Child maltreatment is harm (or risk of harm) caused to a child by a parent, caretaker, or another person responsible for the child's safety. Child Maltreatment is generally divided into four basic types.
If you believe that a child (ages 0 to 18) or is at risk of abuse or neglect, you should report it to Trempealeau County Human Services (715) 538-2311 ext. 290. In an emergency, contact your local Police Department or the Sheriff's Department at 911 or (715) 538-4351. When calling to report child abuse, you will be asked for specific information, which may include:
The child's name
The suspected perpetrator's name (if known)
A description of what you have seen or heard.
A description of the family, high lighting general functioning, current stresses and how the family might respond to intervention.
The names of any other people having knowledge of the abuse
Your Name and phone number
The names of reporters are not given out to families reported for child abuse or neglect; however, sometimes by the nature of the information reported, your identity may become evident to the family. You may request to make your report anonymously, but your report may be considered more credible and can be more helpful to Child Protective Services (CPS) if you give your name.
Your report of possible child maltreatment will first be screened by a social worker. If the worker feels there is enough credible information to indicate that maltreatment may have occurred or is at risk of occurring, your report will be referred to staff who will conduct an investigation. Investigators respond within a particular time period depending on the potential severity of the situation. They may speak with the child, the parents, and other people in contact with the child (such as doctors, teachers, or childcare providers). Their purpose is to determine if abuse or neglect has occurred and if it may happen again.
If the investigator finds that no abuse or neglect occurred, or what happened does not meet the definition of abuse or neglect, the case will be closed and the family may or may not be referred elsewhere for services. If the investigator feels the children are at risk or harm, the family may be referred to services to reduce the risk of future maltreatment. In rare cases where the child's safety cannot be ensured, the child may be removed from the home.
Certain individuals whose employment brings them into contact with children are required by law to report any suspected abuse or neglect or threatened abuse or neglect to a child seen in the course of their professional duties. Anyone who suspects a child is being maltreated may make such a referral. Persons making reports in good faith are immune from criminal or civil liability. Reports are made to the county in which the child or the child’s family resides.
A person who is mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect will be informed by the county what action, if any, was taken to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the child who is the subject of the report.
Penalty: Persons required to report who intentionally fail to report suspected child abuse or neglect may be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned up to 6 months or both.
Persons Required to Report Abuse and Neglect: Mandated Reporters ~ s. 48.981(2):
- Medical examiners
- A medical or mental health professional
- Social workers
- Marriage & family therapists
- Professional counselors
- Public assistance workers, including a financial & employment planner, as defined in s.49.141(1) (d), Stats.
- School teachers
- School administrators
- School counselors
- Mediators under s.767.11, Stats.
- Child-care workers in a day care center, group home, as described in s.48.625(1m), Stats. (a "second chance home"), or residential care center for children and youth
- Day care providers
- Alcohol or other drug abuse counselors
- Member of the treatment staff employed by or working under contract with a county department under s. 46.23, 51.42, or 51.437, Stats., or a residential care center for children and youth
- Physical therapists
- Physical therapist assistants
- Occupational therapists
- Speech-language pathologists
- Emergency medical technicians
- First responders
- Police and law enforcement officers
- Court-appointed special advocates (CASA)
The social worker will write you, if you are a mandated reporter. The social worker will not write you if you are a non-mandated reporter, as state law prohibits this breach of family confidentiality.
For additional information and resources on child abuse, neglect, family and parenting information, contact Social Services at (715) 538-2311 ext. 290, or Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin, 214 N. Hamilton Street, Madison, WI 53703-2118, 1-800-children (1-800-244-53736)