Virginia's Multidisciplinary Teams

General Information

Professionals working with abused and neglected children generally agree that a multi-disciplinary approach to child maltreatment has the greatest potential for success. This means that law enforcement officer, child protective service (CPS) workers, commonwealth's attorney, physicians, nurses, educators, mental health clinician, and other professionals need to work together to ensure the best possible outcome for the children they serve. In 1975, the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation requiring cooperation among certain entities involved in the detection and prevention of child abuse. (Section 63.2-1507). In 2004, another Code change expressly allowing the department of social services to develop multidisciplinary teams for the purpose of investigating child abuse cases and making recommendations for prosecution. (Section 63.2-1503 (K)). The Children's Justice Act Program has been working with localities in Virginia to develop formal, functional teams since 1990.

What is a TEAM?

A TEAM is any group with similar interests and aims. In cases of child maltreatment the core group of professionals involved are usually CPS workers, law enforcement officers, and commonwealth's attorneys. Each has as similar interest in the effective handling of child protection cases with the common aim of protecting children from maltreatment.


A protocol is a written inter-agency agreement outlining the method for investigating and prosecuting child abuse cases in a particular locality. Written protocols are preferred because they: establish clear criteria for joint investigation and intervention, survive turnover, deter disagreement, and define and limit the role of each agency. Protocols can be very specific, including a step-by-step process. They can also be more general guidelines. Click here for some general components found in protocols with links to actual samples. The samples are provided as examples of what other teams have done and are not offered as "models." NO ONE MODEL WORKS FOR ALL LOCALITIES!

Sample Protocols:

Multidisciplinary Team Case Tracking Sheet

This Multidisciplinary Team Case Tracking Sheet (.doc or .rtf, 1 page) was developed by the Children's Justice Act Program to assist teams staffing cases. Different localities may want to track different information. For example, some communities may want to include a column noting whether the child has been referred for mental health or other services. This document can be changed to meet your needs. Simply save the document to your computer; alter it as needed; and tab through the document inserting your case information.

Children's Advocacy Centers

DCJS believes that the multidisciplinary team approach is the best approach to investigating child abuse and neglect cases, whether the team members are co-located or not . There is a growing trend to locate team members within a single building or Children's Advocacy Center, providing an array of services to children and families. Children's Advocacy Centers of Virginia is the Official Virginia State Chapter of the National Children's Alliance, a national non-profit agency that certifies children's advocacy and support organizations. CACVA provides monetary and logistical support to Virginia communities seeking to improve children services. For more information on Children's Advocacy Centers, contact CACVA or the National Children's Alliance.

Information Sharing and the Multidisciplinary Child Abuse Team

The booklet on Information Sharing and the Multidisciplinary Child Abuse Team was developed to provide guidance on Virginia law to professionals serving on multidisciplinary teams investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect. This information is provided as guidance to teams regarding what information may be shared and is not intended to provide legal advice or substitute for consultation with counsel.

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