Reports of Neglected Children
§ 4–1321.01. Purpose.
It is the purpose of this subchapter to require a report of a suspected neglected child in order to identify neglected children; to assure that protective services will be made available to a neglected child to protect the child and his or her siblings and to prevent further abuse or neglect; and to preserve the family life of the parents and children, to the maximum extent possible, by enhancing the parental capacity for adequate child care.
§ 4–1321.02. Persons required to make reports; procedure.
(a) Notwithstanding § 14-307, any person specified in subsection (b) of this section who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child known to him or her in his or her professional or official capacity has been or is in immediate danger of being a mentally or physically abused or neglected child, as defined in § 4-1301.02(15A), shall immediately report or have a report made of such knowledge or suspicion to either the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia or the Child and Family Services Agency.
(a-1) A person specified in subsection (b) of this section shall report to the Child and Family Services Agency any child who is age 5 through 13 years and who has 10 or more days of unexcused absences within a school year, as that term is defined in § 38-201(4).
(b) Persons required to report such abuse or neglect shall include Child and Family Services Agency employees, agents, and contractors, and every physician, psychologist, medical examiner, dentist, chiropractor, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, person involved in the care and treatment of patients, law-enforcement officer, humane officer of any agency charged with the enforcement of animal cruelty laws, school official, teacher, athletic coach, Department of Parks and Recreation employee, public housing resident manager, social service worker, day care worker, human trafficking counselor as defined in § 14-311(2), domestic violence counselor as defined in § 14-310(a)(2), and mental health professional as defined in § 7-1201.01(11). Such persons are not required to report when employed by a lawyer who is providing representation in a criminal, civil, including family law, or delinquency matter and the basis for the suspicion arises solely in the course of that representation. Whenever a person is required to report in his or her capacity as a member of the staff of a hospital, school, social agency or similar institution, he or she shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution or his or her designated agent who shall then be required to make the report. The fact that such a notification has been made does not relieve the person who was originally required to report from his or her duty under subsection (a) of this section of having a report made promptly to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia or the Child and Family Services Agency.
(c) In addition to those persons who are required to make a report, any other person may make a report to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia or the Child and Family Services Agency.
(d) In addition to the requirements in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, any health professional licensed pursuant to Chapter 12 of Title 3, or a law enforcement officer, [or] humane officer of any agency charged with the enforcement of animal cruelty laws, except an undercover officer whose identity or investigation might be jeopardized, shall report immediately, in writing, to the Child and Family Services Agency, that the law enforcement officer or health professional has reasonable cause to believe that a child is abused as a result of inadequate care, control, or subsistence in the home environment due to exposure to drug-related activity. The report shall be in accordance with the provisions of § 4-1321.03.
(e) Notwithstanding § 14-307, any person specified in subsection (b) of this section who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child known to him or her in his or her professional or official capacity has been, or is in immediate danger of being, the victim of “sexual abuse” or “attempted sexual abuse” prohibited by Chapter 30 of Title 22 [§ 22-3001 et seq.]; or that the child was assisted, supported, caused, encouraged, commanded, enabled, induced, facilitated, or permitted to become a prostitute, as that term is defined in § 22-2701.01(3); or that the child has an injury caused by a bullet; or that the child has an injury caused by a knife or other sharp object which has been caused by other than accidental means, shall immediately report or have a report made of such knowledge, information, or suspicion to the Metropolitan Police Department or the Child and Family Services Agency.
(f) A health professional licensed pursuant to Chapter 12 of Title 3 [§ 3-1201.01 et seq.], who in his or her own professional or official capacity knows that a child under 12 months of age is diagnosed as having a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, shall immediately report or have a report made to the Child and Family Services Agency.
(g) A person who violates this section shall not be prosecuted under subchapter II-A of Chapter 30 of Title 22 [§ 22-3020.51 et seq.].
(h) The Metropolitan Police Department shall immediately report or have a report made to the Child and Family Services Agency of any knowledge, information, or suspicion of a child engaging in or offering to engage in a sexual act, as defined in § 22-3001(8), or sexual contact, as defined in § 22-3001(9), in return for receiving anything of value.
§ 4–1321.03. Nature and contents of reports.
(a) Each person required to make a report of a known or suspected neglected child shall:
(1) Immediately make an oral report of the case to the Child and Family Services Agency or the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia; and
(2) Make a written report of the case if requested by said Division or Police or if the abuse involves drug-related activity.
(b) The report shall include, but need not be limited to, the following information if it is known to the person making the report:
(1) The name, age, sex, and address of the following individuals:
(A) The child who is the subject of the report;
(B) Each of the child’s siblings and other children in the household; and
(C) Each of the child’s parents or other persons responsible for the child’s care;
(2) The nature and extent of the abuse or neglect of the child and any previous abuse or neglect, if known;
(3) All other information which the person making the report believes may be helpful in establishing the cause of the abuse or neglect and the identity of the person responsible for the abuse or neglect; and
(4) If the source was required to report under this subchapter, the identity and occupation of the source, how to contact the source and a statement of the actions taken by the source concerning the child.
§ 4–1321.04. Immunity from liability.
Any person, hospital, or institution participating in good faith in the making of a report pursuant to this subchapter shall have immunity from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed with respect to the making of the report. Any such participation shall have the same immunity with respect to participation in any judicial proceeding involving the report. In all civil or criminal proceedings concerning the child or resulting from the report good faith shall be presumed unless rebutted.
§ 4–1321.05. Privileges; waiver.
Notwithstanding the provisions of §§ 14-306 and 14-307, neither the spouse or domestic partner privilege nor the physician-patient privilege shall be grounds for excluding evidence in any proceeding in the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia concerning the welfare of a neglected child; provided, that a judge of the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia determines such privilege should be waived in the interest of justice.
§ 4–1321.06. Exceptions for treatment solely by spiritual means.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, no child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall, for that reason alone, be considered to have been neglected within the purview of this subchapter.
§ 4–1321.07. Failure to make report.
Any person required to make a report under this subchapter who willfully fails to make such a report shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, imprisoned not more than 180 days, or both. Violations of this subchapter shall be prosecuted by the Attorney General of the District of Columbia or his or her agent in the name of the District of Columbia.
Year of enactment2007
Last Amended2019, 2013