not take the place of reporting to an appropriate local law enforcement or county child welfare agency.

New Required Training for School Employees

Rights to confidentiality and immunity.

Mandated reporters are required to give their names when making a report. However, the reporter’s identity is kept confidential. Reports of suspected child abuse are also confidential. Mandated reporters have immunity from state criminal or civil liability for reporting as required. This is true even if the mandated reporter acquired the knowledge, or suspicion of the abuse or neglect, outside his/her professional capacity or scope of employment.

Consequences of Failing to Report

A person who fails to make a required report is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine (California Penal Code Section 11166[c]).

After the Report is Made

The local law enforcement agency is required to investigate all reports. Cases may also be investigated by Child Welfare Services when allegations involve abuse or neglect within families.

Child Protective Services

The Child Protective Services (CPS) is the major organization to intervene in child abuse and neglect cases in California. Existing law provides for services to abused and neglected children and their families. More information can be found at Child Protective Services.

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when do schools report to social services

TN Promise marks a decade of success

Since 2014, $207 million in funding has supported the enrollment of more than 150,000 students pursuing their dreams of college, creating a more skilled and competitive workforce in Tennessee. Learn more .

Tennessee Promise is both a scholarship and mentoring program focused on increasing the number of students who attend college in our state. It provides students a last-dollar scholarship, meaning the scholarship will cover the cost of tuition and mandatory fees not covered by the Pell grant, the HOPE scholarship, or the Tennessee Student Assistance Award. Students may use the scholarship at any of the state’s 13 community colleges, 24 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institution offering an associate degree program.

Applicants must complete the Tennessee Promise application by November 1, complete the FAFSA by May 15, attend a mandatory meeting, and complete eight hours of community service each semester to be eligible for the award.

The TN Promise Application opens on August 1 and closes on November 1 each year. The application is accessed through the TSAC Student Portal.  To create a Student Portal account, you will be asked to provide the following:

  • Student’s First Name and Last Name (as it appears on the Social Security Card)
  • Student’s Social Security Number 
  • Student’s Date of Birth
  • Student’s Personal Email Address (Not School Email)

The FAFSA is the primary college financial aid application students must complete in order to determine state and federal scholarship and/or grant qualification. All students should file the 2024-2025 FAFSA regardless of post-secondary plans!

Students and parents will utilize 2022 tax information to complete the 2024-2025 FAFSA. Students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible as some state/federal financial aid grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The deadline to submit the 2024-2025 FAFSA to remain eligible for TN Promise is May 15, 2024!

Partnering Organizations

Tennessee Promise partners with two statewide organizations to coordinate requirements for the award.

  • If you live in Benton (class of 2022 & forward), Claiborne (class of 2022 & forward), Decatur, Haywood (class of 2022 & forward), Henderson, Lawrence, Lewis (class of 2022 & forward), Hardin (class of 2022 & forward), Perry, Unicoi, Union (class of 2022 & forward), or Wayne (class of 2022 & forward) counties, your award will be coordinated by The Ayers Foundation Trust . 
  • All other counties are served by tnAchieves .

It is imperative that all students be mindful of the email address and phone number(s) provided to the partnering organization. This information will be used to communicate important program eligibility details and upcoming deadlines directly to the student.  

High School Student Checklist

By november 1, 2023.

The application for the class of 2024 will be available  HERE  on August 1, 2023. Please create an account in the TSAC Student Portal, log-in, and submit the application.

by may 15, 2024

Submit the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)  HERE .

December 2023/January 2024

Attend a mandatory meeting coordinated by your assigned partnering organization. Details about these mandatory meetings will be provided to applicants following the application deadline in the fall.

Spring 2024

Apply to a  community  or  technical college or a four-year institution which offers an associate degree.

By July 1, 2024

Complete and report your first eight (8) hours of community service to your assigned partnering organization. Summer students must report community service hours by May 1.

Community service must be completed on or after November 2, 2023, to be considered.

Summer/Fall 2024

If selected, provide requested documentation to complete FAFSA verification.

Additional information will be provided by the postsecondary institution for those selected for verification following submission of the FAFSA.

