For those of you who follow our Blog: you will have read my article on “Bad Press” that can come with being a mandated reporter of child abuse.
The incident I wrote about previously, in a nut-shell….employee of the child care program knew of a child abuse situation and told her supervisor “in confidence”. Her supervisor informed her that as a child care employee she was a mandated reporter. Thus the supervisor had to report the situation because the employee would not. Employee quit in anger and began spreading nasty rumors through town.
Many of you may not have your business in a small town, so some of the small town gossip issues you don’t have to deal with. However, parents talk to each other, no matter where you live. So, how do you handle “bad press” when it comes to child abuse or neglect allegations? Which issues are “confidential” and which issues aren’t?
Pretty much everything surrounding an issue which would require you to contact child protective services should be considered confidential and not shared with other families in your program. If other families become aware that there has been a situation, it might be a good time to review your mandated reporter policy with them and reassure them that you are required by law to report certain things that fall within pretty defined parameters. Do not divulge specific information to the other families in your program. This could open you to some potential liability.
Never, never, never divulge the information – even to your “closest friend”. Let families know that you respect every family’s right to privacy and you are not at liberty to discuss anything specific. Reassure them that you tried to handle the situation with the utmost professionalism and work hard to ensure the safety and dignity of each family.
At times, you will be stuck between a rock and a hard place, so you will just have to be sure that your staff knows, understands and follows your Child Abuse Policy.