After a report of suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation has been made to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline, the information is referred to the appropriate CD county office.

Missouri law requires that a CD Children's Service Worker initiate an investigation/family assessment within 24 hours of the receipt of the report, unless the incident relates to educational neglect only, in which case an investigation/family assessment must be initiated within 72 hours.

The purpose of the investigation/family assessment is to detect cases of actual or potential abuse or neglect and to help the family and the child. If the child is reported to be in immediate danger, the Children's Service Worker must immediately and directly observe the child.


An investigation is a response to a report of child abuse or neglect when there is an identified need to collect physical and/or verbal evidence to determine if a child has been abused or neglected and to decide whether an individual should be listed in the Central Registry. Investigations are co-investigated with law enforcement when possible.

Investigations primarily include reports of child fatality, sexual abuse, serious physical abuse, serious neglect and reports of child abuse or neglect involving foster parents and institutions such as schools, residential facilities and child care centers.

Family Assessments

A family assessment is a response to a report of child abuse or neglect that does not focus on whether a specific individual should be listed in the Central Registry as a perpetrator of child abuse or neglect. Instead, the focus of an assessment is on working with the child and the child's family to identify factors that may place the child at risk of future abuse and neglect, and to offer voluntary, community based services to reduce the risk and support the family.

Family assessments typically include mild or moderate reports of physical abuse or neglect, including medical neglect and educational neglect.