The following has been edited from the State of Connecticut DCF document "Summary of Connecticut's Child Abuse Reporting Laws". To view this document in its entirety, please visit the DCF website.
What Mandated Reporters Need to Know
Connecticut Child Abuse Reporting Laws
The following is an outline of the legal requirements of "mandated reporters," those professionals who, because their work involves regular contact with children, are mandated by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect. For a complete copy of the law, refer to Sections 17a-101 through 17a-103a, inclusive of the Connecticut General Statutes.
What Must Be Reported
Mandated reporters are required to report or cause a report to be made when, in the ordinary course of their employment or profession, they have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child under the age of 18 has been abused, neglected or is placed in imminent risk of serious harm. (Connecticut General Statutes §17a-101a)
When making a report, a mandated reporter is required to provide the following information, if known:
- names and addresses of the child and his parents or responsible caregiver(s)
- child's age and gender
- nature and extent of injury, maltreatment or neglect
- approximate date and time the injury, maltreatment or neglect occurred
- the circumstances in which the injuries, maltreatment or neglect became known to the reporter
- previous injury, maltreatment or neglect of the child or siblings
- name of the person suspected to have caused the injury, maltreatment or neglect
- any action taken to treat or help the child
- any other information the reporter believes would be helpful
Mandated reporters who, outside the ordinary course of their employment or profession, have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child under the age of 18 is in imminent risk of being abused or has been abused or neglected, can and should make a report to the Hotline.
How to Report
Mandated reporters must report orally to the Department of Children and Families'(DCF) Hotline or a law enforcement agency WITHIN 12 HOURSof suspecting that a child has been abused or neglected and must submit a written report (DCF-136 form) to DCF within 48 hours of making the oral report. DCF is required to tape record all reports to the Hotline.
Special reporting requirements may apply for staff members of a public or private institution or facility that cares for such child, or a public or private school. (See pages 4-5).
Police must report to DCF immediately upon receipt of any oral report of abuse or neglect.
Upon receipt of any oral report alleging sexual abuse or serious physical abuse or serious neglect, DCF must report to the appropriate state or local law enforcement agency within 12 hours.
Mandated reporters are required to give their name when they make a report to DCF, however, reporters may request anonymity to protect their privacy. This means that DCF would not disclose their name or identity unless mandated to do so by law (Connecticut General Statutes, Sections 17a-28 and 17a-101). Unless a reporter gives written consent, his or her name will not be disclosed except to:
a DCF employee
a law enforcement officer
an appropriate state's attorney
an appropriate assistant attorney general
a judge and all necessary parties in a court proceeding
a state child care licensing agency, executive director of any institution, school or facility or superintendent of schools
If DCF suspects or knows that the reporter knowingly makes a false report, his or her identity shall be disclosed to the appropriate law enforcement agency and the person may be subject to the penalty described in the next section.
Immunity and Penalty
Immunity from civil or criminal liability is granted to people who make required reports in good faith. Immunity is also granted to people who in good faith have not reported. However, failure to report could result in fines, which range from $500 to $2,500 and the individual will be required to participate in an educational and training program. In addition, mandated reporters could also be sued for damages if further injury is caused to the child because they did not act.
Anyone who knowingly makes a false report of child abuse or neglect shall be fined up to $2,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both. The identity of any such person shall be disclosed to the appropriate law enforcement agency and to the perpetrator of the alleged abuse.
Employers may not discharge, discriminate or retaliate against an employee for making a good faith report or testifying in an abuse or neglect proceeding. The Attorney General can bring a court action against any employer who violates this provision, and the court can assess a civil penalty of up to $2,500 plus other equitable relief.
Informing the Family
Mandated reporters are under no legal obligation to inform parents that they have made a report to DCF about their child. However, depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary and/or beneficial to do so.
When a child is suspected of being abused, neglected or placed at imminent risk of serious harm by a member of the staff of a private or public school or an institution that cares for the child, the person in charge of the school or facility must notify the child's parent or other person responsible for the child's care that a report has been made. It is DCF's responsibility to notify the head of such school, facility or institution that a report has been made.
Health care professionals may need to talk with parents to assess the cause of the child's injury(ies). Mental health professionals or members of the clergy may want to talk with the parents to offer support and guidance.
HOWEVER, IN CASES OF SERIOUS PHYSICAL ABUSE OR SEXUAL ABUSE, IT MAY NOT BE WISE TO TALK WITH PARENTS BEFORE REPORTING THE CASE TO DCF. THIS MAY PUT THE CHILD AT GREATER RISK AND COULD INTERFERE WITH A POTENTIAL CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION.
Suspected Abuse By a School Employee
Mandated reporters are required to report any suspected child abuse, neglect or imminent risk of serious harm directly to DCF or the police. This includes situations when the alleged perpetrator is a school employee. DCF must notify the head of the school that a report has been made, unless such person is the alleged perpetrator.
Where to Call
The Department has a single point of contact statewide for the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect. This Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline operates 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Anyone who suspects that a child has been abused or neglected or is in danger of abuse or neglect is strongly encouraged to call the Hotline.DCF Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-800-842-2288
TDD Number: 1-800-624-5518
The Hotline is staffed by full-time, highly-skilled professionals of the Department who receive and process reports of alleged child abuse and neglect. The Hotline worker gathers critical information from the caller to determine if a report meets Connecticut's statutory criteria for child abuse or neglect. Those reports that meet the criteria are forwarded to a DCF case investigator for prompt and appropriate action.
To see and/or download a copy of the reporting form (DCF-136) please click here (Adobe .Pdf document).
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