Our community asks and our wise Village Connections answer! Knowledge is power.
What is a mandated reporter? I am a nanny of two young children, and how do I find out if I am considered a mandated reporter in my state? Also, how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted reporting of child abuse and neglect?
Thank you for asking this very important question! Being aware of child abuse and neglect laws and how to appropriately report these issues can have a profound impact on a child’s life. As a nanny caring for young children, it’s important to understand if mandated reporting laws apply to you. So here’s what you need to know.
To start, a mandated reporter is someone who by law must report any suspicion of or form of child abuse and neglect. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (also known as CAPTA) is the federal law that requires states to set their own standards for who is required to report known or suspected instances of child abuse and neglect. Across all states, the professions most commonly mandated to report child abuse and neglect include social workers; teachers, principals, and other school personnel; physicians, nurses, and other health care workers; counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals; child care providers; medical examiners or coroners; and law enforcement officers. Further, any individual working in a career that is regularly in contact with children and those with disabilities may be deemed a mandated reporter, legally having the duty to report any suspected or observed case of abuse. This may include nannies, tutors, camp counselors, and many others. With that, any adult who suspects or has knowledge of neglect or abuse should contact their local authorities.
In 2019, approximately 3.5 million children were the subject of an investigation for abuse or neglect, and 656,000 were determined to be victims of maltreatment, including 1,840 fatalities. However, the outset of COVID-19 has created a challenge in ensuring cases of abuse and neglect are efficiently and effectively reported to the authorities. In 2020, children were less likely to attend school, early learning, or extended learning programs due to widespread closures, and well child visits and other doctor appointments were delayed or postponed. This means the professionals providing care for children—the professionals legally required to serve as mandated reporters in many states—were not seeing children and unable to observe and report on any suspected abuse cases. And this is reflected in the data. In March 2020, several states reported seeing a significant decline in child abuse reporting between 20% and 70%. So as children reenter schools and other care settings, it’s important to stay aware of how young children and their families are doing.
Reports of abuse and neglect can be made to your local police or your local government welfare agency. For example, in the state of Illinois, we have the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, also known as DCFS. Many other states and big cities have their own Department of Children and Family Services as well. In Illinois, suspected cases can be reported using the following hotline any time of day: 1-800-25-ABUSE (800-252-2873) or at DCFS.firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about your state’s child welfare agency and how to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect here.
To learn about who mandated reporters are in your state—or if your profession is considered a mandated reporter—review the report from the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Select your state and read up on standards and guidance for mandated reporters.
Further, reach out to me directly for information or seminars on mandated reporting and how to prevent child abuse, neglect, and human trafficking. On behalf of the Via The Village team, we are here for you.