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Child Protective Services and Definitions of Abuse and Neglect


When there are suspicions of child abuse in the home, Child Protective Services (CPS) will likely become involved and order a family assessment. Learn what elements constitute abuse and neglect, and what role CPS plays.

Abuse and Neglect Defined

The Code of Virginia Section 63.2-100 defines child abuse as a case where there is a child under 18 years of age whose parent, guardian, or other responsible person for the child’s care harms, threatens, or otherwise takes action that may hurt the child. A full list of actions are included under the statute.

Healthcare providers also have a separate duty under Virginia law to contact CPS regarding newborns who are affected by substance abuse or may be experiencing symptoms of withdrawal due to exposure to drugs or alcohol during the pregnancy.

Right of Child Protective Services to Get Involved

Child Protective Services (CPS) is covered under the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and has the same requirements under the Code of Virginia to report any potential cases of child neglect or abuse.

The Code of Virginia, Section 63.2-1518, allows a CPS worker to speak with a child and his or her siblings without parental consent or without the parent or caretaker being present. They may ask about taking photos of the child’s living conditions with parental consent, or by order of the local Commonwealth Attorney’s Office.

Child Protective Services Reporting

Anyone can make a report to CPS when they suspect a child is being neglected or abused. Certain professions who interact with children are mandated by Virginia law to report any suspicious cases. Reports can be made anonymously and the name will not be released under confidentiality laws, except if a court order requires it during court testimony.

Signs that may prompt someone to call CPS include scenarios like a child with questionable injuries, a young child who is left alone, a child who appears hungry or malnourished, a child with medical needs that aren’t attended to, or a child who has a sexually transmitted disease or shows other signs of abuse.

Reach Out to Our Leesburg Child Abuse Attorneys for Help with Your Case

If you or your partner are suspected of child abuse or neglect, and you’ve had Virginia CPS visit you, contact the Leesburg child abuse attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy, PC for a confidential consultation. We are eager to assist you throughout each step of your case.

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