19-3-304. Persons required to report child abuse or neglect.
(1) (a) Except as otherwise provided by section 19-3-307, section 25-1-122 (4)(d), C.R.S., and paragraph (b) of this subsection (1), any person specified in subsection (2) of this section who has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect or who has observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in abuse or neglect shall immediately upon receiving such information report or cause a report to be made of such fact to the county department, the local law enforcement agency, or through the child abuse reporting hotline system as set forth in section 26-5-111, C.R.S.
(b) The reporting requirement described in paragraph (a) of this subsection (1) shall not apply if the person who is otherwise required to report does not:
(I) Learn of the suspected abuse or neglect until after the alleged victim of the suspected abuse or neglect is eighteen years of age or older; and
(II) Have reasonable cause to know or suspect that the perpetrator of the suspected abuse or neglect:
(A) Has subjected any other child currently under eighteen years of age to abuse or neglect or to circumstances or conditions that would likely result in abuse or neglect; or
(B) Is currently in a position of trust, as defined in section 18-3-401 (3.5), C.R.S., with regard to any child currently under eighteen years of age.
(2) Persons required to report such abuse or neglect or circumstances or conditions include any:
(a) Physician or surgeon, including a physician in training;
(b) Child health associate;
(c) Medical examiner or coroner;
(i) Registered nurse or licensed practical nurse;
(j) Hospital personnel engaged in the admission, care, or treatment of patients;
(k) Christian science practitioner;
(l) Public or private school official or employee;
(m) Social worker or worker in any facility or agency that is licensed or certified pursuant to part 1 of article 6 of title 26, C.R.S.;
(n) Mental health professional;
(o) Dental hygienist;
(q) Physical therapist;
(s) Peace officer as described in section 16-2.5-101, C.R.S.;
(u) Commercial film and photographic print processor as provided in subsection (2.5) of this section;
(v) Firefighter as defined in section 18-3-201 (1.5), C.R.S.;
(w) Victims advocate, as defined in section 13-90-107 (1)(k)(II), C.R.S.;
(x) Licensed professional counselors;
(y) Licensed marriage and family therapists;
(z) Unlicensed psychotherapists;
(aa) (I) Clergy member.
(II) The provisions of this paragraph (aa) shall not apply to a person who acquires reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect during a communication about which the person may not be examined as a witness pursuant to section 13-90-107 (1)(c), C.R.S., unless the person also acquires such reasonable cause from a source other than such a communication.
(III) For purposes of this paragraph (aa), unless the context otherwise requires, clergy member means a priest, rabbi, duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church, member of a religious order, or recognized leader of any religious body.
(bb) Registered dietitian who holds a certificate through the commission on dietetic registration and who is otherwise prohibited by 7 CFR 246.26 from making a report absent a state law requiring the release of this information;
(cc) Worker in the state department of human services;
(dd) Juvenile parole and probation officers;
(ee) Child and family investigators, as described in section 14-10-116.5, C.R.S.;
(ff) Officers and agents of the state bureau of animal protection, and animal control officers;
(gg) The child protection ombudsman as created in article 3.3 of this title;
(hh) Educator providing services through a federal special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children, as provided for in 42 U.S.C. sec. 1786;
(ii) Director, coach, assistant coach, or athletic program personnel employed by a private sports organization or program. For purposes of this paragraph (ii), employed means that an individual is compensated beyond reimbursement for his or her expenses related to the private sports organization or program.
(jj) Person who is registered as a psychologist candidate pursuant to section 12-245-304 (3), marriage and family therapist candidate pursuant to section 12-245-504 (4), or licensed professional counselor candidate pursuant to section 12-245-604 (4), or who is described in section 12-245-217;
(kk) Emergency medical service providers, as defined in sections 25-3.5-103 (8) and 25-3.5-103 (12) and certified or licensed pursuant to part 2 of article 3.5 of title 25;
(ll) Officials or employees of county departments of health, human services, or social services; and
(mm) Naturopathic doctor registered under article 250 of title 12.
