Mandatory Reporting

Who are “Mandatory Reporters”
in Michigan

Michigan Children’s
Protective Services Lawyers

“Mandatory reporters” are people who MUST report to CPS if they have “reasonable cause to suspect” that child abuse or child neglect is occurring or has occurred in the past. The list of “mandatory reporters” is long and includes people who likely come into contact with your child everyday. Some of the more common Michigan mandatory reporters are: school counselors, school teachers, clergy members, physicians, dentists, law enforcement officers, psychologists, licensed master’s social workers, licensed bachelor’s social workers, providers of emergency medical care, therapists, Department of Human Services employees, and licensed day care providers.

“Non-mandatory reporters” are people who MAY report to CPS if they have “reasonable cause to suspect” that a child abuse or neglect is currently occurring or has occurred in the past. These “non-mandatory reporters” can be anyone, including a friend, neighbor, or relative of the child.

Many people are not aware that the family counselor or clergy member is a mandatory reporter of actual or suspected child abuse or neglect. The statute creates some difficulties for families trying to deal with issues within their own home. For example, when one sibling has touched another inappropriately, many families go to a pastor or family counselor to make sure that the proper corrective action is taken in order to avoid a reoccurrence. In that instance, the counselor or clergy privilege does not apply and the pastor or counselor is required to make a report to CPS. Seeking the guidance of the school counselor will have the same effect.

Parents are not usually mandatory reporters. If parents are considering whether they should make a report to Children’s Protective Services, they should first consider whether they are mandatory reporters under Michigan law because of their profession, license or career. As with all mandatory reporters there are consequences to failing to report when obligated to do so by law. Parents dealing with what they believe to be a single incident of inappropriate behavior have a difficult decision to make, especially when they believe that their parental intervention has taken care of the problem. If they make a report, they may have an older child facing criminal prosecution. If they seek the help of a medical or psychological professional for their younger child, a report will be made to CPS by that professional. Either way, depending on the circumstance, CPS may accuse the parent of failure to protect the younger child. Parents facing this difficult choice should retain counsel competent in the nuances of Michigan mandatory reporting law.

I am a mandatory reporter, and I’m trying
to decide if I need to make a report.

The standard applied for required reporting of child abuse or neglect is that a professional with “reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect” must make the report to the Department of Human Services. In most instances, “reasonable cause” is subject to an analysis of the facts of the case. However, Michigan law is specific that pregnancy in a child less than 12 years and the presence of a venereal disease in a child less than 12 but more than 1 month is reasonable cause in all instances. Michigan law further requires all mandatory reporters to report any amount of alcohol or controlled substances, such as Meth, found in a newborn. Mandatory reporters who fail to report when required face civil liability, criminal prosecution, and revocation of their professional licenses.

In most instances, “reasonable cause” is subject to an analysis of the facts of the case. However, Michigan law is specific that pregnancy in a child less than 12 years and the presence of a venereal disease in a child less than 12 but more than 1 month is reasonable cause in all instances. Michigan law further requires all mandatory reporters to report any amount of alcohol or controlled substances, such as Meth, found in a newborn. Mandatory reporters who fail to report when required face civil liability, criminal prosecution, and revocation of their professional licenses.

How do I make a CPS report?

Mandatory reporters who have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect must report this abuse to the Michigan Department of Human Services. This must be done immediately. It can be done orally but must be followed up with a written report within 72 hours. If you are uncertain of your obligations in a particular situation it is best to retain counsel to assist you.

The attorneys at Kronzek & Cronkright, PLLC are available for consultation on issues related to the Michigan mandatory reporting statute. Call us anytime – 1 866-766-5245.

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