College Student Checklist

By may 15, 2024.

Submit the 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at  www.studentaid.gov . The 2024-25 FAFSA will be available in January 2024.

by July 1, 2024

Complete and report eight (8) hours of community service to your partering organization to maintain eligibility into the fall 2024 semester. Summer students must report community service hours by May 1.

Fall 2024 Semester

Enroll and attend full-time in an eligible program of study at an eligible postsecondary institution. Please contact the financial aid office at the institution if you are unable to enroll full-time in any semester.

By December 1, 2024

Complete and report eight (8) hours of community service to your partnering organization to maintain eligibility into the spring 2025 semester.

Spring 2025 Semester

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You will be redirected to complete your FAFSA. Once you have completed your FAFSA, you have applied for the Tennessee Hope Scholarship. Click here to learn more about How to Fill Out Your FAFSA.

You will be redirected to the TSAC Student Portal. Applying for a scholarship (example: the Tennessee Promise) is not complete once a student portal account has been created. Next, you must re-enter your Username and Password and answer the challenge question. Once you have accepted the “User Agreement”, click the “Apply for Scholarships” button and then click the appropriate scholarship program to complete and submit the online application.

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District Announces First Social and Emotional Learning Standards to Be Implemented Across All Public Schools

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has published the first-ever Districtwide K-Adult Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) standards for all DC Public Schools (DCPS) and public charter schools. The SEL standards aim to develop crucial skills that enable students to acquire and apply knowledge and attitudes necessary for developing a healthy identity, managing emotions, achieving personal and collective goals, showing empathy toward others, building and maintaining supportive relationships, and making responsible and caring decisions. The standards will be implemented in schools across the District beginning in the 2024-25 school year.   “We are proud that across all eight wards, students are going to schools where they are loved and challenged by their teachers. And we know our teachers work every day to make sure students are equipped with the knowledge and skills that will help them succeed – in and out of school,” said Mayor Bowser. “With these new standards guiding social and emotional learning, our schools and educators have another tool in their toolbox to help our young people thrive in all aspects of life.”  Developed by local educators with support from local and national SEL experts, DC’s new Social and Emotional Learning standards build on Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) 5 Framework, and include knowledge and skills across five core competencies: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social & Cultural Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Decision-Making & Agency. Among these skills, conflict resolution indicators are specifically integrated throughout DC’s standards. Following a robust public comment period, the standards were revised and finalized to incorporate feedback from DC educators, students, national social and emotional learning experts, and other community stakeholders.    “Social and Emotional Learning standards are an essential piece of providing DC students with a high-quality, equitable education experience,” said State Superintendent Dr. Christina Grant. “These standards will help foster school environments where students feel safe, seen, and loved – ultimately promoting learning and practicing social, emotional and academic skills, all of which are critical for development and supporting students in their learning and their lives.”    The SEL standards were developed over three years and included significant feedback from the public, including DC educators, students, and community members. The standards were published following a unanimous vote of support from the State Board of Education on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.    “Streamlined and effective social and emotional learning creates conditions of safety, sustains a positive working and learning climate, and cultivates a growth mindset among staff, students, and families,” said Capital City SEL Coach and Specialist Angelina Zara. “When learners feel safe and connected – social, emotional, and cognitive skill development follows. The DC Social and Emotional Learning standards are a key step in ensuring that educators know that this is not another thing added to the plate, but rather that this is the plate in post-pandemic education."     To view the finalized standards and learn more about the DC social and emotional learning standards development process, please visit the  OSSE social and emotional learning standards webpage .    

 Mayor Bowser X:  @MayorBowser Mayor Bowser Instagram:  @Mayor_Bowser Mayor Bowser Facebook:  facebook.com/MayorMurielBowser Mayor Bowser YouTube:  https://www.bit.ly/eomvideos

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when do schools report to social services

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Report child abuse

If you’re worried that a child or young person is at risk or is being abused contact the children’s social care team at their local council .

You’ll be asked for your details, but you can choose not to share them.

Call 999 if the child is at immediate risk.

If it’s not an emergency, you can report the crime online or call 101.