(2.5) Any commercial film and photographic print processor who has knowledge of or observes, within the scope of his or her professional capacity or employment, any film, photograph, video tape, negative, or slide depicting a child engaged in an act of sexual conduct shall report such fact to a local law enforcement agency immediately or as soon as practically possible by telephone and shall prepare and send a written report of it with a copy of the film, photograph, video tape, negative, or slide attached within thirty-six hours of receiving the information concerning the incident.
(3) In addition to those persons specifically required by this section to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect and circumstances or conditions which might reasonably result in abuse or neglect, any other person may report known or suspected child abuse or neglect and circumstances or conditions which might reasonably result in child abuse or neglect to the local law enforcement agency, the county department, or through the child abuse reporting hotline system as set forth in section 26-5-111, C.R.S.
(3.5) No person, including a person specified in subsection (1) of this section, shall knowingly make a false report of abuse or neglect to a county department, a local law enforcement agency, or through the child abuse reporting hotline system as set forth in section 26-5-111, C.R.S.
(4) Any person who willfully violates the provisions of subsection (1) of this section or who violates the provisions of subsection (3.5) of this section:
(a) [Editors note: This version of subsection (4)(a) is effective until March 1, 2022.] Commits a class 3 misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in section 18-1.3-501, C.R.S.;
(a) [Editors note: This version of subsection (4)(a) is effective March 1, 2022.] Commits a class 2 misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in section 18-1.3-501; and
(b) Shall be liable for damages proximately caused thereby.
(5) No person shall be prosecuted, tried, or punished for an offense that pertains to a report of unlawful sexual behavior as defined in section 16-22-102 (9) and under circumstances when a mandatory reporter has reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been subjected to unlawful sexual behavior as defined in section 16-22-102 (9) or observed the child being subjected to circumstances or conditions that would reasonably result in unlawful sexual behavior as defined in section 16-22-102 (9) unless the indictment, information, complaint, or action for the same is found or instituted within three years after the commission of the offense. The limitation for commencing criminal proceedings concerning acts of failure to report child abuse other than those involving acts described in this subsection (5) are governed by section 16-5-401.
Source: L. 87: Entire title R&RE, p. 764, 1, effective October 1. L. 90: (2)(m) amended, P. 1394, 2, effective May 24; (3.5) added and IP(4) amended, p. 1023, 1, effective July 1. L. 93: (1) amended, p. 1609, 1, effective June 6; (2) amended, p. 1735, 29, effective July 1. L. 95: (2)(w) added, p. 949, 5, effective July 1. L. 96: (2.5) amended, p. 83, 8, effective March 20; (2)(m) amended, p. 265, 16, effective July 1. L. 97: (2)(v) amended, p. 1013, 19, effective August 6. L. 2001: (2)(x), (2)(y), and (2)(z) added, p. 160, 1, effective July 1. L. 2002: (1) amended, p. 568, 2, effective May 24; (2)(aa) added, p. 1145, 1, effective June 3; (1) amended, p. 1592, 30, effective July 1; (4)(a) amended, p. 1527, 231, effective October 1. L. 2003: (2)(m) amended and (2)(cc) added, p. 660, 1, effective March 20; (2)(bb) added, p. 666, 1, effective March 20; (2)(s) amended, p. 1616, 18, effective August 6. L. 2005: (2)(dd), (2)(ee), and (2)(ff) added, p. 357, 1, effective April 22; (2)(ee) amended, p. 963, 9, effective July 1. L. 2010: (2)(gg) added,(SB 10-171), ch. 225, p. 982, 4, effective May 14; (1) amended,(SB 10-066), ch. 418, p. 2060, 1, effective June 10; (2)(h) amended,(HB 10-1224), ch. 420, p. 2161, 25, effective July 1. L. 2011: IP(2) and (2)(z) amended,(SB 