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Department of Human Resources Child Protective Services: Mandated Reporters

April 28, 2011

Author’s Note:

This resource is for the state of Maryland. Please visit Department of Human Resources website for specific information for your state and local jurisdiction. You will find a listing by state, below.

*  *  *

You are a mandated reporter if you are one of the following

  • Health Practitioner
  • Educator
  • Human Service Worker
  • Police Officer
  1. This does NOT require PROOF that abuse or neglect has occurred before reporting. Incidents are to be reported as soon as they are suspected. Waiting for proof may involve grave risk to the child and impede services to the family. Proof may be long in coming, witnesses to child abuse and neglect are rare, and the child’s testimony may be disbelieved or inadmissible.
  2. If you knowingly fail to report suspected abuse of a child, you may be subject to professional sanctions by licensing boards. Anyone that makes a “good faith” report is immune from civil liability and criminal penalty.

According to Section 5-704 (b), if you are mandated to report, you must make an oral and written report to the local department of social services (or in abuse cases, to the local law enforcement department and the local States Attorney) not later than 48 hours after the contact, examination, treatment or other circumstances that lead you to believe that the child had been subjected to abuse or neglect. If a copy of the report is placed in the patient’ medical record (a sample Child Abuse Reporting Form (DHR/SSA 180) can be found in Appendix A), information contained in the report shall only be disclosed in accordance with the Confidentiality Law regarding child abuse and neglect (Article 88A’6(b).) See below for further information.

WHERE TO REPORT

Health practitioners are required to notify the local department of social services about suspected cases of child abuse. Appropriate law enforcement agencies must also be notified. Reporting form DHR/SSA 180 must be completed in addition to calling (select the LDSS in your area) telephone numbers to make a report.

If the reporter is employed by a hospital, the head of the institution or their designee must also be notified immediately (Section 5-704(a)(2).) and the report must be added to the child’s record.

CONTENTS OF THE REPORT:
Section 5-704(c) requires that the oral and written reports contain:

  • the name, age, and home address of the child;
  • the name and home address of the child’s parent or party responsible for the child’s care;
  • the whereabouts of the child;
  • the nature and extent of the abuse or neglect of the child
  • any evidence or information available to the reporter concerning possible previous instances of abuse or neglect and;
  • any  information that would help to determine the cause of the suspected abuse or neglect
  • the identity of any individual responsible for the abuse or neglect.
  • any observable, identifiable and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function.
  • as much as the person making the report is able to furnish.

CONFIDENTIALITY

Information contained in records or reports concerning child abuse or neglect is sensitive and personal. Federal and State law narrowly restricts the circumstances under which information contained in reports or records may be disclosed. It is essential that health care professionals and institutions comply with the Maryland confidentiality law (article 88 a & b) of the Annotated Code of Maryland) when asked to disclose information contained in records concerning child abuse and neglect.

Confidentiality provisions states that:

  • The name of the reporter may only be revealed under a court order. However, if the reporter is a professional, he or she may give written permission for his or her identity to be revealed.
  • The identity of any other person whose life or safety is likely to be endangered by disclosing the information must not be disclosed. This is extremely important when sharing information with parents or the person who is suspected of child neglect or abuse.
  • Information should only be disclosed when doing so would be in the best interest of the child who is the subject of the report.
  • Professional discretion should be exercised to disclose only that information which is relevant for the care or treatment of the child.

In 1986, the Maryland confidentiality law was amended to permit the disclosure of information concerning abuse and neglect to licensed practitioners or an institution providing treatment or care to a child who is the subject of a report of child abuse or neglect. Maryland law also permits information to be shared with members of a multidisciplinary case consultation team who are investigating or providing services in response to a report of suspected abuse or neglect.

ACCESS TO MEDICAL RECORDS

There are two Maryland laws (Health General Article 4-306, and the Family Law Article 5-711) pertaining to the disclosure of medical records, including mental health records to local departments of social services. (Health General Article, 4-306 went in effect July 1, 1991. The Family Law Article 5-711 went in effect July 1, 1987).

Health General Article 4-306
Mandates that health care providers disclose information from medical records, concerning any person (child or adult) who is being assessed as part of a protective services investigation or to whom services are being provided. Information is to be shared upon request to a local department of social services representative providing protective services. This law governs all medical records including mental health records.

This includes making available copies of medical records that the health care provider assesses to be relevant to the child protective services investigation or provisions of services. This provision also allows for the sharing of information without authorization from the person on whom information is being disclosed.

Family Law Article 5-711
This law mandates that medical care providers make copies available of a child’s medical record upon request by social services personnel conducting investigations or providing services to a child as a result of a child abuse or neglect report.

