What is Mandated Reporting?
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.
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 reports are made by mandated reporters, making them a first line of defense. The law protects and prevent further abuse and its 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:
- DFCS’ centralized intake is available 24/7, 1-855-GACHILD (1-855-422-4453)
OR you can report online (requires online training prior to report)
- If the child is in immediate danger, report to law enforcement (911).
- Remember to comply with any internal workplace protocols.
Reporting During COVID-19
In times of crisis and economic insecurity, rates of child abuse and neglect increase. However, reports to Georgia’s Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline have declined dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. When children stay at home, they are isolated from places where adults often look out for their safety and well-being including schools, child care facilities, places of worship and other public areas.
Protecting Children Amidst Crisis: A Mandated Reporter’s Role
Mandated Reporter Training Options:
For Educators & Virtual Workers
During the 2019 General Assembly session, HB 12 passed, which requires public schools to post signs displaying the child abuse reporting hotline, 1-855-GA-CHILD. Request Poster by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reporting Posters Geared Toward Students
Poster for Elementary School (English & Spanish)
Poster for Middle & High School (English & Spanish)
Free Online Training: Protecting Children during a crisis, Darkness to Light’s child sexual abuse prevention strategies for covid-19.
Children and Youth:
Helplines, Live Chats, and Texting Services
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, have translators for over 200 languages to help callers who speak a language other than English. All calls are anonymous.
For immediate access to routine or crisis services in Georgia, please call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225, 24/7. The My GCAL app allows youth to call, text, or chat with GCAL 24/7/365. The caring professionals of GCAL are ready to help!
What is Reportable to DFCS?
Neglect– The failure to provide proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or morals; the failure to provide a child with adequate supervision necessary for such child’s well-being; or the abandonment of a child by his or her parent, guardian, or legal custodian. (O.C.G.A. § 49-5-180(5)(B))
Sexual Abuse or sexual exploitation of a child– Exploitation of a child for the sexual gratification of an adult or older child. Includes: fondling, sodomy, rape, commercial sexual exploitation of children (sex trafficking), indecent exposure and exhibitionism, or utilizing the internet as a vehicle for exploitation.
Child Endangerment (OCGA 19-7-5)
- Prenatal Abuse- Exposure to chronic or severe use of alcohol or the unlawful use of any controlled substance, which results in an infant testing positive at birth or presenting physical or developmental signs of maternal substance abuse or alcohol abuse at birth(§ 15-11-2(56)). Infant must be born and identified by medical personnel as being affected by substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms from drug exposure or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASDs).
- When a person intentionally allows a child under the age of 18 to witness the commission of a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery; or a person has knowledge that a child under the age of 18 is present and sees or hears the act, commits a forcible felony, battery, or family violence battery.
- Any person who intentionally causes or permits a child to be present where any person is manufacturing methamphetamine
- Driving under the influence with a child in the vehicle
How are Reports Handled?
The Department of Family and Child Services (DFCS) receives the report and then sends out a social worker to determines if there is cause for an investigation. It is DFCS’s responsibility to take appropriate measures to protect the child.
Who Must Report?
- 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 : 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: 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.