What is child abuse and neglect?
Child abuse is the physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment of a child (ages 0 to 18) by a parent, family member, other caregiver, or non-caregiver. Physical abuse might involve broken or fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, or "severe and frequent bruising" inflicted on a child by non-accidental means. Sexual abuse might involve sexual intercourse, sexual contact, sex trafficking, or exploitation. Emotional abuse might involve verbal mistreatment or withholding of love or companionship, and refusing to change such behaviors despite the effect on the child.
Child neglect is the failure of a parent or other caregiver to provide necessary care including supervision, food, clothing, shelter, and medical care - for reasons other than poverty - so as to seriously endanger the physical health of a child.
How and when do I report concerns of child abuse or neglect?
Contact the Waukesha County Department of Health and Human Services at (262) 548-7212 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. After business hours (4:30 pm to 8:00 am, weekends, and holidays), call IMPACT 2-1-1 by dialing 211 or (262) 547-3388, or toll free (866) 211-3380. If the abuse is happening now or is violent in nature, call 911. Make the call as soon as possible.
What if I'm not sure if I should report?
Please report! The Department of Health and Human Services staff will make follow-up decisions. We cannot protect children unless they are brought to our attention.
Will the family know that I reported?
State law protects Reporter confidentiality. We will not disclose your name to the individuals you report.
What will happen when I report child protection concerns?
A social worker will ask the names, ages, and addresses of family members as well as information about the suspected abuse or neglect and the family’s functioning. Please be prepared to provide as much information as possible. This information assists the agency in identifying not only what actions it should take, but also whether the option for an emergency response applies.
A supervisor will review the report and decide if the allegations meet the state-mandated requirements to investigate. If the allegations are investigated, the supervisor will decide the time frame a social worker will respond based on the reported threats to safety. Cases are designated:
What will happen when the social worker sees the child and family?
Social workers will interview the child and family members regarding the maltreatment concerns. They will assess present or impending danger threats to child safety as well as family strengths and needs. They will make determinations as to whether maltreatment, as defined by state statutes, has occurred. The social worker will make recommendations to services that might benefit the child and family.
Will the child be removed from their family?
The Department of Health and Human Services strives to maintain families together. We serve most children and families in their home. However, if the family is unable or unwilling to control present and/or impending danger threats to child safety through an in home safety plan, an out of home plan will be considered to assure child safety. Court action may be necessary in either of these instances.
In removal situations, the Department of Health and Human Services’ actions are guided by Wisconsin State Statutes (specifically Chapter 48, also known as the Children’s Code). These statutes set forth agency child protection responsibilities, situations in which agencies may petition the Courts for involvement in children’s lives, criteria which must be met in order to take children into custody, places in which children taken into custody may be held, and more.
Will I learn what happened?
The social worker will write you if you are a mandated reporter. Mandated reporters are teachers, doctors, and other professionals who are required by law to report suspected maltreatment. The letter will provide basic information about
the intervention, only as state law allows due to family confidentiality. The social worker will not write you if you are a non-mandated reporter as state law prohibits this breach of family confidentiality. The only exception to this law is if a family member who reported abuse or neglect requests, in writing, to know the outcome of the report.
For more information on child abuse and neglect, visit this website: