Child Abuse Reporting Alert: NEW REQUIREMENT FOR PHYSICIAN TRAINING
As ICS members know, Illinois licensed physicians are included in a list of “mandated reporters” who must notify the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) when they have reasonable cause to believe that a child may be abused or neglected. All mandated reporters, including physicians, must now complete DCFS mandated reporter training under a recent amendment to the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, effective January 1, 2020.[i]
Mandated Child Abuse Reporter Training
The mandated reporter training may be provided in person or online. DCFS provides required training online free of charge here. Topics for the course must include, at minimum:
- indicators for recognizing child abuse and child neglect, as defined under the Act;
- the process for reporting suspected child abuse and child neglect in Illinois as required by the Act and the required documentation;
- responding to a child in a trauma-informed manner; and
- understanding the response of child protective services and the role of the reporter after a call has been made.
DCFS has not filed proposed rules to detail the requirements. Therefore, the ICS is providing the following information based on our best interpretation of the law as written:
- Currently licensed physicians should complete initial training “within the time frame that governs training requirements [under the Medical Practice Act].” The ICS interprets this provision to require currently licensed physicians to complete training by the end of the current 3-year license cycle on July 31, 2020, in order to renew for the upcoming cycle starting August 1, 2020.
- New physicians must complete an initial mandated reporter training “within 3 months of their date of engagement in a professional or official capacity as a mandated reporter.” The ICS interprets this to require that any new associate physician employee or any new physician owner who has not completed training must complete it within 3 months of commencing employment.
- After initial training, medical personnel, including physicians, who work with children in their professional or official capacity, must complete mandated reporter training at least every 6 years. Such medical personnel, if licensed, must attest at each time of licensure renewal on their renewal form that they understand they are a mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect, that they are aware of the process for making a report, that they know how to respond to a child in a trauma-informed manner, and that they are aware of the role of child protective services and the role of a reporter after a call has been made.
- After initial training, in lieu of repeated training, medical personnel, including physicians, who do NOT work with children in their professional or official capacity, may instead attest each time at licensure renewal on their renewal form that they understand they are a mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect, that they are aware of the process for making a report, that they know how to respond to a child in a trauma-informed manner, and that they are aware of the role of child protective services and the role of a reporter after a call has been made. The ICS interprets this provision to require training every 6 years if the physician sees at least one child during that period.
- Beginning January 1, 2021, if a mandated reporter is licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the mandated reporter training shall count toward meeting required continuing education hours. Thus, it appears that physicians will be required to complete the training to renew their licenses in 2020 but will not be able to count the training toward their required 60 formal hours and 90 informal hours of requirement continuing education. However, after the initial training, the law states that all physicians may complete mandated reporter training and receive continuing education credits for that training once every 6 years.
- Each mandated reporter shall report to his or her employer and, when applicable, to his or her licensing or certification board that he or she received the mandated reporter training. The mandated reporter shall maintain records of completion. The ICS also strongly recommends that employers should maintain records of all required employee training.
DCFS describes the training as:
- A pre-training assessment (13 multiple-choice questions);
- 60-90 minutes of self-paced interactive training;
- A post-training assessment (13 multiple-choice questions; and
- A Certificate of Completion.
The ICS urges physicians to complete the mandated reporter training as soon as possible in light of the upcoming licensure renewal.
Required Form for Employees Who are Mandated Reporters: Acknowledgement of Reporting Responsibility
DCFS Rules require employee physicians and other mandated reporter health care licensees to sign statements acknowledging that they are mandated to report suspected child abuse and neglect. The statement is to be made on the DCFS form, which is to be provided by the employer. The form, entitled “ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF MANDATED REPORTER STATUS,” also contains a list of the categories of professional licensees who are deemed to be mandated reporters and who must sign the form as employees, which includes licensed physical therapists, athletic trainers, and acupuncturists. The form can be found here.
Clinic owners should have their employees who are licensed physicians, physical therapists, acupuncturists, athletic trainers, and any other mandated reporters, sign the acknowledgment form prior to the beginning of employment (or if not, the ICS recommends as soon thereafter as possible), and it must be retained by the employer as a permanent part of the personnel record.
[i] Note: this training is in addition to physician Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and Illinois Department of Human Rights Sexual Harassment Prevention Training for employees. Thus, physicians are now required to complete:
- Sexual harassment prevention training for chiropractic physicians and any other licensed health care workers in their offices (provided by the ICS as an approved CME sponsor);
- Sexual harassment prevention training for all employees (provided by the Illinois Department of Human Rights); and
- Mandated reporter training (provided by the Department of Children and Family Services).