What is your responsibility as a Mandated Reporter?
From our valued Vendor Member, Debbie Ausburn at Taylor English, we share some important information on Mandated Reporting:
Mandated Reporting: 3 Common Issues for Child Care Center Leaders
Mandated reporting is so important for the children in our care. It’s our job to protect them and remove them from abusive situations. While mandated reporting is critical for childcare centers, it can often be confusing for employees and leaders.
At the minimum, you should report physical abuse, physical neglect, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation (including sexting), emotional abuse, or witnessing domestic violence. These are three issues that I’ve noticed in childcare centers as it relates to mandated reporting.
1. Employees and volunteers mandated reporters. In Georgia, volunteers as well as employees are mandated reporters. It’s up to your organization to train both employees and volunteers. Make sure you document the training. It’s also up to your organization to decide the chain of command, or who should report directly to child protective services or law enforcement. I recommend that the employee go directly to a supervisor, and then the supervisor and the employee together file a report to child protection services. Georgia has a centralized reporting line, 1-855-GA-CHILD, that will take reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
2. There is criminal liability when child abuse is not reported. In Georgia, it’s a misdemeanor to fail to report child maltreatment. A conviction will prohibit you or your staff from working for a childcare organization in the future. There is also the potential for civil liability in the future.
3. A report should be filed within the correct time limit. Georgia requires a report within 24 hours, and the time limit starts when there is a reasonable suspicion of abuse.
If you’re on the fence about what to report, here is my guidance for red flags. Red flags should be reported, even if you don’t think the source is credible. The penalties are just too severe if you don’t make a report. Red flags include physical signs of abuse, disclosure from a child (again, even if the child is known to tell fibs, it has to be reported), or a report from another child.
By following these steps, you may be able to avoid a lawsuit that could otherwise be detrimental to your childcare center.
If you’re looking for additional resources, head to oca.georgia.gov, which has information about training and reporting.
Debbie Ausburn is a social worker turned attorney. At Taylor English, she counsels clients in the areas of litigation and dispute resolution and public interest and advocacy. As a defender for youth-serving and political advocacy organizations, she has experience in the areas of personal injury cases, intrusive government regulations, libel and slander issues, and claims of sexual abuse of children. Ms. Ausburn’s experience as a criminal prosecutor, social worker and foster parent has given her a unique understanding and awareness when defending day care centers, camps, schools and mentoring organizations.