Neither the physician-patient nor the husband-wife privilege is a ground for excluding evidence regarding a child's harm, or its cause, in a judicial proceeding related to a report made under this chapter.
Repealed or Renumbered
A person who fails to comply with the provisions of AS 47.17.020 or 47.17.023 and who knew or should have known that the circumstances gave rise to the need for a report, is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
A person who, in the course of processing or producing visual or printed matter, either privately or commercially, has reasonable cause to suspect that the matter visually depicts a child engaged in conduct described in AS 11.41.455 (a) shall immediately report this to the nearest law enforcement agency, and provide the law enforcement agency with all information known about the nature and origin of the matter.
(a) A court may enjoin or limit a person from contact with a child if the attorney general establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the person
(1) has sexually abused a child;
(2) has physically abused a child; or
(3) has engaged in conduct that constitutes a clear and present danger to the mental, emotional, or physical welfare of a child.
(b) This section does not limit the authority of the attorney general or the court to act to protect a child.
(a) In investigating child abuse and neglect reports under this chapter, the department may make necessary inquiries about the criminal records of the parents or of the alleged abusive or neglectful person, including inquiries about the existence of a criminal history record involving a serious offense as defined in AS 12.62.900 .
(b) For purposes of obtaining access to information needed to conduct the inquiries required by (a) of this section, the department is a criminal justice agency conducting a criminal justice activity.
(a) The department or a practitioner of the healing arts may, without the permission of the parents, guardian, or custodian, take the following actions with regard to a child who the department or practitioner has reasonable cause to suspect has suffered physical harm as a result of child abuse or neglect:
(1) take or have taken photographs of the areas of trauma visible on the child; and
(2) if medically indicated, have a medical or radiological examination of the child performed by a person who is licensed to administer the examination.
(b) The department or a practitioner of the healing arts shall notify the parents, guardian, or custodian of a child as soon as possible after taking action under (a) of this section with regard to the child.
(a) Except as provided in (b) of this section, a person who, in good faith, makes a report under this chapter, permits an interview under AS 47.17.027, or participates in judicial proceedings related to the submission of reports under this chapter, is immune from civil or criminal liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed for making the report or permitting the interview, except that a person who knowingly makes an untimely report is not immune from civil or criminal liability based on the delay in making the report.
(b) Notwithstanding (a) of this section, a person accused of committing the child abuse or neglect is not immune from civil or criminal liability for the child abuse or neglect as a result of reporting the child abuse or neglect.
(a) The department shall maintain a central registry of all investigation reports but not of the reports of harm.
(b) Investigation reports and reports of harm filed under this chapter are considered confidential and are not subject to public inspection and copying under AS 40.25.110 and 40.25.120. However, in accordance with department regulations, investigation reports may be used by appropriate governmental agencies with child-protection functions, inside and outside the state, in connection with investigations or judicial proceedings involving child abuse, neglect, or custody. A person, not acting in accordance with department regulations, who with criminal negligence makes public information contained in confidential reports is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
(a) A law enforcement agency shall immediately notify the department of the receipt of a report of harm to a child from abuse. Upon receipt from any source of a report of harm to a child from abuse, the department shall notify the Department of Law and investigate the report and, within 72 hours of the receipt of the report, shall provide a written report of its investigation of the harm to a child from abuse to the Department of Law for review.
(b) The report of harm to a child from abuse required from the department by this section must include:
(1) the names and addresses of the child and the child's parent or other persons responsible for the child's care, if known;
(2) the age and sex of the child;
(3) the nature and extent of the harm to the child from abuse;
(4) the name and age and address of the person known or believed to be responsible for the harm to the child from abuse, if known;
(5) information that the department believes may be helpful in establishing the identity of the person believed to have caused the harm to the child from abuse.
