The purpose of this training is to provide the learner with the knowledge to make an informed decision about whether a situation involves child abuse or maltreatment, what the reporting obligation is, and how to go about making such a report.
After completing this course, the learner will be able to:
Studies conclude that professionals that have contact with children report only half of the incidents that may be abuse or maltreatment/neglect (Research foundation, 2011). The reason for this low report rate was due to the confusion or misunderstanding about the laws and procedures and a lack of knowledge or awareness of warning signs. The study also found the professionals are often influenced by their professional beliefs values and past experiences (Research foundation, 2011). This prompted the state of New York to require mandated reporter training.
In 1999, the Monroe County Department of Social Services engaged the University of Rochester’s Department of Community and Preventive Medicine and the Perinatal Network of Rochester to conduct research for a campaign to increase community involvement to prevent child abuse and maltreatment and to improve reporting. Mandated reporters were included as a group in this study.
As a result of these and other studies, we know that child abuse and maltreatment are underreported and that, conversely, some situations that are reported to the New York State Central Register (SCR) are more suitable for preventive services or other resources.
This training is designed to provide an understanding of the preventive-protective continuum of care within the Child Protective Services (CPS) system as it operates in New York State.
Think about situations you encounter from a different viewpoint. For example, in some cultures beans and rice are dietary staples. One’s personal belief may not include entire meals from such a food group as nutritionally sound. Not applying one’s beliefs, values, or experiences but, instead, acting on the facts and from professional experience is a better measure of how to respond to suspicious incidents.
CPS intervention into a family’s life can be positive. It can provide stability and a structure for change. The CPS system works to support families through crisis and stress in their lives. Working with a family to improve their lives and break the cycle of abuse and maltreatment is the purpose of the intervention.
Instead of thinking of your report to the SCR as punitive, remember that sometimes intervention can provide exactly the kind of help a family needs to prevent the abuse or maltreatment from causing irreversible harm.
Whether or not you believe the parent(s) or legally responsible adult(s) of the child will be open to intervention, you are still obligated to make the report to the SCR. In some cases, a report is the “wake-up call” a parent needs or a means for gaining assistance in areas of their lives that have become unmanageable.
The SCR began in 1973 with the passing of the Child Protective Services Act. This law required the following:
The laws that guide New York Child Protective Services today are Article 6, Title 6 of the Social Services Law and Article 10 of the Family Court Act.
Violence is a central public health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 53,000 children are murdered each year and that the prevalence of forced sexual intercourse and other forms of sexual violence involving touch, among boys and girls under 18, is 73 million and 150 million respectively (WHO, 2016).
For 2014, there were a nationally estimated 702,000 victims of abuse and neglect, resulting in a rate of 9.4 victims per 1,000 children in the population. The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment. In FFY 2014, 52 states reported that more than one-quarter (27.4%) of victims were younger than 3 years (DHHS, 2014, pg. 21.
The percentages (not shown) of child victims were similar for both boys (48.9) and girls (50.7). African American children had the highest rate of victimization at 15.3 per 1,000 children in the population of the same race or ethnicity, and American Indian or Alaska Native children had the second-highest rate at 13.4 per 1,000 children. Hispanic and White children had lower rates of victimization at 8.8 and 8.4 per 1,000 children in the population of the same race or ethnicity (DHHS, 2014, pg. 23).
For FFY 2014, a nationally estimated 1,580 children died from abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.13 per 100,000 children in the population (DHHS, 2014, pg. 51).
The majority of reports of child abuse are made by mandated reporters. This is due to their professional training and mandated reporter training (NYOFS, 2016).
Anyone may report suspected abuse or maltreatment/neglect at any time and are encouraged to do so. However, Section § 413 of the social services law requires designated professionals to report to the SCR when (NYOFS, 2016):
Required Mandated Reporters may change as legislature is passed. The most recent list can be found in the social services law section 413 here. The following persons or officials are mandated reporters in accordance with social services law § 413 as of 5/26/16 is (NYOFS, 2016):
Whenever such person is required to report as a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility, or agency, he or she shall make the report as required by this title. Nothing in this section or title is intended to require more than one report from any institution, school, or agency. No retaliatory personnel action is allowed.
The role of the mandated reporter is to report suspected incidents of child abuse and maltreatment. Reports need to be made to the SCR immediately upon the development of reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or maltreatment.
Professional capacity definition is anytime that a person is acting within the scope of their employment or carrying out functions as part of the duties and responsibilities of their profession.
Use examples of “on duty” or “on the clock” versus “off duty,” are the following:
The mandated reporter's legal responsibility to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment ceases when the mandated reporter stops practicing his/her profession. Of course, anyone may report any suspected abuse or maltreatment at any time and is encouraged to do so.
The mandated reporter (MR) with direct knowledge is responsible for calling the SCR.
