Georgia has a new mandated reporter law. The statute does not have any sweeping changes, but only clarifies some definitions. For example, the definition of emotional abuse has adopted the language currently in custody statutes of acts or omissions that “cause any mental injury to [a] child’s intellectual or psychological capacity as evidenced by an observable and significant impairment in such child’s ability to function with a child’s normal range of performance and behavior or that create a substantial risk of impairment.”
The statute has added abandonment as a type of neglect requiring a mandated report. The definition includes specific illustrations such as failure for at least 6 months to communicate meaningfully, maintain regular visitation with the child, or participate in a reunification plan. Those situations are most likely to involve foster parents as the mandated reporter. One phrase, however, that can impact all youth organizations is when a parent is absent from home “for a period of time that creates a substantial risk of serious harm to the child left in the home.”
For a more detailed explanation of these and other changes, email me at email@example.com, and we will send you our Law Alert on the statute.