Changes to Georgia's Mandated Reporter Law
The Georgia legislature has made some small but important changes to the state's mandated reporter law. Effective July 1, 2015, mandated reporters (that list is unchanged) must report when they have "reasonable cause to believe that suspected child abuse has occurred." The old standard was reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused. The addition of "suspected" lowers the threshold for what you must report. In other words, adults caring for children must report incidents not only when they think abuse has occurred, but when they suspect that child abuse may have occurred.
The amended statute also includes a section clarifying that someone working within a medical or child-caring institution may report suspected abuse to a supervisor or designated contact person. Anyone following that procedure "shall be deemed to have fully complied" with the statute.
The supervisor or designated contact person then has the obligation to report the suspected abuse to child services. That person cannot "exercise any control or restraint or modification or make any other change" to the initial information, but they can provide "any additional, relevant and necessary" information.
Finally, the new statute clarifies that reporters may either call or use a written form that child services provides. If the reporters make a written report, protective services can require a follow-up written report.
The Department of Human Services has developed a form, but the Department of Human Service’s website requires completion of online mandated reporter training to access the form. An alternate source can be found at Prevent Child Abuse Georgia.
To view this Law Alert as a PDF, please click on the document link below.