What are “Mandatory Reporters” in Michigan?
In Michigan, mandatory reporters are people who are required by law to report to Children’s Protective Services (CPS) if they have “reasonable cause to suspect” that child abuse or child neglect has occurred or is occurring. Michigan has a long list of individuals who are considered mandatory reporters by law. Included in that list are adults who are in contact with your child on a regular basis.
Some of the people included on the list are: school counselors and teachers, clergy members, dentists, physicians, therapists, law enforcement officers, licensed master’s social workers, licensed bachelor’s social workers, psychologists, providers of emergency medical care, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) employees, and licensed day care providers.
Be careful who you speak to!
You should note that counselors and clergy members are on the list of mandatory reporters. Sometimes families go to counselors or clergy to help address or get advice about child abuse or neglect. For instance, if a family is worried that an older sibling is inappropriately touching a younger sibling, the family might go to a pastor or family counselor for advice.
Doing this, however, could result in legal consequences for the older sibling or even the parents. This is because clergy and counselors must make a report to CPS as soon as they hear of child abuse or neglect. It’s not that the counselor or the clergy wants to be a snitch; it’s that they are legally required to make a report. Failure to make that report is a crime under Michigan law.
You don’t have to be a mandatory reporter to report a suspicion!
While there is a defined list of mandatory reporters, anyone can be a “non-mandatory reporter.” A non-mandatory reporter is someone who may report to CPS if they have “reasonable cause to suspect” that child abuse or child neglect has occurred or is occurring. Again, these non-mandatory reporters can be anyone, including your friends, neighbors, and relatives. There is an overriding public policy that seeks to protect children. People that make reports to CPS, do so confidentially and normally, legally the cannot be disclosed.
Parents have a duty to protect their children.
Parents are normally not mandatory reporters. Putting aside the issue of mandatory or non-mandatory, if one parent knows that their child is being abused or neglected by the other parent, they have a legal duty to protect the child from their abuser. Whether or not parents are mandatory reporters depends on their profession, license, or career. If a mandatory reporter fails to report child abuse or neglect, they will face legal consequences.
Parents dealing with child abuse or neglect within their family unit have a difficult decision to make. Reporting the problem to CPS could lead to a family member facing criminal penalties or a CPS case. Seeking help from a medical or psychological professional could also be damaging, because these types of professionals are CPS mandatory reporters. Parents who find themselves in this type of unfortunate predicament should seek legal help from attorneys who have an expert understanding of the nuances of Michigan mandatory reporting law.
I’m a Mandatory Reporter. Does this situation warrant a report?
Michigan mandatory reporting law simply states that mandatory reporters must report instances of child abuse/neglect when “there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect.” This means that whether or not you have to report will depend on the specific situation and an analysis of the facts.
However, Michigan law also states that certain situations should always be reported. A child who is pregnant, but less than 12 years old, should be reported. It should also be reported if a child between the ages of 1 month and 12 years has a venereal disease. Mandatory reporters must also report if a newborn has any amount of alcohol or controlled substances (such as meth) in their system. A mandatory reporter who fails to report in one of these specific situations may face civil liability, criminal prosecution, and revocation of their professional licenses.
How Do I Make a CPS Report?
If you are a mandatory reporter in Michigan you have to make sure that you report reasonably suspected abuse or neglect properly. You must immediately report the child abuse or child neglect to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Initially, and you can do this orally, but you must follow up with a written report within 72 hours. If you’re ever uncertain about whether or not you should report a specific situation, you should seek the guidance of expert attorneys.
You can contact the attorneys at The Kronzek Firm PLC at any time for issues related to the Michigan mandatory reporting statutes. Call us at 1-800-KRONZEK (1 800-576-6035) .