The Chicago Family Law Blog

What is Illinois Child Abuse Mandatory Reporting?

In an ugly case of Illinois child abuse, a Midlothian toddler was recently found beaten to death. The child's mother had a history with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) having been investigated for child abuse twice, and she is now being questioned in the baby's death, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

As officials continue their investigation, it would be a proper time to review child abuse mandatory reporting laws. While it's uncertain if a mandatory reporter could have prevented the baby's death, these laws are in place to help the DCFS step in before a tragic incident occurs.

Generally, mandatory reporting laws require workers in certain professions to notify the DCFS when they know of, or suspect, child abuse. Mandated reporters include:

  • medical personnel like physicians, dentists, and nurses
  • school and child care personnel like teachers and child care workers
  • people who work in law enforcement like cops and probation officers
  • social workers and employees of state agencies like the DCFS

Mandatory reporters are required to report child abuse whenever they have "reasonable cause" to suspect there is abuse or neglect. This means that they have to report abuse even if they're not 100% sure that abuse is going on; such as, a child claiming that he has been hit or a child appearing malnourished.

If a mandatory reporter fails to report the abuse, they can face criminal misdemeanor charges.

To make a report, mandatory reporters can call the DCFS child abuse hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE. In addition, while mandatory reporters are obligated to report abuse, members of the general public are also encouraged to report abuse.

Not all instances of Illinois child abuse and neglect can be prevented. However, child abuse mandatory reporting laws do make it easier for the DCFS to step in before abuse gets out of hand.

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