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Reporting of Child Abuse Out of State to Child Protective Services

I have a situation with a potential client. He lives in Vir stonewalljacksonfan11/20/17
Umm no. Therapist's are mandatory reporters. They have to re cocolawyer11/28/17
This reminds me of an mpre question. .....did you make a dec esquire13811/28/17
Not sure on VA's law, but most provide ample protection for jd4hire11/28/17
^Yep mandatory reporter...no further analysis needed. cocolawyer11/28/17
I don't see any instance of false reporting / defamation - m dingbat11/28/17
Therapist has to report. You should counsel wife and chi isthisit11/28/17
Not my area, not even close, but is it really such a slam du inho2solo11/29/17
A mandated reporter is mandated to make a report if they hav onehell11/30/17
Thanks, appreciate the explanation. inho2solo12/01/17
Even if you had a cause of action, you would never get anywh guyingorillasuit11/29/17
This is right. Also, I note that OP said the parents are "we onehell11/30/17
What if the wife said that she did not think there was any a stonewalljacksonfan11/30/17
I don't understand why you're fixated on it being across sta onehell11/30/17
Is there any case law for reasonable suspicion for reporting stonewalljacksonfan12/01/17
It is not really the clearest and depends on the board/organ downwardslope12/01/17
Here is how to CYA as a mandated reporter while sparing the madathofstra12/01/17
stonewalljacksonfan (Nov 20, 2017 - 11:39 am)

I have a situation with a potential client. He lives in Virginia. His son had a very slight bruise on upper back and his daycare teacher asked him where it came from, the child said that daddy was angry and hit him. Upon further questions to child does not remember when and where he was hit.Nothing like that before for the 4.5 year old child. The daycare calls the mom who says she does not believe it because the dad never laid the finger on her or the child. The daycare does not report the incident because based on their knowledge of the well-to-do family and daily interaction they don't have reasonable suspicion of any abuse or neglect. However, the wife, who is in a residential psychological treatment facility in CT when all of this is going on, tells her therapist about this situation as upsetting her (not because she thinks the husband is hitting the child but because it is a disturbance to her). The CT therapist goes ahead and calls Virginia CPS and CPS schedules a visit. Is there any false reporting/defamation here?

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cocolawyer (Nov 28, 2017 - 5:17 pm)

Umm no. Therapist's are mandatory reporters. They have to report it to CPS. I do not see the issue here.

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esquire138 (Nov 28, 2017 - 3:01 pm)

This reminds me of an mpre question. .....did you make a decision?

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jd4hire (Nov 28, 2017 - 4:21 pm)

Not sure on VA's law, but most provide ample protection for good-faith reporting. Given that mom spoke about it, therapist has knowledge and is obligated, by law, to report. She most likely is a mandatory reporter. Further, should something crazy happy and she didn't report it, she would be in a bad spot.

It is on CPS to make a determination as to whether probable cause for abuse/ neglect exists. Not a therapist.

Further, the fact that wife is in a residential psych facility would not help any causes of action.

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cocolawyer (Nov 28, 2017 - 5:17 pm)

^Yep mandatory reporter...no further analysis needed.

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dingbat (Nov 28, 2017 - 4:33 pm)

I don't see any instance of false reporting / defamation - mom told therapist about actual instance of possible child abuse, and therapist informed CPS that there might be a possibility.

Just because the report is least favorable to the client, doesn't make it untrue.

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isthisit (Nov 28, 2017 - 8:15 pm)

Therapist has to report.

You should counsel wife and child as to the natural law regarding snitches and the act of snitching.

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inho2solo (Nov 29, 2017 - 12:14 am)

Not my area, not even close, but is it really such a slam dunk that the therapist is a mandatory reporter?

Seems like third hand hearsay.

How deep down does that rabbit hole go?

The person who mentioned it to her has no actual knowledge, she's just reporting what she heard.

In that vein, what if her patient was the hairdresser of the mom, who learned the same story from the mom. Is therapist still a mandatory reporter?