MR notifies the agency administrator (or reporting designee) immediately. No prior approval or conditions may be imposed.
The agency administrator:
There are two new pieces of legislation that modify SSL§413 enacted in 2007. The changes are effective October 1, 2007.
Chapter 193 broadens the identification of a school official within the context of who is a mandated reporter. The definition of school official now “includes, but is not limited to a school teacher, school guidance counselor, school psychologist, school social worker, school nurse, school administrator, or other school personnel required to hold a teaching or administrative license or certificate.”
The new law also establishes the requirement that “whenever such person is required to report under this title in his or her capacity as a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility, or agency, he or she shall make the report as required by this title and immediately notify the person in charge of such institution, school, facility or agency, or his designated agent. Such person in charge, or the designated agent of such person, shall be responsible for all subsequent administration necessitated by the report. Any report shall include the name, title, and contact information for every staff person of the institution who is believed to have direct knowledge of the allegations in the report. Nothing in this section or title is intended to require more than one report from any institution, school or agency.”
No retaliatory personnel action against an employee can be taken. No employer can establish any conditions, prior approval, or prior notification (See 08 OCFS INF 01).
Special Note: Social services workers are required to report or cause a report to be made whenever they have reasonable cause to suspect. This change speaks directly to the staff of social service agencies. Social services workers must make a report when aperson comes before them, not the parent, child, or other legally responsible person, just a person. For more information, refer to 07 OCFS ADM 15 for clarification of the definition of social services workers.
Mandated reporters have a legal obligation to report, but there is also a framework for protection and guidance to support them.
There are three components to the legal framework applicable to mandated reporters:
Failure to make the call:
Class A misdemeanor, which can result in a penalty of up to a year in jail, a fine of $1,000, or both.
Additionally, failing to report may result in a lawsuit in Civil Court for monetary damages for any harm caused by the mandated reporter's FAILURE TO MAKE the report to the SCR, including wrongful death suits.
Mandated Reporters MUST call the SCR to ensure immunity and to be protected from criminal and civil liability. If the mandated reporter calls the local county department of social services office or a law enforcement official, then that mandated reporter HAS NOT fulfilled their legal duty to report to the SCR.
Section 415 of the SSL requires mandated reporter to provide records regarding a mandated report necessary for a CPS investigation, irrespective of HIPAA privilege.
Effective November 21, 2005, an amendment to SSL §415 requires mandated reporters who make a report that initiates an investigation of an allegation of child abuse or maltreatment to comply with all requests for records made by CPS relating to such report.
The mandated reporter to whom the request is directed makes the determination of what information is essential. If CPS believes that the mandated reporter has additional essential information pertaining to the report, CPS should ask the mandated reporter for the additional records and attempt to come to an agreement regarding any additional records. If CPS and the mandated reporter cannot come to an agreement and CPS disagrees with the mandated reporter's rationale for why the records are not relevant to the report, CPS may seek a court order pursuant to CPLR Article 31 and SSL §415 directing the mandated reporter to produce the essential information.
The amendment to SSL §415 only applies to the records of the mandated reporter who made the report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment. Additionally, the records that CPS requests should be limited only to information that directly pertains to the report itself.
The purpose of the inclusion of these records is to support a full investigation of allegations of child abuse or maltreatment.
This language is not intended to be an expansion of a mandated reporter's current obligation. Since the passage of the federal HIPAA, confusion has arisen regarding the obligation of a mandated reporter to provide copies of written records that underlie the report. The intent of the amendment to SSL 415 is to make clear that the mandated reporter's obligation also extends to the provision of the records necessary to investigate the report, as has always been the case.
Materials included are:
SPECIAL NOTE: Disclosure of substance abuse treatment records are pursuant to the standards and procedures for disclosure of such records delineated in federal law.
Written reports from mandated reporters shall be admissible in evidence in any proceedings relating to child abuse or maltreatment.
The statutory amendments do not require written consent and are intended to promote CPS getting the needed supplemental information that supports the initial report.
Consider the Child
Children are defined as individuals from birth up to eighteen years of age. Therefore, you cannot report prenatal harm, but a child born with a positive toxicology can be reported.
However, if a child is born with a positive toxicology, that can be reported. Individuals no more than 21 years of age that have a handicapping condition and are in residential care in certain New York schools for the blind or deaf or private residential schools for special education services may also be reported to SCR (NYOFS, 2016).
Youth no more than 21 years of age who have handicapping conditions and are in residential care in certain New York schools for the blind or deaf or in private residential schools for special educational services may also be reported to the SCR.
When identifying suspected child abuse and maltreatment, begin by considering the child. Carefully review what has happened to the child that leads you to believe there is harm or risk of harm to the child.
Consider how the parent or other persons legally responsible may be culpable for this condition or circumstance.
