Reporting Child Abuse

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab
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About Reporting Child Abuse

About Reporting Child Abuse

If you suspect child abuse in Louisiana, it is important to take immediate action to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. Reporting child abuse is a responsibility that helps protect vulnerable individuals from harm. In Louisiana, like in many other places, reporting child abuse typically involves contacting the appropriate authorities.

What You Need To Know

Child abuse in Louisiana includes physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and emotional abuse. It involves actions that cause harm or pose a risk of harm to a child's health, welfare, or safety.

You can report suspected child abuse in Louisiana by contacting the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Child Protection Hotline at 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437). In emergencies, call 911 or local law enforcement.

Yes, you can report child abuse anonymously in Louisiana. However, providing your contact information may be helpful for investigators in case they need additional details.

Reporting child abuse often involves sharing sensitive information about individuals and families. Law and regulations typically require that the information be handled confidentially to protect the privacy of those involved. However, there are exceptions when it comes to the safety and well-being of the child. 

When reporting child abuse, provide as much information as possible, including the child's name, age, address, a description of the abuse or neglect, and any other relevant details. Be factual and specific in your report.

Yes, Louisiana law provides protection for individuals reporting suspected child abuse in good faith. That means that if a person reports abuse with honest intentions, they are protected from legal repercussions, even if the suspicions turn out to be unfounded. Reporters are generally protected from civil or criminal liability.

After a report is made, the Louisiana DCFS or law enforcement will conduct an investigation. The goal is to assess the situation, ensure the safety of the child, and take appropriate actions based on the findings.

Yes, it is encouraged to report any concerns you may have, even if you are unsure. Trained professionals will assess the situation, and reporting allows them to intervene if necessary.

Making a false report of child abuse is taken seriously, and there may be legal consequences. It is important to report only genuine concerns based on your observations. Making false reports maliciously or with the intent to harm someone's reputation can have legal consequences. Penalties for knowingly making false reports vary but may include fines, civil liability, or even criminal charges. 

Yes, educators, healthcare professionals, social workers, law enforcement officers, and other mandated reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse in Louisiana. They are often in a position to identify signs of abuse and are obligated to report. Failure to report as required by law can result in legal consequences for the individual who was mandated to report. 

By law, all reports made orally by mandated reporters must be followed by a written report to DCFS within five days. 

You can use this Mandated Reporter Online Form to make a report of suspected child abuse. You can also use the CPI-2 form

Yes, if you believe a child is in immediate danger, you should call 911 or your local law enforcement agency. They can respond quickly to emergency situations involving child abuse.

Laws may specify the timeframe within which a report must be made once abuse is suspected. Delayed reporting may be subject to legal scrutiny. 

By law, mandated reports made orally by mandated reporters must be followed by a written report to DCFS within five days. 

Steps To Report Child Abuse

Steps To Report Child Abuse

Reporting suspected child abuse is a crucial step in ensuring the safety and well-being of the child. If you are uncertain about whether a situation constitutes abuse, it is better to report your concerns and let the authorities investigate. They are trained to assess the situation and take appropriate action to protect the child.

Steps To Take When Reporting Child Abuse

If you believe that a child is in immediate danger or is experiencing a life-threatening situation, call 911 or your local law enforcement agency.

You can also report child abuse or neglect by contacting the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Child Protection Hotline. The toll-free hotline number is 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437).

If you are a mandated reporter, then you can use this online application to make a report of child abuse. 

When reporting, be prepared to provide as much information as possible. This may include the child's name, age, address, the nature of the abuse or neglect, and any other relevant details. It is important to be factual and specific in your report.

Remain Anonymous: Louisiana law protects individuals who report suspected child abuse in good faith from civil or criminal liability. However, if you prefer to remain anonymous, you can request confidentiality.


After reporting, it is advisable to follow up with the appropriate authorities to ensure that the case is being investigated. If you have additional information, be sure to share it with the investigators.

You can learn more about the child protection investigation process by visiting this resource here

Other Issues To Consider

Other Issues To Consider

Below are some legal issues that may relate to reporting child abuse. 

Other Issues To Consider Related To Reporting Child Abuse

When child abuse is reported, it can have significant implications for custody arrangements. Here is a summary of custody issues related to reporting child abuse: 

  1. Impact on Custody Determination: Reports of child abuse can significantly impact custody determinations in family court. Courts prioritize the safety and well-being of the child, and credible allegations of abuse can influence decisions regarding custody and visitation.

