If you suspect that a child has been abused or neglected, call:
Nebraska: 1-800-652-1999 (CPS Hotline) or local law enforcement
Iowa: 1-800-362-2178 (DHS Hotline) or local law enforcement
The Hotline will ask for the names and ages (dates of birth if available) of the children and caregivers in the home or involved in the situation, an address for the child/children you are concerned about and where the abuse/neglect is alleged to have occurred if not in the home; and who is believed to have harmed the child, if not the parent.
They will ask for what you know about the alleged abuse/neglect, including any injuries. If a child disclosed something to you, you should use the child’s words. They will also ask when the child will see or be with the alleged offender again. If they ask you something you don’t know, that’s ok.
Your report will be screened by the Hotline for possible involvement by Child Protective Services. They will also forward the report to the law enforcement jurisdiction where the abuse/neglect allegedly occurred.
Law enforcement will make an independent decision as to whether to investigate. You may also want to make a report directly to law enforcement to ensure there are no delays in their receipt of the report.
CPS and law enforcement will communicate with one another and determine urgency based on the information provided in the report. You may hear from someone with either agency within a few days to up to a week. Feel free to follow up with either or both agencies if you have not heard from someone within that time frame, or sooner, if there is a safety concern.
That should be expressed at the time of the report to the Hotline. They will ask questions to help assess this, such as “when will your child see the alleged offender next?” You also always have the option to call 911 if there are immediate safety concerns.
You do not need to leave your name. The Child Protective Service agencies in both Nebraska and Iowa are required to assess alleged maltreatment of children based on the information given, even if given anonymously. However, the investigator can follow up with you to gather more information if they have your contact information.
If cases meet certain criteria, such as alleged sexual abuse, serious physical abuse/neglect, witness to violence, etc., CPS and/or law enforcement will contact Project Harmony about scheduling an interview and /or medical exam. This should happen based on the urgency determined from the initial information. Either the investigator or someone from Project Harmony will reach out to you, but feel free to call Project Harmony at any point during this process to check on the status of your case.
You will meet with the multidisciplinary team to share information about your child. Then you will meet with a Family Advocate about therapy and other needed services while your child is being interviewed by a specially trained interviewer. After your child’s interview, we also offer medical exams by medical providers trained in child abuse/neglect. We have qualified staff to stay with your child while you meet with the advocate, but feel free to bring a trusted adult with you if you prefer. Please note that you could be at Project Harmony two hours or longer depending on how many children need interviews and medical exams.
The cycle of abuse does not have to continue, but we can’t end it alone. Anyone has the power to be someone who makes our community a safe place for all children.