If you have a concern for a child’s safety, would you know how and to whom to report your concerns? Children are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and they need us to take action when necessary!
From January-December 2020, there were 200 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect made to Child Protective Services in Dawson County and 1669 reported during that same period in Hall County(1). Concerns for a child in immediate danger should be reported by calling 9-1-1. Concerns about suspected child abuse or neglect should be reported to Child Protective Services, the branch of the Division of Family and Children Services who is tasked with investigating any allegations. It is not required for a reporter to have verified if child abuse/neglect is occurring as this is the role of CPS. It is, however, important to be able to share detailed information of what you have seen, heard, been told, or witnessed as well as names and addresses.
Any adult in Georgia may make a report to DFCS if they have a concern. Did you know there are categories of adults who must report concerns or can be held legally liable? Those individuals are called Mandated Reporters and includes, but is not limited to: physicians, hospital or medical personnel, those undergoing medical training such as interns or residents, dentists and podiatrists, mental health professionals and those in training, psychologists, social workers, family therapists and other counseling professions, registered and licensed nurses, teachers, school administrators, and school staff personnel, child-counseling and child service organization personnel, law enforcement, and reproductive health or pregnancy center personnel and volunteers.
Although this is a detailed list of people who are required to report suspicions of abuse and neglect, YOU may be the only person who notices. YOU may only be the child’s neighbor or babysitter, but YOU may be the only person who will take action.
Did you know that the identification of all reporters is also generally held confidential(2)? CPS may not disclose to the family or caregiver the information or name of who reported a concern(3)! A report may also be made without ever providing your name, too, but it is very helpful for CPS to have your name in case they have follow-up or clarifying questions.
Reports to DFCS can be made several different ways:
- Calling their centralized intake center at 1-855-GACHILD/1-855-422-4453- available 24/7 including weekends and holidays.
- Email: email@example.com
- Web based reporting: http://dfcs.dhs.georgia.gov/child-abuse-neglect (completion of a mandated reporter training is required to obtain ID # to make reports through the web)
Remember, YOU may be the only person who will take action. If you see something concerning, please say something.
(2) – OCGA§19-7-5
(3) – Statements from DFCS policy 3.1. “Reporter information will be kept confidential. However, the case record may be subpoenaed as a result of the court proceedings and the reporter cannot be assured confidentiality will be fully protected. It may be necessary for the reporter to appear in court, if court action is initiated to protect a child. Reporter is immune from liability when the report is made in good faith.”