Table of Contents
1.2 Legal Requirements of Mandated Reporters
If a mandated reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or may be subjected to abuse or neglect or observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in abuse or neglect, that person shall immediately report to the Children’s Division.
When thought of in terms of legal burdens of proof, reasonable cause to suspect is a very low standard–lower than probable cause.
Abuse is not limited to abuse inflicted by a person responsible for the child’s care, custody and control, but shall also include abuse inflicted by any other person. Mandated reporters must report all concerns of child abuse and neglect. The issue of care, custody, and control is handled through screening protocols at the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline Unit (CANHU).
The mandated reporter statute explicitly prohibits anyone from conducting an internal investigation prior to reporting the concern to the Division.
The reporting requirements are individual, and no supervisor or administrator may impede or inhibit any reporting under this section.
No one making a report shall be subject to any sanction, including any adverse employment action, for making such report.
Every employer shall ensure that any employee required to report has immediate and unrestricted access to communications technology necessary to make an immediate report and is temporarily relieved of other work duties for such time as is required to make the report.
All mandated reporters are required by law to report concerns of abuse and neglect; even if they have knowledge the concern has already been reported. Children’s Division staff should not deter any mandated reporter from making a report of abuse and neglect because a report has already been made. When multiple mandated reporters have knowledge of abuse and neglect, they may be encouraged to make one collective report.
If two or more members of a medical institution, who are required to report, jointly have knowledge of a known or suspected instance of child abuse or neglect, a single report may be made by a designated member of that medical team.
Any member who has knowledge that the member designated to report has failed to do so shall thereafter immediately make the report. Nothing is meant to preclude any person from reporting abuse or neglect.
This is the only exception allowed to the individual reporting requirement.
Any person or individual required to report may also report the suspicion of abuse or neglect to any law enforcement agency or juvenile office. Such report shall not, however, take the place of reporting to the Children’s Division.
For example, if a mandated reporter needs immediate assistance they may first contact law enforcement. Under the statute, they must still make a report to the Children’s Division.
If a mandated reporter has reason to believe that the victim is a resident of another state or was injured as a result of an act which occurred in another state, the reporter, in lieu of reporting to the Missouri Children’s Division, make such a report to the child protection agency of the other state. If the other state accepts the report, no report is required to be made, but may be made, to the Children’s Division.