Calls to 999 or 101 are free.

What to report

Child abuse includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and neglect. You can read more about the signs of child abuse .

You don’t need to be sure that a child or young person has been abused - it’s OK to report a suspicion.

What happens when you report it

The person who answers your call will decide what to do. For example, they might:

  • gather more information
  • ask a social worker to look into it
  • contact the police, if they think the child is at immediate risk or a crime has been committed

The children’s social care team will tell you what happens next, but they will not be able to give you any confidential information.

Contact the NSPCC if you want to discuss your concerns and get advice.

NSPCC (for adults) Telephone: 0808 800 5000 Find out about call charges

ChildLine (for children and young people) Telephone: 0800 1111 (free)

The ChildLine number will not show up on your phone bill if you call from a landline or from most mobile networks.

Report child abuse in education

NSPCC (for children, young people and adults) Telephone: 0800 136 663 (free)

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Working Papers and Social Security Numbers

  • Back to Employment of Minors (Working Papers)

Governor Paterson recently notified all New York State Commissioners that effective January 1, 2010, the use of Social Security Numbers by State Agencies and governmental entities would be restricted to prevent identity theft.   Public Officers Law, Article 6-a, Personal Privacy Protection Law, §96-a is available here .

Based on the information provided above, the line on the application for employment certificate/permit forms (AT-17 and AT-22) requesting a minor’s social security number has have been deleted. Any line for social security number remaining on an Employment Certificate or Permit may be left blank or otherwise marked not applicable. If you have further questions please feel free to contact the Office of Student Support Services at 518-486-6090.

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For decades, states have taken foster children's federal benefits. That's starting to change

States have for decades been using foster children's federal Social Security benefits to help cover the costs of state services

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- By the time Jesse Fernandez turned 18, the federal government had paid out thousands of dollars in Social Security survivor's benefits because of the death of his mother. But Jesse's bank account was empty.

The money had all been used by Missouri's foster care system or relatives responsible for his care.

“I was shocked,” said Jason White, a foster parent to Fernandez.

“Those dollars are a big deal," he continued. “Had they been saved, or a chunk of it saved, he’d have money for a car and a first-time apartment."

For decades, states have routinely applied for Social Security survivor and disability benefits on behalf of foster children and then used that money to help cover the costs of foster care services. The tactic has saved states from having to spend millions of their own tax dollars on foster care programs.

But that's beginning to change under pressure from child advocates who contend the practice is both immoral and detrimental to foster children because it exhausts funds that could have helped them transition to adulthood.

More than a dozen states have made at least some sort of revisions to the practice since Maryland became the first to do so in 2018. Colorado became the latest in April when it enacted a law establishing a foster children’s list of rights, which stipulates that any benefits be used for their “individual needs.”

Similar measures have been proposed this year in numerous states as part of an “incredible explosion of reform efforts,” said Amy Harfeld, national policy director for the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego School of Law.

But change doesn't always come easy.

Missouri legislation that advocates touted as a national model failed to receive final approval Friday, despite previously passing both chambers. Supporters pointed to gridlock in the Republican-led Legislature and concerns about an unrelated child-custody amendment attached to the bill.

Both chambers of the Democratic-led Maine Legislature also approved a measure last month that would have prohibited the state from using foster children’s federal survivor benefits to reimburse its costs for foster care services. But the legislation failed to reach the governor’s desk because lawmakers weren't able to allocate the nearly $1.8 million necessary to compensate for the proposed change.

“There is a strong and growing interest to implement reforms,” said Meg Dygert, staff leader of the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators.

But “addressing this issue is not without its complexities,” she said. “To shift practices, child welfare agencies must work through significant financial, operational, technical, and legal challenges.”

An estimated 40,000 to 80,000 children in foster care either receive or are eligible for Social Security benefits, typically because of the death of a parent or their own disability, according to a report released last month by the Children’s Advocacy Institute. Those benefits typically pay hundreds of dollars a month per child, which adds up to millions of dollars annually for states.

In Missouri, the Children’s Division spent more than $9.3 million last year on foster care services from the accounts of about 1,400 foster children who received Social Security benefits, according to legislative research staff.

