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April 2015Vol. 16, No. 3Afterschool Staff and Mandated Reporting

With more than 8 million children and youth spending an average of 8 hours a week in an afterschool program, providers and staff for these programs play an important role in identifying and reporting suspected child maltreatment. The fall 2014 issue of Afterschool Matters features an article on the role of afterschool program staff as mandated reporters and in keeping children safe.

Mandated reporters are classified as anyone whose employment puts them in contact with children and are therefore required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect. This designation includes afterschool program staff. However, there is no current research on mandated reporting of child maltreatment by afterschool staff, and research on the related field of child care shows that child care providers are far less likely to report suspected abuse.

The article features findings from a survey of 71 staff from a large afterschool program in California—using questions from the Educators and Child Abuse Questionnaire—inquiring about staff knowledge surrounding child maltreatment and its signs and symptoms, mandated reporting, and training. Training for mandated reporters varies by State and, while California law encourages employers to provide training, only school districts are required to provide training.

Survey findings showed that nearly all staff knew they were responsible for reporting suspected maltreatment. However, about 80 percent of respondents were not aware of the required timeframes for making reports—California law requires that, when a reporter suspects abuse, a phone report be made as soon as possible and a written report be submitted within 36 hours. Of the survey respondents, 21 percent had never received mandated reporter training, and 89 percent said they wanted more training. Findings suggest that more training may improve staff knowledge about child maltreatment and reporting laws. The article also discusses factors influencing staff decisions to make a report and implications of survey findings for program administrators.

"Keeping Children Safe: Afterschool Staff and Mandated Child Maltreatment Reporting," by M. Gandarilla and J. O'Donnel, Afterschool Matters, 20, 2014, is available at (5 MB).

For more information on mandatory reporting, read Child Welfare Information Gateway's Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect, available at