Daycare Teachers Are Mandatory Reporters So Don’t Take It Personally If CPS Shows Up At Your Door

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hand ringing doorbellOne of the lesser known and extremely unsavory parts of working in daycare or at a school (or as a nurse, or a mental health professional, or as a baby whisperer) is that these people assume the role of “mandatory reporter”.

What this means is that if a child comes in with any number of red flags for child abuse or neglect, you are bound by law to pick up the phone and call your local CPS/DYFS/DFCS and tell them.

There isn’t a gray area. There isn’t a “well that mother/father is so nice and always brings me snacks so I can’t imagine them walloping their child” category. It is illegal to see something out of the ordinary that could point to abuse and not call.

The problem, of course, is that it is a judgement call. In daycare, for instance, I learned that the average two-year-old has anywhere from 12-20 bruises of varying ages on their body at all times, mostly on their little shins and knees, because they are constantly running into stuff. So we were supposed to take that with a grain of salt but then if we saw fingerprint bruises under the arms or in weird places, that was a mandatory call.

Obviously, not everyone who gets a visit from CPS is an abuser, but that’s why the call has to be made, because it’s not like they’re going to tell you:

“Oh, that bruise? I smacked him across his little toddler face, that’s why that’s there.”

Unfortunately, that means there are a lot of uncomfortable situations that come from mandatory reporting. That sucks. But isn’t the alternative worse? Where everyone is so awkward about it that the call is never made, and that just happens to be the one kid who’s living in their own personal hell at home?

Everyone seems to have an opinion on CPS. Either they are a soul-dead bureaucracy that gets a thrill in punishing parents for baseless claims, or they are a do-nothing organization that ignores kids in danger. If you think it’s cut-and-dried then you’re wrong-it’s incredibly subjective, and nine times out of ten a reporter won’t know the full outcome after the fact. Finding all of these parents who had CPS called on them just reminded me of how impossible it is to ever know if someone is being honest or has a soul made of doo doo. Feel free to test your own “what would you do” skills in this cornucopia of mandatory reporting fuckery:

Your provider isn’t required to tell you if they report. It sucks to be blindsided, but if an abuser gets a warning that someone is going to show up to their door soon, why would they stick around?

Just because you get a visit doesn’t mean you’ll have your kids removed. 

r/parenting: Has anyone had any experience with having child services called on them? Please tell me your experience:

“I recently had child protective services called on me for an investigation. My son is 3 years old. We live in northern Illinois. My son has some issues with his anger and it’s always his way or he will pitch a huge fit. Well, on Tuesday, I went to get him from school and he didn’t want to leave. I carried him out kicking and screaming. I put him into his carseat, and while trying to do so, he arched his back and put his feet flat on the back of my seat. I smacked his arm, told him no, and he finally relaxed so I could buckle him in. Next thing I know, I got a phone call from CPS saying I slapped my child and now they are investigating us. I’m worried they are going to take him away from us while they are investigating. I believe in corporal punishment and sometimes a child needs a slap on the ass or arm to cooperate. I never lost my cool with him on Tuesday. I simply smacked his arm (didn’t even leave a pink mark) told him no and we left. I don’t feel like I’ve done anything wrong here, but I know the state will say differently. Has anyone been through an investigation? What should I expect and will they make him leave our house while they investigate??”

There isn’t a minimum number of bruises that a child has to have before a mandatory reporter is “allowed” to call.

Mystery face bruises aren’t exactly common, so you’d probably call if you saw one that had no explanation. Or a lot, over and over again.

No. You don’t have a lawsuit.

Something tells me there’s more to this than what we’re reading here.

Oh dear sweet lord in heaven please tell me this is a troll.

Listen, CPS isn’t made up of a bunch of morons, no matter what the internet wants you to believe. If someone makes a call because they learned that you never serve your child dessert, which is damaging their little psyches, that will never go any further. On the other hand, a potential sign of abuse has to be investigated.

Basically, as a mandatory reporter, it came down to this: I’d always rather accidentally hurt someone’s feelings than let a child continue to be hurt because I was too much of a wuss to say something.

Fortunately, I never had to make that decision.

(Image: CBCK/Shutterstock)