When households are under stress, it’s often children who are impacted the most. School professionals must be sensitive to the stressors children and families are experiencing in their communities by considering their diverse racial, cultural and economic realities. As educational champions, school professionals must correctly differentiate between situational challenges and parental or educational neglect.
Educators and School Personnel as Mandated Reporters
School personnel have always been champions for student safety. In Ohio, school personnel are the main source of reports to child protective services. Working with students and families daily, school personnel are often the first to notice changes in behavior and appearance that can indicate safety, neglect and abuse concerns. Mandated reporters in schools include:
- Social workers
- Food service personnel
- Administrative professionals
- Related service personnel
It is important for school personnel to remain champions for student safety, as well as sources of support and resources for families. The suspicion alone of child abuse and neglect constitutes a required report. School personnel may feel nervous, worried or intimidated about making a report. While the mandated reporter should be the one to make the report, he or she doesn’t have to make the report alone. Supervisors, school counselors and social workers can be helpful supports to assist in the reporting process. Individuals in these roles are familiar with the reporting process and understand the importance of confidentiality. The resources listed below provide helpful guidance and information for mandated reporters:
- The Centers for Disease Control’s Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Fact Sheet explains the four common types of child abuse and neglect, and offers prevention strategies.
- The Ohio Department of Education’s Office of Professional Conduct offers #ABConduct Tip Sheets. These tip sheets are designed to help educators identify and mitigate risks that occur in everyday situations. Tipsheet number thirteen addresses mandatory reporting.
- Ohioans who suspect child abuse or neglect can call their local children services agency or the following toll-free number any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 1-855-OHCHILD. This line links callers directly to a children services or law enforcement office in their county. Reports can be anonymous.
Supporting Students and Families
School personnel must be sensitive to the stressors children and families are experiencing in their communities by considering their diverse racial, cultural and economic realities. It is easy to confuse poverty with neglect. In addition to reporting safety and neglect concerns, education professionals can support students and families in ways that ease their stress and help them find resources. As supporters of students and families, education professionals can:
- Check in with students and families to see how they are doing and ask if they need any support.
- Monitor attendance and student well-being and follow up with families as needed. Make connections with community agencies and faith organizations to identify resources and supports available to families.
- Provide families with information for community supports and resources such as free clothing, food pantries or free lunch or dinner programs.
- Provide information on mental and behavioral health agencies for families and children.
- Partner with community agencies to provide information sessions for parents about how to support the social, emotional and mental health of everyone in the home.
- Work with the school nurse to facilitate access to health services based on the needs of the students and families.
- Identify community centers, recreation centers or churches that offer youth programs.
- Work with school resource officers and other school personnel to provide early identification of student needs and ensure student wellness.
Last Modified: 9/20/2023 4:51:25 PM