Act 60 (S.9), which came into effect July 1, 2015, made some changes to mandated reporting procedures, child abuse definitions, and information sharing. These changes are reflected below.
Who are mandated reporters in Vermont?
Click here to see the list of mandated reporters.
What is my legal obligation to report?
If you reasonably suspect child abuse or neglect, you are legally required to make a report to our Family Services Division (FSD) — within 24 hours of the time you first received or observed information about the suspected abuse/neglect.
Read FSD Policy 50 for child abuse and neglect definitions.
Call 1-800-649-5285 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).
If a child is in immediate danger, dial 911 or call your local police first.
Then, call FSD to make a report. Calling law enforcement is not the same as reporting to FSD. You must notify FSD directly.
What if several people in my organization need to report the same information/incident?
We strongly recommend you report as a group—by phone or in writing. The same 24-hour time limit applies.
What if my employer has a policy about notifying supervisors or managers about suspected child abuse or neglect?
Remember that it is the individual mandated reporter who is legally required to make a report on time and will be liable if one is not made.
What happens to reports received?
Click here to learn what happens to the reports we receive.
What if I am not sure?
Please call us for advice, if you:
- Are not sure a report is warranted; or
- Are considering telling the parents about your report. In some cases, this could endanger the child and hinder the response.
You need only have a reasonable suspicion that abuse or neglect happened to make a report. If in doubt, report!
What happens when I call?
Before you call, try to have as much information on hand as possible (e.g., the child’s name, date of birth, home address, school or child care provider, and parents’ names).
A social worker will:
- Question you about the situation
- Record the information you provide
- In some cases, ask you to gather more information
The worker will also ask you to complete a written report using form FS-305.
- Print a copy of the form and complete it by hand OR
- Save the form on your computer and complete it as a fillable form (if your browser does not support fillable forms, try another one)
Fax your completed report to (802) 241-3301.
What information may be shared with me?
If you are a mandated reporter, we can share the following with you:
- Whether your report was accepted as a valid allegation of abuse or neglect;
- Whether an assessment was conducted and, if so, whether a need for services was found; and
- Whether an investigation was conducted and, if so, whether it resulted in a substantiation.
Upon request, we may also provide you with relevant information and records related to a report you made if you have an ongoing working relationship with the child or family who is the subject of the report. You may not share this information with any person not authorized to get it.
For more information, refer to Policy 157: Records and Information Sharing.
What is my liability?
Vermont law provides you with immunity from civil or criminal liability if your report was made in good faith. However:
- Failing to report as required by law can result in criminal prosecution with a fine of up to $500; and
- Failing to report as required by law with the intent to conceal the abuse or neglect can result in imprisonment for up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000.
What about HIPAA?
The HIPAA privacy rule allows covered organizations to disclose protected health information to report suspected child abuse or neglect to government authorities authorized by law to receive such reports.
Is my report confidential?
We will not divulge your identity unless:
- You give us your permission to do so;
- Your report leads to a court or human services board proceeding;
- A court finds probable cause to believe your report was not made in good faith and orders DCF to divulge your identity; or
- The person substantiated for abuse requests a review of the decision, and we determine that identifying information about you can be provided without compromising your safety.