Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect - California

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Professionals Required to Report
Citation: Penal Code § 11165.7

Mandated reporters include the following:

  • Teachers, teacher's aides, administrators, and employees of public or private schools
  • Administrators or employees of day camps, youth centers, or youth recreation programs
  • Administrators or employees of licensed community care or child daycare facilities
  • Head Start program teachers
  • Public assistance workers
  • Foster parents, group home personnel, and personnel of residential care facilities
  • Social workers, probation officers, and parole officers
  • Employees of school district police or security departments
  • District attorney investigators, inspectors, or local child support agency caseworkers
  • Peace officers and firefighters, except for volunteer firefighters
  • Physicians, surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists, dentists, residents, interns, podiatrists, chiropractors, licensed nurses, dental hygienists, optometrists, marriage and family therapists, or social workers
  • State or county public health employees who treat minors for venereal diseases or other conditions
  • Coroners and medical examiners
  • Commercial film and photographic print or image processors
  • Computer technicians
  • Child visitation monitors
  • Animal control or humane society officers
  • Clergy members and custodians of records of clergy members
  • Employees of police departments, county sheriff's departments, county probation departments, or county welfare departments
  • Employees or volunteers of a court-appointed special advocate program
  • Alcohol and drug counselors
  • Employees or administrators of public or private postsecondary institutions
  • Athletic coaches, athletic administrators, or athletic directors employed by any public or private schools
  • Athletic coaches, including, but not limited to, assistant coaches or graduate assistants involved in coaching at public or private postsecondary institutions
  • A qualified autism service provider
  • A human resource employee of a business that employs minors

An adult person whose duties require direct contact with and supervision of minors in the performance of the minors' duties in the workplace is a mandated reporter of sexual abuse, as defined in § 11165.1. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to modify or limit the person's duty to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect when the person is acting in some other capacity that would otherwise make the person a mandated reporter.

Training Requirements for Mandatory Reporters

Citation: Penal Code § 11165.7

Employers are strongly encouraged to provide their employees who are mandated reporters with training in the duties imposed by this article. This training shall include training in child abuse and neglect identification and training in child abuse and neglect reporting. Whether or not employers provide their employees with training in child abuse and neglect identification and reporting, the employers shall provide their employees who are mandated reporters with the statement required pursuant § 11166.5(a).

Employers whose employees include minors shall provide their employees who are mandated reporters with training in the duties imposed by this article. This training shall include training in child abuse and neglect identification and training in child abuse and neglect reporting. The training requirement may be met by completing the general online training for mandated reporters offered by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in the State Department of Social Services.

Pursuant to § 44691 of the Education Code, school districts, county offices of education, State special schools, and diagnostic centers operated by the State Department of Education, and charter schools shall annually train their employees and persons working on their behalf in the duties of mandated reporters under the child abuse reporting laws. The training shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, training in child abuse and neglect identification and child abuse and neglect reporting.

A child care licensee applicant shall take training in the duties of mandated reporters as a condition of licensure, and a child care administrator or an employee of a licensed child daycare facility shall take training in the duties of mandated reporters during the first 90 days when that administrator or employee is employed by the facility.

A person who becomes a licensee, administrator, or employee of a licensed child daycare facility shall take renewal mandated reporter training every 2 years following the date on which that person completed the initial mandated reporter training. The training shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, training in child abuse and neglect identification and child abuse and neglect reporting.

Unless otherwise specifically provided, the absence of training shall not excuse a mandated reporter from the duties imposed by this article.

Public and private organizations are encouraged to provide their volunteers whose duties require direct contact with and supervision of children with training in the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect.

Reporting by Other Persons
Citation: Penal Code §§ 11165.7; 11166

Volunteers of public or private organizations whose duties require direct contact with and supervision of children are not mandated reporters but are encouraged to obtain training in the identification and reporting of child abuse and neglect and are further encouraged to report known or suspected instances of child abuse or neglect.

