Mandated reporters of child abuse in New York State, including school personnel, must now directly report suspicions of child abuse to the Statewide Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment, rather than rely on a head of school, principal or supervisor to do so. Governor Spitzer recently signed into law legislation that alters certain aspects of the State Social Services Law (SSL) relating to the mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse or maltreatment.
Previously, an employee who suspected that a child had been abused or maltreated could notify the person in charge of a school who then became responsible to report or cause a report to be made to the Register. Child Protective Services determined that this system contributed to problems such as the reporting of inaccurate second- and third-hand information, and diminished the ability of Child Protective Services workers to follow up with the original source of the report in a timely manner. Now, mandated reporters must themselves make a report to the hotline, and then immediately notify the person in charge of the school. The person in charge of the school, or that person's designated agent, is responsible for any follow-up necessitated by the report. Under the new law, schools are prohibited from taking any retaliatory personnel action against an employee who (i) believes that he or she has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is an abused or maltreated child and (ii) then makes a report in accordance with the law. A school cannot impose any conditions, including prior approval or prior notification, upon members of their staff who are specifically required to report.
The new legislation also clarifies which "school officials" are mandated reporters. They include, but are not limited to, school teachers, school guidance counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, school nurses, school administrators and other school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate.
The new legislation, which appears below, took effect on October 1, 2007.
LAWS OF NEW YORK, 2007
AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to including certain school employees as those persons required to report cases of suspected child abuse or maltreatment
Became a law July 3, 2007, with the approval of the Governor.
Passed by a majority vote, three-fifths being present.
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows
Section 1. Subdivision 1 of section 413 of the social services law, as separately amended by chapters 420 and 676 of the laws of 2002, is amended to read as follows:
1. The following persons and officials are required to report or cause a report to be made in accordance with this title when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child coming before them in their professional or official capacity is an abused or maltreated child, or when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is an abused or maltreated child where the parent, guardian, custodian or other person legally responsible for such child comes before them in their professional or official capacity and states from personal knowledge facts, conditions or circumstances which, if correct, would render the child an abused or maltreated child: any physician; registered physician assistant; surgeon; medical examiner; coroner; dentist; dental hygienist; osteopath; optometrist; chiropractor; podiatrist; resident; intern; psychologist; registered nurse; social worker; emergency medical technician; licensed creative arts therapist; licensed marriage and family therapist; licensed mental health counselor; licensed psychoanalyst; hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons; a Christian Science practitioner; school official, which includes but is not limited to school teacher, school guidance counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, school nurse, school administrator or other school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate; social services worker; day care center worker; provider of family or group family day care; employee or volunteer in a residential care facility defined in subdivision seven of section four hundred twelve of this title or any other child care or foster care worker; mental health professional; substance abuse counselor; alcoholism counselor; peace officer; police officer; district attorney or assistant district attorney; investigator employed in the office of a district attorney; or other law enforcement official.
(a) Whenever such person is required to report under this title in his or her capacity as a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, he or she shall make the report as required by this title and immediately notify the person in charge of such institution, school, facility or agency, or his or her designated agent [,
who then also shall become responsible to report or cause reports to be made. However, nothing]. Such person in charge, or the designated agent of such person, shall be responsible for all subsequent administration necessitated by the report. Any report shall include the name, title and contact information for every staff person of the institution that is believed to have direct knowledge of the allegations in the report. Nothing in this section or title is intended to require more than one report from any such institution, school or agency.
(b) A medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency shall not take any retaliatory personnel action, as such term is defined in paragraph (e) of subdivision one of section seven hundred forty of the labor law, against an employee because such employee believes that he or she has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is an abused or maltreated child and that employee therefore makes a report in accordance with this title. No school, school official, child care provider, foster care provider, residential care facility provider, hospital, medical institution provider or mental health facility provider shall impose any conditions, including prior approval or prior notification, upon a member of their staff specifically required to report under this title. At the time of the making of a report, or at any time thereafter, such person or official may exercise the right to request, pursuant to paragraph (A) of subdivision four of section four hundred twenty-two of this title, the findings of an investigation made pursuant to this title or section 45.07 of the mental hygiene law.
§2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law. The Legislature of the STATE OF NEW YORK ss:
Pursuant to the authority vested in us by section 70-b of the Public Officers Law, we hereby jointly certify that this slip copy of this session law was printed under our direction and, in accordance with such section, is entitled to be read into evidence.