Who is a mandated reporter?

Just about anyone who interacts with children in a professional capacity. California Law defines as mandated reporters: a teacher, instructional aide, teacher's aide or teacher's assistant, a classified employee of a school, an administrative officer or supervisor of child welfare and attendance, an administrator of public or private day camp, and administrator or employee of a private organization whose duties require direct contact with children, a physician, surgeon, psychiatrist, psychologist, dentist, a commercial film and photographer print processor, an animal control officer, a clergy member, etc.

Who is not a mandated reporter?

Volunteers of public or private organization whose duties required direct contact and supervision of children are not mandated reporters, however; they are encouraged to obtain training in the identification and reporting of child abuse.

Are clergy mandated to report?

Clergy are legally mandated reporters only if they are acting in the capacity of a mandated reporter (e.g., psychologist, teacher, family marriage and child counselors) at the time they received the information that causes the suspect child abuse.

What is the responsibility of a mandated reporter?

Mandated reporters must report known or reasonable suspected child abuse to San Mateo County Children and Family Services or the local police department immediately by phone and follow-up with a written report to the same agency within thirty-six hours. Employers cannot prevent you from making a report.

Where should a mandated reporter report suspected child abuse?

Suspected child abuse reporters can be made to the San Mateo County Children and Family Services Agency 800-632-4615 or your local police or sheriff departments.

May reports be made anonymously?

Mandated reporters are required to identify themselves when making child abuse reports; persons not legally required to report may make anonymous reports.

Does the law protect mandated reporters?

The law provides mandated reporters with immunity from civil and criminal penalties for making reports required of them under the law.

What are the penalties for not reporting?

Penalties for not reporting may include a fine and jail time as well as potential civil damages.

What happens after a report is made?

Children and Family Services or the appropriate police jurisdiction are responsible for investigating the referral once it is made. Removing the child from the home is an action taken only when a child cannot remain safe at home. If removal becomes necessary, the Juvenile Court has several options for placement including the non-custodial parent, relatives, foster homes and group homes, in that order. Parents should be reassured that the County's removal standards are stringent. The court will order Children and Family Services Agency, which provides child welfare services, and the parents to work together for reunification as quickly as possible. When abuse has occurred where the alleged perpetrator is not a member of the household (for example, child molested by a stranger), the law enforcement is responsible for investigating the referral. Children and Family Services will investigate to determine if the child is being protected at home. Once the agency has determined that the child is safe at home, then it may refer the family for counseling or medical care and to appropriate local community resources. A case of out-of-home abuse is generally closed by the Children and Family Services Agency and the law enforcement agency will continue the investigation.

What if abuse occurred in the past?

There is no time limitation regarding the reporting of child abuse. If the victim is under 18, the abuse must be reported.

What if an adult states he or she was abused as a child?

The child abuse reporting law mandates a report when there is a reasonable suspicion or knowledge that minors may be in need of protection. Therefore, childhood abuse of adults should be reported if there is a reason to believe that there may be another potential child victim.


  • "The California Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Law Issues and Answers for Health Practitioners" State Department of Social Services Office of Child Abuse.
  • California Juvenile Laws and Rules West Group a Thompson Company
  • Guidelines for Mandated Reporters, Santa Clara Social Services Agency, Department of Family and Children's Services


San Mateo County Children and Family Services Agency

CPS Hotline: 800-632-4615