Who is required to report?
- Health practitioners;
- Defined as any individual who provides health care services, including a physician, surgeon, physical therapist, dentist, resident, intern, hospital staff member, podiatrist, chiropractor, licensed nurse, nursing aide, dental hygienist, any emergency medical technician, a paramedic, optometrist, medical examiner, or coroner, who diagnoses, examines, or treats a child or his family.
- Mental health/social service practitioners;
- Defined as any individual who provides mental health care or social service diagnosis, assessment, counseling, or treatment, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage or family counselor, social worker, member of the clergy, aide, or other individual who provides counseling services to a child or his family.
- Members of the clergy;
- Defined as any priest, rabbi, duly ordained clerical deacon or minister, Christian Science practitioner, or other similarly situated functionary of a religious organization.
- Teaching or child care providers;
- Defined as any person who provides or assists in the teaching, training and supervision of a child, including any public or private teacher, teacher’s aide, instructional aide, school principal, school staff member, bus driver, coach, professor, technical or vocational instructor, technical or vocational school staff member, college or university administrator, college or university staff member, social worker, probation officer, foster home parent, group home or other child care institutional staff member, personnel of residential home facilities, a licensed or unlicensed day care provider, or any individual who provides such services to a child in a voluntary or professional capacity.
- Police officers or law enforcement officials;
- Commercial film and photographic print processors;
- Defined as any person who develops exposed photographic film into negatives, slides, or prints, or who makes prints from negatives or slides for compensation.
- Appointed mediators;
- Appointed parenting coordinators;
- Court-appointed special advocates (CASA) volunteers under the supervision of a CASA program;
- School coaches, including, but not limited to, public technical or vocational school, community college, college, or university coaches and coaches of intramural or interscholastic athletics; and
- Organizational or youth activity providers;
- Defined as any person who provides organized activities for children, including administrators, employees, or volunteers of any day camp, summer camp, youth center, or youth recreation programs or any other organization that provides organized activities for children
When is a report required and where does it go?
When is a report required?
- Cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare is endangered as a result of abuse or neglect or that abuse or neglect was a contributing factor in a child’s death.
Where does it go?
- Reports of abuse or neglect where the abuser is believed to be a parent or caretaker, a person who maintains an interpersonal dating or engagement relationship with the parent or caretaker, or a person living in the same residence with the parent or caretaker as a spouse whether married or not, should be made through the designated state child protection reporting hotline telephone number (1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437)), via the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services Mandated Reporter Portal online, or in person at any child welfare office.
- Reports of abuse or neglect where the abuser is someone other than those listed above and the caretaker is not believed to have any responsibility for the abuse or neglect shall be made to a local or state law enforcement agency.
- Dual reporting to both the department through the designated state child protection reporting hotline telephone number and the local or state law enforcement agency is permitted.
What definitions are important to know?
- “Abuse” means any one of the following acts which seriously endanger the physical, mental, or emotional health and safety of the child:
- The infliction, attempted infliction, or, as a result of inadequate supervision, the allowance of the infliction or attempted infliction of physical or mental injury upon the child by a parent or any other person.
- The exploitation or overwork of a child by a parent or any other person, including, but not limited to, commercial sexual exploitation of the child.
- The involvement of the child in any sexual act with a parent or any other person, or the aiding or toleration by the parent, caretaker, or any other person of the child’s involvement in any of the following:
- Any sexual act with any other person.
- Pornographic displays.
- Any sexual activity constituting a crime under the laws of this state.
- A coerced abortion conducted upon a child.
- Female genital mutilation as defined by R.S. 14:43.4.
- “Child” means any person under the age of 18 years, unless emancipated by reason of marriage or by a judge prior to juvenile proceedings.
- “Child pornography” means visual depiction of a child engaged in actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, sadomasochistic abuse, or lewd exhibition of the genitals.
- “Coerced abortion” means the use of force, intimidation, threat of force, threat of deprivation of food and shelter, or the deprivation of food and shelter by a parent or any other person in order to compel a female child to undergo an abortion against her will, whether or not the abortion procedure has been attempted or completed
- “Neglect” means the refusal or unreasonable failure of a parent or caretaker to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, care, treatment, or counseling for any injury, illness, or condition of the child, as a result of which the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health and safety is substantially threatened or impaired. Neglect includes prenatal neglect.
- Consistent with Article 606(B), the inability of a parent or caretaker to provide for a child due to inadequate financial resources shall not, for that reason alone, be considered neglect.
- Whenever, in lieu of medical care, a child is being provided treatment in accordance with the tenets of a well-recognized religious method of healing which has a reasonable, proven record of success, the child shall not, for that reason alone, be considered to be neglected or maltreated. However, nothing herein shall prohibit the court from ordering medical services for the child when there is substantial risk of harm to the child’s health or welfare.
