Illinois | Changes passed in 2019 to the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act and made law this year have left church leaders confused over who is required to complete mandated reported training. Prior to the changes, within churches, only pastors were mandated reporters required to complete online training provided by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).
Now Andrew Willis, an attorney for the Chicago-based church law firm Mauck & Baker, is advising churches to consider all church childcare workers—professional or volunteer— mandated reporters who are required to complete the online training.
In an article addressing the confusion, Willis noted the law doesn’t make a distinction between paid or volunteer workers and specifically uses the term “professional or official capacities,” which would include unpaid roles. “It is therefore advisable for churches to consider all volunteers in roles that require interaction with youth under the age of 18 to be informed that they are mandated reporters and have them undergo certified training,” Willis wrote.
According to the law, a mandated reporter is required to report when they have “reasonable cause to believe that a child known to them in their professional or official capacities may be an abused child or a neglected child.” A child is defined by the state as anyone under the age 18.
DCFS provides free online training to mandated reporters at www.mr.dcfstraining.org. The training takes 60-90 minutes to complete.
Anyone can report abuse by calling the DCFS hotline at (800)-25-ABUSE (800-252-2873). DCFS is required to protect the caller’s anonymity. However, if the case goes to court the name may become public.