Saturday, April 23, 2016

Mandated Reporting

I had to make one of the most difficult Department of Child Safety (DCS) calls of my career the other day. Many of my kids are already involved in DCS when I meet them, and so I don't typically have to make a lot of calls. However, I've still had to make a number of DCS calls in my profession as a mandated reporter, though all of the past ones, the kids were already in safe environments and it was typically just additional information I had to provide. A couple have led to non-priority investigations, some just resulted in documentation. But this time I would be the one initiating DCS. This was the first call where I had fear of that child's safety at that moment. All the past calls I've made, I didn't have strong concerns of present danger. In fact, when I told them I would likely be making a report, they got upset saying there will be retaliation and it will be worse. I asked if I misunderstood any of the information. No, but they will retaliate and it will be worse. 

I had to make the call. I was in anguish about it and it was hard. What if things do get worse? What if they don't continue to engage in therapy? What if I've ruined all trust? What if there isn't enough information to be substantiated? 

I didn't have a choice. I had enough information that led me to have significant concerns of their well being. I am a mandated reported. It may be the law, but it doesn't mean it's easy. But I had to make the call. 

DCS investigated within hours. They also saw it is a priority case with the information provided. 

This kid is going to make it in the world, but they desperately need help. They need a support system. They need positive, strong influences. They need people to care for their wellbeing. I think I'm the first person to say to them that what's happening is not okay and I'm putting their safety in front of my relationship with them. Their safety and wellbeing matters. They matter. That's why I made the call. Because they matter and they need to know that. They need to know people don't treat people that way and it is not okay. This is a call that may have saved their life and I have to believe that. 

They are worthy of love, dignity, respect, belonging. 

For information regarding mandated reporting:

If you have any concerns regarding a child in AZ call:
1-888-SOS-CHILD (1-888-767-2445)

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