What it means to be a mandatory reporter
By Naomi Harris
Community Relations Manager
All Alaskans are responsible for the welfare of the children in our communities. In that respect all citizens are encouraged to contact the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) about suspected abuse and neglect of a child. Alaska state law, however, requires that individuals in certain professions make reports to OCS immediately if they have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect; failure to make a report is punishable by law. These people have a legal obligation to report and hence are considered “mandatory reporters.” All reporters are a crucial link to protecting Alaska’s most vulnerable citizens — infants, children, and youth.
- practitioners of the healing arts
- school teachers and school administrative staff members of public and private schools
- peace officers and officers of the Department of Corrections
- administrative officers of institutions
- child care providers
- paid employees of domestic violence and sexual assault programs
- paid employees of an organization that provides counseling or treatment to individuals seeking to control their use of drugs or alcohol
- members of child fatality and multidisciplinary child protection teams.
If you are aware of or have a reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect, even if you are not a mandated reporter, you are urged to report that information to the regional intake unit in your geographic area or directly to any OCS representative. You can help us to expedite assessing safety concerns by being prepared to provide specific and comprehensive family information and safety concerns. It is not your responsibility to determine whether your suspicions are correct, or to investigate those suspicions.
There may be times when you wonder whether something constitutes abuse or neglect, or if your suspicions warrant reporting. Please feel free to contact OCS to discuss those questions — anonymously if you prefer.
If you believe a child is in imminent danger and you cannot reach OCS, please contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.
Anchorage Region: 1-800-478-4444
Southcentral Region: 1-855-352-8934
Northern Region: 1-800-353-2650
Southeast Region: 1-888-622-1650
Western Region: 1-800-557-3141