In order to protect children whose health and well-being may be adversely affected through the infliction, by other than accidental means, of harm through physical injury or neglect, mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment, the legislature requires the reporting of these cases by practitioners of the healing arts and others to the department. It is not the intent of the legislature that persons required to report suspected child abuse or neglect under this chapter investigate the suspected child abuse or neglect before they make the required report to the department. Reports must be made when there is a reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect in order to make state investigative and social services available in a wider range of cases at an earlier point in time, to make sure that investigations regarding child abuse and neglect are conducted by trained investigators, and to avoid subjecting a child to multiple interviews about the abuse or neglect. It is the intent of the legislature that, as a result of these reports, protective services will be made available in an effort to
(1) prevent further harm to the child;
(2) safeguard and enhance the general well-being of children in this state; and
(3) preserve family life unless that effort is likely to result in physical or emotional damage to the child.
(a) If the department or a law enforcement agency provides written certification to the child's school officials that (1) there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child has been abused or neglected by a person responsible for the child's welfare or as a result of conditions created by a person responsible for the child's welfare; (2) an interview at school is a necessary part of an investigation to determine whether the child has been abused or neglected; and (3) the interview at school is in the best interests of the child, school officials shall permit the child to be interviewed at school by the department or a law enforcement agency before notification of, or receiving permission from, the child's parent, guardian, or custodian. A school official shall be present during an interview at the school unless the child objects or the department or law enforcement agency determines that the presence of the school official will interfere with the investigation. Immediately after conducting an interview authorized under this section, and after informing the child of the intention to notify the child's parent, guardian, or custodian, the department or agency shall make every reasonable effort to notify the child's parent, guardian, or custodian that the interview occurred unless it appears to the department or agency that notifying the child's parent, guardian, or custodian would endanger the child.
(b) A school official who, with criminal negligence, discloses information learned during an interview conducted under (a) of this section is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.
(a) A person employed by the state or by a school district who is required under this chapter to report abuse or neglect of children shall receive training on the recognition and reporting of child abuse and neglect.
(b) Each department of the state and school district that employs persons required to report abuse or neglect of children shall provide
(1) initial training required by this section to each new employee during the employee's first six months of employment, and to any existing employee who has not received equivalent training; and
(2) at least once every five years, appropriate in-service training required by this section as determined by the department or school district.
(c) Each department and school district that must comply with (b) of this section shall develop a training curriculum that acquaints its employees with
(1) laws relating to child abuse and neglect;
(2) techniques for recognition and detection of child abuse and neglect;
(3) agencies and organizations within the state that offer aid or shelter to victims and the families of victims of child abuse or neglect;
(4) procedures for required notification of suspected abuse or neglect;
(5) the role of a person required to report child abuse or neglect and the employing agency after the report has been made; and
(6) a brief description of the manner in which cases of child abuse or neglect are investigated by the department and law enforcement agencies after a report of suspected abuse or neglect.
(d) Each department and school district that must comply with (b) of this section shall file a current copy of its training curriculum and materials with the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. A department or school district may seek the technical assistance of the council or the Department of Health and Social Services in the development of its training program.
(a) If a child, concerning whom a report of harm is made, is believed to reside within the boundaries of a local government exercising health functions for the area in which the child is believed to reside, the department may, upon receipt of the report, refer the matter to the appropriate health or social services agency of that local government. For cases not referred to an agency of a local government, the department shall, for each report received, investigate and take action, in accordance with law, that may be necessary to prevent further harm to the child or to ensure the proper care and protection of the child.
(b) A local government health or social services agency receiving a report of harm shall, for each report received, investigate and take action, in accordance with law, that may be necessary to prevent further harm to the child or to ensure the proper care and protection of the child. In addition, the agency receiving a report of harm shall forward a copy of its report of the investigation, including information the department requires by regulation, to the department.
(c) Action shall be taken regardless of whether the identity of the person making the report of harm is known.
(d) Before the department or a local government health or social services agency may seek the termination of parental rights under AS 47.10, it shall offer protective social services and pursue all other reasonable means of protecting the child.
(e) In all actions taken by the department or a health and social services agency of a local government under this chapter that result in a judicial proceeding, the child shall be represented by a guardian ad litem in that proceeding. Appointment of a guardian ad litem shall be made in accordance with AS 25.24.310 .
(f) If an investigation under this section shows reasonable cause to believe that a certified nurse aide has committed abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of property, the department shall report the matter to the Board of Nursing.
