As we age and grow more vulnerable to physical, emotional and financial abuse, it’s important that we take advantage of laws governing elder abuse, and the early warning systems we have in place to identify such abuse.
The mandated reporter concept is a critical part of that warning system. Mandated reporters are people required by law to contact authorities if they suspect abuse is occurring.
In Connecticut, these reports must be filed within 72 hours and submitted to the Department of Social Services (DSS). Under the state’s Protective Services for the Elderly program, DSS staff will research elder abuse claims for people 60 and older and provide them with help if needed. On average, there are roughly 7,000 such investigations conducted annually in Connecticut, according to DSS statistics.
A mandated reporter who does not report the abuse to DSS within the 72-hour deadline can face fines of up to $500. However, if the failure to report is intentional in nature, the mandated reporter can possibly be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which carries up to three months imprisonment, plus a fine of up to $500, or both, for the initial offense. Subsequent offenses can be classed as a Class A misdemeanor, with up to one year imprisonment, a fine of up to $2,000, or both.
Who Counts as a Mandated Reporter?
Connecticut state law has designated a number of different groups as mandated elder abuse reporters. The broad categories are as follows:
- Health care workers — this includes nurses, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, physical therapists etc.
- Long term care workers — this includes nursing aides, orderlies and administrators
- Behavioral health providers — this includes counselors, therapists and social workers
- Emergency personnel — all EMS workers, police officers and firefighters are required to report abuse
In addition to these specified mandated reporters, state law also requires any institution, organization, agency, or facility employing people who care for seniors ages 60 and older to offer mandatory training for the detection of potential elder abuse, and also inform employees that they carry an obligation to report any such incidents.
If elder abuse is identified, it also makes sense to contact an experienced elder abuse attorney. The right attorney can litigate all aspects of elder abuse, including helping victims seek protection from state laws or compensation from their abusers. An attorney can also be of assistance if a mandated reporter failed to report abuse in a timely manner in accordance with state law.