11-187), ch. 285, p. 1328, 71, effective July 1; (2)(hh) added,(SB 11-034), ch. 125, p. 390, 1, effective January 1, 2012. L. 2013: (2)(hh) amended and (2)(ii) added,(SB 13-012), ch. 51, p. 173, 2, effective March 22; (1)(a), (3), and (3.5) amended,(HB 13-1271), ch. 219, p. 1021, 2, effective May 14; (2)(jj) added,(HB 13-1104), ch. 77, p. 249, 6, effective August 7; (2)(kk) added,(SB 13-220), ch. 220, p. 1023, 1, effective July 1, 2014. L. 2014: (2)(v) amended,(HB 14-1214), ch. 336, p. 1499, 11, effective August 6. L. 2016: (1)(a) amended,(SB 16-146), ch. 230, p. 918, 13, effective July 1. L. 2017: (2)(jj) and (2)(kk) amended and (2)(mm) added,(SB 17-106), ch. 302, p. 1650, 8, effective August 9; (2)(jj) and (2)(kk) amended and (2)(ll) added,(HB 17-1185), ch. 194, p. 710, 2, effective December 31. L. 2019: (5) added,(SB 19-049), ch. 56, p. 195, 1, effective March 28; (2)(kk) amended,(SB 19-242), ch. 396, p. 3528, 13, effective May 31; (2)(jj) and (2)(mm) amended,(HB 19-1172), ch. 136, p. 1682, 112, effective October 1. L. 2020: (2)(z) amended,(HB 20-1206), ch. 304, p. 1551, 65, effective July 14. L. 2021: (4)(a) amended,(SB 21-271), ch. 462, p. 3220, 389, effective March 1, 2022.
Editors note: (1) This section was contained in a title that was repealed and reenacted in 1987. Provisions of this section, as it existed in 1987, are similar to those contained in 19-10-104 as said section existed in 1986, the year prior to the repeal and reenactment of this title.
(2) Subsection (2)(cc) was originally numbered as (2)(bb) in House Bill 03-1037 but has been renumbered on revision for ease of location.
(3) Section 803(2) of chapter 462 (SB 21-271), Session Laws of Colorado 2021, provides that the act changing this section applies to offenses committed on or after March 1, 2022.
For the legislative declaration contained in the 2002 act amending subsection (4)(a), see section 1 of chapter 318, Session Laws of Colorado 2002. For the legislative declaration contained in the 2005 act amending subsection (2)(ee), see section 1 of chapter 244, Session Laws of Colorado 2005. For the legislative declaration in the 2013 act amending subsection (2)(hh) and adding subsection (2)(ii), see section 1 of chapter 51, Session Laws of Colorado 2013.
Law reviews. For article, Towards a More Practical Central Registry, see 51 Den. L.J. 509 (1974). For article, Representing the Mentally Retarded or Disabled Parent in a Colorado Dependent or Neglected Child Action, see 11 Colo. Law. 693 (1982). For comment, Warning Bell: The Inherent Difficulties of Responding to Student-on-Student Sexual Harassment in Colorado Middle Schools, see 76 U. Colo. L. Rev. 813 (2005).
Annotators note. The following annotations include cases decided under former provisions similar to this section.
A violation of state law duty, by itself, is insufficient to give rise to a claim under 42 U.S.C. 1983. Plaintiffs could not maintain a substantive due process claim based on defendants alleged violations of their duties under the Child Protection Act to report and investigate allegations of child abuse. Pierce v. Delta County Dept. of Soc. Servs., 119 F. Supp. 2d 1139 (D. Colo. 2000).
Defendants alleged failure to report and investigate child abuse allegations does not deprive plaintiffs of a protected liberty interest without due process of law. While plaintiffs may have had an expectation that some form of protective services would be taken if defendants complied with the statutory requirements, the expectation of action is not enough to create a protected liberty interest under the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution. Pierce v. Delta County Dept. of Soc. Servs., 119 F. Supp. 2d 1139 (D. Colo. 2000).
A mandatory reporters failure to report pursuant to this section is not a continuing offense, and the statute of limitations starts to run when a mandatory reporter has reason to know or suspect child abuse or neglect but fails to make an immediate report. Macintosh v. County Court of Arapahoe, 2020 COA 105, 477 P.3d 765; Gonzales v. County Court of Arapahoe, 2020 COA 104, 477 P.3d 752.