  2. Legal Obligation to Report: Custodial parents, non-custodial parents, and other individuals with access to the child may have a legal obligation to report suspected child abuse. Failure to report can be viewed unfavorably by the court and may affect custody decisions.

  3. Investigation by DCFS: Reports of child abuse often trigger investigations by DCFS. The findings of these investigations can be used as evidence in custody proceedings.

  4. Temporary Changes to Custody: In cases where there are credible allegations of abuse, a court may order temporary changes to custody arrangements to ensure the child's safety during the investigation. This could include supervised visitation or limitations on contact with the accused party.

  5. Guardians ad Litem and Attorneys for the Child: The court may appoint a guardian ad litem or an attorney for the child to represent the child's best interests. These individuals may investigate the allegations and make recommendations to the court regarding custody and visitation.

  6. Substantiated vs. Unsubstantiated Allegations: The court distinguishes between substantiated and unsubstantiated allegations of abuse. Substantiated allegations, meaning there is evidence supporting the claim, are more likely to have a significant impact on custody decisions.

  7. Parental Alienation Concerns: In some cases, accusations of child abuse may be made as part of a strategy to influence custody decisions. The court may carefully consider the credibility of the allegations and assess whether there are concerns of parental alienation.

  8. Custody Evaluations: Child custody evaluations may be ordered by the court to assess the fitness of each parent and the overall environment for the child. The evaluator may consider any allegations of abuse and their impact on the child's well-being.

  9. Court Orders for Counseling or Treatment: If abuse is substantiated, the court may order counseling or treatment for the offending parent as a condition for maintaining or regaining custody rights.

Learn more about child custody issues by visiting this resource here

Child protection orders in Louisiana, often known as protective orders or restraining orders, are legal instruments designed to safeguard children from abuse or neglect. Reporting child abuse can be a catalyst for the issuance of such orders.

Here's a summary of child protection orders related to reporting child abuse in Louisiana:

  1. Reporting and Investigation: When child abuse is reported in Louisiana, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) typically conducts an investigation to assess the validity of the allegations.

  2. Emergency Removal of the Child: In cases where immediate danger to the child is identified, the court may issue an emergency order allowing for the removal of the child from the home to ensure their safety during the investigation.

  3. Child Protection Orders: If the investigation reveals that a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, the court may issue a child protection order. This order outlines specific conditions and restrictions to protect the child from harm.

  4. Restrictions on Contact: Child protection orders commonly include provisions restricting contact between the alleged abuser and the child. This may involve limitations on visitation, communication, or physical proximity.

  5. Supervised Visitation: In cases where there are concerns about the safety of unsupervised visits, the court may order supervised visitation, ensuring that a responsible adult oversees interactions between the alleged abuser and the child.

  6. Counseling or Treatment Requirements: The court may include provisions in the protection order requiring the alleged abuser to participate in counseling or treatment programs aimed at addressing the issues contributing to the abuse.

  7. Duration of the Order: Child protection orders in Louisiana are typically issued for a specified duration. The duration may vary based on the circumstances of the case, and the order may be extended or modified as needed.

  8. Violation Consequences: Violating the terms of a child protection order is a serious matter. Consequences for violation may include legal penalties, such as fines or imprisonment, and could impact future custody decisions.

If you suspect child abuse in Louisiana, it is crucial to report it promptly to the appropriate authorities. Additionally, if you need information on child support, there are separate processes for handling that matter.

Child abuse and child support are distinct legal matters, but they can be related in certain situations. If a parent is found guilty of child abuse, it could influence child custody arrangements and potentially impact child support orders.

If you need information or assistance with child support matters, you can contact the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Child Support Enforcement.

Child abuse often triggers the reporting process, and when concerns are reported, it can lead to the initiation of Child in Need of Care (CINC) cases. Child in Need of Care (CINC) cases typically arise when the child welfare system becomes involved due to concerns about a child's safety or well-being. This involvement can happen as a result of reports of child abuse or neglect. When reports are made, child protective services may investigate to determine if the child is in need of protection or services.

CINC cases are legal proceedings that involve the court system. If the investigation determines that a child is at risk of harm, the court may intervene to ensure the child's safety. This intervention can take various forms, including placing the child in foster care, providing support services to the family, or ordering specific actions to address the concerns.

The goal is not only to address immediate safety concerns but also to provide necessary support and services to families to prevent future harm to the child.

To learn more about CINC cases visit this resource

Last Review and Update: Nov 17, 2023
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