Who Must Report?

In Michigan, anyone may report suspected child abuse or neglect to Child Protection Services (CPS). However, certain professionals must, by law, report suspected child abuse or neglect—in other words, they are mandated reporters. It’s a Class B misdemeanor when a mandated reporter chooses not to report suspected abuse. To fulfill the mandate, reports must be made directly to a county social service agency.

Mandated reporters include:

Childcare providers include owners, operators, employees and volunteers of a child care organization or adult foster care location. These providers see children regularly and are in a good position to spot the warning signs of abuse or neglect. For this reason, childcare providers are mandated reporters. A childcare worker may be the only person who steps forward to protect a child’s best interests.

An individual who makes a report, or who provides assistance in an investigation, is assumed to be acting in good faith, and is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred by reporting. This immunity does not extend to any act of negligence causing personal injury or death.

If the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services [MDHHS] finds that allegations, reports or investigations of abuse made against a child care providing individual have basis in fact, MDHHS will, within 24 hours of completion, send a copy of the results of the investigation to the relevant child care regulatory agency overseeing the individual’s child care center.

If local law enforcement finds that allegations, reports or investigations of abuse made against a child care providing individual have basis in fact, and if these allegations indicate that the individual allowed the child to be exposed or come into contact with methamphetamine production, local law enforcement will send a copy of the results of the investigation to the relevant child care regulatory agency overseeing the individual’s child care center.

If a child care providing individual has charges brought against them for a crime related to criminal sexual conduct, child abuse or child sexual abuse, the prosecuting attorney will notify the owner or operator of the child care center employing the individual, and the relevant child care regulatory agency. The prosecuting attorney will also contact the owner and the regulatory agency upon final disposition of the criminal matter.

Any individual notified by MDHHS, local law enforcement or the prosecuting attorney about these allegations must keep the information confidential, excepting any disclosures, which are a necessary component of the appropriate response to the information.

If a local law enforcement agency receives a report or discovers through an investigation that an individual responsible for the health and welfare of a child has either abused or neglected that child, or has exposed or brought that child into contact with methamphetamine production, the local law enforcement agency must inform the county family independence agency in the county where the allegations took place. Law enforcement should additionally, within 24 hours after receiving the report, refer the report to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services [MDHHS] if the alleged perpetrator is responsible for the child’s health and welfare, or commence their own investigation.

If local law enforcement finds that allegations, reports or investigations of abuse made against a child care providing individual have basis in fact, and if these allegations indicate that the individual allowed the child to be exposed or come into contact with methamphetamine production, local law enforcement will send a copy of the results of the investigation to the relevant child care regulatory agency overseeing the individual’s child care center.

MDHHS will seek the cooperation of local law enforcement within 24 hours of learning that: abuse or neglect is the suspected cause of a child’s death; a child is a suspected victim of sexual abuse or sexual exploitation; a child requires medical attention or hospitalization as a result of abuse or neglect causing severe physical injury; a child, MDHHS employee or another individual involved in the investigation requires law enforcement intervention for their own protection.

If there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child in the care of a public or private agency, institution or facility has been abused or neglected, that agency, institution or facility will be investigated by a separate independent agency. If this investigation finds evidence of child abuse, neglect or criminal sexual conduct, the investigating agency will send its findings to the prosecuting attorney in the county where the criminal activity took place. Law enforcement will cooperate with MDHHS in conducting investigations of suspected abuse, neglect and child contact with methamphetamine production by the child’s parent/guardian, or by an agency, institution or facility. The investigations by law enforcement and MDHHS must follow the protocol developed by MDHHS and the county prosecuting attorney.

The involvement of law enforcement in an investigation does not prevent MDHHS from its own investigation or treatment if there is reasonable suspicion that the perpetrator of abuse or neglect is the child’s parent/guardian. If a non-mandated reporter made the report of suspected abuse or neglect, it is the decision of law enforcement or MDHHS whether or not to inform the reporter of the investigation’s findings.

Schools are the primary places where children are seen every day by trained professionals who can observe their appearance and behavior. For this reason, educators are mandated reporters. A teacher or principal may be the only person who steps forward to protect the child’s best interests.

An individual who makes a report or who provides assistance in an investigation is assumed to be acting in good faith, and is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred by reporting. This immunity does not extend to any act of negligence causing personal injury or death.

If the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services [MDHHS] receives a report or allegations that a child has been abused or neglected by someone who is not responsible for their health and welfare – including, but not limited to a teacher or a teacher’s aide – MDHHS will send a copy of the allegations and the results of the investigation to a law enforcement agency in the county where the incident occurred.

Schools and other institutes of learning must cooperate with MDHHS during investigations of child abuse and neglect. This includes allowing MDHHS access to the child without parental consent, if they determine that such access is necessary to the investigation, or to prevent further abuse and neglect. In such cases, MDHHS will contact the child’s caregiver at the time of access, or as soon afterward as the caregiver can be reached. MDHHS will delay contacting the child’s caregiver if they determine that notifying the caregiver will compromise the safety of the child and/or their siblings, or the integrity of the investigation.

