|Child Protective Services
The Child Protective Services unit receives and investigates reports of child abuse and neglect, with over 900 reports during 2006.
Child Abuse/Neglect Reporting Procedure
- To protect the health, safety, and welfare of children by encouraging the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect
- To assure that appropriate protective services are provided to abused and neglected children and their families and to protect children from further harm
- To provide support, counseling, and other services to children and their families to ameliorate the effects of child abuse and neglect
- To promote the well being of the child in his/her home setting, whenever possible, or in another safe and stable placement
Wisconsin's Law Defines Abuse As:
Physical Abuse -- Physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means. Physical injury includes, but is not limited to, lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent bruising, or great bodily harm.
Sexual Abuse -- Sexual intercourse or sexual touching of a child, sexual exploitation, forced viewing of sexual activity, or permitting, allowing, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution.
Emotional Damage -- Harm to a child's psychological or intellectual functioning that is exhibited by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggression. Emotional Damage may be demonstrated by observable changes in behavior, emotional response or learning, which are incompatible with the child's age or stage of development.
Neglect -- When a parent . . . or caretaker . . . fails, refuses, or is unable, for reasons other than poverty, to provide the necessary care, food, clothing, medical, or dental care so as to seriously endanger the physical health of the child.
Persons Required to Report Abuse & Neglect:
- Medical Examiners
- All Medical professionals
- Mental Health Professionals
- Day Care Providers
- Chemical Dependency Counselors
- Marriage/Family Therapists
- Professional Counselors
- Physical Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Speech Therapists
- Social/Public Assistance Workers
- School Administrators
- Police/Law Enforcement Officers
- Mediators under s.767.11
- Treatment staff employed by or working under contract with a county department
- Child care workers in any day care center, group home, or residential care center
Mandated reporters are required to report suspected abuse and neglect of any child they see while in the course of their professional duties. Persons required to report must also report those situations in which they have reason to believe that a child has been threatened with abuse or neglect and that abuse or neglect is likely to occur. We encourage each mandated reporters to file his/her own report.
Any other person may report if there is reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or has been threatened with abuse or neglect.
Persons required to report and who intentionally fail to report suspected child abuse or neglected may be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for up to six months or both. Persons who report in good faith are immune from civil or criminal liability.
Reporting is not "meddling:"
Deciding to get involved in a situation of suspected abuse/neglect can be difficult. It is, however, a decision that may be crucial to a child, not only today, but also in the future. Abused/neglected children often carry life-long scars and may mistreat their own children. Abusive/neglectful parents need services and support in order to stop the cycle of abuse or neglect.
How to report:
Contact the Polk County Human Services Department at 715-485-8400, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please request to speak to the CPS Access Worker. After business hours and on weekends, please contact the Polk County Sheriff's Department 715-485-8300. It is imperative to report immediately. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT DAY!
What to report:
Explain as well as you can what happened or is happening to the child. Describe the nature of the abuse or neglect. Be as specific as possible.
Be prepared to give the name, address, and telephone number of the child and also the name of the parent or caretaker, if different. Even if you do not know all of this information, report what you do know.
Tell all you know about the situation.
What will happen?
A social worker from the Polk County Human Services Department will assess the situation and determine what must be done to protect the child and help the family. An investigator from the Sheriff's Department may also be involved.
Services available to help the family and the child include counseling, in-home services, assistance or training in home and financial management, parent education, and self-help groups.
A person who is mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect will be informed in writing 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. This information will be limited due to confidentiality.