Title 33 (Human Services), Chapter 49 (Child Welfare Services), Subchapter 2 (Reporting Abuse of Children)
The purpose of this subchapter is to:
(1) protect children whose health and welfare may be adversely affected through abuse or neglect;
(2) strengthen the family and make the home safe for children whenever possible by enhancing the parental capacity for good child care;
(3) provide a temporary or permanent nurturing and safe environment for children when necessary; and for these purposes require the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect, an assessment or investigation of such reports and provision of services, when needed, to such child and family;
(4) establish a range of responses to child abuse and neglect that take into account different degrees of child abuse or neglect and which recognize that child offenders should be treated differently from adults; and
(5) establish a tiered child protection registry that balances the need to protect children and the potential employment consequences of a registry record for persons who are substantiated for child abuse and neglect.
4913: Reporting child abuse and neglect; remedial action.
(a) A mandated reporter is any:
(1) health care provider, including any:
(A) physician, surgeon, osteopath, chiropractor, or physician assistant licensed, certified, or registered under the provisions of Title 26;
(B) resident physician;
(D) hospital administrator in any hospital in this State;
(E) registered nurse;
(F) licensed practical nurse;
(G) medical examiner;
(H) emergency medical personnel as defined in 24 V.S.A. § 2651(6);
(J) psychologist; and
(2) individual who is employed by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school, or who is contracted and paid by a school district or an approved or recognized independent school to provide student services, including any:
(A) school superintendent;
(B) headmaster of an approved or recognized independent school as defined in 16 V.S.A. § 11;
(C) school teacher;
(D) student teacher;
(E) school librarian;
(F) school principal; and
(G) school guidance counselor;
(3) child care worker;
(4) mental health professional;
(5) social worker;
(6) probation officer;
(7) employee, contractor, and grantee of the Agency of Human Services who have contact with clients;
(8) police officer;
(9) camp owner;
(10) camp administrator;
(11) camp counselor; or
(12) member of the clergy.
(b) As used in subsection (a) of this section, “camp” includes any residential or nonresidential recreational program.
(c) Any mandated reporter who reasonably suspects abuse or neglect of a child shall report in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title within 24 hours of the time information regarding the suspected abuse or neglect was first received or observed.
(d)(1) The Commissioner shall inform the person who made the report under subsection (a) of this section:
(A) whether the report was accepted as a valid allegation of abuse or neglect;
(B) whether an assessment was conducted and, if so, whether a need for services was found; and
(C) whether an investigation was conducted and, if so, whether it resulted in a substantiation.
(2) Upon request, the Commissioner shall provide relevant information contained in the case records concerning a person’s report to a person who:
(A) made the report under subsection (a) of this section; and
(B) is engaged in an ongoing working relationship with the child or family who is the subject of the report.
(3) Any information disclosed under subdivision (2) of this subsection shall not be disseminated by the mandated reporter requesting the information. A person who intentionally violates the confidentiality provisions of this section shall be fined not more than $2,000.00.
(4) In providing information under subdivision (2) of this subsection, the Department may withhold:
(A) information that could compromise the safety of the reporter or the child or family who is the subject of the report; or
(B) specific details that could cause the child to experience significant mental or emotional stress.
(e) Any other concerned person not listed in subsection (a) of this section who has reasonable cause to believe that any child has been abused or neglected may report or cause a report to be made in accordance with the provisions of section 4914 of this title.
(f)(1) Any person other than a person suspected of child abuse, who in good faith makes a report to the Department shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability which might otherwise be incurred or imposed as a result of making a report.
(2) An employer or supervisor shall not discharge; demote; transfer; reduce pay, benefits, or work privileges; prepare a negative work performance evaluation; or take any other action detrimental to any employee because that employee filed a good faith report in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter. Any person making a report under this subchapter shall have a civil cause of action for appropriate compensatory and punitive damages against any person who causes detrimental changes in the employment status of the reporting party by reason of his or her making a report.
(g) The name of and any identifying information about either the person making the report or any person mentioned in the report shall be confidential unless:
(1) the person making the report specifically allows disclosure;
(2) a Human Services Board proceeding or a judicial proceeding results therefrom;
(3) a court, after a hearing, finds probable cause to believe that the report was not made in good faith and orders the Department to make the name of the reporter available; or
(4) a review has been requested pursuant to section 4916a of this title, and the Department has determined that identifying information can be provided without compromising the safety of the reporter or the persons mentioned in the report.
(h)(1) A person who violates subsection (c) of this section shall be fined not more than $500.00.
(2) A person who violates subsection (c) of this section with the intent to conceal abuse or neglect of a child shall be imprisoned not more than six months or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.
(3) This section shall not be construed to prohibit a prosecution under any other provision of law.
(i) Except as provided in subsection (j) of this section, a person may not refuse to make a report required by this section on the grounds that making the report would violate a privilege or disclose a confidential communication.
(j) A member of the clergy shall not be required to make a report under this section if the report would be based upon information received in a communication which is:
(1) made to a member of the clergy acting in his or her capacity as spiritual advisor;
(2) intended by the parties to be confidential at the time the communication is made;
(3) intended by the communicant to be an act of contrition or a matter of conscience; and
(4) required to be confidential by religious law, doctrine, or tenet.
(k) When a member of the clergy receives information about abuse or neglect of a child in a manner other than as described in subsection (j) of this section, he or she is required to report on the basis of that information even though he or she may have also received a report of abuse or neglect about the same person or incident in the manner described in subsection (j) of this section.
[Subsection (l) effective July 1, 2021.]
(l) A mandated reporter as described in subdivision (a)(2) of this section shall not be deemed to have violated the requirements of this section solely on the basis of making condoms available to a secondary school student in accordance with 16 V.S.A. § 132.
4914: Nature and content of report; to whom made.
A report shall be made orally or in writing to the Commissioner or designee. The Commissioner or designee shall request the reporter to follow the oral report with a written report, unless the reporter is anonymous. Reports shall contain the name and address or other contact information of the reporter as well as the names and addresses of the child and the parents or other persons responsible for the child’s care, if known; the age of the child; the nature and extent of the child’s injuries together with any evidence of previous abuse and neglect of the child or the child’s siblings; and any other information that might be helpful in establishing the cause of the injuries or reasons for the neglect as well as in protecting the child and assisting the family. If a report of child abuse or neglect involves the acts or omissions of the Commissioner or employees of the Department, then the report shall be directed to the Secretary of Human Services who shall cause the report to be investigated by other appropriate Agency staff. If the report is substantiated, services shall be offered to the child and to his or her family or caretaker according to the requirements of section 4915b of this title.
Year of enactment1981