Being a Mandated Reporter in New York State: A Helpful Summary Guide

a teacher calling a hotline

Content Warning: Abuse, Trauma // This article discusses child abuse and trauma, a topic that may be upsetting or disturbing for some readers. Readers are encouraged to take the necessary steps for their emotional safety. Please seek professional help if necessary.

Children are a vulnerable group in society. They require additional care and protection from the adults around them. Unfortunately, it is a tragic fact that 1 in 7 children experience abuse and/or neglect each year. In 2020, a staggering 618,000 children became victims of abuse and maltreatment, and 1,750 children died from abuse. Of these, 59,000 were from New York State (NYS), with 105 deaths.

We all have a moral responsibility to report child abuse and neglect when we encounter it. Additionally, you may work in a profession that has a legal responsibility to report cases of child abuse or neglect – to be a New York State mandated reporter.

What does it mean to be a mandated reporter in NYS? Which professions are covered under this law? What are the requirements of being an NYS mandated reporter and how can you get the necessary certificate? We answer all these questions and more in this summary guide for mandated reporters in New York State.

What Is Mandatory Reporting?

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is a federal law that was initially passed in 1974. Among other things, it supports the mandatory reporting of instances of child abuse and maltreatment. Mandatory reporting assigns people working in certain professions a legal and binding obligation to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

It also provides for the creation of a round-the-clock central registry to receive such reports. In New York, this registry is the State Central Register (SCR). This law also covers the creation of local Child Protective Services (CPS) to receive and investigate registered reports – the Office of Children and Family Services in New York.

Who is a Mandated Reporter?

Some adults are in a special position to observe, interact, and communicate with children (anyone under 18) in their professional roles. People in these professions are uniquely placed to identify signs of child abuse, neglect, and maltreatment – that’s why they are mandated by state law to report such instances.

Medical professionals such as doctors and nurses, educators such as teachers, school administrators, and child care center workers, and law enforcement officials such as police officers are some examples of professions mandated by New York State law to report suspected child abuse and neglect to the state hotline, the New York State Central Register (SCR).

If you work in any of these professions, you have a legal responsibility to report suspected abuse and maltreatment you observe or are made aware of when you are practicing your profession​. When you are “on the clock” or “on duty”, you must report all instances of suspected abuse that you encounter – not doing so can result in severe penalties.

What Are The New York Requirements of a Mandated Reporter?

In NYS, mandated reporters are legally bound to make a report when they have reasonable cause to suspect a child is being abused in the course of carrying out their professional duties. This may occur in an encounter with the child, parent, guardian, caretaker, or other adult responsible for the child in their professional capacity.

As a mandated reporter, ask yourself: Based on my professional training, experience, and observations – do I believe that a child is being harmed or placed in danger by the adult responsible for them? If so, you must log a report with SCR.

Make a report by calling the SCR toll-free hotline at 1-800-342-3720. This hotline is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Within 48 hours of making the oral report, you must file the Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Maltreatment (LDSS-2221-A) form with the appropriate local Child Protective Services.

While your report has to be based on a reasonable belief supported by facts that the child is a victim of abuse or maltreatment​, there may be instances where you have little information on which to base your suspicion. In these cases, it is still recommended to call the SCR hotline. A trained specialist at the SCR would be able to guide you on whether the incident should be registered as a report.

Do note that it is NOT your duty as a mandated reporter to determine whether or not there is abuse, neglect, or maltreatment​.

Any report made with SCR is presumed to be made “in good faith” – that it is done out of earnest concern for the welfare of a child. Rest assured as well that as a mandated reporter, your confidentiality is protected.

Penalties for Failure to Report

Despite being legally required to report all suspected instances of child abuse or maltreatment, not every case gets reported. To prevent underreporting, many states, including New York, have implemented penalties for failure to report.

If you encounter a suspected instance of child abuse and fail to report it, you could be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. The penalty for this is up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. You could also be held liable for damages caused by failure to report.

How To Get Your NYS Mandated Reporter Certificate

Getting your NYS mandated reporter certificate can easily be done online. In this 2-hour course, you will learn to evaluate situations to determine whether there is reasonable cause to suspect child abuse, identify physical and behavioral indicators of abuse and maltreatment, and how to effectively report cases of suspected child abuse.

One thing to note is that both the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) have their own lists of approved training providers for the Mandated Reporter Certificate. Some courses may only be approved by one or the other so do ensure that you are taking the correct training for your board and your profession!

#1 Premiere Continuing Education offers New York: Child Abuse Identification & Reporting, approved for all professions by NYSED and NYDOH. Our course is available in both English and Spanish.

How Long is the NYS Mandated Reporter Training Good For?

You are only required to complete the mandated reporter training once. After successful completion of the training, your results will be submitted electronically to NYSED. We recommend that you maintain a copy of your training certificate for your records.

Get Started with Your NYS Mandated Reporter Training

Protecting our society’s vulnerable – children – requires a concerted effort from everyone in society. As a mandated reporter, you can do your part in helping to keep our children safe and healthy. Get the information and tools you need to be able to fulfill your legal obligation and moral duty by completing your NYS Mandated Reporter Training with #1 Premiere Continuing Education. Click here to take the Child Abuse Identification and Reporting course today – Available in English and Spanish.

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