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Which Professionals are Mandated Reporters?

“Mandated reporting” refers to the legal obligation of certain individuals to report suspicions of maltreatment to governmental authorities. Most often, we hear about this type of reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect. There are other forms of mandated reporting that are less common, like the reporting of elder abuse. 


During this post, we will focus specifically on mandated reporting of suspected child maltreatment and provide resources to help determine when making a report is appropriate or not. 


A woman contacting her state to determine if she is a mandated reporter.

How many states have mandated reporter laws?


You might be wondering: how many states have mandated reporter laws?


EVERY STATE HAS MANDATED REPORTER LAWS. 


However, mandated reporting laws vary slightly from state to state. In general, professionals who are likely to come in contact with children and their families are “mandated reporters” of suspected child maltreatment, at least when they develop those suspicions through their professional role.


In all states, the list of these professionals  includes doctors, nurses, teachers, mental health providers, and social workers, though there are many other professional titles included in many states. The list of which job titles who fall under mandated reporting laws in most states is very long. There is often the question of “should professionals be required to report suspicions of child maltreatment?”


In states like New York and California, there are over 30 different professional titles who are required to make reports of suspected abuse or neglect . However, the vast majority of reports come from a handful of sources. The combination of reports from schools, medical care providers and law enforcement usually make up 50-60% of reports to child protective services (CPS) in every state.


Some states require all adults to make reports.


In some states there are laws requiring ALL adults responsible for making reports of suspected types of abuse , regardless of whether they fill a particular professional role. We call these states “universal reporting states”. As of 2023, universal reporting states include: Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. You can find out more about universal reporting at our blog post: “Am I a Mandated Reporter When I'm Not Working?”.


To find out if your professional title means you are a mandated reporter in your state, you can:

  • Check out this resource from the Child Welfare Gateway: “Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect”. This publication discusses State laws that designate the groups of professionals required to report cases of suspected child abuse and neglect.

  • Use an internet search engine and ask “are [your profession] mandated reporters in [your state]?”

  • Call the child protective services hotline in your state.


Most importantly, if you determine you ARE a mandated reporter, you should learn WHEN you are required to report. Most concerns professionals have about the care of children are NOT required to be reported to CPS. It is important that reports are not made to CPS simply due to fear of “failing to report.” These situations often lead to unnecessary long term consequences for those involved. Find out more in our blog post here.


To avoid unnecessary reports to CPS mandated reporting professionals  should understand their role, and work to support families, not report families, whenever possible. To learn more, check out our blog post: “The Best of Intentions”. You should also aim to learn more about a project to replace mandated reporting with “mandated supporting”. 

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