Reporting Abuse, Neglect, or Abandonment

Idaho receives nearly 23,000 calls per year of suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment, so you are not alone if you need to report concerns about a child.  Learn what to do if you need to make a report as we answer this and other questions about Idaho’s reporting law. 

Child Protection’s role is limited to what may be happening in a family home. If a child is the victim of maltreatment by an individual not living in the home, such as a neighbor, family friend, or relative, the report is forwarded to law enforcement. However, if there are concerns that the child’s parents are unwilling or unable to protect the child from further harm, child protection may proceed with a safety assessment.

Mandatory reporting and exemptions

Everyone in Idaho is required to report child abuse, neglect or abandonment. This includes doctors, hospital residents, therapists, interns, nurses, coroners, school teachers, daycare providers, social workers, relatives, friends, and private citizens. Idaho has only one exception for mandatory reporting for a “duly ordained minister of religion.” 

Click here to read the Idaho Statute for reporting:  https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/title16/t16ch16/sect16-1605/

All callers can remain anonymous. Callers may provide their name and phone number for the assigned social worker to contact them to confirm the report and gather any additional information. Department staff DO NOT disclose caller information to the family under any circumstances. The social worker will tell the family the caller's information is confidential and if the family requests their records the information will be redacted. 

Make a report
To report suspected child abuse, neglect or abandonment call:
Statewide: 1-855-552-KIDS (5437)
Treasure Valley: 1-208-334-KIDS (5437)

2-1-1 or local Law Enforcement
Please be prepared to provide the following information

The social worker will guide you through the reporting process, but some common things to have ready include:

  • Child and family names, address, and phone number
  • Current location of the child and if they are in immediate danger
  • Description of any injury to the child and when and where the incident occurred
  • Names of people who may also have information
  • Explanation of your concerns regarding the child’s safety
  • Any additional information you have that may be helpful

Your name, address, phone number, and relationship to the child.  You can choose to make an anonymous report. 

Useful information for callers

It is OK if you are not sure if abuse, neglect, or abandonment has occurred but you feel you should call. Let the Department of Health and Welfare or law enforcement decide if they have enough information to respond. You do not need to prove abuse, neglect, or abandonment has occurred before you call and make a report.

Ideally, the report should happen within 24 hours of becoming aware of the concerns. Reports are too often made too late to respond or not until the conditions become severe or life-threatening. 

Failure to call may mean that a child is hurt. We recognize that making a report can be a difficult and scary decision. However, we need everyone to do their part to protect children. Remember, you do not need to prove your concerns before making the report.

Callers are immune from civil liability if they are reporting in good faith. If someone intentionally makes a false report, they are not protected from civil or criminal penalties and could be charged with a crime. In Idaho it is a misdemeanor if a person fails to report child abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

After the call

This is what happens after a call is received

The intake social worker will determine if the report meets the criteria to assign it to a social worker to conduct a safety assessment. If not, the report is documented in the department's database and can be reviewed if additional calls are made about the same family. 

If the case is assigned to a social worker for a safety assessment, the family is contacted within specific timeframes. Sometimes law enforcement accompanies the social worker. If the initial call is made to law enforcement, they will contact the department and a social worker responds with an officer or deputy to jointly assess the situation. 

For more about the safety assessment, click here for a short brochure on a Parent’s Guide to Assessments of Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment

Little girl walking in park
Group of kids running at a playground
The importance of early detection
If the earliest signs of abuse, neglect, or abandonment can be identified, help can be made available when problems can be more readily resolved. Referrals to child protection or law enforcement are too often not made until the conditions of abuse or neglect become severe or life-threatening. DHW seeks to provide help before this happens.