Last Updated: November 2023
Safety Threats
1. The SCP caused physical harm to the child or made a plausible threat to cause physical harm in the current investigation, as indicated by any of the following.
  • Injury or abuse to the child other than accidental.
  • The SCP fears they will maltreat the child and/or requests the child’s removal.
  • Threat to cause harm or retaliate against the child. Threat of action that could result in harm; or plans to retaliate against the child for CPS investigation.
  • Domestic violence likely to injure child. There have been incidents of household violence that created a danger of physical injury to the child AND there is reason to believe that this may occur again (e.g., domestic violence perpetrator and victim are still involved in a relationship; a pattern of household violence continues to exist). For example:
    • The child was in the arms of one person during a violent episode.
    • A gun, knife, or other implement was involved.
    • The child attempted to intervene or was near enough to violent altercation that he or she was in harm’s way.
  • Excessive discipline or physical force. The SCP used physical methods to discipline a child that resulted or could easily result in injury; OR the SCP injured or nearly injured a child by using physical force for reasons other than discipline; OR used corporal punishment; or the SCP has acted in a way that bears no resemblance to reasonable discipline.
2. Child sexual abuse is suspected and circumstances suggest that the child's safety may be of immediate concern.
Suspicion of sexual abuse may be based on indicators such as the following:
  • The child discloses sexual abuse either verbally or behaviorally by an SCP or others in the household (e.g., age-inappropriate, sexualized behavior toward self or others).
  • Medical findings consistent with molestation.
  • The SCP or others in household have been convicted, investigated, or accused of sexual misconduct with the child.
  • Indications of poorly defined or questionable sexual boundaries between household members; and/or the SCP engages in or permits other household members to engage in behaviors that infringe upon appropriate sexual boundaries. Based on age, gender, and developmental status of household members, examples of inappropriate and/or poorly defined sexual boundaries may include such things as non-gender-specific sleeping arrangements or showering/bathing practices, exposure to nudity or sexually explicit materials, etc.
  • Access to the child by possible or confirmed sexual abuse perpetrator exists.
3. The SCP does not meet the child's needs for supervision, food, clothing, and/or medical or mental health care.
  • Nutritional needs of the child are not met, resulting in danger to the child's health and/or safety; the child appears malnourished; or there is insufficient food in the home.
  • The child is without warm clothing in cold weather.
  • The SCP does not seek treatment for the child's medical/dental/vision condition(s) or does not follow prescribed treatment for such conditions. (For example, not providing insulin for a child with diabetes, not providing follow-up care for a wound that is infected, not providing care for a broken bone, or overmedicating a child with prescribed or unprescribed medication.)
  • The child has special needs, such as being medically fragile, which the SCP does not or cannot meet.
  • The child has serious emotional symptoms, lack of behavioral control, or psychosomatic symptoms (e.g., sleep/appetite disturbance) and the SCP will not/cannot seek or provide appropriate interventions.
  • The SCP does not attend to the child to the extent that the child's need for care goes unnoticed or unmet (e.g., the SCP is present but the child can wander outdoors alone, play with dangerous objects, play on unprotected window ledge, or be exposed to other serious hazards).
  • The SCP leaves the child alone (time period varies with age and developmental stage).
  • The SCP is unavailable (e.g., incarceration, hospitalization, abandonment, whereabouts unknown) or incapacitated (e.g., injured, ill).
  • The SCP makes inadequate and/or inappropriate babysitting or child care arrangements or demonstrates very poor planning for the child's care.
4. The physical living conditions are hazardous and immediately threatening to the health and/or safety of the child.
Based on the child's age and developmental status, the child's physical living conditions are hazardous and immediately threatening, including but not limited to the following:
  • Leaking gas from stove or heating unit.
  • Substances or objects accessible to the child that may endanger the health and/or safety of the child.
  • Lack of water or utilities (heat, plumbing, electricity) and no alternate or safe provisions have been made.
  • Open/broken/missing windows.
  • Exposed electrical wires.
  • Excessive garbage or rotted or spoiled food that threatens health.
  • Serious illness or significant injury has occurred due to living conditions and these conditions still exist (e.g., lead poisoning, rat bites).
  • Evidence of human or animal waste throughout living quarters.
  • Guns and other weapons are not locked.
  • Unrestricted access to pool or other body of water.
  • Blocked exits or unmarked exit routes.
  • Missing or non-functioning smoke detectors.
  • Ungated stairways.
  • Unsafe sleeping arrangements.
5. The SCP routinely describes the child in negative terms or acts towards the child in negative ways.
  • The SCP describes the child in a demeaning or degrading manner (e.g., as evil, stupid, ugly).
  • The SCP routinely curses and/or repeatedly puts the child down.
  • The SCP scapegoats a particular child in the household.
  • The SCP blames the child for a particular incident or household problems.
  • The SCP treats the child in markedly different ways that may stigmatize the child.
  • The SCP interferes with the child's identity, reunification, or adoption (e.g., interferes with visitation or communication with birth parent, makes negative comments about the child's birth/adoptive family).
  • The SCP undermines the validity and value of, or participation in, cultural support activities that are important to the child's cultural identity.
6. The SCP fails to protect the child from harm or threatened harm by others. This may include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or emotional abuse.
The SCP fails to protect the child from harm or threatened harm as a result of physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse by other family members, other household members, or others having regular access to the child.
  • The SCP does not provide the supervision necessary to protect the child from potential harm by others, based on the child's age or developmental stage.
  • An individual(s) with known violent criminal behavior/history resides in the household, or is allowed by the SCP to have access to the child.
  • The SCP regularly takes the child to dangerous locations where drugs are manufactured or regularly administered (e.g., meth labs or drug houses, or locations used for prostitution or pornography).
7. The SCP's explanation for an injury to the child is questionable or inconsistent with the type of injury.
Factors to consider include the age of the child, location of the injury, exceptional needs of the child, or chronicity of injuries.
  • Medical evaluation indicates injury is consistent with abuse; the SCP denies, or attributes injury to accidental causes.

