Suspicions, accusations, and evidence of child abuse and neglect are taken very seriously in Connecticut. In order to help the state identify and investigate potential incidents of child abuse or neglect, the state maintains a mandated reporter statute.
The following explains the mandated reporter statute, answers questions about who is a mandated reporter in our state and the steps that a mandated reporter is required to take, and offers advice and guidance for parents and guardians regarding what to do if a child abuse report is made. For advice that is more specific to your case, reach out to The Christie Law Firm, LLC directly today.
What Is the Mandated Reporters Statute?
The mandated reporter statute is found in Connecticut Statutes Section 17a-101, which explains that the purpose of the mandated reporter law is to “protect children whose health and welfare may be adversely affected through injury and neglect; to strengthen the family and to make the home safe for children by enhancing the parental capacity for good child care; to provide a temporary or permanent nurturing and safe environment for children when necessary…”
For these purposes, the law requires that certain professionals report any suspected child abuse or neglect to the appropriate agency.
Who Is a Mandated Reporter?
Under the same section of the code cited above, the following professionals are considered mandated reporters and are required under the law to report suspicions or allegations of child abuse and neglect:
- Physicians and surgeons
- Resident physicians and interns in any hospital
- Registered nurses
- Licensed practical nurses
- Medical examiners
- Dental hygienists
- School employees
- Social workers
- Coaches with a coaching permit from the State Board of Education
- Coaches and directors of young athletics programs
- Any staff or faculty member employed by a private or public institution of education
- Police officers
- Probation officers
- Parole officers
- Physical therapists
- Mental health professionals
- Physical assistants
- Emergency medical providers
- Licensed alcohol and drug counselors
- Foster care parents
- Paid childcare workers
- Employees of the Department of Children and Families
- Employees of the Office of Early Childhood
- Youth camp directors and assistant directors
- Child Advocates
If one of the above professionals comes in contact with a child and suspects that abuse or neglect is occurring, they will be required under the law to report their suspicions.
Steps a Mandated Reporter Is Required to Take
If a mandated reporter has reasonable cause to believe that a child under the age of 18 is a victim of abuse or neglect, or is at risk of imminent harm, they are required to report that suspected abuse to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Under the law, an oral report must be made nearly immediately—within 12 hours of first suspecting abuse or neglect—and a formal written report must be filed within 48 hours.
What Happens After a Report of Child Abuse Is Made?
After a report of child abuse or neglect is made, DCF is responsible for opening an investigation into the allegations. Usually, the investigation will commence very shortly after the initial report is made.
During the investigation, DCF will visit the child’s home and may interview others who have observed the child and parents, such as the child’s teacher and family members. DCF will then make a determination about whether the allegations of abuse and neglect are substantiated. If the allegations are substantiated, there may be a recommendation to remove the child from the home.
How The Christie Law Firm, LLC Can Help
If you have been reported to the Department of Children and Families and DCF is commencing an investigation into your family, it is critical that you reach out to a skilled DCF defense attorney as soon as possible. Most parents and guardians don’t understand the DCF investigatory process or their rights throughout an ongoing investigation, putting them at greater risk of a negative case outcome.
An attorney can help you to understand your rights and what to do if a finding of abuse is substantiated by DCF and you are at risk of having your child removed from your home.
Call The Christie Law Firm, LLC Today
Understanding mandated reporter laws and what to do if a mandated reporter filed a report about your child with DCF is important. At The Christie Law Firm, LLC, we have years of experience in DCF cases advocating for children and families. Reach out to us today by phone at (860) 461-7494, online, or in person for the legal representation you need.