Always start with the child and establish his or her condition, and then explore the involvement of the parent or person legally responsible for the care of the child.
There are definitions you must understand that establish parameters for reporting abuse and maltreatment.
Generally, maltreatment involves the quality of care a child receives. Abuse reflects the seriousness of the injury.
There needs to be a connection between harm to the child or a substantial likelihood of harm and the actions or inactions of the person responsible for the child.
Deciding if a report is classified as abuse or maltreatment is the job of the SCR when the report is made or by local CPS during the investigation.
The following definitions should be used as guidelines to determine if there is reasonable cause to suspect abuse or maltreatment.
Abuse involves serious injury such as burns, fractures, head trauma, and internal injuries. Be prepared to give examples of what would constitute substantial risk of death or substantial risk of physical harm.
The following are elements of abuse are defined in the Family Court Act 1012 (Research foundation, 2011, Trainer’s Presentation Guide, pg. 16-17):
Subject inflicts or allows to be inflicted on a child serious physical injury by other than accidental means.
Such action causes or creates a substantial risk of death or serious or protracted disfigurement, impairment of physical or emotional health or impairment of the function of any bodily organ
In NYS, while reasonable physical correction of a child is allowed, excessive corporal punishment is not. “Excessive” is a case-by-case determination based on the form of the punishment, its ability to cause serious injury, the purpose of the punishment, and what the child did to warrant such punishment. More specifically, the following questions should help focus mandated reporters’ thought processes or a class discussion. A “yes” response to any of these questions may make a physical punishment excessive:
An example may clarify this point:
REMINDER: The terms “maltreatment” and “neglect” are often used interchangeably. Both terms have legal foundation in the CPS system. “Maltreatment” is the term used in the Social Service Law and “neglect” is used in the Family Court Act.
The following is the definition of maltreatment is defined as (Research foundation, 2011, Trainer’s Presentation Guide, pg. 18):
A copy of The Family Court Act is available here.
The Abandoned Infant Protection Act (AIPA, refer to the AIPA tab) does NOT affect your responsibilities as a mandated reporter.
AIPA does NOT amend the law in regard to mandated reporters or does NOT in any way change or lessen the responsibilities of mandated reporters.
Mandated reporters who learn of abandonment are still obligated to fulfill their legal responsibility.
The following figure illustrates normal and suspicious bruising areas. Note the “normal” areas versus the “suspicious” areas.
In addition to location, the size and the shape of the injury needs to be considered.
Children are susceptible to injuries in relation to their developmental stage.
If a plausible explanation is offered, consider the age of the child and the location of a suspicious injury when developing your thoughts about “reasonable cause to suspect.”
Accidental injuries usually involve injury to the boney prominences of the body, i.e., shins, elbows, knees. For example:
Suspicious injuries usually occur in areas not susceptible to accidental, age-appropriate areas.
Indicators of abuse warn the mandated reporter to pay more attention to a particular situation. Sometimes there are no indicators even though the child is being abused. There are three types of indicators of abuse or maltreatment/neglect;
Indicators should not be viewed in isolation; they must be considered in relation to the child’s condition. Indicators should be considered in the overall context of the child’s physical appearance and behavior. Sometimes a single indicator is self-evident or points to abuse or maltreatment/neglect. Often several indicators must be pulled together or clusters of indicators used to develop reasonable cause (Research foundation, 2011).
Some mandated reporters see a child only once or very infrequently; others see them more often. In looking for reasonable cause you need to consider what you know about the child’s normal behavior. No two children will respond the same way to the same situation.
Common physical indicators are severe unexplained or suspicious bruises and welts, fractures, burns, lacerations, or abrasions. Specific physical indicators are (Research foundation, 2011, pg. 6) (NYOFS, 2016):
Glove like burn
Sock like burn
Steam Iron Injury
Looped cord injury (AbuseWatch.net, 2012)
Accidental injuries usually involve injury on a bony prominence of the body such as elbows and knees and shins. Suspicious injuries usually occur in areas not susceptible to accidental age-appropriate areas. The following pictures indicate areas where children would not normally bruise, and suspicious bruising areas, as well as other suspicious areas of injury.
Suspicious areas of bruising
Clues to the mechanism of injury
Consider the size and shape of the injury, as well as the location of injury (Research foundation, 2011). Consider the relationship of the mechanism of injury (explanation of how the injury occurred) to the child’s developmental stage. For example, toddlers fall when they learn to walk, and young children scrape their knees when learning to ride a bicycle. Consider if the story that was given as an explanation for an injury would produce the physical indicators that are present. For instance, a toddler falls to the floor while walking, not striking anything when he fell. That toddler has bruises on the back of his legs. One would expect that from a fall while walking, the toddler would have bruises and scrapes on his hands, knees, and shins; not bruises on the back of his legs.
