Illinois law requires certain individuals, called mandated reporters, to immediately report suspected child abuse or neglect to the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (IDCFS) Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.
 
Under the law, all "personnel of institutions of higher education" are mandated reporters and must immediately report any instance where there is reasonable cause to believe that a child known to them in their official capacity may be abused or neglected. This means that all University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers, regardless of rank or compensation status, are mandated reporters.
 
Consistent with the law, the University thus requires all University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers to immediately report to IDCFS if they have reasonable cause to believe a child known to them in their official capacity may be abused or neglected.
 
In addition, the University encourages any person who is not a mandated reporter to report abuse to IDCFS if they have reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused or neglected.
 
Failure by a mandated reporter to immediately report suspected instances of child abuse or neglect to IDCFS constitutes a Class A misdemeanor. Moreover, reporting suspicions to any other person but not IDCFS – does not satisfy the legal duty to report. The only means of fulfilling one's legal obligation and avoiding legal penalty is to report the suspected child abuse or neglect to IDCFS.

Guidelines

  1. Per IDCFS, child abuse is the mistreatment of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caretaker, someone living in their home or someone who works with or around children. The mistreatment may cause injury or must put the child at risk of physical injury. Child abuse can be physical (such as burns or broken bones), sexual (such as fondling, exposure, pornography, incest, etc.) or emotional. Neglect happens when a parent or responsible caretaker fails to provide adequate supervision, food, clothing, shelter or other basics for a child. The legal definitions of "abused child" and "neglected child" appear above in the definitions section of this policy.

  2. The mandated reporter should be prepared to tell the hotline workers:

    • The child's name, address and age.

    • The nature of the suspected abuse or neglect, including when and where it occurred.

    • The names of suspected perpetrators and their relationship to the child (parent, teacher, etc.)

    • Any other information you think may help.

    • Reference the IDCFS Checklist for Mandatory Reporters.

  3. The University recognizes and respects the sensitive nature of the information that the mandated report includes, and requires the University faculty, other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, staff, student employee, or volunteer to hold that information confidential, sharing it only with their chair, dean, supervisor, Human Resources, University of Chicago Police, Law Enforcement, Office of Legal Counsel, Youth Program Coordinator, ram Coordinator, and/or others who, based on their official capacity with the University, have a need to know.

  4. This policy may be revised to reflect changes in other University policies and procedures as well as Illinois law.

  5. Mandated Reporters are required to keep informed of and abide by University policy. Employees represented by a bargaining unit may be governed by the appropriate bargaining unit agreement.

Reporting
Every University faculty, other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, staff, student employee, and volunteer who has a reasonable basis to believe a child known in their official capacity has been abused or neglected must immediately call the IDCFS Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE. This hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Prior to the call (if time permits) or thereafter, University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers who make such a report must promptly notify the head of their academic unit – mentor, section chief, department chair, director, dean, vice president, or provost, in the alternative, immediate supervisor or, the unit's Human Resource Partner (HRP) or Human Resources that a report has been made, as well as the underlying circumstances that compelled the report.
 
If a child is in imminent danger, the University faculty, other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, staff, student employee, or volunteer should seek immediate protection for the child by calling the University of Chicago Police Department at 773.702.8181 (in emergencies 123 from on-campus phone) or the Chicago Police Department at 911.  The University faculty, other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, staff, student employee, or volunteer should also notify the Youth Program Coordinator, Kenyatta Tatum Futterman of the report (773.702.8837, kenyatta@uchicago.edu).
 
Execution of Acknowledgment of Mandated Reporter Status
As a condition of appointment employment, all new University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff and student employees, must execute the IDCFS-issued “Acknowledgment of Mandated Reporter Status” form, which will be maintained by the University as a personnel record.
 
Training
Effective January 1, 2020, as a condition of appointment, all University faculty, academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers staff and student employees are required by law to complete mandated reporter training within three months of hire as a mandated reporter, and at least every three years thereafter. All university employees must complete training for mandated reporters every three years. The training is required to be in-person or web-based, and must include, at least, information on the following topics: (i) indicators for recognizing child abuse and child neglect, as defined under ANCRA; (ii) the process for reporting suspected child abuse and child neglect under ANCRA and the required documentation; (iii) responding to a child in a trauma-informed manner; and (iv) understanding the response of child protective services and the role of the reporter after a call has been made. 
 
Consequences of Failing to Report
A University faculty, other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, staff, student employee, or volunteer who knowingly fails to report a case of suspected child abuse or neglect to IDCFS if they have reasonable cause to believe that a child known to them in their official capacity may be abused or neglected may be disciplined up to and including termination of appointment, termination of employment, and termination of volunteer status.
 
Immunity
Illinois law protects the identity of all mandated reporters and gives them immunity from liability as a result of good faith reports. However, any mandated reporter who fails to report an instance of child abuse or neglect commits a crime and may be prosecuted. More importantly, failing to report child abuse or neglect means that a child may continue to be abused or neglected.
 
Other Considerations
The Illinois Rules of Professional Responsibility (Rules) are applicable to University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff and students who practice law as part of their job or academic responsibilities. Those professionals may disclose client confidences only as permitted or required by the Rules.
 
Resource Materials
This law means that now, ALL University personnel are “mandated reporters” and must immediately report to a 24-hour hotline any instance where there is reasonable cause to believe that a child known to them in their official capacity is being abused or neglected. Additionally, every new University employee now must execute at the time of hire an “acknowledgement of mandated reporter status” form as prescribed by the state. Your execution of the form is a condition of appointment. If you refuse to sign the form, your appointment will not become effective. 
 
All University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers are strongly encouraged to review additional on-line educational materials provided by IDCFS regarding mandated reporter obligations.
 
The University has established the Policy on the Safety of Children in University Programs. This policy explains in full the screening, training and conduct requirements for faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers and others who staff University programs that serve children. Review the policy (Human Resources Policy) and review answers to commonly asked questions
 
 

FAQs On Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

Since 1975, Illinois state law has required certain categories of public and private sector workers to immediately report suspected child abuse or neglect to the state. Historically, "mandated reporters" under the law have been professionals (e.g., physicians and teachers) who work with children in the course of their professional duties. Some University of Chicago employees thus long have been mandated reporters under the law. In late June 2012, the law was amended to expand the definition of mandated reporters to expressly include "all personnel of institutions of higher education."
 
This law means that all University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers now must immediately report any instance where there is reasonable cause to believe that a child known to them in their official capacity is being abused or neglected. Additionally, every new University faculty, other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, staff, student employee, and volunteer now must execute at the time of hire an "acknowledgement of mandated reporter status" form as prescribed by the state.
 
What follows are answers to frequently asked questions that are designed for University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers to understand the nature of their obligations to report child abuse and neglect. In addition, at the end of the FAQs are links to resources designed to foster awareness of the responsibilities associated with mandated reporter status under the law.
  1. What is ANCRA? ANCRA is the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, the Illinois child welfare law that requires certain individuals called "mandated reporters" to report suspected child abuse or neglect to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS).

  2. What is a "mandated reporter"? Under ANCRA, a "mandated reporters" are persons who are legally required to report immediately the suspected abuse or neglect of a child know to them in their official capacity to the IDCFS Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  3. Who at the University is a mandated reporter? All University personnel are mandated reporters, including but not limited to all University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers.

  4. What does it mean to "suspect child abuse or neglect"? The threshold for reporting is when a mandated reporter has reasonable cause to believe that abuse or neglect is occurring to a child known to him or her in their official capacity.

  5. What is "reasonable cause" within the meaning of ANCRA? ANCRA does not define the term, and although there is no precise, universally accepted definition, reasonable cause under ANCRA generally exists when the known facts and rational inferences that may be drawn from those facts would cause a reasonable person to conclude that a child is being abused or neglected.

  6. What is a "child" within the meaning of ANCRA? "Child" means any person under the age of 18 years, unless legally emancipated by reason of marriage or entry into a branch of the United States armed services.

  7. What is an "abused child" within the meaning of ANCRA? An "abused child" includes but is not limited to a child whose parent or immediate family member, or any person responsible for the child's welfare, or any individual residing in the same home as the child, or a paramour of the child's parent:

    • inflicts, causes to be inflicted, or allows to be inflicted upon a child physical injury, by other than accidental means, which causes death, disfigurement, impairment of physical or emotional health, or loss or impairment of any bodily function;

    • creates a substantial risk of physical injury to a child by other than accidental means which would be likely to cause death, disfigurement, impairment of physical or emotional health, or loss or impairment of any bodily function;

    • commits or allows to be committed any sex offense against a child, as sex offense is defined in the Illinois Criminal Code and Wrongs to Children Act, and extending those definitions of sex offenses to include children under 18 years of age;

    • commits or allows to be committed an act or acts of torture upon a child; or inflicts excessive corporal punishment.

