How to Report Child Abuse and Neglect

Who must report child abuse and neglect?

State law provides that certain people are mandated to report when they learn information in their professional capacity that leads them to believe that a child is harmed or at significant risk of being harmed (abused or neglected) by their parent, guardian or other caregiver as defined by statute. All other persons may report when they believe a child is harmed or at significant risk of being harmed.

South Carolina identifies certain professionals as mandated reporters. Mandated reporters must report when, in their professional capacity, they have reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected.

If the mandated reporter has reason to believe that a child is being abused or neglected by a parent, guardian or person responsible for a child’s welfare, reports must be made to the Department of Social Services (DSS) office or law enforcement agency in the county in which the child resides.

If the mandated reporter has reason to believe that a child is being abused or neglected by someone other than a parent, guardian or person responsible for a child’s welfare, reports must be made to a law enforcement agency in the county in which the child resides.

As with all reports of abuse or neglect, the identity of the reporter will remain confidential. A reporter acting in good faith (with reason to believe there is child endangerment) is immune from civil and criminal liability.

Who is defined as a mandated reporter?

By South Carolina Law [63-7-310] the following professionals are required to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect:

  • Physicians, nurses, dentists, optometrists
  • Medical examiners, coroners and their employees
  • Any other medical, emergency medical services, mental health or allied professionals
  • Clergy, Christian Science practitioners, religious healers (Note: The exception to reporting when information is received from the alleged perpetrator of the abuse or neglect during a communication that is protected by the clergy and penitent privilege as provided in Section 19-11-90.)
  • School teachers, counselors, principals, assistant principals
  • Social or public assistance workers
  • Substance abuse treatment staff
  • Child care workers in day care centers and foster care facilities
  • Judges
  • Police or law enforcement officers including school truancy officers
  • Non-attorney volunteer guardians ad litem
  • Foster parents
  • Undertakers, funeral home directors and employees
  • Persons responsible for photo or film processing
  • Juvenile justice workers
  • Computer technicians

For more information on mandated reporting or training please contact University of South Carolina Children’s Law Center at 803-777-1646.

Making a report

Those who make a report in good faith are protected from civil and criminal liability under South Carolina law. “In good faith” means that the reporter has a genuine reason to believe that a child may have been abused or neglected. Proof is not required.

Your suspicion of child abuse or neglect is enough to make a report. You are not required to provide proof. South Carolina law protects people who make good faith reports of child abuse.

How can I make a report?

The person who believes that a child has been or is being harmed or is at significant risk of being harmed should call the county DSS office where the child resides. Trained staff will assist the person to make a report and assess the information to determine if it meets screening criteria for investigation. Reports also can be made to local law enforcement offices who will communicate with DSS to coordinate an investigation.

Berkeley County DSS, 2 Belt Drive, Moncks Corner, SC 29461

Telephone:

(843) 761-8044  Main

(843) 953-9700  Child Support Enforcement

(800) 922-1518  Adoptions
(843) 740-1570  Specialized Foster Home Services
(843) 740-1570  Intensive Foster Care & Clinical Services

After Hours Reporting:

(843) 761-8044  Hotline

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Charleston County DSS, 3366 Rivers Ave., N. Charleston, SC 29405

Telephone:

(843) 953-9400  Main
(843) 953-9678  Director
(843) 953-9422  Child Protective Services
(800) 588-1543  Foster Home Licensing
(843) 953-9422  Adult Protective Services
(800) 922-1518  Adoptions
(843) 740-1570  Specialized Foster Home Services
(843) 740-1570  Intensive Foster Care & Clinical Services

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Dorchester County DSS,  216 Orangeburg Rd., Summerville, SC 29483

Dorchester County DSS, 201 Johnston St., St. George, SC 29477

Telephone:

(843) 821-0444  Main
(843) 821-0444, ext. 3017  Foster Home Licensing
(843) 563-9524  St. George Branch Office
(803) 515-1852  Adoptions
(843) 740-1570  Specialized Foster Home Services
(843) 740-1570  Intensive Foster Care & Clinical Services

After Hours Reporting:

(843) 873-5111  Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services

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What is the Safe Haven for Abandoned Infants Act (Daniel’s Law)?

What It Means to Leave a Baby With a Safe Haven

Under the Act In accordance with the law, this Safe Haven (defined as hospital or hospital outpatient facility, law enforcement agency, fire station, emergency medical services station, and  a house of worship during hours staff is there) is required to inform you about the legalities involved in your choice to  place the infant in the care of a safe haven.

• You are voluntarily placing this infant in the temporary care of the safe haven.

• If you are the parent of the infant or are acting at the request of the parent and if the infant is thirty-days old or younger, you are granted immunity from prosecution for the act of leaving the infant if you leave him or her with personnel or staff at the safe haven during the hours that staff is there. If the infant was harmed before being turned over to the safe haven, there is no immunity for the person who harmed the infant.

• Although you are not required to disclose your identity, you will be asked to provide background information and medical information regarding the infant and his or her parent(s) to help with placement of the child and the child’s medical needs or treatment.

• The safe haven will keep confidential any identifying information provided by the person leaving the infant and will not disclose the information to anyone other than the South  Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) unless a court rules otherwise.

• The safe haven will notify DSS that it has temporary custody of the child. Upon this notification, DSS will have legal custody of the child.

• Within 48 hours after DSS has been notified, DSS will file a petition with the family court about the infant’s abandonment. DSS will publish notice in the newspaper about the abandonment of the infant and about a court hearing.

• A hearing about the infant will take place no earlier than 30 and no later than 60 days of the filing of the petition. At the hearing, DSS will tell the court that parents’ rights should be terminated and the infant should be adopted. If a parent wants to claim rights to the child or if a family member wishes to ask for custody of the child, they must attend this hearing to assert their claim