Social Workers and Child Abuse Reporting: A Review of State Mandatory Reporting Requirements is part of a series of General Counsel Law Notes written with the support of the NASW Legal Defense Fund.
Social workers often find themselves torn between their commitment to their clients and their responsibility to society when faced with the possible need to report child abuse to authorities. Yet the reporting of child abuse represents far more than just an ethical dilemma. Social workers are not only required to report any suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, they can face varying levels of civil and criminal liability if they fail to do so. Intervention on behalf of the child has become a societal expectation, and federal and state laws reflect the values underlying that expectation.
This law note discusses the legal issues social workers confront when dealing with situations of child abuse and neglect. First, it provides a brief history of the federal legislation establishing mandated standards for Child Protective Services and the reporting of suspected child abuse. Second, it surveys state statutes and case law, providing an overview of current mandatory reporting laws (an appendix summarizing each state's reporting requirements is also included). Third, it identifies the various ethical considerations social workers face in meeting their reporting obligations. Fourth, it discusses emerging issues related to child abuse reporting that are particularly complex and may require further analysis. Finally, it outlines practical steps for reporting child abuse.
Federal and state laws and court interpretations are constantly developing and changing, so legal advice must be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of a particular case, but Social Workers and Child Abuse Reporting provides practitioners with an authoritative overview of the crucial issues presented by child abuse and neglect cases. All social workers whose practices involve children and families will want to have this invaluable resource on their shelves.
The NASW General Counsel Law Note series provides information to social workers about legal topics of concern to the social work profession. The Law Notes are developed with the support and financial assistance of the NASW Legal Defense Fund (LDF). Contents vary by title, but generally include legal information, civil procedure, contracts, legal methods, and glossaries. Checklists, timetables, case law, and other resources help social workers understand and exercise their legal rights and responsibilities as well as the rights and responsibilities of their clients.