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Bringing in Others

Let us now return to the process of filing a report through the CPT. An educator has brought their concerns to the team, and the CPT determines that this situation should be reported to DCF. It may be helpful for the CPT also to give DCF the names of other school personnel who are familiar with the child in question and can provide information regarding the allegations of the report. All mandated reporters are required by law to answer questions posed by a DCF investigator in the course of an investigation even if they are not the individual who filed the 51A report being investigated. 134 The protocol might stipulate:

When making the report, the CPT will identify other individuals within the school who may have information about the particular child that is relevant to the alleged abuse or neglect. These individuals should be notified by the CPT so that they may be contacted by DCF.

It is certainly possible for an individual educator to file the 51A report directly with the support of the CPT. It is recommended that schools designate a person to be the primary contact with the local DCF office. 135 This can help to ensure that there is at least one person designated to represent the school who is sufficiently knowledgeable about child abuse/neglect reporting and response procedures, and who can facilitate communication between DCF and the school.

Within 48 hours of the oral report, the CPT will submit a written report to the Department of Children and Families.

DCF will supply schools with written forms upon request. The 51A form may be also downloaded from their website here 136 and from the Safe Kids Thrive website in the section entitled “How to Report Child Sexual Abuse”. 136 Note that this form is updated periodically, so it is a good idea to check the DCF website from time to time to see if your school has the correct updated forms. A copy of the updated form is also included in this Manual as Appendix H.

Finally, an important document for educators to be aware of is the revised “Joint DESE/DCF Advisory Regarding Mandated Reporter Responsibilities of School Personnel in Cases of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect”(October 27, 2021). A copy of the Advisory can be found here. 138 It might be helpful for a member of the CPT to keep up to date on any changes and make others within the school aware of them. The responsibilities of mandated reporters might also be a part of the periodic safety training that the school provides.

134 https://malegislature.gov/laws/generallaws/parti/titlexvii/chapter119/section51b (see subparagraph “m”)

135 During regular business hours (8:45 a.m.-5 p.m. M-F) call the Department of Families and Children (DCF) area office that serves the city or town where the child lives. Nights, weekends, and holidays dial the Child-at-Risk Hotline at (800) 792-5200.

136 https://www.mass.gov/doc/child-abuse-reporting-form/download

137 https://safekidsthrive.org/prevention-topics/reporting/how-to-report-child-sexual-abuse/

138 https://www.doe.mass.edu/lawsregs/advisory/child-abuse.html


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