Any other person who reasonably suspects that a child is a victim of abuse or neglect may report.

For the purposes of this section, 'any other person' includes a mandated reporter who acts in their private capacity and not in their professional capacity or within the scope of their employment. 

Institutional Responsibility to Report
Citation: Penal Code § 11166(h)-(i)

When two or more persons who are required to report have joint knowledge of a known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect, and when there is agreement among them, the telephone report may be made by a member of the team selected by mutual agreement, and a single report may be made and signed by the selected member of the reporting team. Any member who has knowledge that the member who was originally designated to report has failed to do so shall thereafter make the report.

The reporting duties under this section are individual. No supervisor or administrator may impede or inhibit the reporting duties, and no person making a report shall be subject to any sanction for making the report. However, internal procedures to facilitate reporting and apprise supervisors and administrators of reports may be established, provided they are not inconsistent with this article. An internal policy shall not direct an employee to allow their supervisor to file or process a mandated report under any circumstances.

The internal procedures shall not require any employee required to make reports to disclose their identity to the employer.

Reporting the information regarding a case of possible child abuse or neglect to an employer, supervisor, school principal, school counselor, coworker, or other person shall not be a substitute for making a mandated report to an agency specified in § 11165.9. 

Standards for Making a Report
Citation: Penal Code §§ 11166; 11165.7

A report is required when the following circumstances apply:

  • A mandated reporter, in their professional capacity or within the scope of their employment, has knowledge of or observes a child whom the reporter knows or reasonably suspects is the victim of abuse or neglect.
  • Commercial film and photographic print processors have knowledge of or observe any film, photograph, videotape, negative, or slide depicting a child under age 16 engaged in an act of sexual conduct.
  • Commercial computer technicians have knowledge of or observe, within the scope of their professional capacity or employment, any representation of information, data, or an image, including, but not limited to, any computer hardware, software, file, floppy disk, data storage medium, CD-ROM, computer-generated equipment, or computer-generated image, that is retrievable in perceivable form and that is intentionally saved, transmitted, or organized on an electronic medium, depicting a child under age 16 engaged in an act of sexual conduct. 

For the purposes of this article, 'reasonable suspicion' means that it is objectively reasonable for a person to entertain a suspicion based upon facts that could cause a reasonable person in a like position, drawing, when appropriate, on their training and experience, to suspect child abuse or neglect. 'Reasonable suspicion' does not require certainty that child abuse or neglect has occurred, nor does it require a specific medical indication of child abuse or neglect; any 'reasonable suspicion' is sufficient. For the purposes of this article, the pregnancy of a minor does not, in and of itself, constitute a basis for a reasonable suspicion of sexual abuse. 

Privileged Communications
Citation: Penal Code § 11166

The clergy-penitent privilege is permitted for penitential communications. This does not modify or limit a clergy member's duty to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect when the clergy member is acting in some other capacity that would otherwise make the clergy member a mandated reporter. 

Inclusion of the Reporter's Name in the Report
Citation: Penal Code § 11167

Reports of mandated reporters shall include the following: 

  • The name, business address, and telephone number of the mandated reporter 
  • The capacity that makes the person a mandated reporter 

Reports made by other persons do not require the reporter's name. 

Disclosure of the Reporter's Identity
Citation: Penal Code § 11167

The identity of the reporter shall be confidential and disclosed only as follows:

  • Among agencies receiving or investigating mandated reports
  • To the prosecutor in a criminal prosecution or in an action initiated under § 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code arising from alleged child abuse
  • To counsel appointed pursuant to § 317(c) of the Welfare and Institutions Code
  • To the county counsel or prosecutor in a proceeding under part 4 (commencing with section 7800) of division 12 of the Family Code or § 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code
  • To a licensing agency when abuse or neglect in out-of-home care is reasonably suspected
  • When the reporter waives confidentiality
  • By court order