AB 1929 – Authorizes Counties Statewide To Implement Systems For Internet-Based Mandated Reporting Of Non-Emergency Suspicions Of Child Abuse And Neglect

CATEGORY: Client Update for Public Agencies, Fire Watch, Law Enforcement Briefing Room, Nonprofit News, Private Education Matters, Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Nonprofit, Private Education, Public Education, Public Employers, Public Safety
DATE: Oct 22, 2020

In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 478 which established a five-year pilot program authorizing up to 10 county welfare agencies to develop programs for internet-based reporting of child abuse and neglect. The systems could only be used by certain mandated reporters, such as peace officers and teachers, and only for certain non-emergency reports. The pilot program is scheduled to sunset as of January 1, 2021. This bill, AB 1929, expands the pilot project created by SB 478 statewide, removes the sunset date, and removes the pilot project’s limitations on which mandated reporters may use an internet-based reporting system, instead, allowing any mandated reporter to use it while continuing restrictions relating to emergency reporting.

Specifically, AB 1929 allows any county welfare agency to develop a program for internet-based reporting of child abuse and neglect, so long as the system does all of the following:

Restricts the reports of suspected child abuse or neglect to reports indicating that the child is not subject to an immediate risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation and that the child is not in imminent danger of severe harm or death;

Includes standardized safety assessment qualifying questions in order to obtain necessary information required to assess the need for child welfare services and response, and, if appropriate, redirect the mandated reporter to perform a telephone report;

Requires a mandated reporter to complete all required fields, including the identity and contact information of the mandated reporter, in order to submit the report; and

Has appropriate security protocols to preserve the confidentiality of the reports and any documents or photographs submitted through the system.

In a county where an internet-based system is active, a mandated reporter may use that system instead of the initial telephone report and the mandated reporter does not have to submit the written follow-up report. However, if they use the internet-based system, they are required to cooperate, as soon as possible, with the agency on any requests for additional information if needed to investigate the report.

AB 1929 also requires the California Department of Social Services to oversee internet-based reporting through the issuance of written directives and requires each county that implements an internet-based system to hire an evaluator to monitor the implementation of the program and submit evaluations to CDSS during the first two years of implementation

(AB 1929 amends section 11166.02 of the Penal Code and section 10612.5 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.)