Illinois lawmakers consider bill to change state's DCFS mandated reporter training

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- After several recent deaths involving children, Illinois lawmakers are working to protect young victims of abuse and neglect.

One piece of legislation that is being considered is SB1778. It requires more training for professions that work directly with children.

Child welfare advocates strongly support legislation that requires more training for mandated reporters, professions that must legally report suspected child abuse.

Currently, no one in Illinois is required by law to get training, except for teachers and that is once every five years.

"This bill would require all mandated reporters to receive training upon hire to their profession that are choosing to be in," said Julia Strehlow, with Chicago Children's Advocacy Center.

Depending on the professions, training would have to be updated every few years. It can be done online for free through the Department of Children and Family Services Website.

"We in Illinois really want professionals to be aware of their role as a mandated reporter and well educated about that means, what are indicators of abuse and neglect," said Strehlow.

The legislation also clarifies the list of mandated reporters; which includes personnel in the medical field, social service & mental health, crisis intervention, education, recreation or athletic programs, child care, law enforcement, funeral home directors and clergy.

Currently, clergy must report only sexual abuse. The bill expands their requirement to include physical abuse.

Daycare workers are not only responsible for the care of young children all day, but is also required by law to report suspected child abuse.

It is a difficult situation Buildings Blocks Learning Academy Owner Michelle Redd said her staff has faced a few times.

"It's really important they know the importance of reporting and they understand what they are reporting," Redd said.

If a mandated reporter fails to report child abuse, he or she can face criminal charges.

Besides the bill, state lawmakers announced a new Department of Children and Family Services Child Welfare Reform Caucus on Wednesday. It hopes to craft reforms that will improve the child welfare system.
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