Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect - Wisconsin

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Professionals Required to Report
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.981

The following professionals are required to report: 

  • Physicians, coroners, medical examiners, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, acupuncturists, other medical or mental health professionals, physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, dietitians, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, emergency medical technicians, or emergency medical services practitioners 
  • Schoolteachers, administrators, or counselors
  • School employees not otherwise specified above
  • Child care workers in child care centers, group homes, or residential care centers, or child care providers 
  • Alcohol or other drug abuse counselors, marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, genetic counselors, or members of the treatment staff employed by or working under contract with a county department or a residential care center for children and youth
  • Social workers, public assistance workers (including financial and employment planners),  emergency medical responders, police or law enforcement officers, mediators, or court-appointed special advocates 
  • Members of the clergy or a religious order, including brothers, ministers, monks, nuns, priests, rabbis, or sisters

Training Requirements for Mandatory Reporters

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.981

The Department of Children and Families, a county department, and a licensed child welfare agency, to the extent feasible, shall conduct continuing education and training programs for agency staff, law enforcement agencies, Tribal social services departments, persons and officials required to report, the general public, and others as appropriate. The programs shall be designed to encourage reporting of child abuse and neglect and of unborn child abuse; to encourage self-reporting and voluntary acceptance of services; and to improve communication, cooperation, and coordination in the identification, prevention, and treatment of child abuse and neglect and of unborn child abuse.

The department offers more information on its Mandated Child Abuse and Neglect Reporters webpage, including who is required to report, what must be reported, and how to make a report. 

 The Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System offers online training for mandatory reporters at Mandated Reporter Online Training.

Reporting by Other Persons
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.981

Any person not listed as a mandatory reporter, including an attorney, may make a report if they have reason to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or who has reason to believe that a child has been threatened with abuse or neglect and that abuse or neglect of the child will occur. 

A person delegated care and custody of a child under § 48.979 is not required to report any suspected or threatened abuse or neglect of the child. Such a person may report when they have reason to suspect that the child has been abused or neglected or believes that the child has been threatened with abuse or neglect and that the abuse or neglect of the child will occur.

Institutional Responsibility to Report
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.981

No person making a report in good faith may be discharged from employment, disciplined, or otherwise discriminated against regarding their employment or threatened with any such treatment for so doing. 

Standards for Making a Report
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.981

A mandatory reporter is required to report when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child seen by them in the course of professional duties has been abused or neglected or when they have reason to believe that a child seen by them in the course of professional duties has been threatened with abuse or neglect and that abuse or neglect of the child will occur.

A health-care provider shall report if they have reason to suspect any of the following regarding a child in their care:

  • Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a caregiver has occurred or is likely to occur. 
  • The child suffered or suffers from a mental illness or mental deficiency that rendered or renders the child temporarily or permanently incapable of understanding or evaluating the consequences of their actions.
  • The child, because of their age or immaturity, was or is incapable of understanding the nature or consequences of sexual intercourse or sexual contact.
  • The child was unconscious at the time of the act or for any other reason was physically unable to communicate their unwillingness to engage in sexual intercourse or sexual contact.
  • Another participant in the sexual contact or sexual intercourse was or is exploiting the child.
  • The provider has any reasonable doubt as to the voluntariness of the child's participation in the sexual contact or sexual intercourse.

Privileged Communications
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.981

A member of the clergy is not required to report child abuse information that they receive solely through confidential communications made to them privately or in a confessional setting if they are authorized to hear or is accustomed to hearing such communications and, under the disciplines, tenets, or traditions of their religion, has a duty or is expected to keep those communications secret. Those disciplines, tenets, or traditions need not be in writing.

Inclusion of the Reporter's Name in the Report

The reporter is not specifically required by statute to provide their name in the report. 

Disclosure of the Reporter's Identity
Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.981

Reports and records that are disclosed to the following persons may not disclose any information that would identify the reporter:

  • The subject of a report
  • A child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian or the expectant mother of an unborn child
  • A child's foster parent or other person having physical custody of the child or a person having physical custody of the expectant mother of an unborn child