FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION ABOUT REPORTING POTENTIALLY MISSING OR ABUSED CHILDREN (N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11)
1. What is the responsibility of the school district regarding the reporting of missing and abused children?
N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11 requires that the district board of education develop and adopt policies and procedures for school district employees, volunteers or interns to provide for the early detection of missing, abused or neglected children through notification of, reporting to, and cooperation with the appropriate law enforcement and child welfare authorities. N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11 details the minimum requirements for inclusion in the school district’s policies and procedures.2. What is the responsibility of school volunteers, staff or interns in reporting suspected abuse/neglect?
In accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11.1(a)2 any individual having reason to believe that a child may be missing or may have been abused or neglected must immediately notify designated child welfare authorities. The Department of Children and Families has designated a State Central Registry (SCR) for the purpose of such reporting and can be accessed by calling 1-877-NJABUSE 24 hours a day/7 days per week. Additionally, school staff, volunteers and interns must inform the school administration so that the district may fulfill its requirement to report to law enforcement. An individual may inform the principal or other designated school official(s) prior to such notification if the action will not delay immediate notification.
If contact with the principal or other designated school official(s) has not been made prior to reporting to child welfare authorities, the individual who notified child welfare authorities must then inform the principal or other designated school official(s) so that he/she may contact law enforcement authorities.3. Who is required to contact law enforcement authorities once a call has been made to child welfare authorities?
The individual who called child welfare authorities to report the suspected abuse/neglect must inform the principal or other designated school official(s), as outline at N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11.1(a)3, that the call was made. Upon receiving this information, the principal or other designated school official(s) is required to report the suspicion to law enforcement authorities.
NOTE: School districts that serve as receiving districts should contact the law enforcement authorities with whom they have an existing Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), not the law enforcement authorities where the child resides.4. Is confidentiality guaranteed when reporting to the police?
No. Incidences of suspected missing or abused children that are reported to law enforcement authorities may not guarantee confidentiality, particularly if the information obtained from the school district report has a significant bearing on a potential criminal case.
For specific information on the local handling of such reports, the New Jersey Department of Education encourages county superintendents to contact their County Prosecutor’s Office.5. Are school districts required to provide annual training?
N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11.1(a)8 requires that the district board of education include within their policies and procedures, provisions for training school district employees, volunteers and interns on the district’s adopted policies and procedures for the early detection of missing and abused children. The frequency of such training shall be determined by the district board of education. New school district employees, volunteers or interns are required to receive such training as part of their orientation.6. Are school districts still required to identify a school district liaison?<
Yes. School districts are required to designate a school district liaison for both child welfare and law enforcement authorities. The role of the liaison to designated child welfare authorities required at N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11.1(a)6 is to act as the primary contact person between the schools in the school district and child welfare authorities with regard to general information sharing, the development of mutual training and other cooperative efforts. The role of the liaison to law enforcement authorities required at N.J.A.C. 6A:16-11.1(a)7 is to act as the primary contact person between the school in the district and law enforcement authorities pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-6.2(b)1, and consistent with the memorandum of understanding pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-6.2(b)13.