Link: CHILD ABUSE REPORTING FORM (DHR/SSA 180) AND INSTRUCTIONS (pdf)

Instructions for Child Abuse Reporting Form:

REQUIRED REPORTERS:

Every health practitioner, educator, social worker, or law-enforcement officer, who contacts, examines, attends or treats a child and who believes or has reason to believe that the child has been abused/neglected is required to make an oral and written report to either Social Services or the Police.

TIMELINES:

As an oral report of suspected child abuse and neglect must be made immediately. A written report must also be submitted by mandated reporters with 48 hours after the contact, examination, attention, or treatment that caused the individual to believe that the child had been subjected to abuse or neglect. It is not necessary to observe outward signs of injury to the child. Neither is it necessary for the reporter to establish proof that the abuse/neglect occurred. Protection of the child is paramount. If abuse/neglect is suspected, a report must be submitted.

DEFINITIONS OF CHILD ABUSE AND CHILD NEGLECT:

“Child Abuse” means: (COMAR 07.02.07.02)

Physical injury, not necessarily visible, or mental injury of a child by a parent, other individual who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision of a child, or by a household or family member under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or at substantial risk of being harmed.

Any sexual abuse, meaning an act or acts involving sexual molestation or exploitation, whether physical injuries are sustained or not by a parent, other individual who has permanent or temporary care of custody or responsibility for supervision of a child, or by a household or family member; or

Mental injury, meaning the observable, identifiable and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function, that is caused by the act of a parent or other individual who has permanent or temporary care, or custody or responsibility for supervision of the child, or by a household or family member.

“Neglect” means: (COMAR 07.02.07.02)

“Child Neglect” means the failure to give proper care and attention to a child, including the leaving of a child unattended by the child’s parent, or other individual who has permanent or temporary custody, or responsibility for supervision of the child, under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm; or

Mental injury to a child, meaning the observable, identifiable and substantial impairment of a child’s mental or psychological ability to function, or a substantial risk of mental injury that is caused by the failure to give proper care and responsibility for supervision of the child.

COMPLETING THE FORM 180:

Respond to each item if reply is “unknown” or “none”. Use additional paper if necessary to complete any given section.

1.         Name of Local Department Being Notified: For suspected child abuse/neglect an oral report must be made to the Local Child Protective Services unit in the jurisdiction where the incident allegedly took place. This written report must be filed within 48 hours after making an oral report.

2.         Person Making Report (Name): This should always be the person who witnessed or has first-hand knowledge of the incident. Any person including a health practitioner, educator, social worker, or law-enforcement officer, participating in the making of a good faith report, or participating in an investigation or in a judicial proceeding resulting therefore shall in so doing be immune from any civil liability or criminal penalty that might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result.

6.         Type of Referral: Please check only one box per report being submitted.

7.         Name of Child: Identify only one child per report.

11.       Address where child can be seen should include both daytime and after normal working hours.

29.       Report Taken: There are some types of referrals that are inappropriate for child abuse/neglect investigation. The Local Department is available for consultation when there is uncertainty regarding a situation. If your concerns do not meet the criteria for investigation, you will be referred to alternate resources, when possible. When contacting the local department, record the name of the person you spoke with and the outcome of the conversation in your records. If the oral report of abuse/neglect is not taken by the local department, still send in the written report and keep a copy for your records.

The reporting form requires the following information:

The information requested on the State of Maryland Child Protective Services Report of Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect requires the following information and is itemized as follows:

1. Name and address of local department being notified.

2. Name of the person making report.

3. Position or title of the person making the report.

4. Name and address of the department or organization.

5. Telephone number of the department or organization.

6. Type of referral: physical abuse; sexual abuse; neglect; mental injury abuse; mental injury/neglect.

7. Name of child

8. Sex of child

9. Birthdate of child

10. Race of child

11. Address (Where child can be seen) to include city, state, zip code.

12. Grade

13.School

14. Name of person responsible for child’s care.

14a. Age/Date of birth [of person responsible for child’s care].

14b. Address [of person responsible for child’s care].

14c. Telephone [of person responsible for child’s care].

List parents/guardian:

Mother             Age/D.O.B.     Address           Telephone

Father              Age/D.O.B.     Address           Telephone

Guardian (Specify relation)     Age/D.O.B.     Telephone

15. Name of suspected abuser/neglector

16. Relation [of suspected abuser/neglector]

17. Age/D.O.B. [of suspected abuser/neglector]

18. Address [of suspected abuser/neglector]

19. Telephone [of suspected abuser/neglector]

20. State nature and extent of the current abuse/neglect to the child in question. Explain the circumstances leading to the suspicion of the child is an abuse/neglect victim. Describe any injury or risk. Describe how reporter knows information.

21. List information concerning previous abuse/neglect to the children/other children in the family, including previous action taken. How does the reporter know this information?

