Mandated reporters are professionals who are required by law to report any suspected or disclosed abuse. The most common mandated reporters are people who come into contact with children on a daily basis, such as:
teachers, physicians, social workers, any type of counselor, social worker, licensed master’s social worker, licensed bachelor’s social worker, registered social service technician, social service technician, a person employed in a professional capacity in any office of the friend of the court, school administrator, school counselor, law enforcement officer, member of the clergy, regulated child care provider, eligibility specialist, family independence manager, family independence specialist, social services specialist., social work specialist, social work specialist manager, welfare services specialist, etc.
The Child Protection Law States:
Those who have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect shall make immediately, by telephone or otherwise, an oral report, or cause an oral report to be made, of the suspected child abuse or neglect to the department. Within 72 hours after making the oral report, the reporting person shall file a written report as required in this act. If the reporting person is a member of the staff of a hospital, agency, or school, the reporting person shall notify the person in charge of the hospital, agency, or school of his or her finding and that the report has been made, and shall make a copy of the written report available to the person in charge. A notification to the person in charge of a hospital, agency, or school does not relieve the member of the staff of the hospital, agency or school of the obligation of reporting to the department as required by this section. One report from a hospital, agency, or school shall be considered adequate to meet the reporting requirement. A member of the staff of a hospital, agency, or school shall not be dismissed or otherwise penalized for making a report required by this act or for cooperating in an investigation.
Am I liable if I make a report and it is not substantiated?
No. Those persons making a report in good faith are protected from liability.
What information will I need to provide when making a report?
At a minimum, you will need to provide the name, address, and age of the child, the name(s) and address(es) of the parents or guardians, and the nature of the abuse. The name of the perpetrator and the relationship to the child as well as any other details of the abuse are helpful, but if the child does not readily supply this information, do not continue to question or investigate further. Law enforcement or child protective services will perform the investigation, and you can add details to a report if they later become available. You are entitled to follow up at any point on a report to child protective services, which must provide you with current investigation status.
Do I need to provide my name when making a report?
You do not need to provide your name unless you are a mandated reporter and required to do so by the law in your state; however in all cases mandated reporters contact information is confidential and protected by law. While anonymous reports are allowable, it is helpful to provide your name in the event that further information is needed.
What are the penalties for not making a report?
A person who is required to report child abuse and who fails to do so has committed a crime. In Michigan, Child Protection Law states:
A person who is required by this act to report an instance of suspected child abuse or neglect and who fails to do so is civilly liable for the damages proximately caused by the failure. A person who is required by this act to report an instance of suspected child abuse or neglect and who knowingly fails to do so is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.
What if I think I don't have enough information to make a report?
It is always best to err on the side of the child. The agency you are reporting to will help determine if there is enough information to proceed. If there is not, the report remains on file. If you receive additional information you can always call back and add to the report. If additional reports are made for that same child, then sometimes, multiple reports can lead to an investigation.
Should I tell the parents of my report?
It is best not to contact parents about your suspicions before making a report. Doing so could result in retribution against the child, destruction of evidence, or temporary removal of a perpetrator from the home. Under some conditions you may need to maintain open communication with the parent. When this happens, never accuse a parent of wrongdoing and explain that you are legally responsible to report.
IF YOU SUSPECT ABUSE, CALL CENTRALIZED INTAKE, 855-444-3911 , RIGHT AWAY. IT IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO INVESTIGATE ABUSE, INTERVIEW THE CHILD OR GET ALL THE FACTS. JUST CONTACT THE AUTHORITIES WITH YOUR SUSPICION SO THAT CHILDREN AND FAMILIES GET THE SUPPORT AND CARE THEY NEED. IF A CHILD IS IN IMMEDIATE DANGER, ALSO CALL 911.