Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect - District of Columbia

Date: May 2023

Professionals Required to Report
Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1321.02

Persons required to report include the following:

  • Child and Family Services Agency employees, agents, and contractors
  • Physicians, psychologists, medical examiners, dentists, chiropractors, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, or persons involved in the care and treatment of patients
  • Law enforcement officers or humane officers of any agency charged with the enforcement of animal cruelty laws
  • School officials, teachers, or athletic coaches
  • Department of Parks and Recreation employees, public housing resident managers, social service workers, or daycare workers
  • Human trafficking counselors
  • Domestic violence counselors or mental health professionals

Training Requirements for Mandatory Reporters

Training for mandatory reporters is not addressed in the laws and policies reviewed.

The Child and Family Services Agency offers training and resources at Mandated Reporter Training. The training includes information on the following topics:

  • Understanding the legal obligations of a mandated reporter
  • Defining the types of child abuse and neglect
  • Recognizing the signs of child abuse and neglect
  • Identifying groups of children who may be at a higher risk for abuse or neglect
  • Learning how to respond to a child who discloses abuse or neglect
  • Knowing how to prepare for and make a report of child abuse/neglect
  • Understanding the process that occurs after a report is made

Reporting by Other Persons
Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1321.02

Any other person who knows or has reason to suspect that a child is being abused or neglected may report. 

Institutional Responsibility to Report
Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1321.02

Whenever a person is required to report in their capacity as a member of the staff of a hospital, school, social agency, or similar institution, they shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, or their designated agent, who shall then be required to make the report. The fact that such a notification has been made does not relieve the person who was originally required to report from their duty to report. 

Standards for Making a Report
Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1321.02

A report is required when any of the following apply:

  • A mandated reporter knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child known to them in their professional or official capacity has been or is in immediate danger of being a mentally or physically abused or neglected child.
  • A health professional, law enforcement officer, or humane officer, except an undercover officer whose identity or investigation might be jeopardized, has reasonable cause to believe that a child is abused because of inadequate care, control, or subsistence in the home environment due to exposure to drug-related activity.
  • A mandated reporter knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child known to them in their professional or official capacity has been, or is in immediate danger of being, the victim of sexual abuse or attempted sexual abuse; the child was assisted, supported, caused, encouraged, commanded, enabled, induced, facilitated, or permitted to become a prostitute; the child has an injury caused by a bullet; or the child has an injury caused by a knife or other sharp object that was caused by other than accidental means.
  • A licensed health professional who in their own professional or official capacity knows that a child under 12 months of age is diagnosed as having a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Privileged Communications
Citation: Ann. Code §§ 4-1321.02(b); 4-1321.05

A mandated reporter is not required to report when employed by a lawyer who is providing representation in a criminal, civil (including family law), or delinquency matter and the basis for the suspicion arises solely during that representation. 

Neither the spousal nor the physician-patient privilege is permitted. 

Inclusion of the Reporter's Name in the Report
Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1321.03

Mandated reporters are required to provide their names, occupations, and contact information. 

Disclosure of the Reporter's Identity
Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1302.03

The child protection register staff shall not release any information that identifies the source of a report or the witnesses to the incident referred to in a report to the alleged perpetrator of the abuse, the child's parent or guardian, or a child-placing agency investigating a foster or adoptive placement, unless said staff first obtains permission from the source of the report or from the witnesses named in the report.