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onehell (Nov 30, 2017 - 6:16 pm)

A mandated reporter is mandated to make a report if they have a reasonable suspicion that abuse may have taken place. They don't have to form that belief based on evidence that would be admissible in court, so the fact that it's hearsay shouldn't matter. Could the therapist have defended NOT making a report? Probably, if she hadn't felt she had the requisite reasonable belief. But that's a clinical judgment call. There's no way any court would say it was improper for her to have made one just because the information was hearsay.

Heck, the teacher was probably a mandated reporter too under most state laws, and she didn't make a report even though she saw a bruise first-hand. That was probably a risky move in itself.

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inho2solo (Dec 1, 2017 - 11:25 am)

Thanks, appreciate the explanation.

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guyingorillasuit (Nov 29, 2017 - 12:35 am)

Even if you had a cause of action, you would never get anywhere with it. Prepare for a CPS visit: clean the whole house, be courteous to them, remove all alcohol/drugs/guns from the house, have a fully stocked fridge. If your kid is in activities, nail a calendar to the fridge - they notice this kind of stuff. Do not assert any legal rights, call your lawyer, or be evasive in any way - that will just hurt your cause.

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onehell (Nov 30, 2017 - 6:20 pm)

This is right. Also, I note that OP said the parents are "well-to-do."

In my experience, CPS HEAVILY discriminates against the poor and in favor of the rich. They are usually required by law to "investigate every call," but in my experience as soon as they see granite counter-tops and luxury cars in the driveway, the "investigation" becomes pretty perfunctory.

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stonewalljacksonfan (Nov 30, 2017 - 1:47 pm)

What if the wife said that she did not think there was any abuse because she was married to the guy for 8 years and raised a kid together and he never so much as put a finger on anyone, but she was upset about the situation (e.g. phonecall from daycare, serious false allegations) and needed psychological help to deal with the fact that her husband could be falsely accused? What are the rules for reporting across state lines?

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onehell (Nov 30, 2017 - 6:27 pm)

I don't understand why you're fixated on it being across state lines. Almost every state has a mandated reporter statute and it isn't limited to reports within one's own jurisdiction.

If you tell a therapist about plans to hurt yourself or someone else, or if you divulge any information about potential abuse or neglect of a "vulnerable person" (children, elderly, developmentally disabled) they're going to have to report it. In fact, there's also something called the "Tarasoff rule" (which is the law in CA but also followed under professional ethics rules in most states) where if they think the client might hurt someone else, even calling the authorities may not be enough as they have a duty to warn anyone the client might hurt, or their caregiver if they can find 'em! Point is, therapists have a lot of reasons they might have to breach confidentiality, definitely more than lawyers are accustomed to. This is like the first thing they teach therapists in school, and their employers beat it into their heads for liability reasons.

She would have risked liability for herself and her organization if she HADN'T made a report, not the other way around. That said, look at what GIGS said. He's right, particularly if your clients are well-to-do. So long as your clients play along, it's pretty unlikely they'll experience any actual damages from the report anyway.

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stonewalljacksonfan (Dec 1, 2017 - 12:23 pm)

Is there any case law for reasonable suspicion for reporting to CPS? Does a patient saying that she is upset about false child abuse allegations against her husband establish reasonable suspicion to report child abuse?

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downwardslope (Dec 1, 2017 - 2:18 pm)

It is not really the clearest and depends on the board/organization. My organization’s training was awful and people were confused about when to report. However, the usual is when in doubt, report, even if it seems ridiculous. We dealt primarily with disabled adults and older teens, but there were some that would allege abuse regularly. We had to take someone off contact with clients during an investigation we knew was not true because someone was making up stories about female family members of our employees she had never seen nor met. However, it was in the utmost of caution.

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madathofstra (Dec 1, 2017 - 5:46 pm)

Here is how to CYA as a mandated reporter while sparing the family an unnecessary investigation: Simply report exactly what the mom said; in this case, that she was upset that her kid’s father was likely falsely accused of abuse. Stress that you saw no marks or bruises yourself. Tell them why the mom thinks it’s a false accusation. No report will be taken, but you did your duty.

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