The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

May 3, 2013

Alabama law would expand list required to report child abuse, neglect

From staff reports

— Alabama lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that expands the list of professionals who must report child abuse and neglect. 

Currently, only some professionals — doctors, social workers, nurses, day-care workers, teachers, police and others — are required to report suspected child abuse. Under the bill passed by  both the House and Senate, physical therapists, all public and private K-12 employees, and employees of public and private institutions of postsecondary and higher education will be added to the list of mandatory reporters.

The bill now goes to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature.

“It was such an honor to carry this bill for Children First Foundation and thanks to the Department of Human Resources for their help, also,” said Rep. Dickie Drake, R-Leeds, who along with Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, got the bill through both houses.

It is the second year Drake and others have tried to reform mandatory reporting in Alabama.

Under the bill, public or private employers are prohibited from punishing a worker for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

“We hope that this will help encourage mandatory reporters to bring forward suspected abuse when they might not have previously for fear of losing their jobs,” said Christy Mehaffey, executive director of Children First Foundation, which helped write the bill