Dept. of Child Safety / Child-Related issues

Frequent Referrals

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I believe a child is physically abused or neglected?

If the child is in immediate life threatening danger, call 9-1-1. Otherwise, if you believe a child is being abused or neglected, you can make an anonymous report to the child abuse hotline by calling 1-888-767-2445.

Does DCS have to investigate all calls made to the Child Abuse Hotline?

DCS must investigate all calls made to the hotline that meet the criteria for an investigation.

What Happens to my hotline call if it does not meet criteria for an investigation?

When a hotline call does not meet the criteria for an investigation, the hotline staff should notify the reporter that they will not be taking the call as a report, but will be documenting the concern. Quality assurance staff should review the determination within 48 hours excluding weekends and state holidays.

If the call is regarding a child placed in DCS custody, the hotline should send the communication to the child’s case manager. If the placement is a licensed facility the hotline should also send the communication to the entity which has oversight over that license.

If the call involves alleged child abuse or neglect by a person other than a parent, guardian or custodian which was inflicted without the knowledge of the parent, guardian or custodian, the hotline should encourage the caller to contact law enforcement. The hotline should also follow-up with notification to law enforcement.

How long after my report will DCS start investigating my report?

Per A.C.C. § R6-5-5505, when you call the child abuse hotline the staff will determine what risk level is associated with your report. The highest risk level should be responded to within two hours, 24 hours if there are mitigating circumstances. The lowest risk level should be responded to within seven days.The hotline will then send the report to a local DCS office to be assigned to investigative staff.

All response times are measured from the time that the DCS local office receives the report from the Child Abuse Hotline to the time action is taken to determine the current safety of the alleged victim.

Can a parent or subject of a hotline report obtain a copy of the report made against them?

Yes. A parent or subject of a hotline report can request a copy of the report made against them by sending in a DCS Record Request. DCS will have to remove any confidential information from the report, such as the reporter’s name.

What can someone do if false reports are made about them to DCS?

Please read A.R.S. § 8-807 (M). A person who is the subject of an unfounded report or complaint may petition a judge of the superior court to order the department to release the DCS information. The petition shall specifically set forth reasons supporting the person’s belief that the report or complaint was made in bad faith or with malicious intent. The court shall review the DCS information in camera and the person filing the petition shall be allowed to present evidence in support of the petition. If the court determines that there is a reasonable question of fact as to whether the report or complaint was made in bad faith or with malicious intent and that disclosure of the identity of the person making the report or complaint would not be likely to endanger the life or safety of the person making the report or complaint, it shall provide a copy of the DCS information to the person filing the petition and the original DCS information is subject to discovery in a subsequent civil action regarding the making of the report or complaint.

Can DCS interview a child without a parent’s permission?

Please see ARS §§ 8-802(B)(2) and 8-471(E)(3).

A.R.S. §§ 8-802(B) and 8-471(E)(3) stipulate that a DCS worker shall not interview a child without the prior written consent of the parent, guardian or custodian of the child unless either:
1. The child initiates contact with the worker.
2. The child who is interviewed is the subject of or is the sibling of or living with the child who is the subject of an abuse or abandonment investigation pursuant to section 8-456.

We note that the second exception does not list neglect investigations; therefore, DCS must get parental consent before interviewing a child in the course of a neglect investigation unless the child initiates the contact with the worker.

In abuse or abandonment cases, DCS should notify the parent of the interview afterwards. If DCS cannot contact the parent in those cases, they should leave a copy of ‘A Guide to the Department of Child Safety’ at the home along with the investigator’s name, address and phone number.

See Department of Child Safety Report #1404174 for more on this topic.

 

Can DCS take custody of my child without telling me?

In emergency situations, DCS can take custody of a child without notifying the parent beforehand. If they do, DCS must attempt to contact the parent, guardian or custodian immediately either in person or by phone. As long as the parent is within Arizona, they must also attempt to provide the parent/guardian/custodian a ‘Temporary Custody Notice’ and a ‘Guide to the Department of Child Safety’ booklet.

If you are an alleged father or non-custodial parent DCS must attempt to send you a copy of the Temporary Custody Notice.

What can I do if I disagree with DCS taking custody of my child?

Often times, DCS will hold a team decision making meeting (TDM) to discuss the safety concerns and what the possible plans are to resolve those concerns. You can discuss what options there are for the possible return of the child at this meeting. If this does not help, you can speak with your attorney about your disagreement. Your attorney should be able to recommend how to proceed with the court process.

How much time is allowed for DCS to file a dependency petition?

DCS can keep your child in temporary custody for 3 business days. Business days do not include weekends or holidays. Before the end of those 3 business days, DCS must decide if they will file paperwork with the juvenile court requesting a judge to grant a dependency. If they file the paperwork, then they can keep the child until court further decides if the child is dependent on the state or not. If DCS does not file the paperwork, they must return the child back to the person with legal custody of the child.

What happens after the dependency petition is filed by DCS?

We highly recommend you read about this subject on the Maricopa County Office of the Public Advocate website.

What happens if a parent denies the allegations made by DCS?

A contested dependency hearing is completed within 90 days of serving the dependency petition.

 Is there a record of all reports made to DCS?

Yes; however, only substantiated reports are kept in the Central Registry.

 Can a report made to DCS be used later to determine foster parenting or adoption eligibility?

Only reports logged in the Central Registry can be used to evaluate fostering and adoption applications.