Every child welfare case starts with the initial report of abuse or neglect. The Department of Family and Children’s Services can help abuse and/or neglect victims only when problems are brought to our attention. Mandatory reporting laws exist to ensure that victims of abuse get the help they need as quickly as possible.
The primary purpose of the reporting law is to protect the child. Protecting the identified child may also provide the opportunity to protect other children in the home. It is equally important in providing help for the parents. The report of abuse may be a catalyst for bringing about change in the home environment, which in turn may help to enhance the child’s safety and family’s well-being.
A mandated reporter must make a report whenever, in his/her professional capacity or within the scope of his/her employment, he/she has knowledge of, or observes a child (a person under 18) whom the mandated reporter knows or reasonably suspects has been the victim of child abuse or neglect.
Confirmation of abuse is not required. Reporters must report whenever they have “reasonable suspicion” that abuse or neglect has occurred. "Reasonable suspicion" means that it is objectively reasonable for a person to entertain such a suspicion, based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person in a like position, drawing when appropriate on his or her training and experience, to suspect child abuse." (Penal Code 11166)
The reporting duties of a mandated reporter are individual and cannot be delegated to another individual. Supervisors or administrators may not impede or inhibit reporting by a mandated reporter, nor may they take any actions against the reporter for making a report. However, it is permissible to establish internal procedures to facilitate reporting and apprise supervisors and administrators of reports so long as these procedures are not inconsistent with the reporting act. The internal procedures shall not require any employee required to make reports by the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act to disclose his or her identity to the employer.
Who is a Mandated Reporter?
What Must Be Reported?
|Steps in Making a Report|
*** Call 911 if there is a life-threatening emergency to a child***
1. Call the Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) Child Abuse and Neglect Center to report child abuse or neglect:
- San Jose Area
- Gilroy/Morgan Hill Area
- Palo Alto Area
2. Complete a State of California Suspected Child Abuse Report (SS8572).
3. Mail the written report (SS8572) within 36 hours of receiving the information concerning the incident to the:
|Santa Clara County Department of Family and Children's Services|
|Child Abuse and Neglect Center|
|373 West Julian St. - Second Floor|
|San Jose CA 95110|
Suspected Child Abuse Report
Immunity from Liability
Mandated reporters are provided immunity from civil or criminal liability as a result of making a required or authorized report of known or suspected child abuse.
Failure to Report
Failure to report suspected abuse is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment/fine. Any person who fails to report an instance of child abuse or neglect as required by the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act is guilty of a misdemeanor with a punishment not to exceed six months in jail or $1000 or both.
A mandated reporter is required to give his or her name. The identity of all persons who report shall be confidential. Violation of statutory confidentiality is a misdemeanor. DFCS may reveal the names of reporting parties only to other investigative agencies as specified by law. No person required to report abuse will bear criminal liability for reporting. No supervisor or administrator may impede or prohibit reporting.