As a mandated reporter, you're always on the lookout for signs of child abuse or neglect. This duty includes watching for signs of physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, human trafficking, emotional abuse, and parental substance use. When you do see a sign, it’s vital to know who you need to contact and how, and how long you have to report child abuse. A quick response can save a life.
How Soon Should A Mandated Reporter Report Abuse?
Failing to report child abuse has serious consequences. In many states failing to report is considered a misdemeanor. In some states, it can even be upgraded to a felony. Because of this, mandated reporters need to know how long they have to report suspected abuse.
How long do I have to make the initial report?
Almost all states and U.S. territories require that mandated reporters report incidences of child abuse immediately or as soon as practically possible. A fast response time can make a huge difference for the child involved, making it imperative to respect this window of time.
Some states further clarify this time frame by setting a specific window. For example:
- Connecticut: Your report must be made no more than 12 hours after cause to suspect.
- Idaho, Nevada, Vermont, and the North Mariana Islands: You must report no later than 24 hours after reasonable suspicion.
- Texas, Washington, West Virginia: Your report must be made no more than 48 hours after suspicion.
In Minnesota, suspected abuse at any point within the preceding three years must be reported immediately.
Many states require that this report be made via telephone hotline, but some, like Nevada and New York, allow electronic or other forms of report if it's the fastest method. If you have reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect, contact the appropriate state authorities to report immediately.
How long do I have to submit a written report after my initial report?
18 states and several territories require a written report following an initial oral report. The window of time for this written report is usually between 24 and 48 hours.
These states and territories, and associated timeframe for the written report, include:
- California: 36 hours
- Colorado: As soon as possible
- Connecticut: 48 hours
- Hawaii: As soon as possible
- Illinois: 48 hours
- Iowa: 48 hours
- Louisiana: 5 days
- Maryland: 48 hours
- Massachusetts: 48 hours
- Michigan: 72 hours
- Minnesota: 72 hours excluding weekends and holidays
- Mississippi: As soon as possible
- Nevada: As soon as possible
- New York: 48 hours
- Pennsylvania: 48 hours
- Rhode Island
- American Samoa
- Guam: 48 hours
- Puerto Rico: 48 hours
In a further nine states, DC, and the Virgin Islands, a written report is required only when requested by the agency that received the initial report. This includes:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
Responding immediately whenever child abuse or neglect is suspected can save a life. Getting training can help you recognize the signs and know where to report to help you respond promptly. View resources for your state.