When to Call the Child Protection Hotline

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, or know of a family that may need additional support or access to resources, please contact DCFS immediately. Reporting should be done when a person either knows or has a “reasonable suspicion” that a child has been or is in danger of abuse or neglect.

“Reasonable suspicion” means that most people, given the same facts and information, would suspect child abuse. Hard proof is not needed to make a report. However, reports must be in good faith. Use common sense – and never make a false or malicious report. If you are unsure, call the hotline and talk to one of our experts.

Individuals who report child abuse in good faith are protected by law from civil or criminal liability. All reporters, except those mandated by law, may remain anonymous. However, it is helpful to provide your name and telephone number in the event that more information needs to be obtained.

Mandated Reporting

If you have a non-urgent report to make…

you can use the online reporting system, CARES (Child Abuse Reporting Electronic System).  As of Jan. 1, 2021, all mandated reporters may use the CARES to submit non-urgent reports of suspected abuse or neglect.

Ten (10) pre-qualifying questions at the beginning of the report help users determine if the report is non-urgent.

Learn more about CARES by viewing this short video.  To request a virtual training email: CARES_INFO@dcfs.lacounty.gov.

By using CARES, you no longer have to file a verbal and written report.

CARES Online Reporting System


If you have an urgent report to make,

you must call the Child Protection Hotline to file a verbal report and obtain a referral number, and then use SCAR (Suspected Child Abuse Reporting System) to file your written report.  We encourage you to submit the SCAR through the electronic system.  If you are experiencing technical difficulties with the system, you may submit the SCAR by fax to (213) 745-1728.

SCAR Written Reporting System


Are you interested in helping us inform your audience about the Child Protection Hotline?

Take a look at our digital toolkit for sample messages and images to use on your social media accounts to help us spread the word, because all children deserve to live in a safe home and reach their highest and brightest potential.

Child Protection Hotline Digital Toolkit

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Child Protection Hotline

24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Toll Free within California

(800) 540-4000

Outside of California

(213) 639-4500

TDD - Hearing Imparied

(800) 272-6699