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Updates to the Mandated Reporter Statute Effective July 1, 2012

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Clarification of the expanded mandated reporter statute for DFCS employees and additional resources for obtaining more information:

The amended mandated reporter statute now includes an expanded population of reporters. It includes the mom who volunteers in her child's kindergarten class, the crew that provides facility support to the school system (if they are paid by the school system), the teachers of children and youth (paid or volunteer) and the coaches of all sports, recreation ball, travel  ball or a school team.  

House Bill 1176 amended O.C.G.A. 19-7-5, Georgia's mandatory reporter statute, to expand the categories of professionals required to report child abuse and to add clarifying definitions to the categories already in place.    

The existing category of "child service organization personnel" was clarified through a broad definition that now includes employees or volunteers in the public, private, for-profit and non-profit sectors that provide "care, treatment, education, training, supervision, coaching, counseling, recreational programs, or shelter to children."  Clergy were not specifically added to the list of mandated reporters; however, if a clergyman falls within any of the classes of persons who must report under the mandated reporter statute O.C.G.A. 19-7-5, the clergyman must report unless the information was obtained in the context of a confession or similar context.  

The above expansion of professionals and clarification of “child service organization personnel definition” now means any person employed by or volunteering at a business or organization that provides care, treatment, education, training, supervision, coaching, counseling, recreational programs or shelter to children is now included in the mandated reporter statute and is hence a mandated reporter.  A copy of the revised mandated reporter letter (linked above) must be mailed to each mandated reporter making a report.  

The statute requires that an oral report be provided to DHS/DFCS within 24 hours of the time the reporter learns of the suspected abuse or maltreatment.  Reports may be made to law enforcement or the District Attorney if a DHS/DFCS report cannot be made. 

Additionally, changes were made beyond the definition provisions to permit photographs of a child's injuries to be taken without parental permission as documentary evidence. Previously photos could only be taken by hospital "staff," physicians, law enforcement personnel, school officials and staff of child protection agencies.  The limitation to "staff" has now been expanded to include "employees or volunteers" of hospitals and other child protection agencies. 

Most school systems in Georgia will be back to class within the next two weeks. During the summer the Department of Education (DOE) commissioned a communications group to develop a training for all teachers on the expanded mandated reporter statutes. That training, along with two others, is included below.  


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