How Does Child Protective Services Work in Georgia?

The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), is the entity in charge of investigating child abuse allegations in Georgia. It also works with foster homes for placement of abused and neglected children, helps low-income families, and assists with childcare costs in troubled families.

The DFCS has a centralized system for receiving and investigating reports of child abuse and neglect. Understanding how child protective services work in Georgia can help you and your family navigate this system.


If someone believes a child is hurt, abused, or the victim of neglect, that person can contact the DFCS office in the county. To speak with someone after hours, call 1-(855)-GACHILD to report your situation. Call 911 if you believe a child is in immediate danger. In any situation where a child’s health or welfare is at risk, the DFCS wants to know. An allegation report must include:

  1. Someone who is allegedly maltreating a child, regardless of relationship. Maltreatment may come from a parent, legal guardian, caregiver, other adults who live in the home, an employee of a home or childcare facility, school personnel, or another person responsible for caring for the child.
  2. An allegedly maltreated child, or an individual who is not yet 18 years of age or an emancipated minor.
  3. Known or strong suspicions of child abuse and/or neglect per DFCS’s policy and Georgia statutes.

The DFCS takes reports 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It will accept reports of any type of injury, abuse, exploitation, or negligent treatment of a child throughout Georgia. Reports to the DFCS are confidential, but, if you’re willing to state your name and testify in court, it could help the child’s case.


Once the DFCS receives a report that falls within the guidelines for child abuse or neglect, it will assess the case, often with aid from local police. The DFCS must legally notify the police of any reports of physical and sexual child abuse. The DFCS will make an in-person response to the allegation, as soon as within 24 hours or longer depending on the nature of the report and the age of the child. The DFCS’s main concern during the investigative process is the well-being and safety of the child.

If the investigative team determines a child is in danger or there is truth in the allegations, the DFCS will file a petition with the Georgia juvenile courts for temporary custody of the child. The juvenile court will hold a hearing to decide who should then take custody of the child in question. Whenever possible, the DFCS will provide family services to improve the safety of the child and then return the child to the home. However, the department may remove the child from the home if a family is high-risk or has shown repeated incidents of abuse or neglect.

When the DFCS deems it best to remove the child from the home, the child will go to a relative’s home. The DFCS carefully evaluates all potential custody situations and homes for a maltreated child, including relatives and non-relatives. If the child goes to foster parents, the DFCS has already carefully screened and trained the fosters to care for the child. From this point on, the DFCS may reevaluate a custody situation periodically and do what’s in the child’s best interests.


If you’re in a situation where an ex-spouse or another party is reporting false child abuse/neglect allegations against you to the CPS, be polite to the DFCS investigative team. When the report is false, the team will be able to see that your children aren’t in any danger. You may want to talk to an attorney if this issue persists.