Mandated Reporters for Child Abuse in California

Category: Employment Law
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 07-20-2021 03:27 PM
Views: 192
Synopsis: California businesses with any contact with minors now have specific reporting guidelines.

Counties in California received 167,740 calls for suspected child abuse just from April through August 2019. California businesses with any contact with minors have new legal requirements they must maintain to remain compliant and protect employees. Employers that fail to meet these new guidelines face penalties and even prison time.

Assembly Bill 1963 took effect January 1, 2021, so businesses subject to AB 1963 are required to begin this training now.

What is a Mandated Reporter? 

Nurse provides care to childMandated Reporters are people in contact with minors that are legally required to provide a report to law enforcement or a social agency when abuse is observed or suspected. Failure to report this specified conduct is a crime. Mandated Reporters are legally responsible to report the incident themselves but not required to investigate. All persons who report child abuse or neglect may remain anonymous except a Mandated Reporter. Mandated reporters must provide their names but will receive immunity from civil liability.

Assembly Bill 1963 modifies and expands the list of mandated reporters to the existing law, the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act.

Who are the designated Mandated Reporters?

The following employers and employees are designated as Mandated Reporters.

  • Human resource employees of businesses that have 5 or more employees that also employ minors.
  • Frontline supervisors for businesses with five or more employees that have direct contact with minors are mandated reporters for sexual abuse only.
  • Employees of a private or public school including teachers, teacher’s aids or assistants and administrators of a postsecondary educational institution in contact with minors. 
  • Employees of county or state offices of education who have regular contact with children while performing their work.
  • State diagnostic centers and special schools that are managed by the State Department of Education, and charter schools.
    Athletic coaches, administrators, and directors employed by any public or private school for kindergarten through grades 12.
  • Employees in institutions such as a child daycare group home or residential care facility and administrators and licensees of such organizations.
  • Administrator, presenter or counselor in a child abuse prevention program.
  • Employees of any police department, county sheriff’s department, county probation or welfare department such as security, parole and probation officers.
  • Firefighters. However volunteer firefighters are excluded.
  • District attorney examiners or child support company employees unless working with an attorney assigned to the Welfare and Institutions Code in representing a minor.
  • Workers in the medical field such as a surgeon, dentist, resident, intern, chiropractor, licensed nurse, dental hygienist, paramedic or optometrist.
  • Public health employees who treat minors for venereal disease or other conditions.
  • A coroner, medical examiner or anyone who performs autopsies.
  • Therapists such as a professional clinical counselor, associate, or trainee, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and their assistants.
  • A drug and alcohol counselor. Alcohol or drug abuse is not by itself, a basis for reporting child abuse or neglect.
  • A commercial film and photographic print processor excluding companies that develop for public agencies.
  • Commercial computer technicians involved with implementing procedures to report illegal materials.State social and public assistance workers, autism service providers, and an employee or volunteer of a Court Appointed Special Advocate program.
  • A child visitation monitor of a visit between a child and another person ordered by a court of law.
  • An individual certified by a licensed foster family agency or approved as a resource family.\
  • Administrators or employees of a public or private day camp, or employees of a youth center organization.
  • An animal control officer or humane society officer.
  • A clergy member or religious practitioner such as a priest, minister, or rabbi. 
  • Any custodian of records for a clergy member.
  • Clergy members acquiring knowledge of child abuse during a meeting in confidence or “penitential communication" has a duty to keep those communications secret.
     

What to Look For?

Teacher with students looking at globeIdentification of warning signs is crucial in interpreting abuse.  These range in clues from the parent or caregiver, their home environment, physical evidence of abuse, and behaviors of the child. Clues from the parent can include descriptions of implements to discipline the child, indifference to the child and an inability to provide a safe environment. Environmental indicators may be descriptions of unsanitary conditions at home, and dangerous conditions such as faulty electrical wiring in the home.

Physical injuries can include visible unexplained bruises, burns, a black eye, swollen lips, or fractures. Behavioral signs from the child that may be the result of abuse can include self imposed isolation destructiveness, putting themselves down, and being verbally abusive, dirty or unkempt. These cues are not guarantees of abuse. The organization needs to be aware of these situations to make proper inquires to attain more information.

Mandated reporters are not required to investigate or collect information for proof. Only a designee by the county or child protective agency may perform an investigation. However, mandated reporters may assess the situation by observing non-verbal communication injuries and asking questions and listening to potential victims. Encourage those you suspect of being abused to trust you with any concerns. Breed an environment of trust and inclusion to encourage sharing.

What to Report?

Examples of incidents a Mandated Reporter must report include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Willful cruelty
  • Unlawful corporal punishment
  • Neglect

Incidents do not include:

  • Public fighting between minors
  • Reasonable and necessary force by a police officer
  • A homeless child or unaccompanied youth
  • Reasonable, age appropriate spanking without risk or injury to the child


How to Protect?


Training must include identifying and reporting child abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Train Mandated Reporters annually if your organization is a public school. Train every two years if your organization is a licensed childcare provider. Train mandated reporters of a licensed child daycare or licensee applicant during the first 90 days of employment.

If you see it, report it immediately by phone. Within 36 hours of receiving the information, submit a written report sent by fax or electronic submission to a welfare department, police department, or a county probation department. Submit these reports on the Department of Justice form: SS8572: Suspected child abuse report. When more than one person that’s required to report child abuse or neglect has knowledge or suspects it has occurred they can agree on one person to make the report.

Consequences

Mandated reporters failing to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect can receive up to 6 months in county jail, a fine of $1,000, or both. Mandated Reporters who intentionally conceal his or her failure to report an occurrence discovered to be child abuse or neglect is considered to be in violation of a continuing offense.

Conclusion

No organization wants to be responsible for harm that comes to children. With the proper training, the company can put in place a protocol to make their work environment a respectful place for minors and all employees. Taking the time to prepare employees about what actions to take not only complies with California law but also protects the children in our communities.

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