Child behavioral indicators of physical abuse may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 6) (NYOFS, 2016):
Parent behavioral indicators of physical abuse may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 6) (NYOFS, 2016):
Child physical indicators of maltreatment/neglect may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 7) (NYOFS, 2016):
Child behavioral indicators of maltreatment/neglect may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 7) (NYOFS, 2016):
Parental behavior indicators of maltreatment/neglect may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 7) (NYOFS, 2016):
Child physical indicators of emotional maltreatment may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 7) (NYOFS, 2016):
FIG. 6-3. Photograph of patient with marked failure to thrive (case 6-7).
Child behavioral indicators of emotional maltreatment may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 7) (NYOFS, 2016):
Parent behavioral indicators of emotional maltreatment may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 7) (NYOFS, 2016):
Child physical indicators of sexual abuse may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 8) (NYOFS, 2016):
Child behavioral indicators of sexual abuse may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 8) (NYOFS, 2016):
Parent behavioral indicators of sexual abuse may be (Research foundation, 2011, participant’s guide pg. 8) (NYOFS, 2016):
CAUTION: When dealing with child abuse or maltreatment, you are not to investigate or interrogate. Your responsibility is to assess for reasonable cause to suspect and make the necessary report.
Occasionally you learn of possible abuse or maltreatment not by what you see, but by what a child says.
When a child discloses, consider the suggestions or “dos” for talking with children.
When talking with a child, stress that the situation and the behaviors are not his or her fault.
You are NOT legally required to inform parents or other persons legally responsible for a child’s care that you are making a report to the SCR.
Do NOT assume a parent will support the child. If you have questions or concerns about whether to inform the parents, contact your local CPS (refer to Local CPS tab).
Informing the parent or other person legally responsible may place a child at further risk of harm.
There are specific guidelines that apply to cases of suspected sexual abuse. Once a child reveals information that makes you suspect sexual abuse, avoid talking in detail with the child about the incident. Often CPS and law enforcement work together to interview a child at the same time. These professionals have been specially trained in interviewing children. This is a traumatic experience or a child to relive. In your role as a mandated reporter, try to minimize how much you talk to a child about an incident involving suspected sexual abuse.
Reasonable cause to suspect
Explanations that are inconsistent with your observations and/or knowledge may be a basis for your reasonable suspicion.
As a mandated reporter, you are required to report suspected incidents; it is your duty.
If there is a reasonable cause to suspect a child is being abused or maltreated, you must call the SCR immediately.
You do NOT have to be positive that abuse or maltreatment is occurring.
You do NOT have to have proof that abuse or maltreatment has occurred.
When you have “reasonable cause to suspect” you must attempt to register a report for the incident, even if these events continue to occur.
DO NOT assume that another agency or individual is making the report and your responsibility is relieved. Even if you know they have made a report, you are obligated to report the incident also.
The sooner the incident is reported, the better the chances for protecting the child and providing appropriate services for the family.
The information you gather from your observations may be different from those of another reporter. This information is all relevant to the SCR in making their decision when registering a report.
REMEMBER: Crimes committed against children should be directly reported to law enforcement. If you are uncertain if an incident is criminal, you can contact the SCR anyway. SCR staff are trained to make those distinctions or can make a Law Enforcement Referral (LER). In certain circumstances, it may be necessary to contact law enforcement if anyone is in immediate danger.
Person legally responsible
Knowing who has caused harm to a child is a significant factor in determining how to proceed.
The SCR only registers reports against a parent, guardian, or other person eighteen years of age or older who is legally responsible for the child.
According to the Family Court Act, persons legally responsible include the child’s custodian, guardian, and any other person 18-years old or older responsible for the child’s care at the relevant time. This includes any person continually or at regular intervals found in the same household as the child when the conduct of such person causes or contributes to the abuse or maltreatment of the child.
Once the SCR registers a report, the person who is named as causing the harm to the child becomes the “subject of the report.”
SPECIAL NOTE: Additional information and definitions regarding the “subject of a report” can be found in SSL§412.
Teachers in most public or private schools do NOT qualify as “subjects of reports” when they are acting as teachers. Teachers can be “subjects of reports” when the incident involves their own child, or with a child, they have legal responsibility for outside of their role as a teacher.
Imminent danger is a term that measures the distance between a child and the harm created by a parent’s (or other person legally responsible) actions or failure to act.
Imminent danger means that the child is placed at immediate risk or substantial risk of harm.
The key factor in assessing imminent danger is to ask yourself, “How direct is the threat to the child?” In other words, the danger to the child must be immediate or nearly immediate.
The standard to be applied is reasonableness. Ask yourself, “Is it reasonable to believe an intervening factor could occur?” If the answer is yes, then there is no imminent danger. If the answer is no, then there is reasonableness to assume that harm could occur and there is imminent danger.