  • There was a suspicious injury that did not require medical treatment but was located on an infant, or for older children, on the torso, face, or head; covered multiple parts of the body; appeared to be caused by an object; or is in different stages of healing.

    AND one of the following is true:
  • The SCP's explanation, or lack of explanation, for the observed injury is inconsistent with the type of injury.

  • The SCP denies abuse or attributes injury to accidental causes;

  • The SCP's description of the injury or its cause minimizes the extent of harm to the child.
8. The SCP hinders/refuses access to the child.
  • The SCP currently refuses or hinders access to the child and there has been a complaint of abuse and/or neglect.
  • The SCP keeps the child at home, away from peers, school, and other outsiders for extended periods of time, for purposes of avoiding investigation.
  • The SCP intentionally coaches or coerces the child, or allows others to coach or coerce the child, in an effort to hinder the investigation.
9. Current circumstances, combined with prior referrals of abuse/neglect and/or incident reports, suggest that the child's safety may be of immediate concern.
There must be both current concerns AND related previous referrals/incidents that represent an emerging or unresolved pattern. Previous incidents may include any of the following:
  • Prior incident reports, including any licensing complaints or citations.
  • Prior referrals for abuse/neglect to the child.
  • Evidence of prior unreported injuries or incidents.
10. Other (specify):
Circumstances or conditions that pose an immediate threat of serious harm to a child, which are not already described in safety threats 1-9.
Caregiver Complicating Behaviors
Substance Abuse
The SCP has abused legal or illegal substances or alcoholic beverages in this incident to the extent that control of their actions or caregiving abilities is significantly impaired, or information is available that past abuse of legal or illegal substances has impaired the SCP’s caregiving capabilities in the past.
Domestic Violence
There are indications of a recent history of one or more physical assaults between intimate members of the household, or threats/intimidation or harassment that are known as a result of self-report or other credible report by a family or other household member, friend, other collateral contacts, and/or police reports.
Mental Health
The SCP appears to be mentally ill at the time of this incident or has a known history of mental health issues that have or could have impacted care of children. The SCP may have a past diagnosis, hospitalization(s), or referrals for observation that are known as a result of self-report or other credible report by a family or other household member, friend, other collateral contacts, and/or police reports.
Developmental/Cognitive Impairment
The SCP may have diminished capacity as a result of developmental delays or cognitive issues that may impact their ability to provide care and supervision of children.
Physical Condition
The SCP has a physical condition that impacts care and protection of the child in the household.
Other caregiver complicating behaviors that make it more difficult or complicated to create safety for a child that must be considered when assessing for and planning to mitigate safety threats with a safety plan.
In-Home Protective Interventions

Safety interventions are actions taken to specifically mitigate any identified safety threats. They should address immediate safety considerations rather than long-term changes. Follow county policies whenever applying any of the safety interventions.

1. Intervention or direct services by worker.
Actions taken or planned by the investigating worker or other CPS staff that specifically address one or more safety threats. Examples include providing information about nonviolent disciplinary methods, the child's development needs, or parenting practices; providing emergency material aid such as food; planning return visits to the home to check on progress; providing information on obtaining restraining orders; and providing definitions of child abuse laws and informing involved parties of consequences of violating these laws. DOES NOT INCLUDE the investigation itself, or services provided to respond to family needs that do not directly affect safety.
2. Use of family, neighbors, or other individuals in the community as safety resources.
Applying the family's own strengths as resources to mitigate safety concerns; using extended family members, neighbors, or other individuals to mitigate safety concerns; agreement by a neighbor or relative to serve as a safety net for the child.
3. Use of community agencies or services as safety resources.
Involving community-based organizations, faith-related organizations, or other agencies in activities to address safety concerns. DOES NOT INCLUDE long term therapy or treatment or being put on a waiting list for services.
4. Have the SCP appropriately protect the victim from the alleged perpetrator.
The SCP has acknowledged the safety concerns and is able and willing to protect the child from the alleged perpetrator.
5. Have the alleged perpetrator leave the household, either voluntarily or in response to legal action.
Removal of the alleged perpetrator. Examples include arrest of alleged perpetrator, “kicking out” alleged perpetrator who has no legal right to residence, or perpetrator agrees to leave.
6. Other (specify).
The family or worker identifies a unique intervention for an identified safety concern that does not fit within items 1-5.
7. Removal from current placement is necessary because interventions 1-6 do not adequately ensure the child's safety.
One or more children will be removed from the current placement to an alternative placement resource.