The safety of children is our paramount concern. Therefore, we do not accept reports of suspected abuse or neglect through this site.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, you should call us at 740-389-SAFE, weekdays between 8:30am and 4:30 pm. After hours or on weekends or holidays, call the Marion County Sheriff at 740-382-8244. Ask to be put you in touch with a Children Services caseworker. A caseworker is available for emergency investigations 24-hours/day, 7 days/week.
Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect. Mandated reporters are legally required to report suspicions of abuse or neglect. Reports can be made anonymously; however, the identity of a reporter is kept strictly confidential and never shared with persons under investigation.
Ohio law requires certain professionals to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. Mandated reporters include physicians, dentists, nurses, day care staff, speech pathologists, licensed and/or registered social workers, school personnel, attorneys, and persons rendering spiritual treatment.
Anyone who suspects or has reason to believe that a child is being abused or neglected should make a referral to Marion County Children Services. Children Services may be contacted by phone at the Child Abuse Hotline: 740-389-SAFE or 740-389-2317. In addition, those concerned can also visit the office at 1680 Marion-Waldo Road in Marion, Ohio during normal business hours; Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm.
Individuals making reports of suspected abuse, neglect or dependency of a child should provide as much information as possible, including:
- Name and/or address and/or the location of the child victim
- Age of the child
- The child and any family member’s race and ethnicity, including whether or not the child or family member is Native American
- Names and addresses of the child’s parents or caregivers
- Description of the alleged abuse or neglect
- Name and address of the alleged perpetrator(s), if known
Reports can be made anonymously; however, not knowing who made the referral denies Children Services the opportunity to gather more information during the investigation, if necessary. Reports made are confidential to the extent that the law allows, and referral source names or locations are not shared by Marion County Children Services.
Children Services will investigate reports made where there is reason to believe a child is abused, neglected or dependent as defined in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC). It is important to note that Children Services’ general focus is on specific harm to a child by a caregiver’s action or inaction. A parent’s mental status or habits are issues only to the extent that harm (or risk of harm) to the children results from the actions or inactions of the parents.
There are multiple factors to be considered when deciding whether or not Marion County Children Services will intervene with a family, including:
- Age of the alleged child victim and his/her level of functioning
- The parents’ ability/willingness to protect
- Family supports and resources
- Pattern of behavior
- The ability of other adults to protect
- Prior child protective services history
After the information is gathered, the referral is reviewed by a screening decision-maker to evaluate whether it meets ORC criteria and the screening guidelines developed by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In those cases that meet the criteria for an assessment of safety, Marion County Children Services will initiate contact with the family within 24 hours, unless a child is in immediate danger, initiated within one hour of the report.
During the assessment process, Children Services gathers information from family members, collateral sources and observation to determine if there is enough evidence to determine whether child abuse or neglect has occurred. In addition, Children Services assesses what problems the family may be encountering and if there currently is risk to the child’s safety. Children Services partners with law enforcement and the City Law Director/County Prosecuting Attorney during assessment of safety that could result in legal action.
The goal of Children Services is to maintain children in their own homes whenever safely possible. If circumstances in the home endanger the child’s safety and cannot be remedied, sometimes placement out of the home is necessary. Both relatives and non-relatives are explored as a first option, or placement services such as foster care are used temporarily, while efforts are made to work out problems in the home.
Children Services will tailor proposed service outcomes for a particular child and other family members toward that family’s needs. This is known as a case plan and the goal is to provide protection.
If the problems which initially caused removal of children from their homes cannot be resolved, Children Services seeks placement with relatives before permanently terminating family relationships through the Family Court. If placement with relatives is not available or appropriate, Children Services attempts to find a permanent adoptive family.