An example may help clarify this point: If a parent swings an object at a child attempting to strike the child on the head, but misses, we can say that the danger was imminent. The only additional factor necessary for the child to be injured was for the parent to connect, rather than miss, and it is reasonable to believe this could have occurred.
The SCR mandated reporter express line number is 800-635-1522.
The Public hotline number is 800-342-3720.
For abuse by institutional staff call 855-373-2122
Oral reports must be made to the SCR by calling the mandated reporter designated hotline. Calls to this hotline are given priority.
Do NOT give the mandated reporter hotline number to anyone who is not a mandated reporter. This circumvents the intent of the mandated reporter hotline.
REMEMBER: If you are NOT acting in your official capacity when you make the call, then you must call the non-mandated reporter hotline phone number.
Two counties in New York State have their own localized hotlines that may be used instead of the SCR hotline.
The CPS specialist who responds to your call is prepared to assist you through the reporting process.
As a mandated reporter, you need to be prepared to articulate your concerns in a clear and concise manner.
It is important for you to prepare before you make the call, so you will have information readily available when the CPS specialist asks you to provide it.
A useful tool you can use to organize your information is the LDSS-2221A form., located here. Since this form needs to be filled out anyway, this will not be a waste of time.
Gathering information on this form and then using it while making the call may be helpful to you.
Consider before making the call
Your job is to provide enough information to aid the CPS specialist in his or her decision-making process.
Explain to the CPS specialist what your suspicions or concerns are relative to the child who has come to your attention. Explain whether the child has been subjected to harm and why.
Some mandated reporters have consistent and close contact with a child or parent because of the nature of their profession. This may give the mandated reporter an advantage in being able to assess the overall condition of the child.
Some identifying information is required. The local CPS agency will need some way to be able to locate the child.
REMINDER: Use the LDSS-2221A form to gather information, and then use it as a tool to organize your information while making the call.
Special Note: When registering your report, you may request that the local CPS agency assigned to this report contact you directly.
If the report you make is registered by the CPS specialist, be sure to ask for the call identification number assigned to your report, as well as the full name of the CPS specialist you are speaking with.
You can request a “Summary of Findings.” This brief document can be provided to you following the completion of the local district investigation and determination of the investigation outcome.
Simply because you are calling as a mandated reporter does not mean that a report will automatically be registered. If the SCR cannot register the report you are trying to make, the reason for their decision should be clearly explained to you, and you should be offered an opportunity to speak to a supervisor.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your interview with the CPS specialist, be sure to ask to speak with a supervisor. Supervisors are on duty at the SCR around the clock and can be very helpful in clarifying issues and reviewing decisions whenever this is necessary.
Consider these questions when evaluating the following case studies:
The correct answers follow the case studies.
Use these same questions when confronted with an incident to help decide if there is reasonable cause to suspect.
Your “gut” feeling serves as a warning and warrants further examination of the situation.
Not all situations are appropriate for CPS intervention. Some situations are more appropriate for referral to preventive services. If this is the case, you may contact the local CPS directly to get the family the help they need.
A list of local CPS offices and other helpful links are on the OCFS Website. There is also a list of local CPS offices provided in the tabbed Local CPS section.
If the SCR accepts the report, WRITE DOWN THE CALL ID # given by the CPS Specialist at the SCR. On the upper right corner of the 2221A, there is a place to RECORD THE CALL ID #.
Answer any questions they may have about completing this form.
Two copies of the form, an original and a duplicate must be forwarded to the local CPS agency within 48 hours. A third copy should be kept on file by the reporter.
After you complete your call to the SCR, immediately notify the person in charge of the institution, school, facility, or agency, or the designated agent of the person in charge, and provide the information reported to the SCR, including the names of other persons identified as having direct knowledge or the alleged abuse or maltreatment and other mandated reporters identified as having reasonable cause to suspect.
The person in charge or designated agent, once notified that a report has been made to the SCR, becomes responsible for all subsequent administration concerning the report, including preparation and submission of the form LDSS-2221A.
As suggested earlier, if time permits, it may be helpful to fill out the form before placing your call to the SCR. This enables you to organize whatever demographic and identifying information you might have, as well as your allegations and concerns. REMEMBER: The safety of the child must come before the completion of the form.
Written reports, using the LDSS-2221A, should be sent to the local CPS
When the circumstances of your call to the SCR constitute a crime or an immediate threat to the child’s health or safety, but the report is not registerable, the SCR will send the information to the New York State Police Information Network (NYSPIN), or to the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for necessary action.
These types of calls are referred to as Law Enforcement Referrals, or “LERs.” They are transmitted to the appropriate police agency for follow-up. They are NOT registered SCR reports. LERs are not assigned a call identification number. If you are a mandated reporter in a LER situation, you do NOT need to complete the LDSS-2221A form.
