As a mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect, you have a duty to protect children and keep them safe. However, the legal requirements surrounding that duty can sometimes be hard to understand. If you’re a mandated reporter, you have a duty to report as a professional, but does that responsibility extend to your personal life as well?
The answer depends on your state.
Do Mandated Reporters Only Report at Work?
The answer to this question depends on the state you live and work in. Some states outline in their reporting requirements that specify specific job titles and circumstances under which a report is required. Other states make all individuals mandated reporters or extend that responsibility beyond the times when you’re serving in a professional capacity.
What is Institutional Reporting?
There are different classifications of individuals required to report, and these can come with different requirements and expectations.
Some states require a report to be made in cases when the mandated reporter is working or volunteering as a staff member of an institution, such as a school or a hospital. This is known as “institutional reporting” and can also come with specific internal policies and requirements from the institution itself. Other states require that reporters file a report regardless of if they’re serving in their official capacity or not.
It’s important to remember that even if you’re not required to report, any person is permitted to report and can help protect children and support families. Voluntary reporters are known as “permissive reporters."
States that Require Institutional or Professional Reporting
Many states require a report when the reporter, in their official or professional capacity, has reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected. This specification of “in their official capacity” is key to understanding when a report is required.
States that outline that a report is required when the reporter is working in their professional capacity and suspects abuse or neglect include:
- California, which specifies that a report is required when the reporter is serving within the scope of employment
- Connecticut, which clarifies that a report is required in the ordinary course of employment or profession
- Massachusetts, which requires reporting when the reporter is serving in their professional capacity
- New York also requires a report in the reporter’s official capacity
- North Dakota clarifies that a report is required in the reporter’s professional capacity or when evidence is found on a workplace computer
- Ohio states that reports should be made in the reporter’s professional capacity
- Pennsylvania also specifies “in course of profession” as well as several other circumstances, such as when the reporter is responsible for the care of the child
- Virginia also specifies in professional or official capacity
States that Require Reports of Suspected Abuse at Any Time
Other states expand the duty to report suspected abuse or neglect beyond the duties associated with a reporter’s profession. For example, some states require everyone to report and don’t specify specific professions. These include:
- New Jersey
Other states specify professionals who are required to report but ALSO require all persons to report regardless of profession. These include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
The answer may have specific requirements depending on your state, which makes it important to understand the full scope of your state’s regulations. For example, Oregon reporters should know their state requires reporting for suspected abuse of any child the reporter comes in contact with.
The Best Way to Know When to Report is to Get Trained
The best way to ensure you completely understand your duty as a reporter, including when a report is required and how to make that report, is to find your state’s requirements and take the available training.
To learn more and get started with your mandated reporter training, find more information on your state.