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Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) Hearings

A Child Abuse Central Index (CACI) hearing is a legal proceeding in California that involves challenging a substantiated finding of child abuse or neglect that has been entered into the CACI database. The CACI is a confidential database maintained by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) that contains information about individuals who have been found to have committed serious child abuse or neglect.

CPS may make one of three findings: that the abuse is unfounded, inconclusive, or substantiated. Only substantiated findings appear on the CACI. While CPS may also investigate allegations of general neglect, a general neglect substantiated finding would not appear on the CACI. It may still have ramifications for child custody or can result in opening a CPS case in court. Therefore, all allegations should be taken very seriously.

When a report of suspected child abuse or neglect is made, an investigation is conducted by the appropriate child protective services agency. If, based on the investigation, the agency determines that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations, the person accused of child abuse or neglect may be listed in the CACI database. The listing can have significant consequences, including potential restrictions on employment, professional licensing, and child custody matters.

In California, an attorney can challenge a substantiated CACI finding through a CACI hearing. During this hearing, the attorney representing the individual accused of child abuse or neglect presents evidence and arguments to challenge the accuracy or validity of the substantiated finding. The attorney may present witnesses, cross-examine the agency’s witnesses, and present any evidence that supports their case.

To challenge a substantiated CACI finding, the attorney must demonstrate one of the following:

  1. The finding is factually inaccurate or lacks sufficient evidence to support it, or
  2. The finding was based on a mistake of law or a misinterpretation of the relevant statutes or regulations.

If the attorney successfully challenges the substantiated CACI finding, the listing in the CACI database will be removed or modified. It is important to note that CACI hearings can be complex legal proceedings, and it is advisable for individuals facing such hearings to seek the guidance and representation of an experienced attorney specializing in child abuse and neglect cases.

The California Department of Justice is responsible for maintaining the CACI database and ensuring the accuracy and confidentiality of the information contained within it. The DOJ is not responsible for overseeing the CACI hearing process. These hearings are handled administratively by the CPS agency that made the finding under the purview of a social worker charged to act as a hearing officer.

CACI hearings are an incredibly niche area of the law with very few attorneys who have handled one. Our attorneys have handled many, with outstanding results.

Client Reviews

Lauren Johnson is the most outstanding, exceptional, and accommodating Attorney I have ever had the honor and privilege to encounter. Her empathy, compassion, insight...

Jessica Miller

Elica, Katherine, and Lauren handled my case with grace and kindness. Even though I don’t live in the county and was not physically present for the proceedings, they were...


Lauren and her team have always been informative and confident with the handling of my case. Any concerns I have, they have always been able to address them. I feel taken...


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