Once a report has been accepted and registered at the SCR, the following process occurs:
The investigation performed by the local CPS agency involves two interrelated and simultaneous processes.
Besides visiting the family, caseworkers may call or visit relatives, schools, doctors, hospitals, police, and any other service provider or agency who might have information about the child.
Local CPS is responsible for assessing the safety, risk, and well-being of the child identified in the report and any other children in the home.
After evaluating the information gathered during the investigation, caseworkers make a determination.
If it is determined that there is credible evidence, evidence “worthy of belief,” the report is indicated and will remain on file at the SCR.
If no credible evidence can be found, the report is unfounded and is sealed. Sealed reports are expunged after a period of ten years from the date of the report.
The determination of reports is a difficult task. No matter how thorough the investigation, sometimes there is no clear evidence of what happened.
New York State is divided into fifty-eight local social services districts. The five boroughs of New York City comprise one district. Outside of New York City, each district corresponds to one of the fifty-seven counties that make up the remainder of the state. County Departments of Social Services (DSS) provide or administer the full range of publicly funded social services and cash assistance programs. Families whose income meets state guidelines and who meet other criteria may be able to receive a subsidy to offset some of their childcare costs. If you are interested in learning more about the availability of childcare subsidies in your county, please contact your DSS office.
Listed below is an alphabetical list of the fifty-eight DSS Offices available throughout New York State.
How and where do I report child abuse and/or maltreatment?
Where can I find the laws pertaining to Child Protective Services and Social Services?
What is HIPAA and does it affect or limit my responsibility as a mandated reporter of suspected child abuse or maltreatment?
What happens after I make a report?
What does the language that amends SSL §415 regarding mandated reporters and the provision of records mean?
Regarding the requirement that mandated reporters provide records needed for a CPS investigation irrespective of HIPAA constraints: Does this only apply when the records are controlled by the mandated reporter who is the source of the report, or any mandated reporter that has had contact with the subject family?
Who decides what information pertaining to the report is "essential for a full investigation" and therefore must be provided to CPS: the mandated reporter or CPS?
Do the amendments to SSL §415 apply where a mandated reporter (e.g. mental health therapist or domestic violence service provider) makes the report based on information disclosed by a parent who is not alleged to be the subject and the mandated reporter only has additional information concerning such allegedly non-offending parent?
Must the mandated reporter receive written consent from the parent(s) in order to provide CPS with the additional essential information?
SSL § 412
I. When used in this title and unless the specific context indicates otherwise:
II. the central register of child abuse or maltreatment or who allegedly allows such injury, abuse or maltreatment to be inflicted on such child;
Persons and officials required to report cases of suspected child abuse or maltreatment.
Reports of suspected child abuse or maltreatment made pursuant to this title shall be made immediately by telephone or by telephone facsimile machine on a form supplied by the commissioner of the office of children and family services. Oral reports shall be followed by a report in writing within forty-eight hours after such oral report. Oral reports shall be made to the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment unless the appropriate local plan for the provision of child protective services provides that oral reports should be made to the local child protective service. In those localities in which oral reports are made initially to the local child protective service, the child protective service shall immediately make an oral or electronic report to the statewide central register. Written reports shall be made to the appropriate local child protective service except that written reports involving children in residential care, as defined in subdivision four of section four hundred twelve-a of this title, or being cared for in a home operated or supervised by an authorized agency, office of children and family services, or an office of the department of mental hygiene, shall be made to the statewide central register of child abuse and maltreatment which shall transmit the reports to the agency responsible for investigating the report, in accordance with paragraph (a) or (c) of subdivision eleven of section four hundred twenty two or section four hundred twenty-four-b of this title, as applicable. Written reports shall be made in a manner prescribed and on forms supplied by the commissioner of the office of children and family services and shall include the following information: the names and addresses of the child and his or her parents or other person responsible for his or her care, if known, and, as the case may be, the name and address of the residential care facility or program in which the child resides or is receiving care; the child's age, sex and race; the nature and extent of the child's injuries, abuse or maltreatment, including any evidence of prior injuries, abuse or maltreatment to the child or, as the case may be, his or her siblings; the name of the person or persons alleged to be responsible for causing the injury, abuse or maltreatment, if known; family composition, where appropriate; the source of the report; the person making the report and where he or she can be reached; the actions taken by the reporting source, including the taking of photographs and x-rays, removal or keeping of the child or notifying the medical examiner or coroner; and any other information which the commissioner of the office of children and family services may, by regulation, require, or the person making the report believes might be helpful, in the furtherance of the purposes of this title. Notwithstanding the privileges set forth in article forty-five of the civil practice law and rules, and any other provision of law to the contrary, mandated reporters who make a report which initiates an investigation of an allegation of child abuse or maltreatment are required to comply with all requests for records made by a child protective service relating to such report, including records relating to diagnosis, prognosis or treatment, and clinical records, of any patient or client that are essential for a full investigation of allegations of child abuse or maltreatment pursuant to this title; provided, however, that disclosure of substance abuse treatment records shall be made pursuant to the standards and procedures for disclosure of such records delineated in federal law. Written reports from persons or officials required by this title to report shall be admissible in evidence in any proceedings relating to child abuse or maltreatment.
