Child Abuse Reporting Laws for Washington

State and Statute: Washington, Code §§ 26.44.010 et seq.

What Is Reportable “Abuse”: Injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment, or maltreatmentor neglect. [26.44.020]

Mandatory Reporters: Includes any professional school personnel, licensed or certified child care providers or their employees.

“When any person, in his or her official supervisory capacity with a nonprofit or for-profit organization, has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect caused by a person over whom he or she regularly exercises supervisory authority, he or she shall report such incident, or cause a report to be made, to the proper law enforcement agency, provided that the person alleged to have caused the abuse or neglect is employed by, contracted by, or volunteers with the organization and coaches, trains, educates, or counsels a child or children or regularly has unsupervised access to a child or children as part of the employment, contract, or voluntary service.

Official supervisory capacity” means “a position, status, or role created, recognized, or designated by any nonprofit or for-profit organization, either for financial gain or without financial gain, whose scope includes, but is not limited to, overseeing, directing, or managing another person who is employed by, contracted by, or volunteers with the nonprofit or for-profit organization.

“Regularly exercises supervisory authority” means “to act in his or her official supervisory capacity on an ongoing or continuing basis with regards to a particular person.” [26.44.030(b)(i)(v)]

How and Where to Report: Oral report must be made by telephone or otherwise to the proper law enforcement agency or the department, followed by written report (if requested). [26.44.040]

Timeline to Report: “(A)t the first opportunity, but in no case longer than 48 hours after there is reasonable cause to believe that the child has suffered abuse or neglect.” [26.44.030(g)]

Clergy Privilege: “No one shall be required to report under this section when he or she obtains the information solely as a result of a privileged communication as provided [including the clergy-penitent privilege].” [26.44.030(1)(b) and 5.60.060(3)]

“Conduct conforming with the reporting requirements of this chapter shall not be deemed a violation of the confidential communication privilege of [clergy or physicians].” [26.44.060(3)]

Penalty for Knowingly Failing to Report: Gross misdemeanor. [26.44.080]

Civil Liability for Failure to Report Recognized? No statute recognizes civil liability. Consult with legal counsel to ensure no recent court decisions in Washington have recognized civil liability.

Immunity for Inaccurate Report: “(A)ny person participating in good faith in the making of a report … shall in so doing be immune from any liability arising out of such reporting …” [26.44.060(1)(a)]

“A person who, intentionally and in bad faith, knowingly makes a false report of alleged abuse or neglect shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” [26.44.060(4)]

Disclosure of Mandatory Reporter’s Identity: Reporter’s identity may be deleted from confidential records to which juvenile has access. [13.50.100(7)(c)] Department shall assure appropriate confidentiality to reporters. [26.44.030(11)]

Additional Information for Washington:

All information provided here was most recently verified in March of 2023.

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