22. Describe information known about family functioning, relationship between parent, caretaker, other adults in home and children and likely responsible by family to disclosure. How does the reporter know the information?

23. State any other available information that would aid in establishing the cause of the alleged abuse/neglect.

24. Are weapons in the home or known to be carried by the family or accused abuser? (Answer ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Unknown’).

25. Is there a history of violence, drugs, mental illness or retaliation in the family? (Answer ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or ‘Unknown’

26. If yes to either, describe in detail on separate sheet of paper.

27. Signature of person reporting.

28. Date/Hour Oral contact in LDSS.

29. Report taken? (Answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’)

30. Name of LDSS staff person to whom oral report was made.

* * *

Local Departments of Social Services Child Protective Services for the State of Maryland (Office Hours 8:30 A.M. - 5:00 P.M.) 
Allegany County
(301) 784-7122 (After hours 301-759-8079) FAX (301) 784-7244
P.O. Box 1420
1 Frederick Street
Cumberland, Maryland 21501-1420

Anne Arundel County
(410) 421-8400 FAX (410) 974-8566
80 West Street
Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1787

Baltimore City
(410) 361-2235 (24 hours) FAX (410) 361-3150
1900 N. Howard Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218

Baltimore County
(410) 853-3000 (24 hours) FAX (410) 853-3955
Drumcastle Government Center
6401 York Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21212

Calvert County
(410) 286-2108 (After hours (410) 535-7041) FAX (410) 286-7429  1-800-787-9428
200 Duke Street
Prince Frederick, Maryland 20678

Caroline County
(410) 479-5900 (After hours 479-2515) FAX (410) 479-5910
207 South Third Street
Denton, Maryland 21629

Carroll County
(410-386-3300) (After hours (410) 386-3434) (Baltimore Area:  410-876-2190) FAX (410) 386-3429
10 Distillery Drive
Westminster, Maryland 21157

Cecil County
(410) 996-0100 (After hours (410) 398-3815)  FAX (410) 996-0228
170 East Main Street
Elkton, Maryland 21922-1160

Charles County
(301) 392-6724  (After hours (301) 934-2222 FAX (301) 870-3958
P.O. Box 1010
200 Kent Avenue
LaPlata, Maryland 20646

Dorchester County
(410) 901-4100  (After hours (410) 221-3246)  FAX (410) 901-1060
P.O. Box 217
627 Race Street
Cambridge, Maryland 21613

Frederick County
(301) 694-2464 (After hours (301) 694-2100) FAX (301) 631-2639
100 East All Saints Street
Frederick, Maryland 21701

Garrett County
(301) 533-3005  (After hours (301) 334-1911)  FAX (301) 334-5413
12578 Garrett Highway
Oakland, Maryland 21550

Harford County
(410) 836-4713  (After hours (410) 838-6600)  FAX (410) 836-4945
2 South Bond Street
Bel Air, Maryland 21014

Howard County
(410) 872-4203  (After hours (410) 313-2929)  FAX (410) 872-4231
7121 Columbia Gateway Drive
Columbia, Maryland 21046

Kent County
(410) 810-7600  (After hours (410) 758-1101)  FAX (410) 778-1497
8 Kent Street
Chestertown, Maryland 21620

Montgomery County
(240) 777-4417 (24 hours)  FAX (240) 777-4161
The Dept. of Health & Human Services
1301 Piccard Drive
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Prince George's County
(301) 909-2450  (After hours (301) 699-8605)  FAX (301) 952-2646
805 Brightseat Road
Landover, Maryland 20785

Queen Anne's County
(410) 758-5100 (all hours)  or 410-758-0770(P.M. hours)  FAX (410) 758-5155
120 Broadway
Centreville, Maryland 21617

St. Mary's County
(240) 895-7170  (After hours (301) 475-8016)  FAX (301) 475-4799
23110 Leonard Hall Drive
Leonardtown, Maryland 20650

Somerset County
(410) 677-4200  (After hours  (410) 651-0630  FAX (410) 677-4300
30397 Mt. Vernon Road
Princess Anne, Maryland 21853

Talbot County
(410) 822-1617  (After hours (410) 822-3101)  FAX (410) 820- 7067
10 South Hanson Street
Easton, Maryland 21601

Washington County
(240) 420-2222 (24 hours)  FAX (240) 420-2111
122 North Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21741-1419

Wicomico County
(410) 543-6900  (After hours (410) 543-7894)  FAX (410) 543-6682
201 Baptist Street
Salisbury, Maryland 21802-2298

Worcester County
(410) 677-6800  (After hours: 410-632-1313)  FAX (410) 677-6810
299 Commerce Street
Snow Hill, Maryland 21863

Department of Human Resources
1-800-332-6347

Social Services Administration
(410) 767-7112
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