What are “Mandatory Reporters” in Michigan?
In Michigan, mandatory reporters are people who are required by the Child Protection Law to report to Centralized Intake, Child Protective Services (CPS) at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) 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: physical and occupational therapists, athletic trainers, school counselors, 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, certain DHHS employees, and licensed day care providers.
Remember that these mandatory reporters are never considered to be off the clock, so they must report reasonable suspicions even when they aren’t working and are amongst friends or family.
Be careful who you speak to!
You should note that counselors are on the list of mandatory reporters. Sometimes families go to counselors 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 family counselor for advice. Doing this, however, could result in legal consequences for the older sibling or even the parents. This is because counselors must make a report to CPS as soon as they hear of child abuse or neglect. It’s not that the counselor 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.
There are two exceptions to the mandatory reporter rule. The first is privileged conversations between attorneys and their clients. The second is a confessional between someone and a member of the clergy that is acting in their professional role.
Failure to report means you could be liable!
It is important to be aware if you are a mandatory reporter under Michigan law. If you are a mandatory reporter and do not report reasonably suspected child abuse or negect, you can be criminally or civilly liable. This means that in a civil action you can owe money for any suffering that results from you not reporting. Criminally, you may be guilty of a misdemeanor that can result in jail time up to 93 days and/or you may have to pay a $500 fine. You can also lose your professional license.
Anyone can 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 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 from child abuse. People that make reports to CPS, do so confidentially and normally, legally, they cannot be disclosed.
Parents have a duty to protect their children.
Parents are not mandatory reporters unless they are in one of the professions that are listed mandatory reporters. If you are a mandatory reporter because of your job, you are also required to report reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect in your own home. However, even if you are not a mandatory reporter, parents still have a legal duty to protect their children from abuse or neglect by another member of their household.
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 situation should seek legal help from attorneys who have an expert understanding of the difficulties of Michigan Child Protection Law. The Kronzek Firm has a team of attorneys that is well qualified to assist with CPS and child abuse cases in Michgian.
I’m a Mandatory Reporter. Does this situation warrant a report?
Michigan Child Protection 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 Centralized Intake at MDHHS. Initially you can do this by phone, but then you must follow up with a written report on a 3200 form 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)