- “Prenatal neglect” means exposure to chronic or severe use of alcohol or the unlawful use of any controlled dangerous substance, as defined by R.S. 40:961 et seq., or in a manner not lawfully prescribed, which results in symptoms of withdrawal in the newborn or the presence of a controlled substance or a metabolic thereof in his body, blood, urine, or meconium that is not the result of medical treatment, or observable and harmful effects in his physical appearance or functioning.
- “Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury which involves unconsciousness; extreme physical pain; protracted and obvious disfigurement; protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty; or a substantial risk of death. For purposes of charges associated with failure to report under R.S. 14:403, “serious bodily injury” shall also include injury resulting from starvation or malnutrition.
What timing and procedural requirements apply to reports?
- Must report immediately.
- If mandatory reporter made initial oral report, the reporter must follow with a written report within five days to the local child protection unit of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services or, if necessary, to the local law enforcement agency.
- Mandated reporters should complete the following form: https://mr.dcfs.la.gov/c/MR_PortalApp.app
What information must a report include?
- Name, address, age, sex, and race of the child;
- Nature, extent, and cause of the child’s injuries or endangered condition including any previous known or suspected abuse to the child or his/her siblings;
- Name and address of the child’s parents or other caretaker;
- Names and ages of all other members of the child’s household;
- Name and address of the reporter;
- Account of how child came to the reporter’s attention;
- Any explanation of the cause of the child’s injury or condition offered by the child, the caretaker, or any other person;
- Number of times the reporter has filed a report on the child or the child’s siblings;
- Name of the person or persons who are believed to have caused or contributed to the child’s condition, if known; and
- Any other information that the reporter believes might be important or relevant.
Anything else I should know?
- In the following limited circumstances, a mental health/social service practitioner shall not be considered a mandatory reporter:
- When the practitioner is engaged by an attorney to assist in the rendition of professional legal services to that child;
- When the information that would serve as the basis for reporting arises in furtherance of facilitating the rendition of those professional legal services to that child; and
- When the information that would serve as the basis for reporting is documented by the mental health/social service practitioner (which documentation must be retained by the practitioner until one year after the child has reached the age of majority).
- Members of the clergy are not required to report a confidential communication from a person to a member of the clergy who, in the course of the discipline or practice of that church, denomination, or organization, is authorized or accustomed to hearing confidential communications, and under the discipline or tenets of the church, denomination, or organization has a duty to keep such communications confidential.
- In that instance, he shall encourage that person to report the allegations to the appropriate authorities.
- Any commercial film or photographic print processor who has knowledge of or observes, within the scope of this professional capacity or employment, any film, photograph, video tape, negative, or slide depicting a child who he knows or should know is under the age of seventeen years, which constitutes child pornography, shall immediately report to the local law enforcement agency. The reporter shall provide a copy of the film, photograph, videotape, negative, or slide to the agency receiving the report.
- If a physician has cause to believe that a newborn was exposed in utero to an unlawfully used controlled dangerous substance, the physician shall order a toxicology test upon the newborn, without the consent of the newborn’s parents or guardian, to determine whether there is evidence of prenatal neglect. If the test results are positive, the physician shall issue a report, as soon as possible, in accordance with this Article. If the test results are negative, all identifying information shall be obliterated if the record is retained, unless the parent approves the inclusion of identifying information. Positive test results shall not be admissible in a criminal prosecution.
- If there are symptoms of withdrawal in the newborn or other observable and harmful effects in his physical appearance or functioning that a physician has cause to believe are due to the chronic or severe use of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy, the physician shall issue a report.
- Any person who is required to report the abuse or neglect of a child who knowingly and willfully fails to report shall be subject to a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both.
- Any person who is required to report the sexual abuse of a child, or the abuse or neglect of a child which results in serious bodily injury, neurological impairment, or death of the child, and who knowingly and willfully fails to report shall be fined not more than $3,000, imprisoned with or without hard labor for not more than 3 years, or both.
- Any person who is 18 years of age or older who witnesses the sexual abuse of a child and knowingly and willfully fails to report shall be fined not more than $10,000, imprisoned with or without hard labor for no more than 5 years, or both.
- Any person who makes a report knowing that such information is false shall be subject to a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both.
- Any person who in good faith makes a report shall have immunity from civil or criminal liability that otherwise might be incurred or imposed. Immunity shall not extend to any alleged principal, conspirator, or accessory to an offense involving the abuse or neglect of the child or any person who makes a report known to be false or with reckless disregard for the truth of the report.
- Any person, any employee of a local child protection unit of the Department of Children and Family Services, any employee of any local law enforcement agency, any employee or agent of any state department, or any school employee who knowingly and willfully violates the provisions, or who knowingly and willfully obstructs the procedures for receiving reports of child abuse or neglect or sexual abuse, shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.
- La. Ch.C. Art. 603, 609, 610, 611.
- La. R.S. 14:403.
- LSA-R.S. 14:2(C).