  8. What is a "neglected child" within the meaning of ANCRA? Neglect occurs when a person responsible for the child deprives or fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or needed medical treatment. Abandonment and inadequate supervision also constitute neglect. Further, neglect occurs under ANCRA when a child "is subjected to an environment which is injurious insofar as: 

    • the child's environment creates a likelihood of harm to the child's health, physical well-being, or welfare and

    • the likely harm to the child is the result of a blatant disregard of parent or caretaker responsibilities." According to IDCFS, "blatant disregard" means an incident where the real, significant, and imminent risk of harm would be so obvious to a reasonable parent or caretaker that it is unlikely that a reasonable parent or caretaker would have exposed the child to the danger without exercising precautionary measures to protect the child from harm.

  9. What are some examples of abuse and neglect? Although you should always use your best judgment to assess whether a child you know in your official capacity has been abused or neglected, normally you would call the IDCFS Child Abuse Hotline under circumstances such as:

    • you see marks on a child's body that do not appear to have been caused by accident;

    • you see someone hitting a child with an object;

    • a child tells you that they have been harmed or sexually abused by someone;

    • a child appears to be undernourished, is dressed inappropriately for the weather, or is young and has been left alone.

  10. What does it mean to know a child in my "official capacity"? Although ANCRA does not define "official capacity," generally the term means the things you do in the course of carrying out the duties of your role at the University. Thus, to know a child in your official capacity means that you have become aware of or have gotten to know a child in the course of doing your job. For example, a University supervisor who meets children of the employees that she supervises at a departmental social event would be deemed to know those children her official capacity. Likewise, a University supervisor who meets a child in connection with giving a presentation at the University would be deemed to know the child in his official capacity.

  11. What if I see or suspect child abuse off campus – for example, while taking a walk in the park, I see a man strike a child repeatedly with their fists? It depends on the circumstances. As a mandated reporter, you are required only to report acts of suspected abuse or neglect that you learn about in your official capacity as a University faculty, other academic appointee, postdoctoral researcher, staff, student employee, and volunteer including but not limited to abuse or neglect you witness at a University event or on University property. If the child you witnessed being abused during your walk in the park is not somebody you know through conducting your University duties then you do not have a duty to report to IDCFS, although you are not prohibited from doing so. On the other hand, if you know the child because you met him or her while giving a tour of your workspace to a group of middle school students, you would have a duty to report immediately to IDCFS. 

  12. What should I do if I have reasonable cause to believe that a child, I know in my official capacity is being abused or neglected? You must immediately call the IDCFS Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE. Hotline staff are social workers with special training in determining what constitutes child abuse and neglect under ANCRA.  As a matter of University policy, once you make a report to IDCFS, you must promptly notify the head of your academic unit – section chief, department chair, director, dean, vice president, or provost, or, in the alternative, your supervisor or manager -- that you have made a report, as well as the circumstances that compelled the report. You are also required to promptly notify the Youth Program Coordinator, Kenyatta Tatum Futterman at 773.702.8837, kenyatta@uchicago.edu.

  13. What happens when I call the Hotline? When you call, a hotline social worker will listen to what you wish to report. You should be prepared to tell the Hotline worker all germane facts related to the situation, including the child's name, address and age; the nature of the suspected abuse or neglect, including when and where it occurred; the names of suspected perpetrators and their relationship to the child (parent, teacher, etc.); and any other information you think may help. The hotline worker will ask questions to help gather enough information to determine whether to take a formal report. If there is not enough information to make a report, the worker will tell you so and answer any questions you may have. If a formal report is taken, a child protection investigator will begin the investigation within 24 hours, but much sooner if the child is considered in immediate risk of harm.

  14. How am I protected if I report abuse or neglect? People who report alleged child abuse or neglect in good faith cannot be held liable for damages under criminal or civil law. In addition, their names are not given to the person they name as the abuser or to anyone else unless ordered by a hearing officer or judge. Members of the general public may make reports without giving their names. Although as a mandated reporter you may make a report without giving your name, doing so is disadvantageous because the investigator will not be able to contact you to verify information or gather additional information; you will not be notified of the results of the investigation; and if something happens to the child, you will have no legal proof that you fulfilled your role as a mandated reporter.

