Reporting Procedures

The details on mandated reporting—including numbers.

When Must a Mandated Reporter Report?

Mandated reporters are to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment immediately, by telephone, at any time of day, seven days a week, to the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR).

Use the Mandated Reporter Express Line: 800.635.1522.

The non-mandated reporter hotline number is 800.342.3720.

A written report must be filed within 48 hours of this call. (See written report, below)


To Whom Does a Mandated Reporter Report?

Telephone reports should be made to the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR) Mandated Reporter Express Line.

Calls to this hotline are given priority: 800.635.1522.

Two copies of the written report, on form LDSS-2221A (A Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Maltreatment) should be signed by the reporter and filed with the local child protective services unit (CPS) within 48 hours of the telephone report.

The form can be obtained online or from the local child protective services unit. Should the situation you are reporting involve child/children from out of state or away from his or her home (in foster care or residential care), the report should be sent to the:

New York State Child Abuse and Maltreatment Register
40 North Pearl Street
Albany, NY 12243

Information about how to contact the New York City, Nassau and Suffolk County Child Protective Service Units can be found under Additional Resources.

Reporters may find it useful to keep notes for themselves, highlighting details such as dates, times, places, names, etc.

Reporters should remember that for the purposes of reporting suspected child abuse and maltreatment, the definition of who can be the subject of the report means any parent, guardian, custodian or other person 18 years of age or older who is legally responsible for a child reported to the SCR and who is allegedly responsible for causing—or allowing the infliction of—injury, abuse or maltreatment to such child.

Subject of the report may also mean an operator of or employee or volunteer in a home operated or supervised by an authorized agency, the Division for Youth, an office of the Department of Mental Hygiene, or a family day care home, day care center, group family day care home or a day services program, who is allegedly responsible for causing—or allowing the infliction of—injury, abuse or maltreatment to such child.

Should the abuse or maltreatment be caused by individuals other than the above highlighted persons (such as neighbors or strangers), law enforcement authorities should be contacted.


What Should Be Included in a Telephone Report?

Most persons find it helpful to complete a draft of the LDSS-2221A (A Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Maltreatment) prior to making the telephone report, as you will be asked very similar information. Mandated reporters should report the following as part of the telephone report:

  • Names and addresses of the child and his or her parents or other person responsible for his or her care
  • The child’s age, gender, race or other demographic data
  • The nature and extent of the child’s injuries, abuse or maltreatment, including any evidence of prior patterns of injuries, abuse or maltreatment to the child or his or her siblings
  • Name of the person(s) responsible for causing the injury, abuse or maltreatment
  • Family composition
  • The source of the report
  • Information regarding yourself as the reporter, including name, title and contact information for yourself and for any other mandated reporters or other persons with direct knowledge of abuse and neglect from your agency
  • Actions taken by the reporting source, including the taking of photographs or X-rays, removal or keeping of the child, or notifying the medical examiner or coroner
  • Any additional information that may be helpful, including where the child is currently, if there are any special needs or medications of the child, concerns local CPS should be aware of (weapons, dogs, etc.), or whether an interpreter will be required

Please note: The lack of complete information should not keep you from reporting.

If the report you make is registered by the CPS specialist, be sure to ask for the call identification number assigned to your report, as well as the full name of the CPS specialist you are speaking with. The identification number should be put on the written LDSS-221A form.

You can request a Summary of Findings, which will be sent to you following the completion of the investigation and determination of the outcome. Remember, simply because you are calling as a mandated reporter does not mean that a report will automatically be registered. If the SCR cannot register the report you are trying to make, the reason for their decision should be clearly explained to you and you should be offered an opportunity to speak to a supervisor.

Sometimes situations are more appropriate for referral to preventive services. In this case, you may contact the local CPS directly to get the family the help they need. If you are not satisfied in other ways with the outcome of your call, be sure to speak with a supervisor. One is available around the clock and can be very helpful in clarifying issues and reviewing decisions whenever this is necessary.

When the circumstances of your call to the SCR constitute a crime or an immediate threat to the child’s health or safety, but the report is not able to be registered, the SCR will send the information to the New York State Police or the New York City Police for necessary action. These are known as LERs, or Law Enforcement Referrals. LERs are not assigned a call identification number, and you do not need to complete the LDSS-2221A form.

After you complete your call to the SCR, immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school, facility or agency, or the designated agent of the person in charge, and provide the information reported to the SCR, including the names of other persons identified as having direct knowledge or the alleged abuse or maltreatment and other mandated reporters identified as having reasonable cause to suspect.


What Should Be Included in a Written Report?

The written report, on form DSS-2221 (A Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Maltreatment) can be downloaded online. It can also be obtained from the local child protective services unit.

You have 48 hours after your call to the hotline to complete this form. Remember that the safety of the child must come before the completion of the form. Information to include in the report is identical to that which was given in the telephone report. The reporter should write as clearly and objectively as possible. These are admissible as evidence in judicial proceedings. Accurate completion of the form is vital. Once completed, send the original and a copy to the local CPS office. Be sure to keep a copy on file for yourself.


What Happens Next?

