Mandatory Reporting for Educators and Clergy Leaders
All educators, school personnel and ordained clergy leaders in Ohio are mandated reporters and are required by law to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect either to law enforcement or to Summit County Children Services (SCCS).
Summit County Children Services (SCCS) is the child welfare protection agency in Summit County mandated to assess reports of child abuse and neglect.
To make a confidential report of child abuse and neglect, call SCCS' 24-hour child abuse and neglect hotline at (330) 434-KIDS (5437). Your call will be answered by trained social work professionals who will ask you questions about the suspected child abuse and neglect.
IMPORTANT! If you suspect a child's safety or well-being is at risk or in danger, please call 911. You should never make a report of child abuse and neglect to SCCS online or through email … always call the 24-hour child abuse and neglect hotline.
Mandatory Reporting Issues Relevant to Educators
Below are some frequently asked questions specific to the school teachers, school nurses, school administrators and day care personnel.
How should school personnel make a report?
School teachers, school administrators and other school authorities should report known or suspected child abuse or neglect by calling Summit County Children Services (SCCS) or their local police department. The report must be made by the original observer. The legal mandate to report cannot be delegated to another person.
Can SCCS social workers take photos at school of possible areas of trauma?
Yes! The law gives SCCS social workers the authority to take photographs of areas of trauma visible on the child. If the SCCS social worker is a female, it is suggested that a male school authority assist in taking photographs of a male child, and vice versa.
Must school personnel investigate on their own before reporting?
No. Once school personnel know or suspect child abuse or neglect has occurred, the law requires that they report to SCCS or to their local law enforcement official.
Can an SCCS social worker interview a child at school without parental consent?
Yes. Applicable law (Ohio Administrative Code, section 5101:2-36-03) permits Children Services to interview a child at school subject to the consent of the school and without consent of the parent in the following situations:
- There is credible information to indicate the child is in immediate danger of serious harm.
- There is credible information indicating the child will be in immediate danger of serious harm upon return home from school.
- There is credible information the child may be intimidated from discussing the alleged maltreatment in the home.
- The child requests to be interviewed at school.
Should an alleged child victim (ACV) provide information during an interview that indicates a sibling might be in immediate danger of serious harm or that the sibling could provide information regarding immediate danger or serious harm to the ACV, the interview of the sibling who was not identified as an ACV may commence.
Must school personnel sit in during an interview?
No. The social worker is responsible for interviewing the child. A school official is not required but may be present to provide comfort to the child as a trusted adult.
Can Children Services social workers remove children from school?
This is possible only if the social worker has obtained an emergency custody order from Summit County Juvenile Court, has parental permission or is accompanied by a law enforcement officer who removes the child under the authority of Juvenile Rule 6.
Mandatory Reporting Issues Relevant to Clergy
Below are some frequently asked questions specific to clergy leaders.
Clerics and designated church leaders (but not church volunteers) are mandated reporters and should report whenever such a person knows or has reasonable cause to suspect child abuse and neglect. A cleric is not required to report information received in a cleric-penitent relationship if there is civil or criminal testimonial privilege, unless:
- The penitent at the time of the communication is a child or disabled person under the age of 21;
- The cleric knows or has reasonable cause to believe the penitent has suffered or is threatened with physical/mental injury or condition that indicates abuse or neglect of the penitent.
Are there any tips on reporting?
Yes. When making a report of known or suspected child abuse or neglect, you should:
- Having several people interview a child to obtain information.
- Making a child feel guilty for being a victim.
- Making a child's situation obvious to other students.
- Making promises to a child which are outside their ability to fulfill.
- Providing emotional support to a child.
- Protecting a child's privacy and confidentiality.
- Reporting without any delay to Summit County Children Services or law enforcement.
Contact SCCS for questions about mandated reporter requirements.