During our foster care licensing courses (STARS classes) we were told we would be hotlined at some point. But what we weren’t told is:
How exactly the hotline process works.
1. Someone reports a concerning behavior via the Child Protection Hotline. The someone could be a teacher, neighbor, family member, foster parent (us), etc. The concerning behavior could be witnessing physical abuse, hearing something about someone harming a child, etc.
2. The Child Protection Hotline documents all information shared and starts the process of collecting more information to assess if there is cause for concern.
3. Depending on the severity and nature of the concern, a state social worker calls the foster parent within 24-72 hours to schedule a time to ask the child(ren) and if applicable the foster parent(s) open-ended questions about the concern. This visit also happens within 24-72 hours. (Urgency depends on the severity of the concern.)
4. Answers are documented and anyone named as someone involved in the concern is contacted to obtain information.
5. Once all information is collected, the children’s social worker is contacted and if there is no cause for concern the case is closed. If there is cause for concern a number of different next steps can happen. Some next steps include limiting contact with the person/people who caused the concern to taking the person/people who caused the concern to court to file charges.
How to handle being hotlined.
A social worker calls you up and says she and an officer are going to meet you at your house/at the kids’ school at the time you normally pick them up. What should you do?
- Remain calm.
- Have readily available the letter on state letterhead that says the children are placed with you.
- Tell the truth.
If you or anyone you know ever needs to report concerning behavior, the Child Protection Hotline is 1-800-392-3728.