After DCS completes an investigation, the parent, guardian or custodian involved will receive a letter stating whether or not the information found during the DCS investigation concludes there is reason to believe the allegations of abuse and/or neglect are true; this is referred to as either a “substantiated” or “unsubstantiated” finding. If the finding is substantiated, that means there is reason to believe the abuse/neglect did take place. An unsubstantiated finding means there was insufficient evidence to conclude the abuse or neglect took place. If the DCS Specialist is considering a substantiated finding, the parent, guardian or custodian involved will also receive a letter explaining how an appeal of the decision may be requested. This letter will also inform the parent, guardian or custodian how they can request a copy of the DCS report which contains the information reported to DCS alleging abuse and/or neglect.
If an appeal hearing is requested, the Department of Child Safety (DCS) Protective Services Review Team (PSRT) will review all information and determine if there is enough evidence to agree with the decision made by DCS. If the PSRT disagrees with the decision made by DCS, the parent, guardian or custodian will be notified of this in writing and the allegation will not be substantiated.
If the PSRT agrees with the DCS decision, a hearing will be scheduled for the person with the Office of Administrative Hearings. At this hearing, an Administrative Law Judge will hear all the evidence and make a decision about the allegation and the finding.
The Department shall investigate all Reports containing criminal conduct allegations of child abuse with the appropriate law enforcement agency. The Office of Child Welfare Investigations (OCWI) shall assess, respond to or investigate all Criminal Conduct Reports, which shall be a priority, but not otherwise exercise the authority of a peace officer, pursuant to A.R.S. § 8-471. The investigations are coordinated with law enforcement according to protocols established with the appropriate municipal or county law enforcement agency. Review joint investigation protocols by clicking here.
To read more about DCS Investigations, click here.
Protective Services Review Team (PSRT)
The Protective Services Review Team (PSRT) provides notice (letters) to persons who have allegedly abused or neglected a child to inform that person that the Department proposes to place their name in the Central Registry.
If you received a letter because a dependency petition has been filed in Superior Court and you desire more information, download the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, available in both English or Spanish, for answers to common questions.
Click Here to View PSRT FAQ's
Click Here to View PSRT FAQ's in Spanish