Child abuse means a parent or a person responsible for a child seriously injures the child or places the child at risk for serious injury.

Child neglect means a parent or a person responsible for the child harms the child physically, mentally, or emotionally or places the child at risk of harm by failing to care for the child or by failing to supervise him properly, or by abandoning the child.

Report and investigation happens when someone reports neglect or abuse to Child Protective Services (CPS), a New York State agency. Child Protective Services will then investigate.

What happens in a child abuse and neglect case? (outside NYC)

  • CPS can begin a family court case by filing a neglect or abuse petition against the parent or person responsible for the child.  
  • CPS may want to take the child away from the parent to place him/her with relatives or foster parents.  
  • The judge decides if neglect or abuse allegations (accusations) are true. 
  • If the child remains with relatives or foster parents, the Court will confirm the goal of the case, services for the parent and child, and the visitation plan.
  • The Court can return the child to the parent's care anytime. 
  • If the child is in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, CPS must file a petition to terminate (end) the parent's rights. CPS is less likely to file that petition if the children are with relatives who are not foster parents. 
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Last Reviewed: December 29, 2023