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Child Protective Services Article 1 of 7: Reporting Abuse or Neglect

Child Protective Services (CPS)

This article provides information on reporting abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services. This article was written by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas and the CPS Family Helpline for Strong Families & Safe Children.





Texas law requires anyone who suspects that a child or other vulnerable individual is being abused or neglected must report such incidents.

Texas Family Code Section 261.101(a) states “A person having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report…” Abuse or neglect can be reported at (800) 252-5400 or online at

Not all calls to the hotline result in DFPS opening an investigation. If a call to the DFPS hotline leads to an investigation being opened, the following information is helpful.

Categorizing the Report of Abuse or Neglect

Categories of Abuse and Neglect:

  1. Abandonment
  2. Emotional Abuse
  3. Medical Neglect
  4. Neglectful Supervision
  5. Physical Abuse
  6. Physical Neglect
  7. Refusal to accept parental responsibility (RAPR); and
  8. Sexual Abuse

Each of the eight categories of abuse and neglect have their own specific list of criteria that must be met in order to be placed in that category. The categorization takes place after the phone intake and is subject to change if new information becomes available after the investigation has begun.

Once the report is received and categorized based on the type of abuse or neglect reported the intake will be assigned either Priority Level 1 (P1) or Priority Level 2 (P2). P1 reports require that a DFPS investigator must make contact with the alleged victim within 24 hours. On the other hand, P2 reports require the investigator to make contact with the alleged victim within 72 hours.

Priority Level 1

  1. Allegations are made regarding an immediate threat to the health, safety, welfare, or life of the child;
  2. Report of abuse or neglect that occurs within 12 months of another investigation of abuse or neglect; or
  3. Report involving the death of a child.

Priority Level 2

If a report of alleged abuse or neglect does not meet the criteria of a P1 report, it is assigned as P2.

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