New Online 51A Training
May 4th, 2016

District Attorney Ryan and Attorney General Healey Launch Mandated Reporter Training

Online program will educate mandated reporters to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect

BOSTON– Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan and Attorney General Maura Healey today announced the launch of an updated online training designed to fulfill the state’s training requirement for professionally licensed mandated reporters to recognize and report suspected child abuse, neglect, and exploitation. The online training, created in collaboration with the Middlesex Children’s Advocacy Center, is the only comprehensive free online training available to the public in the Commonwealth.

“This training is an educational tool for mandated reporters, not just in Middlesex County, but across the Commonwealth, that will provide information that will keep our children healthy, safe, and secure,” said District Attorney Ryan. “By the very nature of their work, mandated reporters are often the first people to see signs of child abuse and neglect. This training makes it much easier to access a comprehensive explanation of the duties and description of how they can fulfill their legally-required responsibilities.”

The Massachusetts Legislature has designated teachers, social workers, doctors, nurses, child care providers, police officers, foster parents, and others as mandated reporters. The training has been updated to include information about the Department of Children and Families’ new protective intake and supervisor policies, parental discipline, educational neglect, and medical neglect. It also includes additional case studies and pop quiz questions for repeat users.

“Mandated reporters are essential to protecting vulnerable children across our state,” said Attorney General Healey. “Our office is proud to support Middlesex District Attorney Ryan and the Middlesex Children’s Advocacy Center in developing this new online training to provide those who care for children with the tools and education they need to recognize and report abuse and neglect.”

The updated training program, funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Children’s Alliance, will allow users to take the training on their phone, tablet, or laptop, and receive a certification upon completion.  For the first time the training is also available through Google Translation in 22 languages making it accessible to even more mandated reporters across the state.  

Although anyone who suspects a child is being maltreated can and should file a 51A Report with DCF, mandated reporters are required by law to do so. In fiscal year 2014, over 89,000 reports of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation were filed with DCF.

“It is absolutely necessary that mandated reporters are fully informed about the important role they play in helping the Department of Children and Families keep kids safe. We need eyes and ears in the community and people who will recognize and report the signs of abuse, neglect or exploitation, “ said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services. “This important training tool will help us protect children and ensure that each child has a safe, nurturing, permanent home.” 

State Representative Paul Brodeur of Melrose agreed that the website provides a much needed service. “From my years in the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, I witnessed how clear and comprehensive training leads to alert and functional systems for detecting abuse. This new website reflects not only the most up to date methods of abuse detection, but makes the entire process more clear, easy, and accessible,” Brodeur said.

All 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 free program, which takes about 45 minutes to complete, is available at http://51a.middlesexcac.org/.

The Middlesex Child Advocacy Center, incorporated in 1995, works in collaboration with the Child Protection Unit of the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office. The MCAC is dedicated to minimizing secondary trauma to child victims by streamlining the handling of cases of child sexual abuse, serious physical abuse, and child exploitation. Composed of a multi-disciplinary team, the approach taken by the MCAC reduces the number of investigative interviews and court appearances for the victim, allows for services to be more quickly and effectively coordinated for the victim, and ensures that the team has the appropriate information to reach results in the best interest of each child. Recognizing that these cases warrant special attention and expertise beyond that which any one professional can provide, the MCAC brings together a group of professionals from specific, distinct disciplines to collaborate, broaden the knowledge base from which decisions are made, and improve communication between the agencies necessarily involved in such cases.