Saland Bill Regarding Child Abuse Reporting Requirements Signed Into Law By The Governor

Stephen M. Saland

July 13, 2007

Senator Steve Saland (R,I,C Poughkeepsie) today announced that the Governor has signed his bill, S.3913A, which ensures that child abuse and maltreatment reports made by mandated reporters at schools, child care facilities, foster care agencies, residential facilities, hospitals and mental health facilities are made in a timely fashion.

Mandated reporters are persons who are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse or maltreatment which they may come across when acting in their professional capacity. Some examples of mandated reporters are: teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers and day care providers. In recent years, some schools and facilities have interpreted the law to mean that mandated reporters must report to a designated school or facility employee, who then notifies the proper law enforcement authorities. This has led, in some cases, to reports not being made in a timely fashion or not being made at all.

"When children are abused by their parents or guardians, the ones who are supposed to protect them from harm, their last line of protection may often be a teacher or health care professional, who may be in a position to notice the signs of possible abuse," said Senator Saland. "As mandated reporters, teachers and others, such as employees of residential or mental health facilities, who deal with children in their professional capacity, need to directly report their suspicions of abuse to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, in addition to relying on an existing chain of command. This will assure that reports do not fall through the cracks," Saland continued.

The new law also clarifies, for the purposes of mandatory reporting, that the term school official includes school teacher, school guidance counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, school nurse, school administrator or other school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate. The existing law referred to school officials as mandated reporters but did not clarify what school employees were included in that definition.

"Simply put, the end result is about improving the system to better protect children," Saland continued.

The new law takes effect in October.