Abuse and Neglect Referral Process

The child in your care is a member of a family who has become involved with a juvenile court due to alleged abuse or neglect of the child by a parent or other person responsible for the child. The juvenile court may be located in your county or another county in Oklahoma or perhaps even in another state. The following information describes how this comes about.

It begins with a referral that is usually communicated by phone from either law enforcement or someone in the community (a mandated reporter) who is concerned that the child’s health, safety or welfare is at risk because of actual or impending threat of harm. The term mandated reporter includes every person, as we are all required by law to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect.

The chart below illustrates the referral process from the beginning to the point at which a decision is made whether to continue the child in custody or return the child to his or her home.
Police Officer

Takes protective custody of child who is in surroundings/situation that endanger the child’s welfare.

Mandated Reporter

Calls statewide Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-522- 3511 to report suspected abuse or neglect,  or reports in writing in person to the county office of DHS.

DHS Intake Staff

  • Prioritizes referral according to severity of risk to the child’s safety or welfare.
  • Investigates within required time frame.
  • If warranted, contacts police and recommends child be taken into custody, or contacts district attorney to obtain a “pick-up” order from judge.

District Attorney’s Office

  • Reviews facts of investigation.
  • Files Deprived Petition with juvenile court if allegations meet criteria and there is adequate evidence to prove
    abuse or neglect.

Juvenile Court

  • Schedules Emergency Custody Hearing within two judicial days of the child coming into custody.

Continue to Juvenile Court Process