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Welcome to the Family Program e-learning lesson on identifying mandated reporting situations. The five types of critical situations that need to be addressed and reported on as ethical responsibility are domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, abuse or neglect of a vulnerable adult, danger to self, and danger to others. Identifying each type of crisis, as well as understanding your responsibility in each, can be quite challenging. By having clear definitions of what constitutes risk, Family Program staff members can help develop greater confidence in their ability to respond effectively. At the end of this lesson you will be able to identify specific behaviors that constitute the five types of crisis situations to be responded to, recognize the responsibility and limits of responsibility in dealing with crises, and recall the importance of supervision, consultation, or peer support in managing crises.

Laws for mandated reporting situations vary by state.

Each state determines the types of professionals who are mandated by law to report abuse. However, many states have a broad rule requiring everyone to report suspicions of abuse. It will be important to familiarize yourself with the unique differences that exist in your state’s laws. A good resource is the Child Welfare Information Gateway. You can use this searchable database to find the rules in your state. In addition, the website provides the resources you will need to access in case of each type of crisis. Having these phone numbers readily available is important to your job.

Family Program staff members have clear requirements for reporting.

It is a challenge for even seasoned professionals to deal with responding to these types of crisis situations. Seasoned professionals commonly consult with a peer or a supervisor about the situation. This provides additional support and increases confidence in the action that must be taken. A common challenge that reporters deal with is thinking that they must have certainty about a situation before they respond. The law only requires that you have a reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect. Other professionals, including child protection workers, police, and mental health professionals, are tasked with determining the best course of action. This is not the responsibility of the Family Program staff member. It is easy to forget this and to feel that you have to fix the problem or have absolute certainty about the occurrence of abuse. Another challenge reporters experience is the fear that reporting will destroy the relationship previously established with the family. While it is an option to make the report anonymously, oftentimes at least one family member will respond with relief that a serious situation is finally being addressed.