State Laws. B. Child Abuse Reporting Requirements


1. Inclusion of statutory rape in reporting requirements

Mandated reporters are required to report all instances where they suspect that a child has been a victim of abuse.[549] The definition of abuse makes specific reference to offenses in the penal code, including those listed in the previous section. However, the definition only applies to those cases where a child’s parent or other person responsible for his or her care committed the offense or allowed the offense to be committed.[550]

2. Mandatory reporters

Mandated reporters include persons in any of the following positions who encounter a case of abuse through their professional or official capacity: physical and mental health practitioners; social workers; marriage and family therapists; school officials; social services workers; day care providers; substance abuse counselors; law enforcement officials; and district attorneys and assistant district attorneys.[551]

3. Who to report to

The Office of Children and Family Services is required to maintain a statewide toll-free central register to receive reports of abuse at all times.[552] Mandated reporters must report all cases of suspected abuse to the central register (unless the local plan for child protective services provides that oral reports should be made to the local child protective service). This must be followed by a written report within 48 hours.[553]

4. State response

Local child protective service agencies that are designated to receive initial reports must immediately notify the central register of all reports they receive.[554] The central register must refer to the local child protective service for investigation all cases where the allegation, if true, would constitute a reportable offense. In cases where the reported offense would not be considered abuse but would constitute a crime (e.g., sex offenses perpetrated by someone other than the victim’s parent), the entity receiving the report must immediately notify law enforcement or the district attorney.[555]