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Who Is Required to Report Child Abuse and Neglect in California?

Posted on in Family Law

California family lawyerChild abuse is an ongoing concern in the state of California, and the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) is designed to help protect children who may be at risk. Under this law, reports of suspected child abuse or neglect will result in an investigation, and if a social worker finds that the report is substantiated--meaning that they believe the alleged abuse was likely to have occurred--the suspected abuser will have their name added to the Child Abuse Central Index (CACI), in addition to any criminal charges and personal repercussions they may face.

Mandated Reporters

CANRA states that certain people are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to a police department, sheriff’s department, county probation department, or county welfare department. These people are known as “mandated reporters,” and they include:

  • School employees, including teachers, teachers’ aides or assistants, members of school district police or security departments, and people who work in child abuse prevention programs;
  • Daycare center administrators and employees;
  • Athletic coaches or assistants;
  • Administrators or employees of youth centers or organizations;
  • Employees of child care institutions, including group homes and residential care facilities;
  • Foster parents;
  • Social workers and child support agency caseworkers;
  • State or county public health employees;
  • Child visitation monitors;
  • Police officers and employees of law enforcement agencies;
  • Probation or parole officers;
  • Firefighters;
  • Emergency medical technicians and paramedics;
  • Coroners and medical examiners who perform autopsies;
  • Medical personnel, including doctors, surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, interns, dentists, dental hygienists, and optometrists;
  • Marriage and family therapists, trainees, and assistants;
  • Members of the clergy, including priests, ministers, and rabbis;
  • Alcohol and drug counselors;
  • Animal control officers;
  • Commercial developers or processors of photographic film or video images; and
  • Commercial computer technicians.

A mandated reporter is not required to provide proof of neglect or abuse; they only need to report their reasonable suspicion that abuse or neglect has occurred. The identity of a person who makes a report will not be disclosed to anyone who is not directly involved in investigating the case, but they may be required to testify in court, at which point their identity will become known.

Mandated reporters are immune from criminal or civil liability for making a report, but failure to report suspected abuse or neglect can result in misdemeanor criminal charges that are punishable by six months in prison and/or a maximum $1,000 fine. They may also be subject to civil liability for damages that occurred because of their failure to report their suspicions.

Defense Against Allegations of Child Abuse

The requirements for mandated reporters to report their suspicions, the penalties of failing to make a report, and the lack of repercussions for making a false report combine to make it likely that innocent people will be investigated for child abuse or neglect. In fact, there are, on average, around 486,000 allegations of child abuse or neglect reported in California each year, and only around 89,000 of these allegations are substantiated. This means that 82% of reports are inconclusive, unfounded, or closed without an investigation.

If you are being investigated for child abuse or neglect, or if you have been notified that your name has been listed in the CACI, you need an experienced, compassionate attorney on your side. At the Law Offices of Benita Ventresca, we will help you determine your best options for defense, working to help your family reach the best outcome to a difficult situation. Contact a Los Gatos family law attorney today at 408-395-8822 to schedule a free consultation.



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