Sadly, child abuse is something that continues to occur in records numbers across the United States. Of almost equal concern are the incidences of people accused of abusing a child who are, in fact, not guilty. If you have been made aware that someone reported you for suspected abuse, you will need to know who investigates reports of child abuse in Tennessee.
There was a time in the United States, not all that long ago, when child abuse was a subject matter that was largely ignored. Unless the abuse was extreme, law enforcement typically refused to get involved, preferring to consider it a “private family issue”. Today, however, even the mere hint of abuse of a child is investigated. Unfortunately, the pendulum has now swung so far in the other direction that complaints are often made against people for the wrong reasons, leading to unfounded accusations and arrests in some cases.
In the State of Tennessee, the Department of Children’s Services, Office of Child Safety handles initial reports of child abuse via a Child Abuse Hotline or an online reporting option. Once a referral is made, the Child Protective Services division follows up on the report if the report warrants an investigation. The case managers are responsible for all aspects of a child abuse allegation, including:
- Investigating referrals of child abuse or neglect
- Identifying the risks that contributed to the abuse or neglect
- Delivering appropriate services to reduce risks
- Evaluating the success of the intervention
- Continuing services, if necessary
- Closing the case or reuniting the child/children and family
If the allegations of abuse are substantiated during the investigation a child could be removed from the home and criminal charges could be filed against the alleged abuser.
If you are contacted by the Department of Children’s Services, or DCS, regarding a complaint of child abuse you should take the contact very seriously. Typically, once DCS becomes involved it often takes a long time to get them out of your life. Moreover, while most Child Protective workers try to remain unbiased and conduct an objective investigation, some seem to find abuse even when it does not exist.
If you find yourself to be the subject of a complaint and/or investigation it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Tennessee family law attorney right away to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the investigation process. Contact the experienced Tennessee family law attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.