Those federal disability payments would have amounted to an estimated $123,000 over 13 years for Alexus Brandon, her foster mother Brenda Keith said. But Brandon, 21, received none of that when she aged out of Missouri's foster care system because the state had used it all, Keith said.

Brandon now receives monthly disability checks, but she has fallen behind on rent payments and can’t afford a car, making it harder to get a job.

Had the state set aside some of her childhood disability benefits for future use, “it would have helped me start out my life,” Brandon said.

The Missouri legislation would have required the Children's Division to apply for Social Security benefits on behalf of eligible foster children but prohibited the agency from using that money for required foster care expenses. Instead, the benefits would have been set aside for children when they age out of foster care or spent on “unmet needs” such as school, transportation or other items.

A similar measure passed the Republican-led Arizona Legislature last year and was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs. At the time, the state Department of Child Safety said it was collecting about $6.2 million annually in Social Security and veterans' survivor benefits on behalf of foster children and spending around $4 million of that on foster care services.

“We shouldn’t be funding government off the backs of abused children,” said Kendall Seal, vice president of policy at the Center for the Rights of Abused Children, which backed the Arizona and Missouri measures.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, a Democrat, also signed a law last year barring the state from using children's benefits to cover the state's costs of food, clothing, housing and daily supervision of foster children. It instead directs those funds to savings accounts for children's personal needs, including education and future housing expenses.

New Mexico's children's department announced last year it would no longer tap into foster children's Social Security benefits and instead place that money in a trust for children. Massachusetts' children's agency said earlier this year it also was ending the use of foster children’s Social Security benefits to cover its costs.

Lawmakers in Missouri and Maine said they would try again next year to pass legislation limiting the state's use of foster children's federal benefits.

The Maine measure was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Amy Roeder, who adopted two sons from foster care, including one who receives Social Security survivor's benefits because his biological father died. While he was in the foster care system, her son didn't receive any of those monthly benefit payments. But Roeder said she is now saving the funds until he is an adult to help pay for higher education or housing.

“Money is a cold comfort when you lose somebody, but it’s something," Roeder said, "even if it’s just a little bit of a boost to get you started.

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Social Security

Electronic records express.

Electronic Records Express is an initiative by Social Security and state Disability Determination Services (DDS) to offer electronic options for submitting health and school records related to disability claims.

When you receive a request for health or school records or other information about a person who has applied for Social Security disability benefits, you can choose the method of sending the information that works best for you:

  • online to Social Security’s secure website; or
  • by fax to your state DDS or to Social Security.

The records you send are automatically associated with the applicant’s unique disability claim folder.

  • Send patient, client and student records at your convenience;
  • Submit information directly to your state DDS or Social Security, helping to expedite the decision on your patient’s or student’s disability claim;
  • Save copying and postage costs;
  • Eliminate need for follow-up due to mail transit time; and
  • Start reimbursement process sooner.
  • Medical providers (including hospitals, clinics, doctors and health information managers);
  • School professionals; and
  • Third parties, such as attorneys and claimant representatives.

The Electronic Records Express options are online via Social Security's secure website or by fax.

Social Security's Secure Website - Individual Patient or Student Records: Allows you to transfer records online using your Internet connection.

Social Security's Secure Website - Multiple Patient or Student Records: Allows you to send batches of records online in a single operation using a scanner and your Internet connection.

Fax: Allows you to use your fax to send records anytime day or night.

All Electronic Records Express options are free of charge. In fact, you may save time and money by transmitting your records electronically.

In addition to the Electronic Records Express options, high volume operations can use Secure Bulk File Transfer . This option requires commercial software and is not free of charge. It allows you to transfer records in an automated machine-to-machine mode, with workflow management, monitoring and reporting features.

The website has restricted access. Only authorized users can access the secure website by using their assigned user ID and password. Also, data transmission is protected by employing 128-bit or higher secure socket layer (SSL) encryption, which is the industry encryption standard for providing network security.

Just call the Social Security Electronic Records Express Help Desk at 1-866-691-3061. This number will be staffed from 7am – 7pm EST, Monday thru Friday. After hours questions about new ERE account registration may be emailed to [email protected] .


