Protective Services

Child Abuse & Neglect

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect Concerns

If you know that a child has been abused or neglected, or if you suspect that this is the case, you should report your concerns to the Department of Human Services. If you are unsure whether to report or not, call and discuss the situation with a social worker. Children require the eyes and ears of the whole community to stay safe. Please don't hesitate to call.

  • Between 7:45 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday - Friday: 608-261-KIDS.
  • After hours and on weekends: 608-255-6067.
Am I a mandated reporter?

Persons in some professions are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect as well as those situations in which they have reason to believe that a child has been threatened with abuse or neglect or that abuse or neglect will occur. These people are called mandated reporters, and each state must list who falls into this category. Persons required to report and who intentionally fail to report may be fined and/or imprisoned. Some of those persons are listed here (according to Wisconsin statutes).

  • Acupuncturists
  • Alcohol and drug abuse counselors
  • All medical and mental health professionals
  • Audiologists
  • Child care workers in any day care center or child caring institution
  • Chiropractors
  • Clergy (sexual abuse only)
  • Coroners
  • Day care providers
  • Dentists
  • Dieticians
  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Marriage and family therapists
  • Mediators under section 767.405
  • Medical examiners
  • Nurses
  • Optometrists
  • Paramedics
  • Physical therapists
  • Physicians
  • Police and law enforcement officers
  • Professional counselors
  • School administrators, teachers, counselors
  • Social or public assistance workers
  • Speech therapists
  • Treatment staff employed by or working under contract with a community board
What if I'm not sure I should report?

Please report! Human Services staff will make follow-up decisions. We can not protect children unless they are brought to our attention.

Will the family know that I reported?

State law protects reporter confidentiality. We will not disclose your name to the individuals whom you report. In rare cases reporter information is revealed in the context of court proceedings. You should not be afraid of reprisals if you report.

What will happen when I report child protection concerns?

Child protection reports are taken by phone by a social worker and entered into our Case Management System. The worker will ask detailed questions about your concerns including the identity and whereabouts of the family. Please be prepared with birth dates and spelling of names if you have them. The more specific you are about the concerns, the more effective our intervention. This process may take up to 20 minutes, so please have the time available when you make your call. If we need to call you back, please leave a number you can be reached at and some times you will be available.

After the report is received it is screened by a supervisor. The supervisor decides whether the report warrants an assessment by a worker. Reports that are “screened out” are saved and considered if subsequent reports are received.

Families open for assessment are interviewed by a social worker. If there are safety concerns for the child/ren, the worker, together with the caregivers, will come up with a safety plan for the child. Safety plans can include in-home services, the support of family members or out of home placement for the child if no other plan is possible.

Will the child be removed from their family?

All efforts are made to maintain children in their family home. If removal is necessary, relatives and family friends are considered prior to using foster care. Placements are not common and if they occur they are often short-term until an in-home safety plan can be put into place.

Will I learn what happened?

The Social Worker will write you if you are a mandated reporter. Mandated reporters are teachers, doctors, and other professional who are required by law to report suspected maltreatment. The letter will provide basic information about the intervention only, however, as state law provides for family confidentiality. The Social Worker will not write you if you are a non-mandated reporter as state law prohibits this breach of family confidentiality.

02/17/2011