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New York training mandatory reporters of child abuse: What does it mean?

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  • Staff Report 

The state of New York is launching updated training for mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse and maltreatment. These reporters, which include doctors, nurses, teachers, police, and child care center workers, are required by state law to report such incidents. The Office of Children and Family Services is rolling out the new training to over 50 designated professional groups, including school staff, law enforcement, and medical personnel.

The new training, which was designed to address biases within the child welfare system based on race and poverty, will help decrease calls to the Statewide Central Register. The training includes the latest research on child trauma and understanding warning signs of abuse and neglect, which will help mandated reporters provide better guidance. Additionally, funding and resources will be allocated to communities across the state to support online portals and mobile response units, which should promote better collaboration, especially in schools.

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Dr. Rebecca Butterfield, Child Abuse Medicine Chief at Albany Medical Center’s Division of Pediatrics, said that the emergency department alone saw nearly 300 pediatric victims of suspected physical and sexual abuse in 2022. Lisa Ghartey Ogundimu, Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Child Welfare and Community Services with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, noted that, of over 100,000 calls made to the Statewide Central Register last year, only 27% were actually indicated as abuse.

The new training aims to bridge the gaps in the system and provide better support for families of color, African American children, Latinx children, and Native American children. The training is required to be completed by April 2025, and state Education Department Assistant Commissioner Kathleen DeCataldo hopes that this will encourage greater parental involvement in the process, as children often learn best when their families are partners. Tim Hathaway, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse New York, believes that the updated training will “change so many lives” and keep children safe.