  • Use Electronic Records Express to Send Records Related to Disability Claims

Electronic Records Express graphic

Related Information

  • Health and School Professionals
  • Attorneys and Appointed Representatives
  • Contact your Professional Relations Officer


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  1. Reporting Services (SSRS) Part 19

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  3. Reporting Services (SSRS) Part 1

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  1. What Parents Need to Know: School Reports to CPS, Communicating with

    If the relationship between the parent and the school has soured because of a disagreement regarding special education services, I recommend the parent reach out to an education advocacy group. INCLUDEnyc has a hotline where a parent can call (212-677-4660) or text (646-693-3175) to get advice or a referral for legal representation in an ...

  2. When to Call CPS: 7 Things Educators Should Know

    Segal says either she or the school social worker sits with the teacher to make the call since "a teacher is often uncomfortable." She adds, "Because we are more versed in making a report, the teacher feels more comfortable having someone to help, but also is still the person on the phone with CPS making the report." 4.

  3. What Happens When Your Child's School Reports Suicidal Ideation

    Ask the school what they have in place until you get there. What if the psychiatric hospital wants to admit my child, but I do not want to take her? In some cases, when parents do not take the appropriate action, it can lead the school to report medical neglect to the Department of Children's/Child Services (DCS) or Child Protective Services ...

  4. 10 Things You Should Know About Child Protective Services

    1. CPS Is Legally Obligated to Investigate Every Report. You may have heard it before, and it is the truth. CPS is legally obligated to investigate every report it receives. However, there are instances where they do not investigate or the case is closed without investigation.

  5. Responsibilities of Schools for Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

    23 P.S. § 6313.Reporting Procedure. Effective until December 31, 2014. Mandatory reports are required to report suspected child abuse to Child Protective Services immediately by telephone and in writing within 48 hours after oral report. Effective after December 14, 2014.

  6. When schools use child protective services as a ...

    In an August ruling allowing the suit to proceed, a judge said allegations that school employees called police or child protective services on 4- and 5-year olds, would, if true, help to demonstrate enough "bad faith or gross misjudgment" to sustain the discrimination claims.

  7. Threat Assessment and Reporting

    Threat Assessment and Reporting. Identify and address threatening or concerning behaviors before they lead to violence. Identifying, reporting, and addressing concerning student behaviors and other suspicious activities can help stop violence before it occurs. One practice schools may consider is the use of well-trained and diverse ...

  8. What Do Schools Report to CPS? One State's Experience

    It is school officials that produce the most reports of abuse or neglect each year. In 2018, 20.5% of the 4.3 million maltreatment reports in the country came from school or day care workers, according to the annual "Child Maltreatment" report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

  9. The School Counselor and Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention

    The Rationale The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (2021) notes that most states recognize four major types of maltreatment: "neglect, physical abuse, psychological maltreatment and sexual abuse" (n.p.) and also points to medical neglect and sex trafficking as other forms of abuse identified by some states.

  10. How states are doing at supporting kids' mental health at school ...

    Two years of disrupted schooling and limited social contact have been tough on kids. A new report calls out states that do a good job supporting kids' mental health at school — and those that don't.

  11. Law Note: Social Workers and Child Abuse Reporting

    First, this note provides a brief history of the federal legislation that mandated child protective services and the reporting of suspected child abuse at the federal level then surveys state statutes and case law, providing an overview of the current state of mandatory reporting. Third, it identifies ethical considerations mandated reporters face.

  12. What Criteria Must Be Met?

    Child Abuse Hotline staff members must use the five criteria based on state law to assess each call. Hotline staff will ask you about the child, the child's family or persons legally responsible for the child and the circumstances in which you believe abuse or neglect took place. CPS needs this information in order to register a report.

  13. PDF How Do Laws and Policies for Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect Vary

    OPRE Report #2022-165 . 1 . How Do Laws and Policies for Reporting Child Abuse ... school bus drivers or other transportation staff (19%), mental health or social services professionals (15%), medical or dental professionals (13%), before- or after-school program staff (13%), and police or law enforcement (12%). ...

