Deciding to report suspected child abuse or neglect is a tough decision for all child care providers. Here are some guidelines for deciding when to make a report.
- Report immediately if a child is in danger. Take action and dial 911 if a child could be seriously hurt.
- Report concerns by phone within 24 hours if your concerns are serious, but you do not feel the child is in immediate danger. It is easier to remember details and information that happened just a few hours ago. But if 24 hours passes, it is still okay to call in. The important thing is to report your concern.
- Report when an issue for concern keeps happening over and over. Sometimes we don’t notice things until they have happened several times. Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable about something, write down what you are seeing. Even short, brief notes can be helpful in filing the report and can provide useful information to a child abuse investigator.
- Don’t wait for absolute proof. Although it is important to take notes to confirm what you are seeing, waiting for absolute proof may put the child at serious risk. You also are legally responsible if the child should be injured further or dies.
- Report again if help is delayed. If you notice continued abuse or neglect after your report, call in your concerns again and again if needed. Agencies that deal with child abuse reports are often understaffed. Many children have been injured or have died after a report was made because trusted adults assumed the problem was being dealt with. Have the courage to speak up as often as needed until you are sure of a child’s safety.
For More Information
If you are a child care provider faced with reporting and responding to suspected abuse or neglect, the following articles may help you.