Calling the Child Abuse Hotline
It is important for every person to take child abuse and neglect seriously, to be able to recognize when it happens, and to know what to do next. Care enough to call the state's Child Abuse Hotline:
1-800-25-ABUSE OR 1-800-358-5117(TDD)
What are child abuse and neglect?
Neglect happens when a parent or responsible caretaker fails to provide adequate supervision, food, clothing, shelter or other basics for a child.
When should I call the Hotline?
If you see someone hitting a child with an object.
If you see marks in a child's body that do not appear to have been caused by an accident.
If a child tells you that he or she has been harmed by someone.
If a child appears to be undernourished, is dressed inappropriately for the weather, or is young and has been left alone.
These are a few situations when you should call the Hotline. Use your own judgement and call the Hotline whenever you think a child has been abused or neglected.
When should I not call the Hotline?
Situations where a child is causing a problem that concerns you, but the problem is not related to abuse or neglect. In some cases you may wish to call the police or talk to the child's parents or relatives.
Domestic situations where family stress is evident, but the child has not been abused or at risk of abuse. Community service agencies are often available to help.
If you're seeking information about DCFS or its programs, the DCFS Office of Communications is available to answer questions at (217) 785-1700, or you may call your local DCFS office.
What should I report?
The child's name, address and age.
The nature or the suspected abuse or neglect, including when and where it occurred.
The names of suspected perpetrators and their relationship to the child (parent, teacher, etc.).
Any other information you think may help.
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What happens when I call the Hotline?
If a formal report is taken, a child protection investigator will begin the investigation within 24 hoursmuch sooner if the child is considered in immediate risk of harm.
How am I protected?
Should I call the police?
How else can I help?
DCFS also offers a wide variety of volunteer programs for people wanting to serve their communities. Call your local DCFS office for details, or write to the Office of Volunteer Services, 406 East Monroe, Springfield, Illinois 62701.
Who are mandated reporters?
Recreational program or facility personnel.
School and child care personnel.
Law enforcement personnel.
Others as designated in the abused and neglected child reporting act.
Mandated reporters making good faith reports have the same immunity from liability under the law as non-mandated reporters. However, a mandated reporter's failure to report suspected instances of child abuse or neglect to DCFS constitutes a Class A misdemeanor; simply reporting suspicions to a superior does not satisfy legal requirements.
How should mandated reporters make reports?
**Any person who knowingly transmits a false report to the Department commits the offense of disorderly conduct under subsection (a)(7) of Section 26-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961. A violation of this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a term of imprisonment for up to one year, or by a fine not to exceed $1,000, or by both such term and fine. A second or subsequent violation is a Class 4 felony.
Source: Care Enough to Call. 1994. Illinois Department of Children and Fondly Services.
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Sam S. Manivong, Illinois Periodicals Online Coordinator