Any person or official required to report cases of suspected child abuse and maltreatment may take or cause to be taken at public expense photographs of the areas of trauma visible on a child who is subject to a report and, if medically indicated, cause to be performed a radiological examination on the child. Any photographs or x-rays taken shall be sent to the child protective service at the time the written report is sent, or as soon thereafter as possible. Whenever such person is required to report under this title in his capacity as a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility, or agency, he shall immediately notify the person in charge of such institution, school, facility or agency, or his designated agent, who shall then take or cause to be taken at public expense color photographs of visible trauma and shall, if medically indicated, cause to be performed a radiological examination on the child.
Any person, official, or institution participating in good faith in the providing of a service pursuant to section four hundred twenty-four of this title, the making of a report, the taking of photographs, the removal or keeping of a child pursuant to this title, or the disclosure of child protective services information in compliance with sections twenty, four hundred twenty-two and four hundred twenty-two-a of this chapter shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise result by reason of such actions. For the purpose of any proceeding, civil or criminal, the good faith of any such person, official, or institution required to report cases of child abuse or maltreatment or providing a service pursuant to section four hundred twenty-four or the disclosure of child protective services information in compliance with sections twenty, four hundred twenty-two and four hundred twenty-two-a of this chapter shall be presumed, provided such person, official or institution was acting in discharge of their duties and within the scope of their employment, and that such liability did not result from the willful misconduct or gross negligence of such person, official or institution.
After a child, other than a child in residential care, who is reported to the central register of abuse or maltreatment reaches the age of eighteen years, access to a child's record under subparagraphs (a) and (b) of this paragraph shall be permitted only if a sibling or offspring of such child is before such person and is a suspected victim of child abuse or maltreatment. In addition, a person or official required to make a report of suspected child abuse or maltreatment pursuant to section four hundred thirteen of this chapter shall receive, upon request, the findings of an investigation made pursuant to this title or section 45.07 of the mental hygiene law. However, no information may be released unless the person or official's identity is confirmed by the department. If the request for such information is made prior to the completion of an investigation of a report, the released information shall be limited to whether the report is "indicated," "unfounded" or “under investigation," whichever the case may be. If the request for such information is made after the completion of an investigation of a report, the released information shall be limited to whether the report is "indicated" or “unfounded," whichever the case may be. A person given access to the names or other information identifying the subjects of the report, or other persons named in the report, except the subject of the report or other persons named in the report, shall not divulge or make public such identifying information unless he or she is a district attorney or other law enforcement official and the purpose is to initiate court action, or the disclosure is necessary in connection with the investigation or prosecution of the subject of the report for a crime alleged to have been committed by the subject against another person named in the report. Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit any release, disclosure or identification of the names or identifying descriptions of persons who have reported suspected child abuse or maltreatment to the statewide central register or the agency, institution, organization, program or other entity where such persons are employed or the agency, institution, organization or program with which they are associated without such persons' written permission except to persons, officials, and agencies enumerated in subparagraphs (e), (f), (h), (j), (l), (m) and (v) of this paragraph.
To the extent that persons or agencies are given access to information pursuant to subparagraphs (a), (b), (c), (j), (k), (l), (m), (o) and (q) of this paragraph, such persons or agencies may give and receive such information to each other in order to facilitate an investigation conducted by such persons or agencies.
* NB Repealed June 1, 2011
§ 422.14 The department shall refer suspected cases of falsely reporting child abuse and maltreatment in violation of subdivision three of section 240.55 of the penal law to the appropriate law enforcement agency or district attorney. *
* [The relevant portions of the penal law were amended and the sections renumbered. The penal law reference to
intentional false reports is now at Section 240.50(4) of the penal law. The Social Service Law has not yet been
changed to reflect that.]
§ 240.50 Falsely reporting an incident in the third degree. A person is guilty of falsely reporting an incident in the third degree when, knowing the information reported, conveyed or circulated to be false or baseless, he:
Falsely reporting an incident in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor.
When used in this article and unless the specific context indicates otherwise:(sections a, b, c, and d not included here)
The following definitions are applicable to this article:
A person shall not be convicted of any offense defined in this article of which lack of consent is an element but results solely from incapacity to consent because of the victim`s mental defect, or mental incapacity, or an attempt to commit the same, solely on the testimony of the victim, unsupported by other evidence tending to:
A person is guilty of sexual misconduct when:
A person is guilty of rape in the third degree when:
Rape in the third degree is a class E felony.
