Good Intentions

August 12, 2011

By Angela Liddle

Sometimes people mean well. Sometimes they want to be helpful and lighten your load. Sometimes they want to make things easier and simpler. But sometimes their good intentions take you from the frying pan into the fire.

Here’s an example -our training on recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse teaches mandated reporters (those who work with children) that when they need to make a report of suspected abuse, a certain procedure needs to be followed, as outlined in Pennsylvania’s law. PFSA teaches them to whom they need to make that report and what paper work they need to file after the report is made. More than once, I have been told by a mandated reporter that a well-meaning caseworker told them they did not need to fill out and file a CY-47 (form of suspected abuse) after they made a report of suspected child abuse. I’m sure the caseworker meant to save the mandated reporter some time and effort; however, the law requiring a filing of the CY-47 within 48 hours of making the report does not state “unless directed otherwise by the caseworker.” That written report serves an important purpose. It is written documentation of the information provided by the mandated reporter and verification that the reporter did indeed make the report.

Likewise, it might seem like a good idea to create a website that allows mandated reporters to fill out a CY-47 form online – makes it easier, right? Wrong. The website doesn’t do much good if the mandated reporter doesn’t recognize that they are required to report or doesn’t recognize suspected child abuse in the first place. It also doesn’t insure that the report is made to the proper agency (ChildLine) with the authority to get that report to the county office for investigation. And it clearly doesn’t insure that the confidentiality of the mandated reporter will be respected, often a huge concern of those who are hesitant to report. Again, I am sure intentions are good.

But you know what they say about intentions…..