Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect - Washington

Date: May 2023

Professionals Required to Report
Citation: Rev. Code § 26.44.030

The following persons are required to report:

  • Practitioners, including persons licensed to practice podiatric medicine and surgery, optometry, chiropractic, nursing, dentistry, osteopathic medicine and surgery, or medicine and surgery
  • Duly accredited Christian Science practitioners
  • County coroners, or medical examiners
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Professional school personnel, including, but not limited to, teachers, counselors, administrators, child care facility personnel, and school nurses
  • Registered or licensed nurses, social service counselors, psychologists, or pharmacists
  • Employees of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families
  • Licensed or certified child care providers or their employees
  • Employees of the Department of Social and Health Services
  • Juvenile probation officers 
  • Placement and liaison specialists, responsible living skills program staff, or HOPE center staff
  • State family and children's ombuds or any volunteer in the ombuds's office
  • Host home programs
  • Persons who supervise employees or volunteers who train, educate, coach, or counsel children or have regular unsupervised access to children 
  • Department of Corrections personnel 
  • Any adult with whom a child resides
  • Guardians ad litem and court-appointed special advocates

The reporting requirement also applies to administrative and academic or athletic department employees, including student employees, of public and private institutions of higher education. 

Training Requirements for Mandatory Reporters

Citation: Rev. Code § 26.44.030(23)

The department shall make available on its public website a downloadable and printable poster that includes the reporting requirements included in this section. The poster must be no smaller than 8 1/2 by 11 inches with all information on one side. The poster must be made available in both the English and Spanish languages. Organizations that include employees or volunteers subject to the reporting requirements of this section must clearly display this poster in a common area. At a minimum, this poster must include the following:

  • Who is required to report child abuse and neglect
  • The standard of knowledge to justify a report
  • The definition of reportable crimes
  • Where to report suspected child abuse and neglect
  • What should be included in a report and the appropriate timing

For more information, see How to Report Child Abuse or Neglect.

Reporting by Other Persons
Citation: Rev. Code § 26.44.030

Any person who has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect may report. 

Institutional Responsibility to Report

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed. 

Standards for Making a Report
Citation: Rev. Code § 26.44.030

A report is required when any of the following apply:

  • A reporter has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect.
  • Any person, in their official supervisory capacity with a nonprofit or for-profit organization, has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect caused by a person over whom they regularly exercise supervisory authority.
  • Department of Corrections personnel observe offenders or the children with whom the offenders are in contact and, as a result of these observations, have reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect.
  • Any adult has reasonable cause to believe that a child who resides with them has suffered severe abuse.

Privileged Communications
Citation: Rev. Code §§ 26.44.030; 26.44.060; 5.6.060

No one shall be required to report when they obtain the information solely from a privileged communication, as provided in § 5.6.060.

Information considered privileged by statute and not directly related to reports required by this section must not be divulged without a valid written waiver of the privilege. 

Conduct conforming with reporting requirements shall not be deemed a violation of the confidential communication privilege of §§ 5.60.060 (3) and (4) (regarding clergy-penitent and physician-patient privilege), 18.53.200 (regarding optometrist-patient privilege), and 18.83.110 (regarding psychologist-client privilege). 

Effective July 23, 2023: A member of the clergy, a Christian Science practitioner, or a priest shall not, without the consent of a person making the confession or sacred confidence, be examined as to any confession or sacred confidence made to them in their professional character, in the course of discipline enjoined by the church to which they belong.

A physician or surgeon, osteopathic physician or surgeon, or podiatric physician or surgeon shall not, without the consent of their patient, be examined in a civil action as to any information acquired in attending such patient, which was necessary to enable them to prescribe or act for the patient, except in any judicial proceedings regarding a child's injury, neglect, or sexual abuse or the cause thereof.

Inclusion of the Reporter's Name in the Report
Citation: Rev. Code § 26.44.030

The department shall make reasonable efforts to learn the name, address, and telephone number of the reporter. 

Disclosure of the Reporter's Identity
Citation: Rev. Code § 26.44.030

The department shall provide assurances of appropriate confidentiality of the identification of persons reporting under this section.