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Anticipating Emergencies

Provisions should also be made in the school protocol for emergency and other potentially reportable situations which do not fall within the school day:

If an educator determines that it is necessary to file a report after school hours, they must notify [designated person or persons]. This individual will notify, by phone if necessary, the members of the CPT. The CPT and the reporter will then be responsible for filing the report with DCF. If the educator making the report feels it is an emergency and is unable to reach the [designated person] or any CPT member in a reasonable amount of time, they should file the report directly with DCF and notify the CPT as soon as possible.

When making a call to DCF, the educator will probably be asked if the reporter feels that there are any factors in the situation that require an immediate response. It is sometimes difficult for educators to answer this question. While it is not the educator’s responsibility to determine what is an emergency, they may be aware of factors that would be helpful for DCF to know. For example, factors such as substance abuse or domestic violence in the home, a parent with anger issues and a very short fuse, and the possibility that the parents may take the child and flee can pose more risk to the child. If the educator is aware of such risk factors, they should mention them to DCF during the initial call.

Educators who learn of maltreatment after school hours may be unsure of how soon to respond. Should they call the emergency hotline or wait until the next morning to call DCF? In other words, what constitutes an emergency? Whenever a child tells us about alleged abuse or neglect it may feel like an emergency – and we certainly do not want to leave a child unprotected. As we have said elsewhere in this Manual, if what the child is describing to you gives you a reasonable cause to suspect that the child is being (or is in danger of being) abused or neglected, then DCF must be contacted immediately.

Educating oneself on what is needed for an organized and rational report, may help to prevent the panic and haste that are often accompany having to report an abuse or neglect situation. Some types of maltreatment—neglect for example—may have been going on for some time and may not be classified as an emergency by DCF. But if other risk factors are present, the situation may require more immediate attention.

Therefore, if you feel that the child might be in any danger if they go home, advise the DCF worker of your concerns and the reason for them. Remember, it is the responsibility of the DCF intake worker to decide if the situation represents a true emergency and requires an immediate response.

When children tell, they are usually seeking help then and there. Therefore, it is important that whatever procedure your school puts in place, it can operate effectively after hours as well. The potential reporter should have a list of people on the CPT who can act so that if one is not available, another can be reached. There is nothing worse for either the teacher or the child than seeking help and reaching dead ends wherever one turns. It is always possible for a child to disclose after normal business hours. For this reason, DCF maintains an after-hours hotline (1-800-792-5200) that can be called on nights, weekends, and holidays. It is important that school personnel are provided with this information.

Schools may find it helpful to construct a 1-page flow chart (See Appendix K) that consolidates this information in a step-by-step process with reporting instructions, phone numbers at DCF (both during and after business hours), the names and numbers of CPT contacts, and the numbers of local law enforcement offices. A printable sample 140 can be found on the Safe Kids Thrive website in the section on Downloadable Resources. 141

140 https://safekidsthrive.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/HYPERTEXT_Appendix-11_Recognizing-Responding-to-and-Reporting-Allegations-and-Suspicions-of-Child-Sexual-Abuse_Reporting-Child-Abuse-and-Negl1.pdf

141 https://safekidsthrive.org/the-report/downloadable-resources/


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