New York: Child Abuse and Maltreatment/Neglect for Mandated Reporters (348)Page 4 of 16

3. Child Protective Services

Each state has mandatory reporting laws that require certain professionals and institutions to report suspected child maltreatment to a child protective services (CPS) agency. These mandated reporters and are in a unique position to recognize and report abuse and neglect.

The New York State Child Protective Services Act of 1973 encourages reporting of child abuse and maltreatment, provides for the swift and competent investigation of such reports, protects children from further abuse and maltreatment, and provides rehabilitative services [SSL §411] (NYSOCFS, 2023 October).

CPS has five fundamental components:

  1. State Central Register (SCR) of reports.
  2. Third-party recognition of children in danger, including mandatory and voluntary reporting of suspected child abuse and maltreatment.
  3. Child Protective Services to:
    1. verify reports,
    2. provide immediate protection of children, and
    3. provide rehabilitative and ameliorative services to help families.
  4. Emergency protective custody of children in “imminent danger”.
  5. When necessary, family court action to remove a child, remove the allegedly abusive or neglectful parent from the child’s residence, impose treatment and/or criminal court action (by referring the perpetrator to law enforcement for prosecution).

Today, the laws that guide New York CPS services are Article 6, Title 6 of the Social Services Law.

3.1 When You Make the Call

When you make a call, it will be answered by a CPS specialist trained to help you through the process of making a report. Be prepared to articulate your concerns clearly and concisely, and to provide as much information as you can to help the CPS specialist make a determination of abuse.

3.2 The LDSS-2221A Form

The LDSS-2221A form will help you organize your thoughts and gather the information you need in preparation for making the call. Although the child’s welfare is the top priority rather than completing the form, a CPS specialist will help you complete the form and ask you many of the same questions that appear on the form (NYSOCFS, 2023).

While gathering information to make a report, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the role of the parent (or the person legally responsible)?
  • What information can I provide to show who is responsible?
  • Is this situation part of an ongoing pattern?
  • Where is the child now?
  • What do I know about the child’s siblings?
  • Does the child have any special needs? If so, what are they?
  • Is an interpreter needed?
  • Is the child on any medications?
  • Are there any other related issues that could be helpful for a local caseworker to know?
  • Are there personal safety issues for a local CPS case worker (ie, dogs, guns in the home, etc.)?
  • When and how can I best be reached, including after hours?

The CPS specialist will want to know your suspicions and concerns relative to the child and if the child has been subjected to harm and why. Close and consistent contact with a child may give you an advantage in assessing the situation. In addition, you will need to provide some identifying information so the local CPS agency will be able to locate the child (SSL §415; NYSOCFS, 2023).

Did You Know. . .

When registering a report, you may ask to be contacted directly by the local CPS agency that is assigned to the report.

Just because you are calling as a mandated reporter does not mean your report will automatically be registered. If your report is not registered, the reason should be clearly explained to you, and you should be offered the opportunity to speak with a supervisor. Some reports are not registered because CPS intervention is not the appropriate response. In those cases, preventive services may be needed, and you can call the local CPS directly to obtain a referral for the family.

If your report is registered, be sure to ask for and write down the call identification number assigned to your report and the full name of the CPS specialist who took your report. You can also request a “Summary of Findings”: a brief report made by the local agency after the investigation and its outcome are complete (NYSOCFS, 2023).

3.3 CPS Response

When a report is registered, it is immediately transmitted to the local CPS agency, which must begin an investigation within 24 hours. Some reports may require emergency action, but these are often difficult decisions, and the local caseworker will usually consult with a supervisor and the source of the report in order to make such a decision (NYSOCFS, 2023).

The investigation will encompass two interrelated and simultaneous processes (NYSOCFS, 2023):

  • Investigation to determine if there is some credible evidence of abuse or maltreatment.
  • Development of a service plan.

During its investigation, caseworkers, in addition to visiting the family, may call or visit relatives, schools, doctors, hospitals, police, and any other service provider or agency that might have information about the child. The local CPS must assess the safety, risk, and well-being of the child identified in the report and any other children living in the home. After evaluating all information collected, caseworkers will make a determination (NYSOCFS, 2023).

If a report is determined to be unfounded—no credible evidence was found—it is sealed and will be expunged ten years after receipt. In some situations, unfounded cases may be referred for community services (NYSOCFS, 2023).

If the investigation reveals credible evidence—evidence “worthy of belief”—the report remains on file at the agency. If a service plan was developed, provision of the services is monitored, and once services are no longer needed, the case is closed (NYSOCFS, 2023).

3.4 Following Up the Call

If your report is registered you will be given a call identification number, which you will need to note in the space marked at the upper right corner of the form LDSS-2221A. Two copies of this form must be forwarded to the local CPS agency within 48 hours of your oral report. The LDSS-2221A form and contact information for local CPS agencies are available from the OCFS website at and from local social services departments (New York State Assembly, 2014).

As soon as you complete your call to the SCR you must immediately notify the person in charge (or their designated agent) at your institution, school, facility, or agency and give them the information you reported to the SCR, including the names of other persons identified as having direct knowledge of the alleged abuse or maltreatment and other mandated reporters identified as having reasonable cause to suspect. Once people in charge (or their agents) have been notified of the report to the SCR, they become responsible for all subsequent administration concerning the report, including preparation and submission of the form LDSS-2221A.


Crimes committed against children should be directly reported to law enforcement. If you are not certain if an action is criminal, you can contact someone at SCR who is trained to make the appropriate distinctions and can make a Law Enforcement Referral (LER). In cases of imminent danger, it may be necessary to contact law enforcement.