CPS Mandatory Reporting HB455
Tell Legislators to Vote YES ON HB455
Our current statute regarding mandatory reporting has been quite problematic. I would like to share a few stories with you about how this actually plays out.
~Mom at Costco
Do you all remember what it was like to have several young children at home? Do you remember what it was like to go to Costco with all of those children including a 3-year-old who can be prone to tantrums? I do.
Not only is the parent overwhelmed and stressed they just want to get their groceries and get out of there as soon as possible. Now imagine that a nosy woman in the store places herself in the middle of your hectic moment and decides that your child is throwing a fit because the child has an ear infection that you must be ignoring and calls CPS. Honestly, I’m not making this up.
~Kids playing outside
I know of a family who had an unsubstantiated claim against them. The neighbor called CPS because she felt the amount of time the children were spending outside was neglectful and felt compelled to call CPS. When the mother allowed the caseworker into the home she did so because she believed that she had nothing to hide. This mother did not understand her rights.
The caseworker made a recommendation to the police officer and they went on to site dishes in the sink and laundry on the sofa as neglect.
All 3 were taken that day.
The children were returned to the family but the results of this intrusion were extremely traumatized children and a broken family. A young child was so burdened by the trauma he had endured that he threatened suicide. The marriage was unable to bear the weight of the financial and emotional burden and they divorced. This is the havoc that unsubstantiated claims by non-professionals are wreaking in ID.
~Ex husband or wife
I’ve heard several stories where an ex has called CPS in retaliation. They are angry and want to make the ex-spouse pay so they find a reason to call CPS knowing they will have to investigate. Obviously, this is an example of bad faith reporting. But the person reporting will always be able to say that they chose to error on the side of caution and will have protection under this statute.
We know that these unfounded reports are a financial strain on the department’s budget. As a taxpayer, I am concerned about the speed in which the H&W Dept budget is growing. It seems prudent to take a look at how the current laws are being implemented in order to see where the expense can be scaled back.
Our Idaho families should be able to go to the store and let children play outside without fear of CPS intervention.
ANALYSIS OF MANDATORY REPORTING
Analysis by Scott Herdon of IdahoCPS.org and was presented to Legislators in regards to the proposed change in Mandatory Reporting HB 455
The primary reason we have mandatory reporting:
42 US Code 5106a(b)(2)(B)(i)
(2) Contents A State plan submitted under paragraph (1) shall contain a description of the activities that the State will carry out using amounts received under the grant to achieve the objectives of this subchapter, including—
(A) an assurance that the State plan, to the maximum extent practicable, is coordinated with the State plan under part B of title IV of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 620 et seq.] relating to child welfare services and family preservation and family support services;
(B) an assurance in the form of a certification by the Governor of the State that the State has in effect and is enforcing a State law, or has in effect and is operating a statewide program, relating to child abuse and neglect that includes—
(i) provisions or procedures for an individual to report known and suspected instances of child abuse and neglect, including a State law for mandatory reporting by individuals required to report such instances;
CAPTA does not state who or which classes of individuals must be in the state’s mandatory reporting program. Just that we must have a mandatory reporting law in order to receive federal funds.
Why are we suggesting a change to the mandatory reporting law at this time?
On April 25, 2019, Governor Little issued Executive Order 2019-03 creating the Regional Government Efficiency Working Group. The executive order lists the following as goals:
WHEREAS, transparency, efficiency, and making decisions with a long-term perspective gives citizens of Idaho a reason to be confident in state government; and
WHEREAS, identifying inefficiencies without the loss of services within government are vital in state government; and
WHEREAS, the State of Idaho has the responsibility to taxpayers to govern responsibly and efficiently; and
WHEREAS, making decisions with a long-term perspective includes studying the effectiveness and productivity of government to ensure efficiency of taxpayer dollars.
When HB 170 was presented last year, one of the discoveries was the cost of CPS, which cost is identified in this year’s legislative budget book as a 2020 appropriation of $48.7 million for Child Welfare or CPS work.
In 2018, that work included fielding 23,599 calls for reports of possible child abuse, neglect or abandonment, and after 10,159 investigations of those calls in one year alone, 83% of the reports were found to be unsubstantiated.
We considered that it is possible that a substantial portion of the 48.7 million being spent was being spent on investigating calls that did not have a high likelihood of turning up substantiated neglect or abuse.
When we consider the expenditure of 49 million dollars and consider two goals of the governor’s executive order – to increase the confidence of citizens in their state government and the desire to use taxpayer resources efficiently, we questioned whether investigating 8432 cases of unsubstantiated child neglect or abuse increases the citizen confidence in state government and whether it is an efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
By contrast, county prosecutors, once they choose to prosecute a case, have conviction rates throughout the state in the high 90 percentile, which seems to be an efficient use of government resources.
That led to the question of how can we make CPS more efficient and less likely to be chasing after unsubstantiated reports?
Mandatory reporting could have an impact.
Idaho is only one of 18 states that make all adults mandated reporters.
