Considering Yourself a Mandated Supporter
By Molly Peterson
May 2023, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona held its first “Considering Yourself a Mandated Supporter” Training of Trainers (TOT). The training, which was created in collaboration the ACEs Consortium and Onward Hope and funded by DCS, is designed to guide educators to connect families to resources in order to prevent child adversity. The 20 TOT participants are now scheduling trainings with schools across the state.
Prevent Child Abuse Arizona Executive Director Claire Louge came up with the Mandated Supporter concept in Spring 2020 and shared the idea in a blog post.
Since then, there has been increasing national traction around the reframe, prioritizing helping families in need. An article in Family Integrity & Justice Quarterly, “Rethinking the Community Response to Child Neglect in the 21st Century: From Mandatory Reporting to Mandatory Supporting of Families,” encourages a reimagination of our nation’s mandated reporter policies so that we can more effectively meet child and family needs, and suggests opportunities for reform. This year, many federal grant applications also embraced this verbiage to prioritize the importance of preventing child abuse by supporting families.
The training is intended to give mandatory reporters, including educators, medical professionals, and social workers, the tools to help the children and families they work with. Mandatory Supporter training emphasizes our shared role of promoting child well-being in Arizona and explains misconceptions around reports to DCS.
Michelli Castaneda, Prevent Child Abuse Arizona Training Specialist, designed the Mandatory Supporter Training of Trainers. “As a former educator, I was really shocked by the statistic that 44% of calls to the DCS hotline go unaddressed because they fall outside of the Department of Child Safety purview,” Michelli said. “Getting this training in front of educators is so critical because I deeply believe they deserve to have a clear picture of what DCS is responsible for. They deserve to know that there isn’t yet a connected system ready to take that 44% of calls that shouldn’t go to DCS. They deserve to know they have permission to offer support to families in whatever way they can – and that the support offered doesn’t need to be revolutionary. Small but significant changes make a real difference. And if I know one thing about educators, it’s that every one of them initially chose that path to be a difference-maker.”
By getting clear on DCS’s role in investigations and other opportunities to help families experiencing overload, we can strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.