Georgia Mandated Reporter Information
Child Maltreatment is a devastating social problem affecting millions of children and families each year in the United States. In 2016, Georgia had 115,311 children receive a CPS report of which 21,635 children had substantiated reports of abuse. More than 60% of these reports were made by mandated reporters, which is any person required by law to report suspected abuse.
Ideally, mandated reporting is the early recognition of child maltreatment with the goal of preventing further abuse from occurring. Many mandated reporters have professional relationships with children that make it possible for children to disclose abuse or for the mandated reporter to identify maltreatment. Identifying immediate danger may be clear, but other forms of maltreatment such as neglect may leave a mandated reporter questioning whether to report.
What is Mandated Reporting?
Anyone working with children under 18 years of age who have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect should report it. However, certain professions are required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect in Georgia [OCGA 19-7-5(c)(1)]. The majority of child abuse and neglect reports are made by mandated reporters, making them a first line of defense. The purpose of this law is to protect and prevent further abuse and their adverse effects as well as bring protective services into the home with the hopes of improving the child’s welfare and preserve the family when possible.
How to Report
- A report must be made within 24 hours by phone or electronically via email or fax:
- DFCS’centralized intake, 1-855-GACHILD (422-4453)
- Fill out the mandated reporter form online
- Please note that if you call centralized intake, you do not have to fill out the mandated reporter form.
- If unable to reach DFCS, or if the child is in immediate danger, report to local law enforcement (911) or district attorney in the county where the child lives.
- Remember to comply with any internal workplace protocols.
- Take the FREE online Mandated Reporter Training by clicking here.
- Request a FREE In-Person Mandated Reporter Training here.
How are Reports Handled?
The Department of Family and Child Services (DFCS) receives the report and then determines if there is cause for an investigation. It is DFCS’s responsibility to take appropriate measures to protect the child.
Who Must Report?
Georgia law generally requires those who work with families or who come in contact with children to report suspected child maltreatment. According to Georgia law, the following persons must report abuse:
- Physicians, interns or residents;
- Hospital or medical personnel;
- Licensed psychologists and interns;
- RPNs and LPNs;
- Professional counselors, social workers, or marriage and family therapists;
- School teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, visiting teachers, social workers, or psychologists;
- Child welfare agency personnel;
- Child-counseling personnel;
- Child service organization personnel (includes volunteers);
- Law enforcement personnel;
- Reproductive health care facility or pregnancy resource center personnel and volunteers
The list of mandated reporters was expanded July 1, 2012 and includes:
“Child service organization personnel” which means: persons employed by or volunteering at a business or an organization, whether public, private, for profit, not for profit, or voluntary, that provides care, treatment, education, training, supervision, coaching, counseling, recreational programs, or shelter to children.
“Clergy” means: ministers, priests, rabbis, imams, or similar functionaries, by whatever name called, of a bona fide religious organization.
Confession exception: “a member of the clergy shall not be required to report child abuse reported solely within the context of confession or other similar communication required to be kept confidential under church doctrine or practice. When a clergy member receives information about child abuse from any other source, the clergy member shall comply with the reporting requirements of this Code section, even though the clergy member may have also received a report of child abuse from the confession of the perpetrator.”
[Child Abuse Reporting Law, Georgia Code Section 19-7-5, Department of Family and Children Services]