Mandated reporters are professionals who, through the course of their work, interact regularly with children. Mandated reporters are required by law to report any suspected incidents of child abuse to the proper authorities. Many myths revolve around the facts about mandated reporters.
Types of Mandated Reporters
Professions involving mandated reporters include teachers, social workers, therapists, dentists, doctors and other medical professionals.
Responsibilities of the Mandated Reporter
A mandated reporter is required to contact Child Protective Services any time there is reasonable cause to suspect child abuse. Reported suspicion of child abuse occurs when an observation is made through the course of regular professional interaction with the child. For example, a doctor may notice signs of abuse during a routine check-up. A teacher may notice markings when the child arrives at school. He is then required to make his report. After making the initial oral contact, a written report must be filled out and returned to the designated office. Sometimes, further documentation supporting the alleged child abuse is also requested and must be provided. The mandated reporter is not required to make reports of possible abuse observed outside of the professional realm, such as when shopping or walking past a house. However, in these situations, observers are encouraged to make a report.
When to Make a Report
Mandated reporters should make their report anytime they observe signs of physical or sexual abuse in or on a child. They also must report it if they hear a parent or legal guardian talking about abuse being done by another person to the child. Neglect and maltreatment cases must also be reported. These are incidents that include parents failing to provide basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, education or medical care) as well as parents administering excessive corporal punishment. Other cases include abandonment and excessive use of drugs and alcohol. A parent suffering from poverty or otherwise financially unable to provide for her child is not meant to be reported.
Misconceptions About HIPAA
Some believe that the privacy guaranteed by HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws prevents them from making a report of child abuse. Mandated reporters must still make their report; however, any documentation directly related to the suspected abuse must be provided, regardless of the privacy laws. Extra information with no bearing on the case is protected by the HIPAA laws.
Misconceptions About Parental Consent
Some mandated reporters believe they require parental consent before filing a report with Child Protective Services. Although it's encouraged to notify parents that information is being shared with regard to a case, it is not necessary. Also, even if a parent refuses to consent to records being shared with caseworkers, mandated reporters are still required to provide all required information.
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