Child Abuse Reporting Resources for Teachers
As a teacher, you are used to seeing students at school. Your gut tells you when something might be wrong - a student isn't safe at home or a parent is struggling. Virtual teaching has changed the school environment, but your instincts are still the same.
If you're concerned about possible child abuse and neglect, trust your gut and call 844-CO-4-Kids. Dial 9-1-1 if there is an immediate threat. As mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect, teachers and school staff are required by law to report their concerns.
Risk factors for child abuse and neglect include social isolation, family stress, parenting stress, financial uncertainty and insecurity, and the absence of child care or school. Physical distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus has increased these risk factors, while calls to the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline System have decreased. In nearly 70% of child welfare cases, counties can provide services and kids can remain safely at home with their parents. Some of these services may include assistance applying for benefits or classes to help parents manage stress.
Take the free online training for mandatory reporters to learn more about child abuse and neglect.
Encourage fellow teachers and school staff to report their concerns. Download the social media guide.
New! Teacher Toolkit
Teachers, education advocates, the Colorado Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Human Services have developed a toolkit to help teachers get a better sense of their student's emotional and physical safety. Download the toolkit below.
Reporting child abuse and neglect: a conversation with teachers
General Teacher FAQs
Being a teacher can be the most rewarding and challenging work that you ever do. We know there are many questions about your role in reporting child abuse as a mandatory reporter and what to do when you have concerns about the well-being of a child or family. These frequently asked questions and answers are a good place to start.
If it is an emergency, call 911. This will ensure the immediate safety of a child and get medical attention if needed. If it is not an emergency, call 844-CO-4-Kids (844-264-5437).
Colorado’s mandatory reporter statute is an individual legal mandate. It is the responsibility of an individual, not their employer, to report concerns about child abuse and neglect.
A school or district policy does not supersede the state law and prevent mandatory reporters from reporting their concerns or delay the time it takes to make a report.
State law does not specify that mandatory reporters notify their supervisors before or after making a report. School or district policy may vary.
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 life-saving 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.
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 a report has been made.
Yes, teachers are mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect and so are officials and employees of public and private schools. More than 40 categories of professions are considered mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect in Colorado.
State law C.R.S.19-3-304 outlines the people required by law to report child abuse and/or neglect. The list below identifying mandatory reporters 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.
- Physician or surgeon, including a physician in training
- Child health associate
- Medical examiner or coroner
- 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
- Physical therapist
- Peace officer
- Commercial film and photographic print processor
- 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
As a public or private school official or employee, 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.
Although school policies may differ from state law, 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.
As a public or private school official or employee, it is your legal responsibility to immediately make an oral report of any suspected child abuse and/or neglect to child protective services about any child or family that you are concerned about at any time.
It is your job and the law to report your concerns about the well-being of a child or family. As mandatory reporters, public or private school officials or employees are part of the safety net that protects children and youth, and they have the ability to provide life-saving help to child victims. 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 the 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.
As a public or private school official or employee, you are on the front lines and can identify children who may be abused or neglected.
The nature of public or private school officials and employees 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 can provide the agency with the best leads to help support a family in need.
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.
You will be asked for demographic and identity information for the alleged victim, family and household members, and the person alleged to be responsible for the abuse and/or neglect; presenting problem, family supports, and additional questions related to the type of abuse and/or neglect you are reporting.
Public or private school officials or employees are specified mandatory reporters. When they continue to be officially and professionally involved in the ongoing care of the child who was the subject of the report, but only with regard to information that the mandatory reporter has a need to know in order to fulfill his or her professional and official role in maintaining the child’s safety, statute requires a county department shall provide the following information to the mandatory reporter within 60 days:
(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
within ninety calendar days after the county department received the report and information concerning the procedure for obtaining updated information.
It is better to be safe than sorry – make the call. Based on the information you provide and information other callers may have provided in the past about the same family, a group of professionals review, evaluate and direct the actions that should be taken to help the family. If your call is screened out, you or the family in need may still be connected with local family support resources.
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 law says 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 evidence that you fulfilled your mandate to report.
Source: C.R.S. 19-3-304 and C.R.S. 19-3-309
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.
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.
Back to School FAQs
Being a teacher right now looks different than ever before. Virtual teaching has changed the school environment, but your instincts are still the same. We know that there are many questions about reporting concerns about the well-being of a child or family during the pandemic. These frequently asked questions and answers about returning to school during this time are a good place to start.
Ask yourself how frequently a parent is able to pick up their child. Has this happened one or two times or is there a consistent pattern? If the school is able to offer another pick-up time, talk with the parent(s) about what would work better for their schedules.
If a parent is not able to pick up their child from school, that may not be child neglect. However, combined with other signs of abuse and neglect, it could be indicative of another unsafe situation for that child. If you are concerned about the safety and well-being of a child or youth, call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline - 844-CO-4-Kids.
The lack of a face mask may not be child neglect, especially if the situation can be addressed as a dress code issue the child, youth and family receive support for. If there is something else that gives you the feeling that this child is unsafe, make a call to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline - 844-CO-4-Kids.
For additional information regarding face mask mandates, please refer to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s guidance for wearing masks.
A child or youth coming to school sick may not be child neglect. School staff should work with the child or youth's family as they would any time when students attend school while sick. A report of suspected child abuse or neglect 7should be made by school staff immediately when they are concerned that parents are not probiding the medical care that their children need.
According to the Colorado Department of Education, it is important that educators ensure that learning recommendations are not limited by access to technology. Students in poverty and students in special populations may be especially vulnerable during this time and student learning should not be solely dependent on access to devices and the internet. Encourage approaches that can be pursued without technology and/or allows for students to learn on their own schedule to set students up for success.
Tap into the resources that may be available through your school to ensure that you are doing all that you can to help your students adjust to and be prepared for remote learning. Don’t be afraid to let your administrators and leadership know of any gaps that may cause inequities among students in this new learning environment. Check out the resource provided by the Colorado Department of Education below:
Follow your instinct and make a call to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline - 844-CO-4-Kids if you have concerns about the safety and well-being of a child or youth.
For guidance regarding the health and safety of students and educators, please refer to the resources below provided by the Colorado Department of Education:
Many schools across Colorado may still be working to make changes to their attendance and engagement expectations for remote and hybrid learning. If official attendance policies for remote learning have not yet been implemented in your school district, it is important that teachers work with their leadership staff to have a common understanding of expectations for tracking attendance and attendance intervention. Educators and school staff should remain proactive about learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect.
Signs of educational neglect may include:
- habitual absenteeism from school (an average of five days a month, for example) and no attempt from the parent or guardian to change this pattern
- failing to homeschool, register, or to enroll a school-age child, causing the child to miss at least one month of school without valid reasons
- refusing to allow or failing to obtain recommended remedial education services
- not obtaining or following through with treatment for a child’s diagnosed learning disorder or other special education need without reasonable cause
- the ongoing failure to provide a child with the resources and environment they need to learn
Access free online training for mandatory reporters to learn more about child abuse and neglect.
Remember to listen to your instincts. If you're concerned about possible neglect, call 844-CO-4-Kids. Dial 9-1-1 if there is an immediate threat. As mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect, teachers and school staff are required by law to report their concerns.