Child Protective Services

Virginia law, Chapter 12.1, Section 63.1-248 requires social services departments to investigate all suspected reports of abuse and neglect. Protective Services is a specialized continuum of casework services to abused, neglected or exploited children and families. The focus of the service is identification, assessment and service provision in an effort to protect children, preserve families and prevent further maltreatment. Child Protective Services is non-punitive in its approach and is directed toward enabling families to provide adequate care and nurturing for their children. If this is not possible, then alternative plans for protection may be necessary.

Mandated Reporters

Certain individuals are mandated reporters if they learn of abuse or neglect in their professional capacity. Mandated reporters include:

  • Any mediator eligible to receive court referrals
  • Any person associated with or employed by any private organization responsible for the care, custody or control of children
  • Child care providers
  • Doctors
  • Hospital residents or interns
  • Institutional staff
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Mental health professionals
  • Nurses
  • Probation officers
  • Social workers
  • Teachers in public and private schools

Submit a Report

Anyone who suspects that children are being abused or neglected may call anonymously to the local Department of Social Services or to the State Hotline 800-552-7096 which receives calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. After the call is received a worker will evaluate the information and determine validity of the complaint. In order for the complaint to be valid the following criteria must be met:


If accepted for investigation the worker has 45 to 60 days to complete the investigation and arrive at a finding. In order for the complaint to be Founded a worker must have clear and convincing evidence that abuse and neglect has occurred. If this evidence cannot be established the complaint is classified as Unfounded. An assessment of needs is completed and, if indicated, services are provided to the child and family.

Child Protective Services (CPS) Intervention Services

Services may include social casework, referrals for indicated services, legal proceedings and other activities to support families. Families who are eligible for these services are those involved in a founded case of child abuse and/or neglect, or where there is moderate to high risk of abuse and/or neglect and the parent(s) or guardian(s) sign an application requesting such services, or where a child or family is before the court and the court orders such services through this department.

Child Fatality Prevention Infographics

Categories: Family Services

The purpose of this broadcast is to announce that the Division of Family Services has created two infographics for distribution across communities in Virginia related to water safety and gun safety.  The prevention of child maltreatment deaths is essential to ensuring the well-being, safety and permanency of Virginia’s children and remains a top priority for the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS). 

Since 2018, the number of child fatalities involving firearms has continued to increase with school-aged children and adolescents at greatest risk.  Based on the review of child deaths in State Fiscal Year 2020, Virginia’s five regional Child Fatality Review Teams recommended increased public awareness related to gun safety in an effort to prevent these gun-related child maltreatment deaths and near-fatalities. 

VDSS continues to see high numbers of accidental drownings and water-related child deaths during the spring and summer months.  In State Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021, there were 13 water-related child fatalities.

Both the Water Safety Infographic and the Gun Safety Infographic can be found on Fusion. The infographics are also available to the public and can be accessed under Related Links on the public website. Local agency staff are strongly encouraged to use these infographics in their local offices and to share them with community partners.