The 2008 federal Department of Health and Human Services annual Child Maltreatment report compared mandated vs. nonmandated reporters and case investigative outcomes. It found that non-professional reporters (e.g., friends, neighbors, relatives, and anonymous reporters) are far more likely to report abuse or neglect that is found unsubstantiated versus reports made by professional reporters (those that come into contact with children based on their occupation – doctors, teachers, etc…). In fact, 84% of reports by non-professional reporters are found unsubstantiated, while nationally in the HHS report, CPS reports by professional reporters had an unsubstantiated rate of 69%.
In a report addressing mandatory reporting laws published in 2012 by the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law, it was noted that “CPS agencies are already overburdened responding to reports of recent child maltreatment, most of which are unsubstantiated after a time-consuming investigation”, and “It is well recognized that most CPS caseworkers need better training and lower caseloads”.
Eliminating the mandatory reporting requirement of non-professional adults in Idaho will offer the opportunity of decreasing the time-consuming investigation of unsubstantiated reports of child abuse and neglect, allowing more resources to be devoted to professional reports that are more likely to be substantiated.
Also, the longtime director of the ABA’s Center on Children and Law, Howard Davidson, has suggested that if resources can be freed, then other efficiencies can be gained by training mandated professional reporters to be able to better identify possible child abuse and neglect and when to report and, if resources can be made available:
mandate that professionals who make reports receive CPS agency feedback on the outcome of their reports; and
To conclude the primary motivation for the mandatory reporter change is to provide the opportunity of saving Idaho taxpayer General Fund money and money spent on child welfare from other sources and improving somewhat the efficiency of resources available for CPS investigations.
Also, if we lower the unsubstantiated investigations, reducing the number of contacts with law-abiding citizens, we increase the confidence of citizens in the state government.
A third benefit to removing mandatory reporting by every citizen concerns section 16-1607, Idaho Code:
16-1607. REPORTING IN BAD FAITH — CIVIL DAMAGES. Any person who makes a report or allegation of child abuse, abandonment or neglect knowing the same to be false or who reports or alleges the same in bad faith or with malice shall be liable to the party or parties against whom the report was made for the amount of actual damages sustained or statutory damages of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), whichever is greater, plus attorney’s fees and costs of suit. If the court finds that the defendant acted with malice or oppression, the court may award treble actual damages or treble statutory damages, whichever is greater.
Right now, any person, all being mandatory reporters, even if they reported in bad faith, could claim that because of the mandatory reporting requirement and the misdemeanor penalty, they errored on the side of caution and reported to protect themselves.
Mandatory reporting becomes a defense in a charge of malicious or bad faith reporting.
Removing mandatory reporting from “every person” will offer the opportunity for justice when a parent goes after a bad-faith reporter.
The federal CAPTA does not require that Idaho make every citizen a mandatory reporter.
HOUSE CONTACT 2020
CAbernathy@house.idaho.gov, JAddis@house.idaho.gov, PAmador@house.idaho.gov, NAnderson@house.idaho.gov, RAnderst@house.idaho.gov, KAndrus@house.idaho.gov, ARmstrong@house.idaho.gov, VBar@house.idaho.gov, SBedke@house.idaho.gov, SBerch@house.idaho.gov, MBlanksma@house.idaho.gov
JBoyle@house.idaho.gov, GChaney@house.idaho.gov, SChew@house.idaho.gov, CChristensen@house.idaho.gov, LClow@house.idaho.gov, GCollins@house.idaho.gov, BCrane@house.idaho.gov, MDavis@house.idaho.gov, GDemordaunt@house.idaho.gov, SDixon@house.idaho.gov, BEhardt@house.idaho.gov, JEllis@house.idaho.gov, RFurniss@house.idaho.gov
JGannon@house.idaho.gov, TGestrin@house.idaho.gov, MGibbs@house.idaho.gov, PGiddings@house.idaho.gov, BGoesling@house.idaho.gov, BGreen@house.idaho.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org, LHartgen@house.idaho.gov, JHoltzclaw@house.idaho.gov, WendyHorman@house.idaho.gov,WendyHorman@house.idaho.gov, RKerby@house.idaho.gov, MKingsley@house.idaho.gov
MKiska@house.idaho.gov, LLickley@house.idaho.gov, GMarshall@house.idaho.gov, RMason@house.idaho.gov, JMcCrostie@house.idaho.gov, RMendive@house.idaho.gov, JMonks@house.idaho.gov, DMoon@house.idaho.gov, MMoyle@house.idaho.gov, LNecochea@house.idaho.gov, TNichols@house.idaho.gov, JPalmer@house.idaho.gov,
BRaybould@house.idaho.gov, JRaymond@house.idaho.gov, TRemington@house.idaho.gov, DRicks@house.idaho.gov, IRubel@house.idaho.gov, HScott@house.idaho.gov, PShepherd@house.idaho.gov, ESmith@house.idaho.gov, TStevenson@house.idaho.gov, SSyme@house.idaho.gov, SToone@house.idaho.gov,
RYoungblood@house.idaho.gov, CZito@house.idaho.gov, BZollinger@house.idaho.gov, CNTroy@house.idaho.gov, JVanderWoude@house.idaho.gov, JWagoner@house.idaho.gov, MWintrow@house.idaho.gov, TWisniewski@house.idaho.gov, FWood@house.idaho.gov, JYoung@house.idaho.gov (edited)