If MDHHS has to have contact with a child in a school, the MDHHS investigator will meet with the relevant school staff person about MDHHS’s responsibilities and investigation procedures before they meet with the child. After they meet with the child, the MDHHS investigator will reconvene with the relevant school staff person and the child to discuss next steps. The MDHHS investigator can also choose to discuss additional information with the relevant school staff person without the child present.

Children will not be required to submit to a search that requires the removal of their clothing within a school, unless MDHHS has obtained a court order permitting such a search.

MDHHS will not be prevented from fulfilling the aforementioned responsibilities if a school refuses to cooperate.

If a non-public school staff person has charges brought against them for a crime related to criminal sexual conduct, child abuse or child sexual abuse, the prosecuting attorney will notify the non-public school’s governing body.

If a public school staff person has charges brought against them for a crime related to criminal sexual conduct, child abuse or child sexual abuse, the prosecuting attorney will notify the school district’s superintendent.

The Michigan Child Protection Law does not prevent a school from conducting an investigation into claims of child abuse or neglect made against its employees, or from taking disciplinary actions against its employees based on the investigation’s findings.

All medical professionals are mandated reporters.

An individual who makes a report or who provides assistance in an investigation is assumed to be acting in good faith, and is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred by reporting. This immunity does not extend to any act of negligence causing personal injury or death, or to the malpractice of a physician resulting in personal injury or death.

If a mandated reporter knows or has reasonable suspicions that a newborn infant has any amount of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a metabolite of a controlled substance in its body, they must make a report to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services [MDHHS]. This mandated reporter is NOT required to make a report if they know that the presence of these substances is the result of medical treatment administered to the newborn or its mother.

If a child suspected of being a victim of abuse or neglect is admitted to a hospital (or comes to a hospital for outpatient services), and the attending physician believes that releasing the child would endanger their health or welfare, the attending physician must notify the person in charge at the hospital and MDHHS. The person in charge may hold the child in temporary protective custody until the next regular business day of the probate court, at which time the court will determine either to continue holding the child in custody, or to release them to their parent/guardian.

When a physician comes into contact with a child suspected of being a victim of abuse or neglect, the physician will carry out the necessary examinations (including a physical exam, x-rays, photographs, lab studies, etc.) and include summaries of the examination (including test results) in their report to MDHHS.

MDHHS may request a court order for a medical examination for a child if it receives a report from a non-physician, or if they receive an incomplete report from a physician. MDHHS can arrange a medical examination without a court order if the child’s health is seriously endangered and a court order is unobtainable; or if the child is displaying symptoms consistent with exposure to or contact with methamphetamine production.

If MDHHS determines that it needs to have access to a child suspected of being a victim of abuse or neglect without the consent of the child’s parent/guardian, and this access takes place in a hospital, MDHHS will conduct its investigation in a manner that does not interfere with the child’s medical treatment, or that of any other patient.

If a parent/guardian does not provide specified medical treatment for their child in conjunction with the legitimate practice of their religious beliefs, that alone is not basis to consider the parent/guardian negligent. This should not prevent a physician from reporting suspicions of child abuse or neglect, nor does it prevent a court from ordering the provision of medical services or nonmedical remedial services where the child’s health requires it.

The Michigan Child Protection Law does not prevent a hospital from conducting an investigation into claims of child abuse or neglect made against its employees, or from taking disciplinary actions against its employees based on the investigation’s findings.

A communication made to a member of the clergy within their professional capacity (as in a confession or a similarly confidential setting) is not required to be reported to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services [MDHHS]. Members of the clergy with independent suspicions of abuse or neglect, or who receives information about suspected abuse or neglect outside of the aforementioned confidential setting are required to make a report to MDHHS.

If MDHHS receives a report or allegations that a child has been abused or neglected by someone who is not responsible for their health and welfare – including, but not limited to a member of the clergy - MDHHS will send a copy of the allegations and the results of the investigation to a law enforcement agency in the county where the incident occurred.

Please Watch Video Below

Video Caption

Lisa understands that she may be the only defense for an abused child. She feels very strongly that abused and neglected children need a caring adult to help them. But before she met Jack, she had always secretly hoped that she’d never have to report a parent or caregiver.

Jack put her training, her courage, and her compassion to the test.

At first, he seemed like any other six-year-old boy. However, Lisa soon began to notice signs that she had read about in this training. For instance, Jack’s clothes were always dirty. He smelled bad. He was always—always—hungry. And he never smiled.

Lisa’s training made all of her “warning bells” go off.

One day, Jack took off his sweatshirt after playing outside. Lisa saw a large mark on his back—in the shape of a hand. When she asked him about it, he said that he fell off the slide.

That’s when Lisa decided to review the warning signs of abuse and neglect.