Many children become participants in the Foster Care system due to neglect or abuse by their primary caretakers. Investigations by child protective services (CPS) agencies in all States determine that close to a million children are victims of child maltreatment every year. More than half of all reports alleging maltreatment came from professionals, including educators, law enforcement and justice officials, medical and mental health professionals, social service professionals, and child care providers. Federal agencies have no authority to intervene in individual child abuse and neglect cases. Each State has jurisdiction over these matters and has specific laws and procedures for reporting and investigating. Individual States have a Child Protective Services agency set up to investigate complaints and allegations. In some States, all citizens are mandated reporters by State law and must report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect.
More children suffer neglect than any other form of maltreatment. Investigations determined that about half of children victimized suffered neglect, 22 percent physical abuse, 12 percent sexual abuse, 6 percent emotional maltreatment, 2 percent medical neglect, and 25 percent other forms of maltreatment. Some children suffer more than one type of abuse. Unfortunately, maltreatment is rarely the only issue of families who enter into the child welfare system. Substance abuse and other addictions, serious physical or mental illness, domestic violence, and HIV/AIDS are often critical factors. Poverty is pervasive, and inadequate or unsafe housing are significant problems. These serious difficulties can result in extremely complex family situations that need multiple and coordinated services.