When to Report

Kentucky law explicitly states that anyone who suspects or has reasonable cause to believe that a child is being abused, neglected, dependent, or may be the victim of human trafficking or female genital mutilation has a duty and legal obligation to make a report to DCBS.

✓ To report abuse or neglect in Kentucky, call (877) 597-2331.

✓ For reports outside the state of Kentucky, call (800) 422-4453.

Staff are available to answer calls 24/7; this does include weekends and holidays. When in doubt, individuals should make the call and discuss their concerns with intake staff. The agency’s centralized intake staff is trained to assess the information they are provided, ask follow up questions, and ensure the most appropriate screening decisions are made.

It is important to note that if a child appears to be in imminent danger or is in need of immediate protection, individuals should call 911 or the local police department immediately.

When you make a report, it is helpful to have the following information:

✓ The name of alleged victim, their address and information on any siblings

✓ The relationship of the victim to alleged perpetrator.

✓ A description of the abuse – use the child’s words whenever possible.

✓ Any additional information that would expedite the investigation.

Keep in mind that you do not have to have all of the above information to call. You may call back when you get more information.

How to Report Suspected Child Abuse

If you believe a child you know or care about may have been abused, you may have many thoughts, feelings, and concerns.

The Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center is here to provide assistance and support.

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse takes on many forms including physical, emotional, or sexual harm; neglect is also a form of abuse. Child abuse occurs when an adult or someone taking care of the child or teenager hurts them or fails to protect them from someone else harming them. This may also include failing to meet the child’s basic needs.

Individuals who hurt children are often people who the child knows, loves, and trusts – including family, friends, and individuals in authority such as teachers, clergy, and coaches.

If you or someone you care about is being abused, you should tell a trusted adult. When an adult is notified about a child being abused, that adult is legally required to make a report to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or local law enforcement.

If you do not have a trusted adult in your life you can call (877) 597-2331 to make a report of abuse. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

Parent and Caregivers

If you have concerns regarding a child being abused or hurt by another person, you can make a report to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) or your local law enforcement agency.

To report suspected abuse, call the Child Abuse Hotline at any time (877) 597-2331


Use the following link to be directed to the online Kentucky Child Protective Services Reporting System: https://prd.webapps.chfs.ky.gov/reportabuse/Home.aspx

Please note this site is only available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you believe a child is in immediate danger, please call local law enforcement or 911.

Immediate danger may include:

  • A threat of imminent harm or violence to a child
  • The perpetrator of abuse lives in the same home as the child
  • A child has an injury requiring immediate medical attention
  • A child is contemplating self-harm, suicide, or harming another person

If you need additional support, please contact the

Parent Help Line 1-800-CHILDREN

What if I am not sure that abuse has occurred?

You do not have to be certain that abuse or neglect has occurred. If you have a suspicion that a child may be in danger, it is always best to make a report and let professionals determine whether to investigate.

A person who reports suspected child abuse in good faith is immune from any civil or criminal liability.

Anyone who does not report suspected abuse commits an offense and can be liable for a misdemeanor per Kentucky law (KRS 620.020). This law indicates that it is the duty of anyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is dependent, abused, or neglected to report the information to law enforcement, CHFS, and/or a prosecutor’s office. You may remain anonymous.

What happens when a report of child abuse is made to The Cabinet for Health and Family Services?

When a report is made to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), an intake worker will determine if the suspected abuse meets the criteria for an investigation. If the criteria are met an investigative worker will be assigned to the investigation.

When a report is assigned to an investigative worker you should expect the worker to meet with the child(ren) and caregivers. The investigator’s role is to ensure the safety of the child(ren) as well as determine if abuse or neglect has occurred.

Every county has its own local office. Find your local CHFS Office here:


What happens when a report of child abuse is made to Law Enforcement?

When a child abuse report is made law enforcement works jointly with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to ensure immediate safety for the child. The police officer or detective assigned the case may contact the reporting source when able, to gather additional information.

In suspected child abuse cases law enforcement conducts an investigation. This typically includes referring the child and family to the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center (NKYCAC) for a forensic interview and family advocacy services. Child abuse investigations are conducted as a multidisciplinary team including law enforcement, CHFS, prosecutors, victim advocates, mental health and medical professionals, along with NKYCAC staff. Law enforcement continues the criminal investigation which may include talking with caregivers, witnesses, and suspects. The case is then referred to the County or Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office for possible criminal prosecution.

How can the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center help when making a child abuse report?

The Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center (NKYCAC) can assist with making reports to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and local law enforcement. If you call the Center looking for assistance, NKYCAC staff will talk through the concerns, gather information regarding the child, details surrounding the suspected abuse, and your contact information. NKYCAC will then make reports to the necessary investigative agencies.

Please remember that NKYCAC is not an investigative agency and therefore, does not have the authority to determine if a report meets the statutory definitions and criteria for an investigation to be opened by the CHFS or law enforcement. NKYCAC is here to assist with ensuring the proper agencies are notified of the suspected abuse, advocate for a coordinated response, and offer evaluation and treatment for the children and family involved.

A report has been made to the proper agencies and an investigation has been opened, now what is the NKYCAC’s role?

The Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center will provide services to children and their protective families when requested by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or law enforcement.

Even if your child does not have a forensic interview completed at our center, we can still provide services to anyone who needs assistance. Our family advocates will assist with connecting you and your family to resources in the community.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call NKYCAC at 859-442-3200 and a staff member will be able to assist you.

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