Focus on New Laws: Youth Recreation Program Employees as Mandatory Reporters

September 20, 2021

A new law that goes into effect on June 1, 2022, requires employees and supervisors of youth recreation programs to report child abuse to the appropriate authorities.

A new law expanding mandatory reporters is found in article 10 of First Special Session Chapter 7, the omnibus health and human services bill. Section 1 addresses the duty to report, section 2 addresses training, and section 3 creates a legislative task force.

Duty to report

Section 1 of the new law applies to employees and supervisors of both private and public youth recreations programs. It does not apply to volunteers or independent contractors. Employees and supervisors have a duty to report in the following two circumstances:

  1. If a child discloses that they have been abused within the past three years.
  2. If the employee knows, or has reason to believe, that another employee or a supervisor is abusing a child or has abused a child in the past three years.

Mandatory reporters must report abuse to the local welfare agency, an agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report, a police department, a county sheriff, a tribal social services agency, or a tribal police department. The first report must be an immediate oral report via telephone, followed by a written report within 72 hours (not counting weekends and holidays).

Retaliation is explicitly prohibited by the statute. Anyone retaliating against a mandatory reporter who reported in good faith, or against the child, will be liable for actual damages and a penalty of up to $10,000. Any adverse action that takes place within 90 days of reporting will be presumed to be retaliation. Adverse action includes termination, suspension, transfer, demotion, or restricting access to the program.

Reporters acting in good faith have immunity from civil and criminal liability. Failing to report abuse is a petty misdemeanor.

The effective date for section 1 is delayed to June 1, 2022.

Training for reporters

Section 2 of the legislation requires that local welfare agencies must offer training to those required to report. The training needs to include the legal obligations of the reporters, the consequences of failing to report, and instructions on how to detect and report abuse.

The training can be provided in person or online. Local welfare agencies can direct mandatory reporters to training offered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The requirement that training is offered to mandatory reporters became effective August 1, 2021.

The League of Minnesota Cities and the Minnesota Recreation and Park Association have been discussing the new training requirements. The League is committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure that cities have access to appropriate and up-to-date resources. Please keep an eye out for more information regarding opportunities for mandatory reporter trainings.

Reconstituted legislative task torce

Section 3 of the new law creates a legislative task force that has a number of responsibilities. One of the responsibilities is to evaluate mandatory reporter statutes, including this one for private and public youth recreation programs.

The legislative task force is charged with introducing legislation, if necessary, by Feb. 15, 2022, to implement appropriate modifications.

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