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| 1 minute read

Another Mandated Reporter Faces Charges

Pennsylvania authorities have charged the director of a child care center with failure to report potential abuse. According to the complaint filed against her, the director learned from one of the center teachers that another teacher had slammed children onto a changing table and sat them down forcefully on the floor. The director said she would look into it, but she waited several days to report it to the state agency responsible for investigating. Now, because the level of alleged abuse is so high, she faces felony charges.

There are a couple of lessons here for mandated reporters. First, if what you hear from one of your employees sounds like abuse, don't take the time to investigate before reporting it. If you want to conduct an internal investigation or get written statements while waiting for authorities, you can do so. But your report needs to be the first step, not an option after you investigate.

Second, report what you have heard verbatim. In this situation, the teacher who made the report sent it in an email. The director made her own report, but allegedly did not include all of the relevant details that she had learned.  At the very least, she should have included the email from the teacher who told her about the misconduct. A much better practice that I recommend is to have any and all potential witnesses write statements, and then administrators should forward those statements to the authorities. If verbal reports are the better option because of time limits, then have the witnesses on the phone with you. Both of those practices will ensure that you don't forget any details that someone later will decide were important.

The complaint alleges that Nichols did not contact ChildLine until Oct. 1, and that her report failed to fully describe the level and pattern of the abuse that the teachers witnessed. As a result, the report was not shared with the proper authorities for six days,

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youth services law, mandated reporter, ausburn_deborah, insights