When allegations contained in the phone call from a reporter can reasonably constitute a report of child abuse or maltreatment, such allegations are immediately transmitted by the New York State Department of Social Services to the appropriate local child protective service unit for investigation. This is then considered a registered report. If the department records indicate a previous report concerning a subject of the report, other persons named in the report or other pertinent information, the appropriate agency or local child protective service must be immediately notified of this fact.

The report is then investigated and a safety assessment is performed by the local CPS. The CPS agency is required to begin their investigation within 24 hours. While their first task is to determine if there is some credible evidence of abuse or maltreatment, they have 60 days to conduct their full investigation and develop a service plan. All the while, an ongoing assessment of the child occurs. A determination is then made whether or not there is credible, worthy of belief, evidence of child abuse or maltreatment. The report is then either indicated or unfounded. If it is unfounded, it is sealed and expunged 10 years after the receipt of the report. In some cases, unfounded cases may be referred for community services. If it is indicated, a determination is made about whether continued services are needed. If services are needed, a service plan is developed and there is continued monitoring of the needed services being provided. If services are no longer needed, the case is closed.

Here you can find a flow chart depicting what may happen following a report to SCR in the New York State Child Protective Services System.

Effective November 21, 2005, New York State law requires mandated reporters who make a report that initiates an investigation of an allegation of child abuse or maltreatment to comply with all requests for records made by CPS relating to such report. The mandated reporter to whom the request is directed makes the determination of what information is essential. This applies only to the records of the mandated reporter who made the report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment. The purpose of the inclusion of these records is to support a full investigation of allegations of child abuse or maltreatment, and clarifies the obligation that has always been a part of the law regarding mandated reporting in NY.


Can Mandated Reporters Inquire about the Report?

A mandated reporter can receive, upon request, the findings of an investigation made pursuant to his or her report. This request can be made to the SCR at the time of making the report, or to the local CPS at any time thereafter. However, no information can be released unless the reporter’s identity is confirmed.

If the request is made prior to the completion of the investigation of the report, the information released will be limited to whether the report is indicated (substantiated), unfounded or under investigation.

If the request is made after the completion of the investigation, the information released will be limited to whether a report is indicated, or, if the report has been expunged, that there is no record of such report. (Records are expunged for lack of credible evidence of alleged abuse or maltreatment after an investigation, or 10 years after the 18th birthday of the youngest child named in the report.)


What Else Can or Should Mandated Reporters Do?

Mandated reporters may take, or cause to be taken, at public expense, color photographs of the area of trauma on the child. Suggested guidelines for the photography of trauma.

Mandated reporters can also ask that X-rays be taken if medically indicated. These photos or X-rays must accompany the DSS-2221-A, or be sent as soon as possible after its submission, appropriately identified with the child’s name, the date and the name of the person who took them.


When Can a Child Be Taken Into Protective Custody?

A child may be taken into protective custody, without court order or parental consent, if:

  • The child is in such circumstances or condition that continuing to stay in his or her residence or in the care and custody of the parent or person legally responsible for the child’s care, presents an imminent danger to the child’s life or health
  • There is not enough time to apply for an order of temporary removal from the Family Court

Persons legally authorized to place the child into protective custody include:

  • Peace officers
  • Police officers
  • Law enforcement officials
  • Agents of a duly incorporated society for the prevention of cruelty to children
  • Designated employees of a city or county department of social services
  • Persons in charge of a hospital or similar institution

These authorized persons are to take the following actions:

  • She or he must bring the child immediately to a place designated by the rules of the Family Court for this purpose, unless the person is a physician treating the child and the child is or will be presently admitted to a hospital.
  • She or he must provide the parent or the person legally responsible with written notice, coincident with removal (Family Court Act 1024(b)(iii)).
  • She or he must immediately inform the court and make a report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment pursuant to Title 6 of the Social Services Law, as soon as possible (FCA, Sec. 1024(b)).
  • She or he must immediately notify the appropriate local child protective service, which shall commence a child protective proceeding in the Family Court at the next regular weekday session of the appropriate Family Court or recommend that the child be returned to his or her parents or guardian. In neglect cases, pursuant to Section 1026 of the Family Court Act, the authorized person or entity (usually CPS) may return a child prior to a child protective proceeding if it concludes there is no imminent risk to the child’s health.

Abuse of a Child in Your Institution by a Professional 

Anyone responsible for the care of a child can be the subject of a child protective report, including child care workers at a day care facility, and child maltreatment concerns regarding these professionals should be called directly in to the SCR.  However, sometimes professionals not responsible for the care of a child can inflict harm on that child. Since this would not be an issue for child protective, if you suspect that a professional such as a teacher, counselor or a professional in your institution has physically, sexually or emotionally abused a child, you should call your concerns directly in to law enforcement as soon as possible, in addition to letting your supervisor know about your concerns.

Adapted from: Identifying and Reporting Child Abuse and Maltreatment/Neglect: Mandated Reporter Trainer’s Resource Guide. New York State Office of Children and Family Services: CDHS/Research Foundation of SUNY/BSC (2009).
 
Follow Adelphi Social Work at: