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Interactive Training

Reporting

A report is a statement that someone is concerned for a child’s welfare. That someone is you.

Please click each button and read the text under each.

When you're finished with this page, click on the blue "Outcomes" tab near the top of the page.

Where to file your report

To report suspected child abuse or neglect call North Dakota's toll-free Child Abuse & Neglect Reporting Line at 1-833-958-3500.

  • Available 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday (7 a.m. – 4 p.m. Mountain Time).
  • A dedicated team of specialized CPS intake professionals will answer your call and gather all needed facts so local CPS workers can act more quickly to protect children.
  • IMPORTANT: If it's an EMERGENCY and a child is in immediate DANGER, CALL 9-1-1 NOW.

Law enforcement and health care professionals who need a CPS worker to respond to their location immediately can call their local human service zone office directly.

The Report of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect Form may be used to make a report of suspected institutional child abuse or neglect. Supporting documents should be faxed to the centralized CPS Intake Unit at 701-328-0361.

What to include in the report

When you file a report, give the following information to the best of your ability.

  • Names of the children suspected of being abused or neglected
  • Names of the persons suspected of harming a child, and their relationship to the child
  • Birth dates or ages of all children involved
  • Parent or guardian's name and address
  • As much specific information as you know about the suspected abuse and neglect

Attach to the report any documents that support the facts of the report.

Mandated reporters are required to follow up a verbal report with a written report within 48 hours. The written report must contain any requested information the reporter knows.

If reporting a Substance Exposed Newborn, please include as much of the following as is available:

  • Toxicology results of the infant and mother (mother should be informed of results)
    • NDCC 50-25.1-17 - Reporters who are medical professionals will be expected to provide verification for the toxicology results
  • Impact of the substance exposure to the newborn / Withdrawal symptoms of the infant
  • Medical care the infant is currently receiving and medical care the infant will require in the immediate future and long term
  • Date and time of the planned discharge from the hospital
  • Plan of care for the infant at discharge from the hospital
  • Available information on substance use during pregnancy including 1) substance used (alcohol, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, etc.) 2) amount / duration and frequency of substance used 3) day and time of last usage 4) social context of usage (with whom where and when) 5) motivation for treatment
  • Substance abuse treatment received in the past and currently (provider name, service type and dates, and completion / terminated history)
  • Prenatal care history
  • Psychiatric treatment received by parent and/or caretaker in the past or currently (provider and diagnosis)
  • Any indications of violence in the home
  • Housing situation / Safe Infant Sleep
  • Family / Social Support
  • Any action taken by the reporting source

NDCC 50-25.1-17 Toxicology Testing Requirements
If a physician has reason to believe based on a medical assessment of the mother or the infant that the mother used a controlled substance during the pregnancy, the physician shall administer a toxicology test to a newborn infant born under the physician's care and a woman within eight hours after delivery, to determine whether there is evidence of prenatal exposure to a controlled substance. If the test results are positive, the physician shall report the results as neglect under section 50-25.1-03. A negative test result does not eliminate the obligation to report under section 50-25.1-03 if other medical evidence of prenatal exposure to a controlled substance is present.

Should you tell the parents that you’ll be reporting?

There are times when you shouldn’t discuss your report with the parent, including:

  • If you believe the child will be in danger if the parents know the child disclosed information to you
  • If you believe the parent might disappear with the child
  • If the abuse might be a crime, such as serious physical or sexual abuse

At other times, this decision requires delicate judgment. If you’re in doubt, talk about it with the county social services agency before contacting the family.

  • If a child is in immediate danger, call 911 before notifying parents and before you report.
  • If a child isn’t in immediate danger, consider talking to the parents or guardian before reporting. Being honest and forthright may help you keep a working relationship with them.

If you’re afraid of a display of anger or violence when you tell a parent or guardian, explain that the law doesn’t give you a choice whether or not to report. Let them know that you care about them and will do everything you can do to see that they receive help. Let them know that their problem is not unique and can be solved. If you can continue to work with them, you can help prevent further abuse.

Is your report confidential?

Mandated reporters should provide the county social service agency with their name in order to document that they have met their legal mandate.

County social services cannot reveal the name of a person who reports suspected child abuse and neglect. The reporter’s name remains confidential—with certain exceptions. The reporter’s identity may be revealed to:

  • The subject of a report, if the requirement for services is appealed and the information is needed for the appeal
  • Staff of the North Dakota Department of Human Services, county social services, children's advocacy centers, child protection team, and citizen review committee
  • Public officials who need the information to perform their job
  • Courts that determine that the information is necessary to decide an issue
  • Researchers approved by the North Dakota Department of Human Services Institutional Review Board

Anonymous reports are accepted from anyone, but the only way mandated reporters will have proof of meeting the legal mandate is to sign their name.

Reporting pregnant women who abuse alcohol, use illegal drugs, or misuse legal drugs

If you suspect that a pregnant woman has abused alcohol, used illegal drugs, or misused legal drugs that may harm her unborn child, you may talk to her before reporting. If she voluntarily agrees to enter treatment in a licensed treatment program, no report is necessary. If she doesn’t agree to enter treatment, or drops out of treatment, you should report it.

Your report should identify the woman, what drug and how much is being used, and your name and address. You cannot report anonymously, but information identifying you will remain private unless you authorize the social worker to share it.

Reporting past abuse

If the child is still under age 18, you should report any past unreported abuse or neglect that you learn about or suspect.

Assessment

After you submit your report, a county social worker assigned to conduct an assessment of your report will talk to:

  • The child
  • The caregiver responsible for the child’s welfare
  • The person suspected of abusing or neglecting the child
  • Others who may know about the child, the family, or the circumstances

At the first contact with the person suspected of abusing or neglecting a child, the social worker must inform the person of the specific concerns in the report.

Under the law, assessments can include the child’s home, school, or childcare facility, as well as the circumstances surrounding the report.

Interviews on school property

  • Under North Dakota Century Code 50-25.1-05, a social worker or law enforcement may interview a child on school property. They will first notify the school principal or other appropriate school administrator.
  • The school administrator may not disclose the nature of the notification, or any other related information concerning the interview, to anyone, including people responsible for the child's welfare.
  • When an interview is conducted on school property, the school administrator and department or law enforcement agency will make every effort to minimize the disruption of the educational program of the child, other students, or school staff.

When a child may be taken into protective custody

A child may be taken into custody by a law enforcement officer if there are reasonable grounds to believe that:

  • The child is suffering from illness or injury or is in immediate danger from his surroundings
  • The child has run away from his parents, guardian, or other custodian

A medical professional may keep a child in custody in a hospital or medical facility, after advising the parents about the suspicion of abuse or neglect, for up to 96 hours (4 days). The medical professional must immediately inform the Juvenile Court and county social services so that protective steps can be taken.

A court can order temporary custody of a child to a county social service agency.

If you make an honest report, you’re protected against liability.

If you make an honest report, in good faith, you cannot be held liable for any damages or charged with any crime for reporting.

North Dakota Century Code Section 50-25.1-09 (Immunity from Liability) says: "Any person, other than the alleged violator, participating in good faith in the making of a report, assisting in an investigation or assessment, furnishing information, or in providing protective services...is immune from any liability, civil or criminal...."

The law also protects reporters from retaliation by their employer for making a report in good faith.

False reporting

A false report is a report that is intentionally dishonest or is not made “in good faith.” A report that is made out of genuine concern for a child’s well-being is not considered a false report, even if the facts gathered during the assessment don’t confirm that the child was neglected or abused.

County Social Services has no authority to take action when false reporting is suspected. Instead, false reports are sent to law enforcement or the State’s Attorney.

  • Anyone who intentionally makes a false report, or provides false information which causes a report to be made, may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
  • If the false report is made to a law enforcement official, the person may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
  • A person who intentionally makes a false report may also be liable in a civil action.