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Child Protective Services (CPS) is the investigative division of the Department, and includes the Department’s hotline. This division ensures each child and youth is protected from harm through the timely investigation of reports of child abuse and neglect. CPS receives, screens and responds to reports of suspected child maltreatment.
CPS operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Investigators receive and screen reports of suspected abuse and neglect on the Department’s hotline (1-800-RI-CHILD) and conduct associated investigations, as needed.
All persons in Rhode Island are required by law (RIGL 40-11-3) to report known or suspected cases of child abuse and/or neglect to the Department within 24 hours of becoming aware of such abuse/neglect. Reports of abuse and neglect originate from several sources including the public, courts, hospitals, police departments, parents and relatives as well as other sources.
A “child” is any person under the age of eighteen (18).
An abused or neglected child is defined by Rhode Island law as meaning a child whose physical or mental health or well-being is harmed when their parent or another person responsible for them:
The Rhode Island law defining child abuse and neglect in the state of Rhode Island can be found by clicking on the following link: § 40-11-2: Abused and Neglected Children.
The DCYF will initiate a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation when a report meets a combination of the following criteria:
All Rhode Islanders are mandated reporters by law (RI Gen. Laws §§ 40-11-3; 40-11-6). This means any person who has reasonable cause to know or suspect any child has been abused or neglected (as defined by law), or is a victim of sexual abuse by another child, must report this information to the DCYF within twenty-four (24) hours.
All reporters’ information is required by law to be kept confidential. Anyone can also make an anonymous report.
However, any person who knowingly and willfully makes or causes to be made to the department a false report of child abuse or neglect shall be charged with a misdemeanor, and if convicted, shall be fined and/or imprisoned (§ 40-11-3.2).
DCYF has a single, statewide toll-free Hotline operates twenty-four (24) hours per day, seven (7) days per week.
This telephone line is dedicated to the receipt of reports concerning abuse and neglect. The number is 1-800-RI-CHILD (1-800-742-4453). All calls are recorded. You may call anonymously.
A DCYF Child Protective Investigator (CPI) will answer the phone.