While everyone should be concerned about child abuse and neglect, certain individuals are required by law to report suspected instances. These individuals are mandated reporters. In June 2012, the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (ANCRA) was amended to include all personnel of higher education institutions as mandated reporters. This includes student workers and volunteers. Mandated reporters are required to report suspected child maltreatment immediately when they have “reasonable cause to believe” that a child (minor under the age of 18) known to them in their professional or official capacity may be an abused or neglected child (ANCRA Sec.4). This is done by calling the DCFS Hotline at 1-800-252-2873 or 1-800-25ABUSE.
Requirements and Procedures
An employee, volunteer or student who is a mandated reporter and who has reasonable cause to believe that abuse or neglect has occurred with respect to a child known to the employee or student in his or her professional capacity shall:
- Immediately report to the DCFS that he or she believes that a child may be abused or neglected. This initial report may be made by telephone to the DCFS toll-free child abuse hotline number: 1-800-25A-BUSE (1-800-252-2873). If the Hotline intake worker does not accept your call as a report, you will be informed of that fact and given the reason. Most often the explanation will relate to DCFS’ legal jurisdiction or to the evaluation of risk of harm to the child.
- If a report is taken by the Hotline worker, an investigation is usually commenced within 24 hours. A written confirmation of the verbal report must be supplied, using DCFS’ Written Confirmation of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect CANTS 5 form.The completed CANTS 5 Form should be sent within 48 hours of the initial report to the nearest local DCFS office by U.S. mail with postage prepaid. The location of the nearest DCFS office is available on the DCFS website at http://www.state.il.us/dcfs.
- If a report is taken, the employee or volunteer is encouraged to promptly inform his or her supervisor and/or a member of the Behavioral Intervention Team (Director, Human Resources/AA/EOE Officer, Vice President of Student Development and Support Services, behavioral intervention officer, crisis counselor, or deputy) that an abuse or neglect report has been made and provide the Director, Human Resources with a copy of the written confirmation of the report as submitted on the CANTS 5 Form. Internal notification is subject to the discretion of the reporter. A member of the Behavioral Intervention Team shall assist the reporter in further compliance with these procedures if the reporter requests assistance. The Director, Human Resources shall maintain in a separate confidential file copies of all CANTS 5 forms submitted to the DCFS by College employees, volunteers and students pursuant to the Act, whether as mandated or as permissive reporters.
- In cases where the individual suspected of abuse or neglect is an employee, volunteer, or student and where an incident occurred on college property or took place in connection with a college-sponsored or recognized program or activity, the reporter is required to notify the College as noted above. In the event that the individual suspected of abuse is the reporter’s supervisor or dean/associate dean/instructor/coordinator/VP, the reporter shall directly notify a member of the Behavioral Intervention Team. Should the individual suspected of abuse or neglect be the Director, Human Resources, a copy of the CANTS 5 form shall be given to the VP, Student Development and Support Services.
- If you witness child abuse or neglect actually taking place, you should contact 911. Notes: The Act prohibits anyone, including a supervisor or program coordinator, from suppressing, changing or editing an abuse or neglect report. The reporting employee’s or student’s name shall not be disclosed to the parent or guardian of the child involved unless required by law.
What is abuse?
Abuse as defined by ANCRA (Sec.3) occurs when a parent or a person responsible for the child’s welfare:
- inflicts, causes to be inflicted, allows to be inflicted, or creates a substantial risk of, physical injury by other than accidental means, which causes or would be likely to cause death, disfigurement, impairment of physical or emotional health, or loss or impairment of any bodily function;
- commits or allows to be committed a sex offense against such child;
- commits or allows to be committed an act of torture upon such child;
- inflicts excessive corporal punishment;
- commits or allows to be committed female genital mutilation; or
- causes illegal controlled substances to be sold, transferred or given to a child under age 18.
What is neglect?
Neglect occurs when a person responsible for the child deprives or fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or needed medical treatment. Neglect is also alleged when an adult provides inadequate supervision of a child. This can occur when children are left unsupervised or in the care of someone unable to supervise due to his/her condition.
What legal protections do Highland Community College employees have when making reports?
Individuals who in good faith make reports of suspected abused or neglect are provided with certain statutory immunities from civil and/or criminal liability.
What are the penalties for failing to make a required report?
Willful failure to report suspected incidents of child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor (first violation) or a class 4 felony (second or subsequent violation). In addition, an employee who fails to make a report may face disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Acknowledgment of Mandated Reporter Status
Each employee, volunteer and student who is mandated by virtue of employment, volunteer status or enrollment to report suspected child abuse or neglect pursuant to the Act shall, before he or she begins employment or participation in his or her educational program, sign the Acknowledgement of Mandated Reporter Status on the DCFS CANTS 22 Form included at the end of these procedures, confirming his or her knowledge and understanding of the reporting requirements of the Act. The signed form shall be maintained in each mandated reporter’s personnel, volunteer or student file. Employees, volunteers and students hired or enrolled in education programs prior to the amendment of the Act will be required to sign the Acknowledgement of Mandated Reporter Status as well. All Acknowledgement of Mandated Reporter Status (DCFS CANTS 22) Forms should be submitted to the HRIS Administrator/HR Generalist to ensure that the form is placed in the appropriate file.