Job & Family Services Office of Families and Children

  Child Protective Services      

Ohio's public children’s services agencies (PCSAs) assess and investigate reports of child abuse, neglect, or dependency as required by state law.  If necessary, the PCSA will work with the family to develop a family case plan identifying services to reduce risk to the children and prevent the abuse or neglect from occurring again. In instances where it is found that children are not safe in their home, the PCSA will work with the family to identify a voluntary safety plan for the children.  If the PCSA and the family are not able to work out a voluntary plan, the PCSA will involve the local court system for intervention to ensure the children’s safety. Intervention could include placing the children with a licensed provider if a kinship placement is not possible. 

To make a report, contact the PCSA in the county where the children and their parent, guardian or custodian reside or call 1-855-OH-CHILD (1-855-642-4453).  


 Ohio’s Differential Response Child Protection System  

Ohio has a Differential Response child protection system. This means children services agencies have two options for responding to accepted reports of child abuse and neglect:  The Traditional Response pathway and the Alternative Response pathway. Both pathways allow children services staff to address the unique safety concerns, risks, and situations of each family, in a way that is collaborative and respectful. In both cases, the primary goal is child safety.

Two Pathways to Help Ensure Child Safety  

Traditional Response  

  • Always required for reports of sexual abuse, abuse resulting in serious injury, and whenever children are determined to be in serious and immediate risk of harm.
  • May involve court intervention.
  • Will result in a determination/finding about the allegation. 

Alternative Response

  • Used when reports of abuse or neglect do not allege serious or imminent harm.
  • Does not result in a determination/finding about the allegation.  

Both pathways require caseworkers to complete a Safety Assessment and a Comprehensive Family Assessment, which includes an assessment of risk, to gather information about the family’s strengths and needs. Both pathways are safety-focused partnerships with families.  A case may be assigned to an Alternative Response pathway but later change to a Traditional Response pathway if needed to ensure child safety or requested by the family.


Differential Response Practice Profiles - Form JFS 08301

                                                      The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) and Plan of Safe Care

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, known as “CARA,” is the first major federal addiction legislation in 40 years. It is the most comprehensive effort undertaken to address the opioid epidemic. The intent of CARA is for states to establish innovative strategies for individuals challenged by substance misuse disorders and their families. As a result, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires a Plan of Safe Care to be in place at the time of discharge from the hospital for infants impacted by parental and/or family substance misuse.

A Plan of Safe Care is an arrangement developed with the family and service providers which addresses the following:

  • The infant’s immediate safety
  • The infant’s safety and treatment needs
  • The affected parent’s health and substance misuse treatment needs
  • The treatment needs of all household members with routine caregiving responsibilities for the infant (for example, the father, grandparent, roommate, etc.)

It is important to note that the oversight of Plans of Safe Care is not solely the responsibility of children services agencies; the implementation and oversight for these identified infants and family are a requirement of all community partners involved with the family.  Children services may or may not be involved in ensuring the Plan of Safe Care is created and monitored.  Therefore, it is important for counties to develop a system of communication and coordination within their community to ensure compliance of CARA/Plan of Safe Care.

Each state is required to apply policies and procedures to address infants affected by all substance misuse, not just illegal misuse.  Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 5101:2-36 Screening and Investigation rules have been revised to include CARA/Plan of Safe Care language.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was updated to include CARA/Plan of Safe Care language.  CAPTA states that a Plan of Safe Care is to be in place at the time of discharge from the hospital for the following:

All infants 12 month and younger if:

  • The infant was prenatally exposed to substance misuse (legal and/or illegal),
  • The infant is demonstrating symptoms of withdrawal, and/or
  • The infant is diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

CAPTA requires all children services agencies to document the existence of the Plan of Safe Care.

Links to resources, tools, and guides: