Posted in Business Practice, DHHS / OCFS

Changes for Mandated Reporting Requirements

In the proposed Licensing Rule there is a fairly significant change to what is being required of providers in regards to notification of a child’s parents/legal guardians.

The previous Licensing Rules just required notification that providers were legally required to report any suspected abuse or neglect, so language such as this was enough:

Maine law states that certain people must report if they know or have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected, including physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

As a licensed family child care provider, I am a mandated reporter having a legal obligation to report suspected cases of child abuse/neglect to the Dept. of Human Services (Child Protective Intake Unit 1-800-452-1999)


CREDIT CHILDREN’S SERVICE COUNCIL, PALM BEACH COUNTY

With the 12/2020 proposed Licensing Rule we found new requirements that will probably mean a new policy for most providers.

While in section 7i you will find that policy addressing mandated reporting for staff is required, the extensive requirements are found in Section 2 Licensing Requirements and Procedures /

G. 8. The Provider must adopt a written policy for handling all suspected instances of Child Abuse or following:

  • a. Internal notification procedure of suspected Abuse or Neglect,
  • b. Conditions that require internal notification of the Provider,
  • c. The requirement that any suspicion of Abuse or Neglect must be immediately shared with the Provider,
  • d. The requirement that suspected Child Abuse or Neglect must be immediately reported upon suspicion to Child Protective Intake hotline,
  • e. Identification of personnel responsible for contacting the Child Protective Intake hotline, 
  • f. Protocol to notify all relevant parties (Parents, Staff Members, interns, or Household Members) that suspected Child Abuse or Neglect has been reported to Child Protective Intake,
  • g. Completion of Incident reports, including: the details of the allegation or suspicion, the date Child Protective Intake was called, which Staff Members and/or interns were notified the report was filed, and whether or not the Parent/Legal Guardian were notified of the allegation, and
  • h. Parental notification, including the determination of how and what information will be shared with a Parent/Legal Guardian when Child Protective Intake has been contacted. 

Then (misnumbered) as section 9 isn’t present …………

G 10. The Provider must develop a written policy to follow if an allegation of Child Abuse or Neglect is made against the Provider, any Staff Member, or Household Member in the Provider’s home. The written policy must include but is not limited to the following:

  • a. Prevention measures to protect providers from potential allegations;
  • b. Conditions of continued employment and access to Children during the course of an investigation by the Department;
  • c. Grounds for termination; 
  • d. The requirement to report suspected Child Abuse or Neglect occurring at any location in accordance with statute; and
  • e. Parental notification. 

Most providers will find the above a significant change. The PLC has gathered a variety of informational materials for providers to read over that can help in writing their policy. We have also found a few samples that language can be pulled from. If additional guidance comes from OCFS we will definitely add that. All this material is gathered together in the PLC’s Mandated Reporter folder.

The PLC shared the Licensing Rule section of the Business Tool at the March 2021 Family Child Care Statewide Online Community of Practice. ( If you want to join this community for family child care providers on the second Monday of April / 6-8pm / REGISTER HERE) This diverse group of providers participated in many discussions on policy samples and what’s new with this license. The question about online mandated reporter training came up, but we did not have the time to have an extended discussion about the new requirements around child abuse and neglect policy.

As was stated on the CoP it is the responsibility of each provider to read through whatever Licensing Rule will be impacting their operation as a small business. Each family child care program is unique and needs to develop the policies that meet their needs. The PLC will continue to do our best to provide resources that support providers develop the policies they need. As always if you have more questions reach out to FCCAM PLC and we will do our best to find answers.

Following is a language sample that the PLC has pulled together to at least provide a starting point for providers. Between this specific language and the language found throughout our other policy samples we feel we have meet the purpose of these new policy requirements. As always copy, paste and adapt to meet your program.


The Maine Office of Child and family Services (OFCS) operates the statewide hotline for child abuse and neglect. Highly trained staff is available to guide callers through the process of making a report of suspected abuse and neglect. Anyone who suspects an individual of child abuse or neglect in encouraged to call the Protective Hotline:

CALL: 1-800-452-1999

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Call Maine Relay 711

As Mandated Reporters any provider suspecting Abuse or Neglect must immediately report this information to Child Protective Intake Services, 1-800-452-1999, TTY 1-800- 963-9490 which is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A NEW requirement is the need for providers to have the above Hotline number posted in a central location – think very visible location – on their premises.


Policy and Procedures

(Business name) believes it is important to remember each child is part of a family and a strong relationship between us that supports you in raising a healthy, happy child is our goal. We understand every household has a different parenting style and at (business) we strive to understand and respect the rights of parents. However we also know some parenting styles may place a child at risk of harm and/or injury. (Business) sees a responsibility to provide support and education to our families in an effort to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Maine law identifies any child care worker as a mandated reporter, as such we MUST contact the appropriate authorities when faced with the suspicion that a child is being abused or neglected, or witnesses an incident. Mandated reporters may not report anonymously. Mandated reporters are required to take training in child abuse/neglect recognition, prevention and mandated reporting laws.

Reporting Abuse and Neglect

A report must be made when the reporter suspects or has reasons to suspect that a child has been abused or neglected. Waiting for absolute proof may result in significant risk to the child. It is not the provider’s/staff’s job to validate the abuse; this is the job of CPS caseworkers or law enforcement officers who have been trained to undertake this type of investigation. When a provider or staff member suspects that a child is being abused or neglected, they will follow this procedure:  

  1. When there is reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect, provider and/or staff shall report it to the appropriate community agency.
  2. When providing information about the family, provider and/or staff will be conscious of the rights of children and parents. Great care will be taken to ensure the confidentiality of information and to share it only with those persons officially involved in the case. 
  3. If there is any question about whether the abuse/neglect is reportable, the provider will consult their state licensing specialist for advice about the procedure to follow.
  4. Written documentation is made of suspected abuse/neglect.
  5. The provider will follow up to ensure that appropriate action has been taken.
  6. When appropriate, parents or legal guardians will be informed that the referral has been made.
  7. Provider and staff will follow any of the mandated procedures by DHHS.
  8. The provider will preserve the confidentiality of all records pertaining to child abuse and neglect.
  9. The provider will represent (business) in any discussions with the child’s family.

When an employee/house member is suspected or accused of abuse/neglect of a child at (business) the plan of action is as follows:

  1. When there is reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect, provider and/or staff shall report it to the appropriate community agency.
  2. Documentation of the accusation is made.
  3. Once notified of the accusation Provider and/or Staff give a written account of the situation in question. 
  4. DHHS/licensing specialist is notified of the situation. 
  5. (Business) will follow the procedure outlined by DHHS for this type of situation.

• Staff who plead guilty to or are convicted of child abuse/neglect must inform the Provider.


Once cases of child abuse or neglect have been reported, they must be investigated and verified. All states and territories have specific requirements for the initial response by agencies receiving reports of child abuse and neglect. In most states, a screening process is used to determine whether a report will be accepted; this process includes a review of the report in the context of the state’s definitions of child abuse and neglect. Every state mandates that child protective services begin an investigation within a timely manner, usually within 72 hours, and in even less time when there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is in imminent danger.


There are many things child care providers can do to prevent abuse and protect themselves from false allegations. Reviewing program policies, hiring procedures and play areas with prevention in mind can help eliminate potential problems. Educating staff and volunteers about child abuse is a critical part of creating a safe environment for adults and children. The following guidelines may help keep children safe and reduce the risk of abuse and neglect in the child care setting.

  • The Family Child Care Licensing Rule requires criminal background checks for all staff, volunteers and house members.
  • Check at least two references before hiring a staff person and volunteer if unknown to you.
  • Access ongoing training to learn current information about the care, development and guidance of children and about child abuse issues.
  • Maintain appropriate child-to-staff ratios and small group sizes.
  • Do not allow any adult present on the Premises to be alone with one child out of view of other adults and children.
  • Encourage parents/legal guardians to join in your activities and to drop into the program whenever they can.

Make sure all staff members and volunteers understand appropriate and inappropriate ways to interact with children. The following are some basic behavior guidelines:

  • Never hit or strike a child.
  • Do not use physical punishment of any kind.
  • Hugs are okay if they are appropriate, as long as the child and the provider/staff are both comfortable. Take clues from the body language of the child, or simply ask, “Is it okay for me to hug you?” As the adult, if you do not feel comfortable with a hug from a child, tell them in a gentle way and suggest an alternative, such as holding your hand or touching your shoulder or arm.
  • Respect a child’s personal boundaries. Like adults, children have preferences about contact. Remember that some individuals like being close and getting hugs, but others don’t like a lot of close contact.
  • Infants and toddlers are at an especially high risk of being abused or neglected, partly because they cannot tell someone about the abuse. If these ages are in care, providers/staff need to access training focused on child development specifically for infants and toddlers.

Design of Child Care Environment
  • Set up your child care environment to make it easy to supervise all of the children at once.
  • Design play and other areas so that children can be viewed at all times.
  • Include some quiet areas for children while still being sure those areas can be seen by provider/staff.
  • Bathroom time needs close supervision. Allowing some privacy in the bathroom if a child requests it does not necessarily mean a closed door. You may want to have a policy stating that only one child uses the bathroom at a time. It can be as simple as everyone has backs to when waiting to use the bathroom. Mixed ages, as well as the needs of the individual children in care, will direct your policies.
  • Consideration is given to the appropriate ages and capacity for the program.

Author:

FCCAM works to unify, promote and strengthen quality professional family child care in Maine. We understand the critical role of child care providers in the lives of children and families. Through collaboration with other organizations we work to increase awareness of our profession and the value of a strong child care system to Maine's diverse communities.