MIDDLESEX DA: Updated Online Training Now Available for Mandated Reporters

Below is a press release from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office:

BOSTON, MA — Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Attorney General Maura Healey have announced that an updated online training is now available for mandated reporters. The enhanced online mandated reporter training (OMRT) has expanded content, new features, and improved user engagement.

Recognizing the complexity involved in identifying when to file a 51A Report, the expanded content provides users with guidance about how to evaluate whether a child is being maltreated and make decisions about when to file a report. Users will learn what qualifies as child maltreatment as well as what are and are not considered indicators of child maltreatment. The OMRT also contains important information and case studies that incorporate the influence of implicit racial bias and other forms of bias. The expanded content underscores the importance of mandated reporters being aware of and working to address their own biases when evaluating whether a report should be filed.

“Many of the cases that our office prosecutes each year were referred to us because a medical provider, teacher or counselor observed what they believe to be indicators of child maltreatment and took the necessary steps to report it,” said District Attorney Ryan. “This enhanced training was designed to help mandated reporters improve their ability to navigate the complexities involved in identifying child maltreatment and filing a 51A Report.”

“Understanding the signs of child abuse and neglect and knowing how to respond is vital in the work to protect children across Massachusetts,” said AG Healey. “We are proud to partner with District Attorney Ryan and the Middlesex Children’s Advocacy Center to expand this training for mandated reporters, reduce inequities in reporting, and keep children safe.”

The enhanced OMRT includes video/audio clips and new learning exercises in the form of case scenarios and pop quizzes to improve user engagement. It also includes features such as links to additional online resources, downloadable PDFs, pre/post-training assessments, and an opportunity to provide feedback about the user’s experience. Users are required to: (1) take a pre-training assessment to measure their current awareness of the 51A Law; (2) complete all 5 lessons, which include case studies and pop quizzes; and (3) take a post-training assessment to measure what they learned from the training. Users must earn a score of 80% or higher on the post-training assessment to obtain a certificate of completion.

The lesson topics are: (1) Introduction to Mandated Reporting; (2) Legal Obligations of a Mandated Reporter; (3) Recognizing Child Maltreatment; (4) How to Respond to a Child Who Discloses; and (5) Understanding What Happens After a 51A Report is Filed.

The enhanced OMRT was developed by the Middlesex Children’s Advocacy Center in collaboration with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and the Children’s Justice Unit of the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General. It was funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance.

The training is the only comprehensive, free online training available on this topic available to the public in the Commonwealth. It takes approximately 60-75 minutes to complete. The training is available at http://51a.middlesexcac.org. Mandated reporters who are professionally licensed by the Commonwealth are required by law to receive training, like this one, on recognizing and reporting suspected child maltreatment.

The Middlesex Child Advocacy Center (CAC) works in collaboration with the Child Protection Unit of the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office. The handling of child abuse and exploitation cases warrants special attention and expertise beyond that which any one professional can provide. Therefore, the Middlesex CAC brings together professionals from specific, distinct disciplines to collaborate, broaden the knowledge base from which decisions are made, improve communication between the agencies necessarily involved in such cases, and make decisions in the best interest of each child victim.

The Children’s Justice Unit (CJU) of the Attorney General’s Office works to enhance protections and promote positive and equitable outcomes for vulnerable children and youth in Massachusetts. CJU uses legal, policy, and other tools available to the Attorney General’s Office and often works in collaboration with state and local officials to achieve these goals.

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