A finding of substantiated (sometimes referred to as founded) typically means that the child protective services (CPS) agency believes that an incident of child abuse or neglect, as defined by State law, has happened. In this case, several outcomes can occur. Case closure may occur with no services if the child maltreatment was a one-time incident, the child is considered to be safe, and there is no or low risk of future maltreatment.

In some cases where there is a risk of future maltreatment, the family may be offered in-home services to reduce that risk and strengthen the family’s protective capacities. If these are refused and the child is not safe, the agency may submit a court petition in order to mandate that the family cooperate with in-home services if it is believed that the child can remain in the home with a safety plan in place while the family addresses the issues contributing to the risk of future maltreatment.

If the child has been seriously harmed, is considered to be at high risk of serious harm, or the child’s safety is threatened, the agency may remove the child and/or petition the court, which may order the child to be removed from the home or affirm the agency’s prior removal of the child. The child may then be placed with a relative or in foster care.