August 18, 2014 New Legislation Regarding Mandated Reporters of Suspected Child Abuse
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
The Governor recently signed legislation expanding the list of persons mandated to report cases of suspected child abuse and requiring the Commissioner of Education to issue regulations regarding required coursework for reporting child abuse and maltreatment for individuals holding temporary coaching licenses or professional coaching certificates. The following is a summary of the obligation to report suspected child abuse and the changes effected by the new legislation.
Mandated Reports of Suspected Child Abuse
Pursuant to the Social Services Law, school officials are required to submit a report when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused or maltreated. The nonexclusive list of school officials required to submit a report includes teachers, guidance counselors, psychologists, social workers, nurses, administrators and other school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate.
All reports must be made immediately by telephone or by fax on a form supplied by the Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services. All verbal reports must be followed by a written report within 48 hours. Verbal reports must be made to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. Written reports must be made to the appropriate local child protective service, except for reports involving children being cared for in a home operated or supervised by an authorized agency or the Office of Children and Family Services, which must be made to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. All written reports must be made on a form supplied by the Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services (a copy of the form of report is attached to this memo). In addition to the information requested on the report form, all reports must include the name, title and contact information for every staff member of the institution believed to have direct knowledge of the allegations in the report. Whenever an official is required to report a case, he/she must notify the person in charge of the school, who will then be responsible for all subsequent administration required by the report.
Any official required to report a case of suspected abuse may take or cause to be taken photographs of the areas of trauma visible on the child and, if medically indicated, cause a radiological examination to be performed on the child. However, once the official notifies the person in charge of the school of the case, the person in charge must take or cause to be taken color photographs of the visible trauma and, if medically indicated, cause a radiological examination to be performed on the child.
A school is prohibited from taking any retaliatory personnel action against an employee because the employee believes he/she has reasonable cause to suspect abuse and makes a report of the suspected abuse. An official who is required to report a case of suspected abuse who willfully fails to do so will be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and will be civilly liable for the damages proximately caused by his/her failure.
Additionally, all schools must provide all employees with written information explaining the mandated reporting requirements set forth in the Social Services Law.
Amendment to Social Services Law Section 413
Social Services Law Section 413 provides a nonexclusive list of school officials required to report suspected cases of abuse, including “school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate.” Prior to the new legislation, it was unclear whether school athletic coaches are mandated reporters. The new legislation amends Social Services Law Section 413 to clarify that coaches who are paid employees of a school district or BOCES have a duty to report suspected abuse. As with other mandated reporters, these coaches will be protected from civil liability resulting from reports that are proven unfounded. This amendment will take effect on July 1, 2015.
New Education Law Section 3036
The new legislation also adds a new Section 3036 to the Education Law, which will require the Commissioner of Education to prescribe regulations requiring all individuals holding a temporary coaching license or a professional coaching certificate (as well as individuals applying for a temporary coaching license or a professional coaching certificate) to complete two hours of coursework or training regarding the identification and reporting of child abuse and maltreatment. Each applicant for a temporary coaching license or professional coaching certificate must provide the Department of Education with documentation showing that he/she completed the required training. This amendment takes effect immediately, although the Commissioner has yet to issue regulations.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of this legislation, including any regulations that are issued by the Commissioner. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the mandated reporting requirements or the new legislation.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2014