Recently, I have seen an increasing number of people, including clients, get in trouble for failing to report suspected abuse either in the correct format or to the correct place. In the Florida case noted below, for example, the accused childcare workers informally asked a child services investigator who was a parent at the center for advice. No one, however, made a report to central hotline as Florida law requires. When the child later died from abuse, the police charged everyone involved in conversations about the child.
It can be confusing to know where to report. Georgia, like Florida, has a central hotline, but the statute also contemplates written reports to law enforcement or district attorneys in some situations. North Carolina requires a report to "the director of the department of social services in the county where the juvenile resides or is found." Arguably, if you have a child from North Carolina in your program in another state, you may need to report in both North Carolina and your state.
I have had clients charged when they notified their licensing agency, but failed to notify child protective services or law enforcement as their state law required. Do not assume, as too many people do, that one agency will notify the other. Also do not assume that the prosecutor in your county will let you slide as long as someone somewhere gets the report. If you do not follow the mandated reporter law to the letter, you may find yourself in the position of the center personnel in Florida who consulted with a child protective services investigator, but only informally, and found themselves arrested along with him.