Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect in Colorado

What is a Mandatory Reporter?

A mandatory reporter is defined as a professional who is obligated by law to report known or suspected incidents of child abuse and/or neglect.  Mandatory reporters are part of the safety net that protects children and youth and have the ability to provide lifesaving help to child victims in our community.  Any person specified in C.R.S. 19-3-304 is by law a mandatory reporter in Colorado. If a mandated reporter has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect, or observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect, the mandatory reporter shall immediately upon receiving such information report or cause a report to be made of such fact to the county department, the local law enforcement agency, or through the child abuse reporting hotline system.

Who is a mandatory reporter?

State law C.R.S.19-3-304 outlines the persons required by law to report child abuse and/or neglect. The information on this page is meant to raise awareness and alert those who may unknowingly be a mandatory reporter. The list has been adapted from C.R.S. 19-3-304. To verify that you are a mandatory reporter it is recommended that you read C.R.S. 19-3-304, consult an attorney, or your employer.

More than 40 categories of professions are considered mandatory reports of child abuse and neglect in Colorado, including the following:

  • Physician or surgeon, including a physician in training
  • Child health associate
  • Medical examiner or coroner
  • Dentist
  • Osteopath
  • Optometrist
  • Chiropractor
  • Podiatrist
  • Registered nurse or licensed practical nurse
  • Hospital personnel engaged in the admission, care, or treatment of patients
  • Christian science practitioner
  • Public or private school official or employee
  • Social worker or worker in any licensed or certified facility or agency (e.g. child care providers and employees, foster parents, employees at residential care facilities, youth shelters, homeless shelters)
  • Mental health professional
  • Dental hygienist
  • Psychologist
  • Physical therapist
  • Veterinarian
  • Peace officer
  • Pharmacist
  • Commercial film and photographic print processor
  • Firefighter
  • Victim's advocate
  • Licensed professional counselors
  • Licensed marriage and family therapists
  • Registered psychotherapists
  • Clergy member
  • Registered dietitian
  • Worker in the state department of human services
  • Juvenile parole and probation officers
  • Child and family investigators
  • Officers and agents of the state bureau of animal protection, and animal control officers
  • The child protection ombudsman
  • Educator providing services through a federal special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children
  • Director, coach, assistant coach, or athletic program personnel employed by a private sports organization or program.
  • Person who is registered as a psychologist candidate, marriage and family therapist candidate, or licensed professional counselor candidate
  • Emergency medical service providers
  • Officials or employees of county departments of health, human services or social services
  • Naturopathic Doctor

Source: Colorado Revised Statutes 19-3-304

What information can be shared with me after I report my concern?

Statute requires the following information be provided to the specified mandatory reporter within 30 days: (60 days effective December 31, 2017).

(A) The name of the child and the date of the report;

(B) Whether the referral was accepted for assessment;

(C) Whether the referral was closed without services;

(D) Whether the assessment resulted in services related to the safety of the child;

(E) The name of and contact information for the county caseworker responsible for investigating the referral; and

(F) Notice that the reporting mandatory reporter may request updated information identified in sub-subparagraphs (A) to (E) of this subparagraph (II) within ninety calendar days after the county department received the report and information concerning the procedure for obtaining updated information.

Letters (C) and (D) may not be available up to 60 days. As a result, the information provided for letter (C) should reflect: The outcome of the assessment has yet to be determined. If you would like additional information regarding the outcome of the assessment, please contact the county caseworker within ninety calendar days from the date the county department received the report.

In addition, the information provided for letter (D) should reflect:  Provision of services related to the safety of the child has yet to be determined. If you would like further information regarding whether the assessment resulted in services related to the safety of the child, please contact the county caseworker within ninety calendar days from the date the county department received the report. Visit PM-CW-2016-0002 regarding specified mandatory reporters for more information. 

Why should I report my concerns?

First of all, it is the law and it is your job. Mandatory reporters are part of the safety net that protects children and youth, and they have the ability to provide lifesaving help to child victims in our community. Just as importantly, you should report suspicions and knowledge of child abuse and/or neglect in order:

  • to protect the victim and other children in the home; 
  • to prevent harm to other children to whom the person responsible for abuse and/or neglect may have access; 
  • to prevent future abuse and/or neglect; 
  • to help provide services to families and children; and 
  • to promote positive changes in families. 