A person is guilty of rape in the second degree when:
It shall be an affirmative defense to the crime of rape in the second degree as defined in subdivision one of this section that the defendant was less than four years older than the victim at the time of the act.
Rape in the second degree is a class D felony.
A person is guilty of rape in the first degree when he or she engages in sexual intercourse with another person:
Rape in the first degree is a class B felony.
A person is guilty of criminal sexual act in the third degree when:
Criminal sexual act in the third degree is a class E felony.
A person is guilty of criminal sexual act in the second degree when:
It shall be an affirmative defense to the crime of criminal sexual act in the second degree as defined in subdivision one of this section that the defendant was less than four years older than the victim at the time of the act.
Criminal sexual act in the second degree is a class D felony.
A person is guilty of criminal sexual act in the first degree when he or she engages in oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct with another person:
Criminal sexual act in the first degree is a class B felony.
A person is guilty of forcible touching when such person intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly touches the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person; or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire.
For the purposes of this section, forcible touching includes squeezing, grabbing or pinching.
Forcible touching is a class A misdemeanor.
A person is guilty of persistent sexual abuse when he or she commits the crime of forcible touching, as defined in section 130.52 of this article, sexual abuse in the third degree, as defined in section 130.55 of this article, or sexual abuse in the second degree, as defined in section 130.60 of this article, and, within the previous ten year period, has been convicted two or more times, in separate criminal transactions for which sentence was imposed on separate occasions, of forcible touching, as defined in section 130.52 of this article, sexual abuse in the third degree as defined in section 130.55 of this article, sexual abuse in the second degree, as defined in section 130.60 of this article, or any offense defined in this article, of which the commission or attempted commission thereof is a felony.
Persistent sexual abuse is a class E felony.
A person is guilty of sexual abuse in the third degree when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact without the latter’s consent; except that in any prosecution under this section, it is an affirmative defense that
Sexual abuse in the third degree is a class B misdemeanor.
A person is guilty of sexual abuse in the second degree when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact and when such other person is:
Sexual abuse in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
A person is guilty of sexual abuse in the first degree when he or she subjects another person to sexual contact:
Sexual abuse in the first degree is a class D felony.
Aggravated sexual abuse in the fourth degree is a class E felony.
Aggravated sexual abuse in the third degree is a class D felony.
Aggravated sexual abuse in the second degree is a class C felony.
Aggravated sexual abuse in the first degree is a class B felony.
Course of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree is a class B felony.
Course of sexual conduct against a child in the second degree is a class D felony.
Female genital mutilation is a class E felony.
A person is guilty of facilitating a sex offense with a controlled substance when he or she:
Facilitating a sex offense with a controlled substance is a class D felony.
A person is guilty of prostitution when such person engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee.
Prostitution is a class B Misdemeanor.
A person is guilty of promoting prostitution in the third degree when he knowingly:
Promoting prostitution in the third degree is a class D felony.
A person is guilty of promoting prostitution in the second degree when he knowingly:
Promoting prostitution in the second degree is a class C felony.
A person is guilty of promoting prostitution in the first degree when he knowingly advances or profits from prostitution of a person less than eleven years old.
Promoting prostitution in the first degree is a class B felony.
A person is guilty of incest when he or she marries or engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a person whom he or she knows to be related to him or her, either legitimately or out of wedlock, as an ancestor, descendant, brother or sister of either the whole or the half blood, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece.
Incest is a class E felony.
As used in this article the following definitions shall apply:
A person is guilty of the use of a child in a sexual performance if knowing the character and content thereof he employs, authorizes or induces a child less than seventeen years of age to engage in a sexual performance or being a parent, legal guardian or custodian of such child, he consents to the participation by such child in a sexual performance.
Use of a child in a sexual performance is a class C felony.
A person is guilty of promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child when, knowing the character and content thereof, he produces, directs or promotes any obscene performance which includes sexual conduct by a child less than seventeen years of age.
Promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child is a class D felony.
A person is guilty of possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child when, knowing the character and content thereof, he knowingly has in his possession or control any obscene performance which includes sexual conduct by a child less than sixteen years of age.
Possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child is a class E felony.
A person is guilty of promoting a sexual performance by a child when, knowing the character and content thereof, he produces, directs or promotes any performance which includes sexual conduct by a child less than seventeen years of age.
Promoting a sexual performance by a child is a class D felony.
A person is guilty of possessing a sexual performance by a child when, knowing the character and content thereof, he knowingly has in his possession or control any performance which includes sexual conduct by a child less than sixteen years of age.
Possessing a sexual performance by a child is a class E felony.
Abused Child in Residential Care
Maltreated child in Residential Care
Person Legally Responsible
Reasonable Cause to Suspect
Subject of a Report