  15. Should I also call the police? If a child appears to be in imminent danger, you should seek immediate protection for the child by calling the University of Chicago Police Department at 773.702.8181 (in emergencies 123 from on-campus phone) or the Chicago Police Department at 911.

  16. Do I satisfy my reporting duty if I tell my chair/supervisor or call the police? No. Reporting suspected abuse or neglect to a co-worker, HRA, colleague, supervisor, manager, officer, an Unlawful Harassment Complaint Adviser, the University's whistleblower hotline or even the police department – but not IDCFS – does not satisfy the legal duty to report. The only means of fulfilling one's legal obligation and avoiding legal penalty is to report the suspected child abuse or neglect to IDCFS.

  17. What are the consequences if I fail to make a report to IDCFS even though I have a reasonable basis to believe that a child I know in my official capacity is being abused or neglected? Under the law, a mandated reporter's failure to report suspected instances of child abuse or neglect to IDCFS constitutes a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment for up to one year, or by a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both, and a second or subsequent violation is a Class 4 felony. Finally, if you knowingly fail to report a case of suspected child abuse or neglect to IDCFS when you have a reasonable basis for doing so, you may be disciplined up to and including termination of appointment, employment or volunteer status. 

  18. Do I have additional obligations as a mandated reporter? Yes, under ANCRA, all mandated reporters must complete, sign and date an IDCFS-issued document called "acknowledgment of mandated reporter status" at the time of hire. By signing the document, the individual acknowledges their status as a mandated reporter and affirms understanding the applicable reporting requirements.

    Individuals who are charged with criminal offenses involving minors, while working in a University of Chicago program with minors, must disclose such information to the program supervisor/coordinator immediately. University of Chicago staff employees are required to report the charge to Human Resources. Faculty, other academic appointees and postdoctoral researchers must report the charge to the Office of the Provost.  Student employees, student volunteers, and volunteers are required to report the charge to the Youth Program Coordinator.

    Additionally, under ANCRA, all University faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff and student employees must complete mandated reporter training upon hire and every three years thereafter. Note, student and volunteers are required to complete training each academic year that the student or volunteer has direct contact with children. Direct contact is defined in The Safety of Children in University Programs Policy.

    As a matter of University policy, once you make a report to IDCFS, you must promptly notify the head of your academic unit – section chief, department chair, director, dean, vice president, or provost, or, in the alternative, your supervisor or manager, that you have made a report, as well as the circumstances that compelled the report. You are also required to promptly notify the Youth Program Coordinator, Kenyatta Tatum Futterman at 773.702.8837, kenyatta@uchicago.edu.

  19. Why do I have to complete mandated reporter training if my position at the University does not include contact with children? The Illinois law states that all University “personnel” are Mandated Reporters.  Mandated Reporters are required to receive training about the legally obligated actions that Mandated Reporters must undertake and recognize while serving within this critical role.

  20. What if I refuse to sign the "acknowledgment of mandated reporter status" form? Your execution of the form is a condition of employment or volunteer status. If you refuse to sign the form, your hire or volunteer arrangement will not become effective.

  21. What is the role of the Youth Program Coordinator? The Youth Program Coordinator serves as a focal point for promoting and ensuring compliance with the University’s policies and procedures relating to minors on campus and in University programs. The coordinator is a point of contact and resource for reporting instances of suspected child abuse/neglect. The Youth Program Coordinator is responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of such policies; providing support and education to faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, student employees, and volunteers of youth-serving programs; maintaining the inventory of such programs; and generally serving as a University-wide resource on matters relating to the protection of minors associated with the University. The Youth Program Coordinator is the internal expert on requirements for the mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect. The coordinator manages efforts to promote the wellbeing of minors in University-affiliated programs and leads education programs for all University community members that serve children and is available to provide additional child protection resources. The coordinator serves as an access point for minors and their parents. The Youth Program Coordinator reports to the Courtney Davis Curtis, Assistant Vice President, Risk Management and Resilience Planning.

  22. Who can I contact if I have questions about my status as a mandated reporter? You should feel free to contact: