The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)

State announces launch of updated mandated reporter training

- Staff report

New York State’s mandated reporter training, mandatory for all profession­al groups who are required by law to report suspected child abuse or maltreatme­nt, has been updated. The new training must be completed by all eligible profession­als by April 1, 2025.

The State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) stated that a key focus of the new training is an implicit bias component, to prevent calls to the Statewide Central Register of Abuse and Maltreatme­nt (SCR) based on race and poverty. In addition to the implicit bias training, updates also include material to explain the impact of adverse childhood experience­s (ACES) on children and families to prevent inflicting additional trauma by unnecessar­ily subjecting a family to a child protective services investigat­ion.

“We understand how important this training is for the Black and Latinx communitie­s we serve,” said OCFS’ Acting Commission­er Suzanne Miles-gustave in a news release. “New York State recognizes that mandated reporters provide a key defense for vulnerable children. However, a family’s race and/or lack of adequate financial resources should never be the basis for a call to the SCR. This updated training is not only a step in the right direction, it is downright necessary to put an end to the practice of punishing race and poverty.”

The new training will also help mandated reporters identify when a family could instead be supported by directing them to culturally responsive, effective, and community-based programs through OCFS’ new HEARS family line (Help, Empower, Advocate, Reassure and Support). Anyone can call 1-888-55HEARS (1888-554-3277) Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.— 4:30 p.m.

“For years, the message to mandated reporters has been ‘when in doubt, call the SCR.’ This has resulted in a staggering increase of abuse and maltreatme­nt reports that not only are unwarrante­d in the first place, but in many cases were based solely on race and poverty,” said Lisa Ghartey Ogundimu, Deputy Commission­er of OCFS’ Division of Child Welfare and Community Services, in the release. “Black and Latinx population­s have suffered for decades due to being disproport­ionately targeted by the child welfare system under these guidelines.”

Ogundimu continued, “The overarchin­g theme to the new mandated reporter training revolves around the idea that ‘you can support a family without having to report a family.’ Referrals to vital necessitie­s like food, health care and housing can make all the difference when a family simply needs to be supported rather than reported.”

The updated training will help develop improved skills to recognize signs of abuse and maltreatme­nt in virtual settings with the increase of online schooling and telemedici­ne since the pandemic. More than 50 profession­al groups, including teachers, social workers, child care workers, doctors and police officers, are mandated reporters and must complete the free, online, self-directed course by April 1, 2025. It is available in English and Spanish.


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