10.28 Child Protective Services Protective Service Alerts


A protective service alert is a notification utilized by a state when it is believed that a family who is actively involved with the child welfare agency has left the state with the child(ren), resulting in a safety threat. Protective service alerts may be sent on behalf of Kentucky’s child welfare agency or received from another state’s child welfare agency.

The Child Protection Services Branch is responsible for assisting the regions in preparing and sending protective service alerts to other states when it is believed that a family that is actively involved with the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) has fled or relocated without providing adequate information to the SSW and a safety threat exists. A protective service alert may also be sent if it is believed that a family has left the state with a child(ren) who is in the commitment of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS/Cabinet). Prior to approving a finding of unable to locate in an investigation, a protective service alert should be sent to demonstrate that reasonable efforts were made to locate the family, however, were unsuccesful. If a family has moved out-of-state and the assessment has not been completed, it may also be necessary to make a report to the state in which the family now resides.

Practice Guidance

  • A protective service alert should be sent when a child(ren)’s location is unknown, resulting in a safety threat, including but not limited to: ​
  • When a family relocates, without notifying DCBS, prior to the completion of an investigation ; 
  • When a child(ren) who is in the commitment of the Cabinet has been removed from DCBS' care and control (custodial interference) and cannot be located; 
  • When a report is received that alleges the child(ren) is being abused, neglected, exploited, etc.; 
  • When a child(ren) is with an unapproved or inappropriate caregiver; and/or 
  • When a caregiver is reported to be misusing substances, therefore, hindering their ability to protect and care for the child.


Receiving a protective service alert.

A protective service alert inquiry about Kentucky’s current or past involvement with a family, known safety threats, relevant court activity, and other records may indicate the family has relocated to the area.

The Child Protection Services Branch receives protective service alerts from other states and upon receipt;​ the alert is forwarded to centralized intake (CI) for entry into TWIST. CI will complete a public assistance search, review Kentucky’s birth index records, and complete a check in TWIST to determine if the family is currently residing, or has previously resided, in Kentucky. If it is determined that the family is currently located in Kentucky, the requesting state is contacted and provided the requested information.

CI staff should enter each protective service alert that is received into TWIST with the determination of does not meet criteria. The documentation should include the results of all completed searches and any actions taken to alert the sending state of information that was found.

Sending a protective service alert.
The SSW:
  1. Ensures that reasonable efforts have been made to locate the child(ren) and/or family. This includes, but is not limited to: 
    • A search of any public assistance programs; 
    • Collateral interviews of known associates and family members; 
    • A request for assistance from law enforcement; and 
    •  Collateral contact with the school system. 
  2. Discusses efforts with the FSOS to ensure a protective service alert is the appropriate next step; 
  3. Completes the protective service alert memo and provides it to the FSOS for review and approval. The memo should include the following information for each child/adult: 
    • Name; 
    • Date of birth; 
    • Social Security number; 
    • Physical description, including race/ethnicity; 
    • Suspected destination(s); 
    • History of violence, drug misuse, and agency involvement; 
    • Involvement of weapons; 
    • A brief summary of the events or situation prior to the individuals leaving the state; 
    • A confidentiality statement; and 
    • Any pertinent supporting documents and/or photographs if appropriate; ​​​​​​
      • The alert must not include protected health information (PHI). 
  4. Documents the protective service alert request in service recordings; and 
  5. Includes any information received as a result of the protective service alert in service recordings.
  1. Ensures, through consultation with the SSW, that all attempts for locating the family have been exhausted prior to requesting approval to send a protective service alert; and 
  2. Forwards the completed protective service alert memo and any corresponding documents to the Child Protection Services Branch at DCBSChildProtection@ky.gov for distribution.