What is Child Welfare?: A Guide for Educators from the Child Welfare Information Gateway highlights how educators and the Indiana Department of Child Services can and should work together. Obviously, a key role is to identify possible abuse and neglect and report it to the DCS hotline.
Everyone in Indiana must remember that by law “an individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect shall make a report…” to DCS or law enforcement. I.C. 31-33-5-1 and I.C. 31-33-5-4. There are specific additional requirements for school staff. If a person is “a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility, or agency, the individual shall immediately notify the individual in charge of the institution, school facility, or agency.” I.C. 31-33-5-2(a). The individual who is notified at the institution, school facility, or agency, must then make a report to the DCS hotline or law enforcement. I.C. 31-33-5-2(b). Failure to make a report to DCS or law enforcement can result in criminal charges as a Class B Misdemeanor (I.C. 31-33-22-1(a)), as happened in Smith v. Indiana.
The guide also notes that DCS should assist educators by ensuring that children are ready to learn, keeping children in their home schools when possible, and including educators in multidisciplinary teams. As noted in a previous post, the Commission on Improving the Status of Children Educational Outcomes Task Force will be examining the educational issues with court-involved children.