FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2011
(225) 342-9640 (o)
DCFS Reminds of Child Abuse Reporting Laws, Hotline
Governor's Executive Order Adds University Officials to Mandated Reporter List
BATON ROUGE - With Governor Bobby Jindal's Executive Order today requiring higher education officials to report incidents of child abuse and neglect, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) reminds mandated reporters and the public to report suspected child abuse or neglect by calling 1-855-4LA-KIDS.
DCFS' statewide, toll-free hotline, 1-855-4LA-KIDS, is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for anyone to report suspected child abuse or neglect by a parent or caretaker. Reports of child abuse at the hands of anyone other than a parent or caretaker should be reported to local or state law enforcement.
The Louisiana Children's Code defines "caretaker" as any person legally obligated to provide or secure adequate care for a child, including a parent, tutor, guardian, legal custodian, foster home parent, an employee of a public or private day care center, an operator or employee of a registered family child day care home or other person providing a residence for the child.
"We urge all citizens to protect children by calling 1-855-4LA-KIDS to report suspected child abuse or neglect. This is the first step in ensuring that children are safe from abuse," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "The role of mandated reporters is an essential and integral part of the entire community effort and responsibility to protect children who are at risk of child abuse or neglect."
In Louisiana, mandated reporters include professionals who may work with children in the course of their professional duties. Specifically, the law names as mandated reporters health practitioners, members of the clergy, mental health and social service practitioners, teachers and child care providers, police officers and law enforcement officials, commercial film and photographic print processors, mediators, parenting coordinators and Court Appointed Special Advocates.
Now with Governor Jindal's Executive Order, all public technical or vocational school, community college, college or university professors, administrators, coaches and other school employees are mandated to report suspected abuse or neglect.
Willful failure by mandated reporters to report suspected incidents of child abuse or neglect is a misdemeanor subject to a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment not to exceed six months or both. State law protects the identity of all mandated reporters and grants immunity from legal liability as a result of reports made in good faith.
Following an oral report, mandated reporters also must submit a written report within five days. A form for this purpose, instructions for submitting a follow-up written report and additional information are available at www.dcfs.la.gov/ReportChildAbuse