Child abuse*

Updated 6/3/19 – *Note that this measure is also a social determinant of health

Nevada statutes require Washoe County  to investigate reports of suspected child abuse or neglect immediately if the victim is under age five and up to three days if the victim is age six or older. However, regardless of age, social workers respond immediately if the circumstances indicate that the alleged victim is in imminent danger.

Ensuring the safety of children in our community who are reported as abused or neglected, helps protect them from further harm. Protection comes in a variety of forms, including voluntary services or legal intervention. Sometimes it is necessary to remove children from their homes to ensure their protection. When removal occurs, every reasonable effort is made to place children with an appropriate family member. If family members cannot provide a safe environment, alternative permanent placements are utilized.

The Children’s Services’ Adoption Program aims to, in a speedy manner, move children to a permanent adoptive home upon a judicial determination that reunification with the family of origin is not in the child’s best interest. According to Social Services reports, about one-quarter of children exiting foster care to adoption do so in less than 24 months.


  • Increases in the number of children in legal custody reflects the integration of state and local child welfare services (effective January 6, 2003, Washoe County assumed full responsibility for all local child welfare programs)

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The Washoe County Department of Child & Protective Services is required by law to investigate reports of child abuse or neglect reported to the Department. As of 2001, counties with a population of over 100,000 became responsible for providing foster care and adoption services to their residents. These services were previously provided by the State of Nevada through the Division of Child and Family Services.

The District Attorney’s Civil Division’s Child Welfare Program provides legal services and representation in the Family Court for the Department of Social Services, where appropriate to remove children from their homes, terminate parental rights, or to arrange adoption for children so removed.


Washoe County, Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports;

Washoe County, Annual Budget Books

Nevada Department of Health & Human Services

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