Why hasn’t CPS contacted me? Sadly, this is an all too common question that doesn’t always have a simple answer. Child Protective Services (CPS) was designed to ensure the safety of children who may be facing abuse or neglect at the hands of their caretaker(s). Since every state has its own CPS division, it can be a little complicated to understand the process for filing reports or following up on a report with CPS in your state. Nonetheless, there are a few common reasons that CPS isn’t returning your call.
Why hasn’t CPS contacted me?
Nobody wants to wait for a call while a child could potentially be in danger. It’s a difficult situation to be in. That said, if CPS isn’t calling you back, there’s generally a good reason for it. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons you’re not getting return phone calls from Child Protective Services:
Response times can vary
Every state’s CPS deals with thousands of calls and reports every day. While managing the safety of children is extremely important, it also requires a lot of resources. In many states, CPS workers are stretched thin with inadequate budgets and a backlog of reports to address. On average, it takes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours for a CPS agent to return your call. In some cases, it may take even longer.
So, if you’ve recently called CPS and are worried that they’re not responding, there’s a good chance that your call is somewhere in the queue. You may just need to wait another day or two to get a phone call. That said, if it’s been more than three or four days and you haven’t heard anything, you should probably try contacting your local CPS again.
CPS investigates every case — with a few exceptions
Child Protective Services has a legal obligation to investigate every case brought to its doorstep. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If the basic facts of the report do not indicate that there is any wrongdoing or risk of danger to a child, CPS will close the case without an investigation. In situations like this, you will rarely be contacted or informed that the case has been closed.
For example, let’s say you file a report saying that your neighbor has been leaving their child alone in their house every day. In your report, you indicate that the child appears to be a teenager between the ages of 13-15. CPS will look at the case and, assuming that there are no other relevant factors that could endanger the child’s safety, they will close the case. Based on the evidence in the report, it would appear that your neighbor simply has a teenager who arrives home from school every day before his or her parents have returned from work. Thus, there’s little justification for CPS to open an investigation or address your inquiry with a phone call.
CPS doesn’t need more information from you
Sometimes, you might make a report to CPS and never find out more information. Naturally, this will have you asking the same question: why hasn’t CPS contacted me? The truth is that, once the report is given to CPS, you may no longer be relevant to the case.
Needless to say, this will largely depend on the details of the report. For example, if you file a report that provides contact information for the child or parents in question, CPS will probably contact them directly. Assuming that CPS can collect all of the information it needs from other sources, you probably won’t get a call from them.
You’re the subject of a thorough CPS investigation
If someone else files a report related to you or your child, you’ll probably want to contact CPS to find out what’s going on. Depending on the details of the case, CPS may not contact you directly. Therefore, you may have to wait until the investigation has concluded before CPS contacts you with the final results.
Once CPS opens an investigation, they leave no stone unturned. This means that it could take weeks or even months to receive any direct contact from them. Unless law enforcement is involved, no CPS case can exceed 90 days. Therefore, you will almost certainly receive some kind of notification within 3 months. Still, this is a long time to wait, especially when you’re unsure about the details of the investigation. Unfortunately, if CPS does not want to contact you during the investigation, you don’t have a lot of options. You will just have to wait until a verdict has been reached.
CPS has the wrong contact information
Oftentimes, the simplest problems can cause you to panic and worry, especially if you’re waiting for a call from Child Protective Services. If you filed a report and later changed your contact information (phone number, physical address, email address, etc) without notifying CPS, you could be waiting for a long time. This is why it is so important to keep CPS updated on any changes that could make communication more difficult, particularly changes to your primary phone number.
Additionally, there are instances when you or someone else has provided CPS with incorrect information. One wrong number could cause CPS to take a few extra days or weeks to track you down. So, whether you’re filing a report or simply contacting CPS to make an inquiry, make sure that you double-check all of the contact information you give them. It could save you — and CPS — a lot of time.
The Bottom Line
Waiting for a return call from CPS can be nerve-wracking. Fortunately, if you really need to get in touch with the agency, you can usually get them on the phone by calling CPS in your state or contacting Child Help USA. If you’d like to learn more about communicating with Child Protective Services, be sure to check out our guides on 5 CPS Mistakes to Avoid and What CPS Looks For In A Home Visit.