Child Abuse and NeglectTraining for Educators, Part 3Child Abuse and Neglect: What are Educators to Do? Fran Roberson, LCSW, LMFT Center for Children and Families, Inc. Norman, Oklahoma
Action Steps3. Respond to the child or youth.5. Report to the appropriate authorities as required by law.
Responding to the Child or YouthYou first must know that:• The child demonstrates incredible strength.• You the listener are honored with the trust the child shows.• You will need to respond with heightened sensitivity.
Guidelines Include:• Listen, really listen, to what is being told to you.• Reassure the child that he/she has done the right thing by telling you.• Keep your own feelings under control.• Use the child’s own vocabulary.
Guidelines Include:• Do NOT promise not to tell.• Tell the truth.• Be specific.• Assess the child’s immediate safety.• Be supportive.• Try to help the child regain control.
And for you the listener . . . • Be aware of secondary trauma and take care of yourself. • Know that you have done your part, and that you may have little control beyond this point.
Reporting to Authorities as Required by Law State law requires every person who has reason to believe that a child under 18 is being abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected, to report the suspicion of abuse promptly to the Department of Human Services.
Failure to Report Suspected Abuse or Neglect• Is a crime.• No person is exempt from reporting suspected abuse.• A person reporting in good faith is immune from both civil and criminal liability.• By law, reporting child abuse is an individual responsibility.
What happens when I makea report to the Departmentof Human Services?
A Report of Suspicion ofChild Abuse or Neglect is . .• A request for an assessment to determine safety or lack of safety for the child.• The person reporting does not need proof to report.• Assessment and validation of reports are the job of DHS or Law Enforcement.
Is My Report Confidential?• Yes. DHS policy and state law require strict maintenance of the confidentiality of reports of child abuse and neglect.
How Do I Make a Report of Suspicion of Child Abuse or Neglect• Contact DHS, Child Welfare Services in the county where the child is located, or• Call the 24-hour hotline number: 1.800.522.3511
What’s Important . . .• It is critical to accurately reflect the nature and extent of the abuse or neglect.• Names, addresses and whereabouts of the child and the child’s caregivers.• Child’s age.• Any positive test on the child for alcohol or other substances.• Any other information regarding cause of injury or identity of responsible persons.
What Happens After I Make A Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect?Report is screened:• Does it meet statutory requirements?• Does it fall within the scope of DHS responsibility?• If not screened out, there will be an assessment to explore the safety or lack of safety for the child.
Assignments for assessment are based on the potential risk to the children named in the report. There are 2 priority levels:• Priority One: indicates the child is in imminent danger of serious physical injury. Allegations of abuse and neglect may be severe and conditions extreme. The situation is responded to immediately, the same day of receipt of the report. If a complete assessment is not possible, a safety measure is put in place to ensure the child’s protection.
• (Priority One continued) A safety measure is an action taken that protects the child, such as protective child care, perpetrator leaves the home, or other similar protective actions.• Priority Two: indicates there is no imminent danger of serious injury but without intervention and safety measures it is likely the child will not be safe. Priority two assessments are initiated within two to 15 calendar days from the date the report is accepted for assessment.
In addition . . . .Reports that meet the criteria for “serious abuse and neglect”, will be investigated.
After a report is accepted for assessment . .• Child is seen first.• Information is gathered.• Family is interviewed.• Others may also be interviewed
Assessments• There are no findings for assessments.• Safety plans are developed as determined after assessments.
A determination is made on findings from an investigation:• Ruled out• Unsubstantiated, services recommended.• Substantiated, services recommended.• Substantiated, court intervention recommended.
The District Attorneywill receiveinvestigative findingsand results ofassessments. Note: The District Attorney makes the decision about court mandated services based on DHS findings and their recommendations.
So, I reported suspicion of CAN. . .what info can I learn about the results of my report?• If the case was assigned for assessment or investigation or was screened out.• If screened out, the reason for this decision.• If assigned for investigation, investigative findings can be shared.You are not entitled to details of the investigation or assessment.
Special Reporting Issues Related to Schools• State law specifies that schools are not responsible for notifying parents that a child was interviewed at school regarding a CAN report. The task for notifying parents is the responsibility of DHS.
Special Reporting Issues Related to Schools School personnel, as well as medical, public health, mental health professionals, or any other professional person interacting with children should NOT delve into a child’s situation beyond determining whether there is a reason to believe the child is being abused or neglected or is in danger of being abused or neglected.Educators’ task is to identify the suspicion of abuse or neglect in order to report to DHS.
Oklahoma Law is very clear thatprofessionals who maintain strict ethical guidelines related to confidentiality are required to report child abuse and neglectjust as every other person in the state. Duty to Report supercedes professional confidentiality codes when there is reason to believe that a child is abused or neglected.
Additional facts for you to know . . .• Law enforcement is the only entity that can take a child into protective custody. Law enforcement and the Department of Human Services (DHS) work together when a child must be removed from a home. This action also requires a court order.
And . . .• If you are unsatisfied with the way a report/assessment was handled, it is critical to provide feedback through the supervision structure of an investigating agency, i.e., the county’s child welfare supervisor, then follow the chain of command to County Director, etc.• Law enforcement also has a chain of command.
Contact Fran Roberson atthe Center for Children and Families, Inc. for further questions or firstname.lastname@example.org 405.364.1420