While most day care centers provide a safe place for children to be while their parents are at work, neglect and abuse occur at some centers in the U.S. In the state of Pennsylvania in 2007, there were 174 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect in child care facilities, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. To prevent children from suffering from the trauma associated with abuse, parents and dayvcare staff members with suspicions or knowledge need to report abuse at a children’s day care center.
Learn the signs of abuse and neglect. Physical abuse is often the easiest to recognize, since there is often visible evidence in the form of cuts, bruises and other injuries. However it’s important to learn about signs of other types of abuse. For example, children who suddenly become visually upset or sick when they have to go to day care or children who suddenly begin wetting the bed may be exhibiting signs of abuse.
Contact your local child protective agency. Child protective services or family social services are usually the state agency or organization who investigates reports of child abuse at a daycare center. Look in the phone book to find the number for this agency to make the report or contact the local United Way, who maintains a listing of all social service agencies in the community.
Report it to police. If a child is in immediate danger, it’s important to call 911 so the police can intervene. They take the information over the phone from the caller or send an officer to talk to the person. Depending upon the circumstances, they may open a criminal case file on the day care and its staff or refer the situation to the childcare protective agency in the community.
Call the child abuse hotline. If you’re not sure of the agency in your community responsible for investigating child abuse, call the national child abuse hotline at 800-4-A-CHILD. They have a database with names and phone numbers of local agencies to call to make the report. They even have the capabilities to make a three-way phone call between you, the hotline and the agency, which can be helpful if you are fearful about reporting the abuse or neglect on your own.
Provide any information you can. After contacting authorities, an investigation is conducted to determine if abuse or neglect is actually occurring. Provide as much information as possible about what has been seen and heard as well as anything a child may have said. Report any suspicions and the basis for these suspicions.
If you report abuse or neglect, you are protected by the law under a Good Samaritan clause. Actual and suspected abusers can’t make threats or seek monetary compensation even if the report is found to be untrue. Day care center staff are mandated by law to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect even if its fellow employees.
You don’t have to know child abuse or neglect is occurring to make a report. Even if you suspect it is or the child tells you it is, report it immediately. It’s the job of Family Services or Child Protective Services to determine if it actually is occurring.