If a child protective services (CPS) investigation determines that the allegation of child maltreatment is unsubstantiated (also referred to as unfounded), this means that there is insufficient evidence for the caseworker to conclude that a child was abused or neglected, or that what happened does not meet the legal definition of child abuse or neglect.

Note that a finding of unsubstantiated or unfounded does not always mean that maltreatment did not occur. Instead, it may mean that there is not enough evidence to support a finding of substantiated. If the case is determined to be unsubstantiated, the CPS agency may still provide services. In other cases, the family may be referred to a community provider for voluntary services. In some circumstances, the case may be closed with no further contact between the family and the CPS agency.