How to Make a Report

Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Hotlines

In Sacramento County:

Sacramento County Child Protective Services
916-875-KIDS
Child is in Imminent Danger (Life Threatening Emergency) Dial  9-1-1

Click here to find the number for the reporting agency in your county

How to Make a Report of Child Abuse in California

  • Immediately, or as soon as possible, call a Child Protective Services agency (Child Welfare/Child Protective Services if the abuse is occurring within the family or home or Law Enforcement if the suspected abuser is someone outside the family) to make a verbal report. If the child is in imminent danger, call 9-1-1. 
  • Inform the agency that you are a Mandated Reporter.
  • File a written report within 36 hours of your verbal report (on Form SS 8572.)

Child Abuse Report Form—Department of Justice Form SS8572

  • Mandated Reporters and/or their employers should keep blank copies of the form on file at all times.
  • If a blank form is not available when a report is made, the Mandated Reporter can request that the agency to whom the report is being made, send a blank form to them immediately.
  • Copies of the form are available online at https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/agweb/pdfs/childabuse/ss_8572.pdf? or from your local Child Protective Services Agency or by writing to:

California Department of Justice
Bureau of Criminal Identification and Information
P.O.Box 90317
Sacramento, CA 94203-4170

How to Complete the  Suspected Child Abuse Report Form

Filling out the form is very easy. Basic information such as your name and address are required. However, there are some other things you should include in your report, if known, that aren't specifically asked for on the form.

Be Prepared With...

  • Your name and your employer's name, address, and phone number
  • Name, date of birth or approximate age and sex of child
  • Present location of the child, if known
  • School or daycare information including dismissal times
  • Specific details on the nature and extent of the abuse, be as descriptive as possible - i.e., location of injury, size, color, pattern, shape, etc.
  • Where and when the incident(s) occurred
  • Risk of further abuse, or imminent danger
  • Who the child lives with
  • Name and address of the parent or caretaker
  • Name, date of birth or approximate age, address and phone number, and relationship to the child victim of the person you suspect is abusing/neglecting the child. Also include, if possible, the present location of this person and whether or not they currently have access to the child.
  • Names, ages and schools of other children in the home, not just the siblings
  • Family language and ethnicity
  • Knowledge of any previous CPS history or if other agencies are involved with the family
  • Any known previous counties of residence - CPS will call them
  • Make a note if photographs or x-rays were taken
  • Try to quote exactly what was said by the child or the person accompanying the child - use quotation marks and state who was speaking
  • Vulnerability of the child due to age or disability
  • If there is an unrelated adult in the home
  • If there are children under the age of five in the home
  • If drug use is suspected
  • If the child, parent/caretaker or others in the home, or suspect has a psychiatric history
  • If there is a history of violence (domestic, child or animal abuse, or other violent crime)
  • Service organizations the family has or is involved with
  • Any services the family may benefit from
  • What are the family strengths
  • Any other information requested.

Helpful Hints in Completing the Report Form

  • The form is a one page document with instructions for completing the form either on the back or on a separate page. Type the report, or write legibly, using blue or black ink.
  • If additional space is needed, you may continue your report on a blank sheet of paper and attach it. DO NOT continue your report on another blank form, as only one form should be used per victim. Be sure to make a note on the form itself that there is a "Page 2."
  • The agency that receives your report will distribute copies of the report to the appropriate agencies. You may wish to make a copy of your report and any attachments for your agency's records.
  • It is helpful and best practice to fill out the form before you make your call to CPS so you don't forget anything.
  • Ask the intake worker to whom you are making the verbal report for their name and title and the case number assigned to the report for follow-up purposes. Note it on the form. Also be sure to record the date and time of your verbal report.
  • Be certain to get the mailing address or fax number of the agency to whom you made your verbal report (either CPS or Law Enforcement) and mail or fax your written report to that address--Remember, your written report should go to the same agency to whom you made the verbal report (e.g., if you called Sacramento County Sheriff's Department to file the verbal report, send the written report to the Sheriff's Department, not CPS).
  • If you would prefer to submit your report on-line you will need an access code. Be certain to ask the person you speak with for the access code to submit on-line.

Internal Procedures

Reporting is the legal obligation of each individual Mandated Reporter and may not be delegated. However, internal procedures on who make the report can be established to facilitate reporting and apprising supervisors of the report, as long as the procedure is consistent with, and adheres to the mandates of the law. Internal procedures may be helpful in facilitating reporting when more than one Mandated Reporter observes the same child.

For example, three emergency room nurses may tend to the same injured child, or after consultation, a teacher and a resource specialist decide that a report should be made.

The internal procedure may:

  • Stipulate that the person with the most firsthand knowledge make the report, and/or
  • The report is made jointly with all parties signing the report, and/or,
  • If more appropriate, each party makes an individual report.
  • If the designated person fails to make a report, the other Mandated Reporter(s) must follow-up and report.

The internal procedure MAY NOT:

  • Stipulate that an administrator or supervisor approve the report before the Mandated Reporter may submit it to CPS or Law Enforcement or
  • Sanction a Mandated Reporter in any way (up to and including termination of employment) for filing a Suspected Child Abuse and/or Neglect Report without the authorization of an administrator, supervisor, or employer.

Making a report is not snitching, blaming, accusing or judging. It is calling on the professionals who have the training, authority and responsibility to investigate.

Once you have made the telephone call and filed a written report, your legal obligations as a Mandated Reporter for reporting this incident of suspected abuse and/or neglect are complete. Note that reporting to a supervisor is NOT a substitute for filing the verbal and written report.

What Happens After a Report is Made

Risk Assessment – Child Protective Services (CPS) will conduct a risk assessment which may be based on the following:

  • Frequency of maltreatment
  • Vulnerability of the child due to age or disability
  • When the event occurred
  • Multiple CPS reports, in and out of county
  • Unrelated adults in the home
  • Children under age five in the home
  • Allegation of drug use
  • Psychiatric history
  • Criminal history
  • History of violence in the home

Response Time—Sacramento County

If child is in imminent danger of serious abuse or re-abuse the report warrants an immediate response—within 24 hours (Note that Sacramento County CPS has a target time for their immediate responses of 2 hours).

Reports that meet the criteria for an in-person contact with the child and their parent/caretaker but do not warrant an immediate response are responded to within 10 days.

Other reports that do not meet the criteria for face-to-face contact (either immediate or 10 days) are entered as "Information Only/Evaluate Out" into the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), a statewide child protection database, and can be used for sources of information for future concerns about that child/family.

Report Dispositions

California Penal Code Section 11165.12

After investigations by a child protective agency are complete, reports will be placed in one of three categories:

  • "Unfounded Report" - determined to be false, inherently improbable, involve accidental injury, or not constitute child abuse as defined in the law.
  • "Substantiated Report" - the report is based on credible evidence and constitutes child abuse or neglect.
  • "Inconclusive Report" - the findings are inconclusive and there is insufficient evidence to determine whether child abuse and neglect has occurred.

You are entitled to know the disposition of your report. CPS will contact you in writing, or you may call to inquire about your report. Be aware that, depending on the status of the case and any pending investigations and/or court actions, it may be some time before a final disposition is available for your report, and the notice of disposition may be sent to your agency/employer rather than to your attention--ask your supervisor if any notification has been received.

Health Practitioners Penal Codes

Mandated Child Abuse Reporting Information

Suspected Child Abuse Report Form Instructions

Suspected Child Abuse Report Form

Sexual Abuse Penal Codes under CANRA

Educators Penal Codes

Employee Notification of Mandated Reporter Responsibilities & Penal Codes