  14. How to Report Child Abuse and Neglect

    The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Provides information about how to report online sexual exploitation of a child or if you suspect that a child has been inappropriately contacted online.

  15. PDF Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental

    This report is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral, and Mental

  16. Child Abuse Identification & Reporting Guidelines

    These guidelines are issued by the California Department of Education (CDE), in conjunction with the California Department of Social Services, to help all persons, particularly those persons who work in our children's schools, to be able to identify signs of suspected cases of child abuse and/or child neglect and to have the tools to know how to make a report to the proper authorities.

  17. What Happens When You Report Someone to Social Services?

    In this article, learn about what happens when it comes to reporting someone to social services, which includes the: report. investigation. outcome. your identity. your liability. The decision to report someone to social services is never taken lightly. Photo by Katie Gerrard from Unsplash.

  18. PDF School Safety and Reporting Resources

    Protecting America's Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence . This report studies 41 incidents of targeted school violence against K-12 schools from 2008-2017, providing an analysis of the motives, behaviors, and situational factors of the attackers, as well as the tactics, resolutions, and other operationally-

  19. Social Services

    Visit the official benefits website of the U.S. government to find out which benefits you may be eligible to receive. Programs and services such as TANF, Head Start, child care, and child support are designed to improve the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.

  20. Report Child Abuse

    If you are reporting suspected child abuse or neglect regarding children in another county please contact that county's child protective services agency. California County Emergency Response Child Abuse Reporting Telephone Numbers. Alameda County. (510)-259-1800. Alpine County.

  21. During Mental Health Awareness Month, U. S. Department of Education

    The Department has worked closely with federal, state, and local government agencies, as well as colleges and universities, to build K-12 school-based capacity to provide mental health services and work toward accomplishing the goal set out by the President to double the number of school counselors, social workers, and other school-based mental ...

  22. If a report's been made about you

    You can contact the NSPCC Helpline by calling 0808 800 5000, emailing [email protected] or completing our report abuse online form.. Due to an increase in demand across our service, our voice Helpline is currently available 10am-8pm Monday to Friday. You can still email [email protected] or complete our report abuse online form at any time for free.

  23. school reporting to social servies can I complain

    29/01/2012 at 2:53 pm. On your original question Emma, if you feel that this deputy head has reported you for a malicious reason, then yes, you are fully within your rights to complain, either to the head or ofsted, but I would wait until Monday until you know the full picture. 0. Anonymous. 29/01/2012 at 2:55 pm.

  24. TN Promise

    Apply. The TN Promise Application opens on August 1 and closes on November 1 each year. The application is accessed through the TSAC Student Portal. To create a Student Portal account, you will be asked to provide the following: Student's First Name and Last Name (as it appears on the Social Security Card)

  25. District Announces First Social and Emotional Learning Standards ...

    Connect With Us 1200 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002 Phone: (202) 442-5885 Fax: (202) 442-5026 TTY: 711

  26. Report child abuse

    Report child abuse. If you're worried that a child or young person is at risk or is being abused contact the children's social care team at their local council. You'll be asked for your ...

  27. Working Papers and Social Security Numbers

    If you have further questions please feel free to contact the Office of Student Support Services at 518-486-6090. Get the Latest Updates! Subscribe to receive news and updates from the New York State Education Department.

  28. Online MS in Social Work

    Columbia's Master of Science in Social Work is one of the oldest and most esteemed MSW programs in the world. Columbia students have unparalleled access to rigorous training, innovative teaching, and proven methods to transform lives and lead society forward. Our Online Campus option combines all the benefits of the MSW program within an ...

  29. For decades, states have taken foster children's federal benefits. That

    An estimated 40,000 to 80,000 children in foster care either receive or are eligible for Social Security benefits, typically because of the death of a parent or their own disability, according to ...

  30. Social Security Administration: Electronic Records Express

    Electronic Records Express is an initiative by Social Security and state Disability Determination Services (DDS) to offer electronic options for submitting health and school records related to disability claims. When you receive a request for health or school records or other information about a person who has applied for Social Security ...