Michigan law mandates certain professionals to report suspected child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services (“CPS”) when they have “reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or child neglect.” MCL 722.623(1)(a)–(b). Mandated reporters are required to report child abuse, including sexual abuse, when the suspected perpetrator is a parent, legal guardian, teacher, teacher’s aide, or other person responsible for the child’s health and welfare. Who is a mandated reporter and what are the limits on this duty to report?
The list of mandated reporters list is broader than you might think See the DHHS website for a list of mandated reporters in Michigan. The list does not just include physicians, teachers, school administrators and social workers but also includes such professionals as Audiologists, Dentists and employees of an entity that as a result of federal funding statutes might be prohibited like a domestic violence shelter. Surprisingly, clergy are only required to report if they receive the information regarding possible child abuse outside “a confession or similarly confidential communication” MCL 722.631.
There are limits on this duty to report but severe consequences exist for failure to report. The law excludes from the definition of neglect a parent’s failure to procure medical treatment for a child based on religious objections, although the court has authority to order medical treatment even over the parent’s objection MCL 722.634. Anyone who in good faith reports potential child abuse or neglect is immune from civil liability for doing so MCL 722.625. A mandated to reporter who fails to fulfill their duty to report may be found civilly or criminally liable and may lose their license, See, MCL 722.633(1); MCL 722.633(2); Becker-Witt v Board of Examiners of Soc Workers, 256 Mich App 359, 663 NW2d 514 (2003). Making an intentionally false report of suspected child maltreatment may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony. See MCL 722.633(5).
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