Advocate News


10.01.2017

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Advocacy Tip: Abuse and Neglect Outcries

What if your CASA child makes an outcry of abuse?

As the relationship between a CASA Advocate and a CASA child develops, they may begin to tell their advocate stories of things that have happened to them. As the CASA Advocate you quickly realize what they have told you is some form of abuse or neglect and the question becomes “What do I do now?”. While hearing these outcries from your CASA child can be emotional, as a CASA advocate and mandated reporter, the most important thing for you to do is report it.

The First Step

Sometimes what your CASA child tells you is as simple as “they hit me”. While it may seem that the first step would be to gather more information from the child, do not ask the child for more details than they have already provided you. While this may seem counterintuitive, unless the child continues telling you the story, you do not want to risk asking too many questions and “tainting” any subsequent investigation. Instead, listen calmly to what your CASA child is saying, give comforting feedback so they know they’ve done nothing wrong, and change the subject or redirect them to another activity.

The Next Step

If the outcry of abuse concerns a past experience, call your CPS caseworker and CASA Supervisor as soon as your visit is over. Advocates should also be prepared to call the CPS Hotline to make a report after speaking with the caseworker and their CASA Supervisor. While it may seem pointless to call the CPS Hotline for abuse that may have already been investigated, sometimes there is new information that was not previously investigated or told to the CPS investigator. Regardless of whether or not the outcry has already been investigated, the information learned from the child’s outcry needs to be given to CPS.

If the abuse concerns the child’s current placement, call your CPS caseworker immediately. If you are not able to reach your CPS caseworker right away, you’re your CASA Supervisor and explain the situation. Your CASA Supervisor can contact the CPS Supervisor and notify them of the situation. Advocates should also call the CPS Hotline to make a report, even if they are able to contact the caseworker.

Additional Information

Outcries of abuse or neglect made by your CASA child should be reported to the CPS Hotline within 24 hours. This helps insure that the information is fresh in your mind and that you will not forget any details of the child’s outcry. The CPS Hotline phone number is 1-800-252-5400 and is located on the back of your CASA ID. When calling the hotline, you may have to wait a period of time before speaking to an intake worker, remember to be patient. When you have completed the report, you will be given a report number, please write this down and give it to your supervisor for safe keeping. All reports made to the CPS Hotline are confidential and your identity cannot be revealed to anyone beyond the CPS Investigator, who will call you to get more information. If you ever have a concern about abuse or neglect of your CASA child, you should always report it. It is better to be safe, than sorry.

Questions:

  1. How long after a child makes an outcry of abuse should a report be made to the CPS Hotline? Why?
  2. True or False. Outcries of abuse or neglect should only be reported to the Hotline if they are against the child’s current caregiver.
  3. What information should you provide to your CASA Supervisor when a child makes an outcry of abuse?

To receive 1 hour worth of training credit, read the above article and submit answers to the accompanying training questions to Leticia Hernandez at lhernandez@casa-satx.org.

Advocacy Tip: Abuse and Neglect Outcries