Help us protect Louisiana's children. Report Child Abuse & Neglect: 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) toll-free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Child Welfare

Reporting Child Abuse/Neglect

How can I report child abuse or neglect?

Call 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) toll-free, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

What is abuse/neglect?

The Louisiana Children’s Code provides the following definitions of abuse and neglect by a parent or caretaker:

"Caretaker" means any person legally obligated to provide or secure adequate care for a child, including a parent, tutor, guardian, legal custodian, foster home parent, an employee of a public or private day care center, an operator or employee of a registered family child day care home, or other person providing a residence for the child.

“Abuse” means any one of the following acts which seriously endanger the physical, mental, or emotional health and safety of the child:

  • The infliction, attempted infliction, or, as a result of inadequate supervision, the allowance of the infliction or attempted infliction of physical or mental injury upon the child by a parent or any other person.

  • The exploitation or overwork of a child by a parent or any other person, including but not limited to commercial sexual exploitation of the child.

  • The involvement of the child in any sexual act with a parent or any other person, or the aiding or toleration by the parent, caretaker, or any other person of the child's involvement in any of the following:

    • Any sexual act with any other person.

    • Pornographic displays.

    • Any sexual activity constituting a crime under the laws of this state.

    • A coerced abortion conducted upon a child.
    • Female genital mutilation as defined by R.S. 14:43.4.

“Neglect” means the refusal or unreasonable failure of a parent or caretaker to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, care, treatment, or counseling for any injury, illness, or condition of the child, as a result of which the child's physical, mental, or emotional health and safety is substantially threatened or impaired. Neglect includes prenatal neglect. Consistent with Article 606(B), the inability of a parent or caretaker to provide for a child due to inadequate financial resources shall not, for that reason alone, be considered neglect. Whenever, in lieu of medical care, a child is being provided treatment in accordance with the tenets of a well-recognized religious method of healing which has a reasonable, proven record of success, the child shall not, for that reason alone, be considered to be neglected or maltreated. However, nothing herein shall prohibit the court from ordering medical services for the child when there is a substantial risk of harm to the child's health or welfare.

"Prenatal neglect" means exposure to chronic or severe use of alcohol or the unlawful use of any controlled dangerous substance, or in a manner not lawfully prescribed, which results in symptoms of withdrawal in the newborn or the presence of a controlled substance or a metabolic thereof in his body, blood, urine, or meconium that is not the result of medical treatment, or observable and harmful effects in his physical appearance or functioning.

For more specific information on prenatal neglect, substance-exposed newborns and the associated procedures, click here.

What are the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect?

The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect.  The presence of a single sign does not prove child abuse is occurring in a family; however, when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination you should take a closer look at the situation and consider the possibility of child abuse.

If you do suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect the child and get help for the family.  Call the DCFS Child Protection hotline at 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) toll-free 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. More information on the signs and symptoms of child abuse/neglect.

Who are mandated reporters?

For information about the mandated reporter program, click here.