A Virginia bill expanding the persons required to report suspected child abuse and neglect was enacted in 2023. Find out who’s required to report in Virginia, how to make a report, and the penalties for failing to report.
Who is Required to Report Child Abuse in Virginia?
Virginia already had an extensive list of mandated reporters—persons required by law to identify and report suspected child abuse and neglect—before 2022. But HB 751, introduced in January 2022, added a new category of professionals to this list.
Most states that identify mandated reporters do so by profession, requiring persons who regularly come into contact with minors to report neglect and abuse. Some of the most common professions include school personnel, medical professionals, and law enforcement.
Virginia’s HB 751 adds a new category of professionals required to report: practitioners of behavior analysis.
Per Virginia law, the definition of “practice of behavior analysis” means the design, implementation, and evaluation of environmental modifications, using behavioral stimuli and consequences, to produce socially significant improvement in human behavior, including the use of direct observation, measurement, and functional analysis of the relationship between environment and behavior.
In simple terms, a behavior analyst is a clinician who helps people understand why they behave the way they do and how to change their behavior to improve their quality of life. It is a type of therapy used in mental health therapy to improve skills in children and adults with developmental conditions and to teach skills to people with autism.
Mandated Reporters in VA
With the addition of behavior analysts from HB 751, Virginia now names the following profession-specific roles as persons required to report:
- Any person licensed to practice medicine or any healing arts
- Any hospital resident or intern, and any person employed in the nursing profession
- Any person employed as a social worker or family-services specialist
- Any probation officer
- Any teacher or other person employed in a public or private school, kindergarten, or child day program
- Any person providing full-time or part-time child care for pay on a regularly planned basis
- Any mental health professional
- Any law-enforcement officer or animal control officer
- Any mediator eligible to receive court referrals
- Any professional staff person, not previously enumerated, employed by a private or state-operated hospital, institution or facility to which children have been committed or where children have been placed for care and treatment
- Any person 18 years of age or older associated with or employed by any public or private organization responsible for the care, custody or control of children
- Any person who is designated a court-appointed special advocate
- Any person 18 years of age or older who has received training approved by the Department of Social Services to recognize and report child abuse and neglect
- Any person employed by a local department who determines eligibility for public assistance
- Any emergency medical services provider certified by the Board of Health unless such provider immediately reports the matter directly to the attending physician at the hospital to which the child is transported, who shall make such report forthwith
- Any athletic coach, director, or other person 18 years of age or older employed by or volunteering with a public or private sports organization or team
- Administrators or employees 18 years of age or older of public or private day camps, youth centers and youth recreation programs
- Any person employed by a public or private institution of higher education other than an attorney who is employed by a public or private institution of higher education as it relates to information gained in the course of providing legal representation to a client
- Any minister, priest, rabbi, imam, or duly accredited practitioner of any religious organization or denomination usually referred to as a church, unless the information supporting the suspicion of child abuse or neglect is required by the doctrine of the religious organization or denomination to be kept in a confidential manner or would be if offered as evidence in court
- Any practitioner of behavior analysis
How to Report Suspected Child Abuse in Virginia
Mandated reporters in Virginia are required to report immediately anytime they suspect a child is being abused or neglected.
To make a report of suspected abuse, mandated reporters should use the toll-free number for the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline or call the local department of social services of the county/ city where the child resides or the abuse was discovered.
Virginia Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline:
- 800-552-7096 (in-state)
- 804-786-8536 (out-of-state)
- 800-828-1120 (hearing impaired)
Does Virginia Offer Mandated Reporter Training?
Virginia’s Department of Social Services (DSS) offers a general training program and one profession-specific training for educators to help mandated reporters understand their duties under the law and properly identify and report suspected instances of abuse.
Learn more about training and find resources at dss.virginia.gov.
What are the Penalties for Failing to Report Abuse in VA?
Mandated reporter training courses are incredibly beneficial for persons with a legal obligation to report suspected abuse.
Not only does reporting potentially save a child from injury, harm, or death, but reporters who fail to report could face serious consequences, as well.
In Virginia, mandated reporters who fail to report can be fined $500 for the first offense and $1,000 for the second offense. In cases of rape, failure to report is considered a Class I Misdemeanor. Intentionally making a false report is also considered a Class I Misdemeanor.
Find out how to implement mandated reporter training in your state or organization. Get access to the same training programs trusted by states like California, Nevada, and Massachusetts and private entities across the U.S.; request information from mandatedreportertraining.com today.