(a) In consultation with the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, the department shall develop written procedures for screening reports of harm for abuse and neglect of a child to assess whether there is domestic violence occurring within the family. The procedures must include the following factors:
(1) inquiry concerning the criminal records of the parents or of the alleged abusive or neglectful person or the alleged perpetrator if not the parent of the child; and
(2) inquiry concerning the existence of protective orders issued or filed under AS 18.66.100 - 18.66.180 involving either parent as a petitioner or respondent.
(b) If the department determines in an investigation of abuse or neglect of a child that
(1) the child is in danger because of domestic violence or that the child needs protection as a result of the presence of domestic violence in the family, the department shall take appropriate steps for the protection of the child; in this paragraph, 'appropriate steps' includes
(A) reasonable efforts to protect the child and prevent the removal of the child from the parent or guardian who is not a domestic violence offender;
(B) reasonable efforts to remove the alleged domestic violence offender from the child's residence if it is determined that the child or another family or household member is in danger of domestic violence; and
(C) services to help protect the child from being placed or having unsupervised visitation with the domestic violence offender until the department determines that the offender has met conditions considered necessary by the department to protect the safety of the domestic violence victim and household members;
(2) a person is the victim of domestic violence, the department shall provide the victim with a written notice of the rights of and services available to victims of domestic violence that is substantially similar to the notice provided to victims of domestic violence under AS 18.65.520.
(c) For purposes of obtaining access to information needed to conduct the inquiries required by (a) (1) and (2) of this section, the department is a criminal justice agency conducting a criminal justice activity.
(d) A person may not bring a civil action for damages for a failure to comply with the provisions of this section.
(e) In this section,
(1) 'criminal justice activity' has the meaning given in AS 12.62.900;
(2) 'criminal justice agency' has the meaning given in AS 12.62.900 ;
(3) 'domestic violence' has the meaning given in AS 18.66.990 .
In this chapter
(1) 'child' means a person under 18 years of age;
(2) 'child abuse or neglect' means the physical injury or neglect, mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment of a child under the age of 18 by a person under circumstances that indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened thereby; in this paragraph, 'mental injury' means an injury to the emotional well-being, or intellectual or psychological capacity of a child, as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment in the child's ability to function;
(3) 'child care provider' means an adult individual, including a foster parent or an employee of an organization, who provides care and supervision to a child for compensation or reimbursement;
(4) 'criminal negligence' has the meaning given in AS 11.81.900 ;
(5) 'department means the Department of Health and Social Services;
(6) 'immediately' means as soon as is reasonably possible, and no later than 24 hours;
(7) 'institution' means a private or public hospital or other facility providing medical diagnosis, treatment, or care;
(8) 'maltreatment' means an act or omission that results in circumstances in which there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be a child in need of aid, as described in AS 47.10.011 , except that, for purposes of this chapter, the act or omission need not have been committed by the child's parent, custodian, or guardian;
(9) 'mental injury' means a serious injury to the child as evidenced by an observable and substantial impairment in the child's ability to function in a developmentally appropriate manner and the existence of that impairment is supported by the opinion of a qualified expert witness;
(10) 'neglect' means the failure by a person responsible for the child's welfare to provide necessary food, care, clothing, shelter, or medical attention for a child;
(11) 'organization' means a group or entity that provides care and supervision for compensation to a child not related to the caregiver, and includes a child care facility, pre-elementary school, head start center, child foster home, residential child care facility, recreation program, children's camp, and children's club;
(12) 'person responsible for the child's welfare' means the child's parent, guardian, foster parent, a person responsible for the child's care at the time of the alleged child abuse or neglect, or a person responsible for the child's welfare in a public or private residential agency or institution;
(13) 'practitioner of the healing arts' includes chiropractors, mental health counselors, social workers, dental hygienists, dentists, health aides, nurses, nurse practitioners, certified nurse aides, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, optometrists, osteopaths, naturopaths, physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, physicians, physician's assistants, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychological associates, audiologists and speech-language pathologists licensed under AS 08.11, hearing aid dealers licensed under AS 08.55, marital and family therapists licensed under AS 08.63, religious healing practitioners, acupuncturists, and surgeons;
(14) 'reasonable cause to suspect' means cause, based on all the facts and circumstances known to the person, that would lead a reasonable person to believe that something might be the case;
(15) 'school district' means a city or borough school district or regional educational attendance area.