The mandatory reporting duty on public school teachers is not limited to the reporting of any known or suspected child abuse or neglect learned of during the course of their professional capacity. Rather, the reporting duty applies irrespective of the circumstances in which the teacher learned of the child abuse or neglect. Heotis v. Colo. State Bd. of Educ., 2019 COA 35, 457 P.3d 691.
Public school teacher who knew her daughter was being abused at home by father and failed to report the abuse thus violated her statutory duty to report. Heotis v. Colo. State Bd. of Educ., 2019 COA 35, 457 P.3d 691.
Protective orders prohibiting district attorney and law enforcement officials from questioning parents regarding alleged sexual abuse of children and prohibiting use in any criminal or civil proceeding of any statement made by parents to therapist during the course of court-ordered treatment plans could be implemented without violating reporting requirement of this section where in each case suspected sexual abusive conduct had been reported and the children adjudicated dependent or neglected. People v. Dist. Court, 731 P.2d 652 (Colo. 1987).
This section was irreconcilable with 12-63.5-115 (now repealed and replaced by 12-43-218) which made it a criminal act for a social worker to reveal a privileged communication from a client, and, since 12-63.5-115 was enacted later in time, it prevailed. Human Servs., Inc. v. Woodard, 765 P.2d 1052 (Colo. App. 1988).
Any person as used in subsection (4) is defined to mean people in specific occupations or employed by specific entities, but does not include public entities. The Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (CGIA) therefore controls on issues of public entity immunity. L.J. v. Carricato, 2018 COA 3, 413 P.3d 1280.
Civil liability under this section is rooted in traditional tort principles, therefore claim against public entity is barred by the CGIA. L.J. v. Carricato, 2018 COA 3, 413 P.3d 1280.
Under the CGIA, a public employee who is a mandatory reporter is immune from liability under subsection (4) for reporting or failing to report child abuse unless the employees conduct is willful and wanton. L.J. v. Carricato, 2018 COA 3, 413 P.3d 1280.
Statements are not rendered testimonial solely because they are made to persons who are subject to mandatory reporting requirements. People v. Phillips, 2012 COA 176, 315 P.3d 136.
Similarly, childs statements to public school employees and to caseworker are not testimonial simply because of their statutory duty to report. The employees and caseworker were not law enforcement officials; law enforcement officials had not asked them to question child about his injuries; and they did not otherwise work with law enforcement officials to obtain childs injury-related statements for later use in prosecuting defendant. People v. Phillips, 2012 COA 176, 315 P.3d 136.
Criminal prosecutions for violations of this section do not constitute proceedings brought under this article within the meaning of 19-3-206. Therefore, 19-3-206 does not divest district attorneys of their authority to prosecute violations of this section. Berges v. County Court of Douglas County, 2016 COA 146, 409 P.3d 592.
Trial courts admission of child abuse reports by psychologist based upon privileged communications between psychologist and defendant did not constitute error because allowing privilege to prevent use of child abuse reports would defeat one of purposes of reports to aid in the investigation and prosecution of child abusers. People v. Bowman, 812 P.2d 725 (Colo. App. 1991).
In order to harmonize potential statutory conflict between this section and 13-90-107 concerning privileged communications prior to 1989 amendment to 19-3-311, this section required psychologists to report suspected child abuse to the appropriate authorities while 13-90-107 (1)(g) prohibited psychologists from testifying against their clients without consent. People v. Bowman, 812 P.2d 725 (Colo. App. 1991).
Information about defendants background and demeanor during visit to mental health facility fell within scope of child abuse reporting statute. The information reported verbally by counselor in phone call to police and in subsequent written form was relevant to counselors ability to determine whether defendants visions had any basis in reality and as such constituted a legitimate report of suspected child abuse and was therefore exempt from confidentiality requirements under federal statute for substance abuse treatment records. People v. Jimenez, 217 P.3d 841 (Colo. App. 2008).