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Child Protective Investigations at HCSO

If a child was present for any act of domestic violence or child abuse in Hillsborough County, then the Child Protective Investigations (CPI) Division of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO) or another local agency might investigate the case.

Hillsborough’s Child Protective Investigations Division includes 75 child protection investigators. HCSO is one of only six Florida Sheriff’s Offices funded by the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to investigate allegations of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect.

HCSO CPID investigators respond to reports accepted by the Florida Abuse Hotline. If a Florida Abuse Hotline call includes allegations of criminal conduct, civilian CPID investigators partner with law enforcement investigators to conduct a joint response and criminal investigation.

Civilian HCSO CPID investigators conduct a civil investigation to take appropriate civil action including the removal of a child from an unsafe environment when necessary.

Child Protective Investigators might decide to take children from their home for a number of different reasons including because the parents have substance abuse problems, mental health issues, or commit acts of domestic violence in the home. Some cases involve parents who cannot handle teenagers who are defiant in the home.

Attorney for HCSO CPI Investigations

What happens if the actions taken by the Child Protection Investigations Division of HCSO are too harsh? Preventing the parents from talking to each other when the alleged victim does not believe such actions are necessary can cause more harm to the family.

It also creates an economic hardship for many families who have issues with housing and child care while trying to accommodate all of the demands of the Child Protective Investigations Division.

Although the criminal defense attorney might be able to get the court to lift the “no contact” provision quickly (or at least amend it to “no violence contact”), CPI often decides when and if to modify their child safety plan.

An experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL, can also help you deal with HCSO’s child protective investigations division so that you can see your children or return to the home in the manner that is best for the entire family as quickly as possible.

Call 813-250-0500 today.


Shelter Hearings at the Courthouse in Tampa, FL

After the child is removed from the home, the case is scheduled for a shelter hearing at the Edgecomb Courthouse on Twiggs Street in downtown Tampa.

When the child is not taken from the home, the investigator with HCSO CPI might demand that the parents sign a “Child Safety Plan.” The plan finds that a physical altercation between the mother and father (or other family members) endangered the children which presented a present or impending danger.

Even in a misdemeanor case for domestic violence battery, the safety plan might require the parent to comply with all recommended services and prevent contact with the other parent until the service provider says so.

If the accusations against you are false, then call an attorney before signing any paperwork because agreeing to the safety plan can have a long-lasting impact.

If you are suspected of domestic violence or any crime committed in the presence of a child, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest stages of the investigation.


Duties of the Child Protective Investigator

The Child Protective Investigators with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office perform a number of duties in accordance with Chapter 39, Florida Statutes, including:

  • investigating
  • interviewing children and adults
  • documenting living conditions
  • determining the need to remove a child from an unsafe environment
  • implementing available social service programs
  • conducting follow up visits
  • testifying in court
  • managing the case file

CPI trainees must obtain their Child Welfare Protective Investigator Certification from the Florida Certification Board within one year of hire. CPI trainees and investigators often work non-standard hours including holidays and weekends.

The average base pay of the child protective investigator at HCSO is $43,169.


Statistics on Reports for Child Investigations

Out of all of the counties in Florida, Hillsborough County has the highest number of children taken from the home. For instance, in the 2016 fiscal year, child protection investigators with HCSO removed 1,672 children from their home which was the highest number in more than 10 years.

In 2017, CPID received 17,306 reports of abuse, abandonment, and neglect, an increase of 565 from 2016. CPID’s Calls for Service (CFS) has increased by 16.73% from 2014 to 2017.

In 2017, there were 1,437 children removed from their homes, and of those 814 were placed in sheltered care.

According to the Florida Sheriffs Performing Child Protective Investigations, ANNUAL PROGRAM PERFORMANCE EVALUATION REPORT, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office received 13,275 reports, which averaged 1,106 reports and special condition referrals monthly in FY 2015- 2016. Special condition referrals accounted for 6.45% of the intake workload.

Hillsborough County had a monthly average of 3.47 intake reports received per 1,000 children residing in the county. This means that Hillsborough County’s reporting rate for FY 2015-2016 (twelve months) at 41.59 reports for every 1,000 children residing in the county.


Levels of Findings for CPI Investigations

For investigations completed by CPID, the three levels of findings include:

  • “No Indicators” is used when there is no credible evidence to support that the specific harm was the result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect;
  • “Not Substantiated” is used when there is credible evidence which does not meet the standard of being a preponderance to support that the specific harm was the result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect;
  • “Verified” is used when a preponderance of the credible evidence results in a determination the specific harm or threat of harm was the result of abuse, abandonment, or neglect.

Over the last 18 months, the CPID findings show that on average:

  • No Indicators was found in 47% of cases;
  • Not Substantiated was found in 36% of cases; and
  • Verified was found in 17% of cases.

Additional Resources

HCSO’s Child Protective Investigation Division – Visit the website of the Hillsborough County Sheriff, Chad Chronister, to learn more about the Child Protective Investigations Division which is currently under the command of Major Christi Esquinaldo. The Child Protective Investigations Division at HCSO investigates cases involving child abandonment, child neglect, and child abuse. The division uses civilian investigators, who are supervised by law enforcement officers.


This article was last updated by Leslie M. Sammis on Thursday, May 7, 2020.

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