The State of Colorado has child safety laws and policies, as well as agencies staffed with skilled professionals who can help keep children and youth safe when a report is made. Mandatory reporters play a critical role in helping keep Colorado children and youth safe. You are on the front lines and can identify children who may be abused or neglected.  

Why mandatory reporters are uniquely positioned to make a report?

Any person in a community who knows or has reason to suspect child abuse and/or neglect can and should make a report. Individuals who frequently work with children are often the first adults to see signs of child abuse and/or neglect. The nature of their child-friendly professions makes them uniquely qualified to protect children from abuse and/or neglect. Since mandatory reporters are trained professionals, these reports are consistently more reliable than reports from the public, and provide the agency with the best leads to in need of children protection and services.

The majority of calls received by child protective services come from mandatory reporters. In fact, the Division of Child Welfare has estimated that 75% of reports in Colorado during SFY 2013 came from mandatory reporters, 15% came from family members, and only 10% came from the general public.   

Am I liable if my concerns are not confirmed?

It is better to be safe than sorry – make the call. Colorado state law indicates that: 

A report is required when a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect.

Individuals or institutions in Colorado who report suspected child abuse and/or neglect “shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, or termination of employment that otherwise might result by reason of such acts of participation, unless a court of competent jurisdiction determines that such person’s behavior was willful, wanton, and malicious” if they report in “good faith,” which means they have not reported recklessly or with no reasonable basis for making a report.  

Colorado state law indicates that good faith is presumed unless challenged by the person claiming the report was not made in good faith. Making a child abuse and/or neglect report is your evidence that you fulfilled your mandate to report.

Source: C.R.S. 19-3-304 and C.R.S. 19-3-309 

What exactly are my responsibilities as a mandatory reporter of child abuse and neglect?

It is your legal responsibility to immediately make an oral report of any suspected child abuse and/or neglect to child protective services. 

Depending on the incident, you may be asked to follow up immediately with a written report or to contact law enforcement directly. The person who receives your call will instruct you if this is necessary.  

If you work in an institutional setting, such as a school, hospital or behavioral health program, reporting suspicions of child abuse and/or neglect to your supervisor does not relieve your responsibility to report, nor does your reporting relieve the institution’s responsibility to report.

Are there consequences if I don’t report my concerns?

Yes, there are legal consequences for not reporting.  You could be charged with a class 3 misdemeanor, receive a fine of $750 and/or imprisonment up to six months, and be liable for what the law terms “damages approximately caused” if you fail to report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect.

How can I document that I made a report of possible child abuse and neglect?

Every time you make a call, you should request - and write down - a hotline ID number. As a mandatory reporter with a legal requirement to report concerns about child abuse or neglect, you can use the hotline ID as documentation for the call.

Can I remain anonymous?

Yes. Child protective services and its employees are required by law not to disclose the name of the mandatory reporter to the family. However, this confidentiality does not apply to reports made to law enforcement. 

In addition, it is possible that as a reporter of child abuse and/or neglect, you may be called to testify at a civil or criminal trial regarding the allegations. The victim’s parent and/or family members may be present at that hearing. Remember, it is important that you act as the eyes and ears for the child protection safety net. If reports of maltreatment are not made, appropriate services will not be delivered to the children and families who need them. Without your call, the abuse and/or neglect may continue.  

How do I report my concerns?

If it is an emergency, call 911. They can ensure the immediate safety of a child and get medical attention if needed. If it is not an emergency, call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437).

I have more questions about child abuse and neglect, the new Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect reporting hotline system, and what happens after I call; how can I learn more?

Check out the additional FAQ's on the campaign website or take the online training for mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect to learn more about signs of child abuse or neglect and what happens after you call. 

Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline
Available 24 hours a day, every day. Don't hesitate to call and get help. 
Anyone witnessing a child in a life-threatening situation should call 911 immediately.