Summary Guide for MANDATED REPORTERS in New York State
Certain professionals are required by law to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment to the New York State Central Register (SCR) of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. The law also assigns civil and criminal liability to those professionals who do not comply with their mandated reporter responsibilities.
This booklet provides mandated reporters with an overview of their obligations and some basic information about the New York State Child Protective Services System (CPS).
Frequently Asked Questions for Mandated Reporters
Regarding the requirement that mandated reporters provide records needed for a Child Protective Services (CPS) investigation irrespective of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) constraints: Does this only apply when the records are controlled by the mandated reporter who is the source of the report, or any mandated reporter that has had contact with the subject family?
Do the amendments to Social Services Law (SSL) §415 apply where a mandated reporter (e.g. mental health therapist or domestic violence service provider) makes the report based on information disclosed by a parent who is not alleged to be the subject and the mandated reporter only has additional information concerning such allegedly non-offending parent?
Links to important documents:
New York State and the New York State Child Protective System recognize certain professionals as holding the important role of mandated reporter of child abuse or maltreatment. These professionals can be held liable by both the civil and criminal legal systems for intentionally failing to make a report. Professions include:
- Social Worker
- Licensed Creative Arts Therapist
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- Licensed Psychoanalyst
- Dental Hygienist
- Medical Examiner
- Registered Nurse
- Registered Physician’s Assistant
- Mental Health Professional
- Substance Abuse Counselor
- Alcoholism Counselor
- Peace Officer
- District Attorney, or Assistant District Attorney
- Police Officer
- Investigator employed in the Office of the District Attorney or other law enforcement official
- School Official
- Social Services Worker
- Christian Science Practitioner
- Hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons
- Any employee or volunteer in a residential care program for youth, or any other child care or foster care worker
- Day Care Center Worker
- Provider of Family or Group Family Day Care
- Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
Please be aware that there may have been changes to this list since this Web page was last updated. The current list is at Section 413 of the New York State Social Services Law.
Mandated reporters are required to report instances of suspected child abuse or maltreatment only when they are presented wth reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or maltreatment in their professional roles.
A signed, written report (LDSS-2221A Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Maltreatment - Microsoft Word LDSS 2221A / Adobe PDF LDSS 2221A) must be filed by mandated reporters within 48 hours of an oral report. You should submit written reports to the local department of social services (LDSS) that has been assigned the investigation. You may request the address of this district from the child protective specialist at the time you make the oral report to the State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The privacy provisions contained in this regulation do not affect the responsibilities of mandated reporters, as they are defined in the New York State Social Services Law.
Information concerning the provisions of HIPAA may be found at www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa.
The Child Protective Service (CPS) unit of the local department of social services is required to begin an investigation of each report within 24 hours. The investigation should include an evaluation of the safety of the child named in the report and any other children in the home, and a determination of the risk to the children if they continue to remain in the home.
CPS may take a child into protective custody if it is necessary for the protection from further abuse or maltreatment. Based upon an assessment of the circumstances, CPS may offer the family appropriate services. The CPS caseworker has the obligation and authority to petition the Family Court to mandate services when they are necessary for the care and protection of a child.
CPS has 60 days after receiving the report to determine whether the report is "indicated" or "unfounded". The law requires CPS to provide written notice to the parents or other subjects of the report concerning the rights accorded to them by the New York State Social Services Law. The CPS investigator will also inform the SCR of the determination of the investigation.
Chapter 3 provides that:
Notwithstanding the privileges set forth in article forty-five of the civil practice law and rules, and any other provision of law to the contrary, mandated reporters who make a report which initiates an investigation of an allegation of child abuse or maltreatment are required to comply with all requests for records made by a child protective service relating to such report, including records relating to diagnosis, prognosis or treatment, and clinical records, of any patient or client that are essential for a full investigation of allegations of child abuse or maltreatment pursuant to this title; provided, however, that disclosure of substance abuse treatment records shall be made pursuant to the standards and procedures for disclosure of such records delineated in federal law.
This language is not intended to be an expansion of a mandated reporters current obligations under the existing language of SSL §415. Under current law, if a mandated reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child coming before him or her in his or her professional/official capacity is an abused or maltreated child, he or she must immediately report such suspicion to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment. SSL §§413, 415.
Since the passage of the federal HIPAA, confusion has arisen regarding the obligation of a mandated reporter to provide copies of written records that underlie the report. The intent of the amendment is to make clear that the mandated reporters obligation also extends to the provision of the records necessary to investigate the report, as has always been the case.
Regarding the requirement that mandated reporters provide records needed for a CPS investigation irrespective of HIPAA constraints: Does this only apply when the records are controlled by the mandated reporter who is the source of the report, or any mandated reporter that has had contact with the subject family?
The amendment to SSL §415 only applies to the records of the mandated reporter who was the source of the report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment. However, for a mandated reporter employed by an institution, this requirement applies to all of the records of the institution that pertain to the report regardless of who actually made the report. Additionally, the records that CPS requests should be limited only to information that directly pertains to the report itself.
In the first instance, the mandated reporter to whom the request is directed makes the determination of what information is essential. If CPS believes that the mandated reporter has additional essential information pertaining to the report, CPS should ask the mandated reporter for the additional records and attempt to come to agreement regarding any additional records. If CPS and the mandated reporter cannot come to agreement and CPS disagrees with the mandated reporter's rationale for why the records are not relevant to the report, CPS may seek a court order pursuant to Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) Article 31 and SSL §415 directing the mandated reporter to produce the essential information.
Do the amendments to SSL §415 apply where a mandated reporter (e.g. mental health therapist or domestic violence service provider) makes the report based on information disclosed by a parent who is not alleged to be the subject and the mandated reporter only has additional information concerning such allegedly non-offending parent?
Where the reporter has no other records or other additional information pertaining to the allegations contained in the report other than the portion of the records relating to the information disclosed by the parent not alleged to be the subject, the amendments to Section 415 of the SSL would not apply. Nothing in the amendments suggests that the reporter provide information about, for example, the mental health services being received by the non-subject parent, unless that information is determined by the reporter to be essential in supporting the information contained in the report.
The statutory amendments do not require written consent and are intended to promote CPS getting the needed supplemental information that supports the initial report. However, good practice would dictate seeking the consent, or notifying the parent(s) that such essential information is being (and is required to be) shared, unless the child's health or safety would be put at risk by notifying the parent(s). If the parent does not consent, however, the mandated reporter must still provide the information.
§2782(7) of the Public Health Law, which pertains to confidential HIV related information, specifically provides that nothing in that section limits a person's or agency's responsibility or authority to report, investigate, or redisclose, child protective services information. Under the amendment to SSL §415, hard copies of the records relevant to the report must be provided. For example, where a child is HIV positive and medical neglect is alleged based upon the family's failure to obtain appropriate medical treatment for the child, the child's medical records would be relevant to the report, and would be required to be released.