(16) 'sexual exploitation' includes
(A) allowing, permitting, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution prohibited by AS 11.66.100 - 11.66.150, by a person responsible for the child's welfare;
(B) allowing, permitting, encouraging, or engaging in activity prohibited by AS 11.41.455 (a), by a person responsible for the child's welfare.
(a) The following persons who, in the performance of their occupational duties, or with respect to (8) of this subsection, in the performance of their appointed duties, have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has suffered harm as a result of child abuse or neglect shall immediately report the harm to the nearest office of the department:
(1) practitioners of the healing arts;
(2) school teachers and school administrative staff members of public and private schools;
(3) peace officers and officers of the Department of Corrections;
(4) administrative officers of institutions;
(5) child care providers;
(6) paid employees of domestic violence and sexual assault programs, and crisis intervention and prevention programs as defined in AS 18.66.990;
(7) paid employees of an organization that provides counseling or treatment to individuals seeking to control their use of drugs or alcohol;
(8) members of a child fatality review team established under AS 12.65.015(e) or 12.65.120 or the multidisciplinary child protection team created under AS 47.14.300 .
(b) This section does not prohibit the named persons from reporting cases that have come to their attention in their nonoccupational capacities, nor does it prohibit any other person from reporting a child's harm that the person has reasonable cause to suspect is a result of child abuse or neglect. These reports shall be made to the nearest office of the department.
(c) If the person making a report of harm under this section cannot reasonably contact the nearest office of the department and immediate action is necessary for the well-being of the child, the person shall make the report to a peace officer. The peace officer shall immediately take action to protect the child and shall, at the earliest opportunity, notify the nearest office of the department.
(d) This section does not require a religious healing practitioner to report as neglect of a child the failure to provide medical attention to the child if the child is provided treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by an accredited practitioner of the church or denomination.
(e) The department shall immediately notify the nearest law enforcement agency if the department
(1) concludes that the harm was caused by a person who is not responsible for the child's welfare;
(2) is unable to determine
(A) who caused the harm to the child; or
(B) whether the person who is believed to have caused the harm has responsibility for the child's welfare; or
(3) concludes that the report involves
(A) possible criminal conduct under AS 11.41.410 - 11.41.458; or
(B) abuse or neglect that results in the need for medical treatment of the child.
(f) If a law enforcement agency determines that a child has been abused or neglected and that (1) the harm was caused by a teacher or other person employed by the school or school district in which the child is enrolled as a student, (2) the harm occurred during an activity sponsored by the school or school district in which the child is enrolled as a student, or (3) the harm occurred on the premises of the school in which the child is enrolled as a student or on the premises of a school within the district in which the child is enrolled as a student, the law enforcement agency shall notify the chief administrative officer of the school or district in which the child is enrolled immediately after the agency determines that a child has been abused or neglected under the circumstances set out in this section, except that if the person about whom the report has been made is the chief administrative officer or a member of the chief administrative officer's immediate family, the law enforcement agency shall notify the commissioner of education and early development that the child has been abused or neglected under the circumstances set out in this section. The notification must set out the factual basis for the law enforcement agency's determination. If the notification involves a person in the teaching profession, as defined in AS 14.20.370 , the law enforcement agency shall send a copy of the notification to the Professional Teaching Practices Commission.
(g) A person required to report child abuse or neglect under (a) of this section who makes the report to the person's job supervisor or to another individual working for the entity that employs the person is not relieved of the obligation to make the report to the department as required under (a) of this section.
(h) This section does not require a person required to report child abuse or neglect under (a)(6) of this section to report mental injury to a child as a result of exposure to domestic violence so long as the person has reasonable cause to believe that the child is in safe and appropriate care and not presently in danger of mental injury as a result of exposure to domestic violence.
(i) This section does not require a person required to report child abuse or neglect under (a)(7) of this section to report the resumption of use of an intoxicant as described in AS 47.10.011 (10) so long as the person does not have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has suffered harm as a result of the resumption.