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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 FREE.

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 academic appointees/postdoctoral researchers, regardless of rank or compensation status, are mandated reporters. Note: some academic appointees/postdoctoral researchers also may be mandated reporters by virtue of being in another category of mandated reporters, e.g., physician.

The University thus requires all University academic appointees/postdoctoral researchers 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.

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 a colleague, mentor, chair, dean, director, provost, the Harassment Complaint Advisers, or the University’s whistleblower hotline – 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.

Reporting

Every University academic appointee/postdoctoral researcher who has reasonable cause to believe a child known to him/her in his/her official capacity has been abused or neglected must immediately call the IDCFS Hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE FREE. This hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Thereafter, the academic appointee/postdoctoral researcher who makes such a report must promptly notify the head of his/her academic unit – mentor, section chief, department chair, dean or provost – that a report has been made, as well as the underlying circumstances that compelled the report.

If a child is in imminent danger, the academic appointee/postdoctoral researcher should seek immediate protection for the child by calling the University of Chicago Police Department at 2-8181 or the Chicago Police Department at 911.  After making this emergency call, the postdoctoral researcher must immediately call the IDCFS Hotline.

Definitions1

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.

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 such 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 such 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 such 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 such child;
  • inflicts excessive corporal punishment.

Neglected child includes but is not limited to any child who is not receiving the proper or necessary nourishment or medically indicated treatment including food or care not provided solely on the basis of the present or anticipated mental or physical impairment as determined by a physician acting alone or in consultation with other physicians or otherwise is not receiving the proper or necessary support or medical or other remedial care recognized under State law as necessary for a child's well-being, or other care necessary for his or her well- being, including adequate food, clothing and shelter; or who is abandoned by his or her parents or other person responsible for the child's welfare without a proper plan of care.

Mandated Reporter Acknowledgment

Effective June 27, 2012, and as a condition of appointment, all new University academic appointees/postdoctoral researcher must execute the IDCFS-issued “Acknowledgment of Mandated Reporter Status” form, which will be maintained by the University as a personnel record.

Consequences of Failing To Report

A University academic appointee/postdoctoral researcher 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.

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 are applicable to academic appointees who practice law as part of their job responsibilities. Those academic appointees may disclose client confidences only as permitted or required by the Rules.

Resource Materials

All University academic appointees are strongly encouraged to review educational materials provided by IDCFS regarding mandated reporter obligations, including the on-line training module “Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse: Training for Mandated Reporters.” Additional on-line resources include the IDCFS web page for mandated reporters, the IDCFS Manual for Mandated Reporters, and and the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act

In June 2012, a long-standing Illinois law was amended to expand the definition of “mandated reporters” of child abuse and neglect to include “all personnel of institutions of higher education.” Since 1975, “mandated reporters” under the law have typically been professionals (e.g., physicians and teachers) who work with children in the course of their professional duties.  Some University of Chicago employees thus have been mandated reporters under the law for their entire careers here.

This new 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. The University strongly encourages you to take IDCFS’s online training course to help you understand more about your role in recognizing and reporting child abuse. You can print a Certificate of Completion upon successful completion of the training. The training can be accessed here.

Additional online resources include:

You should feel free to contact Ted Stamatakos in the Office of Legal Counsel with any questions: 773-702-7516, stamatak@uchicago.edu.

1. Definitions are from the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, 325 ILCS 5/1 et seq.