What you should know about mandatory reporting to the IAIU

The Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit (IAIU) is the child protective service unit within New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) that conducts investigations into allegations of child abuse or neglect occurring in school settings. You may know DCF by one
of its former names, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) or the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). While the name has changed over the
years, what has not changed is the dedication NJEA shares with the state for protecting our students.

All school employees are mandatory reporters of instances of suspected or known child abuse or neglect. If an individual believes that a minor has been injured in a way that does not appear to be accidental, abused or neglected, the individual should report what they have observed. The report should be made to the school district according to the district’s policy, which will often designate who the report should be made to. In addition, NJEA members should immediately report the suspected abuse to the state by calling 1-877-NJABUSE (652-2873).

NJEA recommends that members call the state to report any suspected abuse immediately, and to not leave school for the day until that report has been made. Because every school employee is a mandatory reporter, you should not rely on anyone else to make that report on
your behalf, even if it is your coworker, your boss or even your union representative. There are potential criminal consequences for failing to report suspected abuse, and above all else, it is essential to make the report to ensure that the student is protected.

Anonymous reporting allowed

The report to IAIU may be made anonymously if the caller does not wish to give their name. If an individual makes an anonymous report, they should confirm that they are given a validation number. This number can be used to prove that you made the report in case there is a question later about whether there was a failure to report.

Sometimes individuals are concerned about making a report because they are not sure whether what they have observed is abuse or neglect, or whether there is a harmless explanation for what they witnessed. As long as a report is made in good faith, reporters are protected from civil and criminal liability for reporting suspected abuse. School districts also cannot retaliate against employees who have made a report in good faith.

Further, it is the IAIU’s job, not the member’s, to investigate and make a determination about what occurred. After an initial report and preliminary investigation, sometimes the IAIU determines there is no further cause to investigate. Otherwise, the IAIU will investigate the
allegations and make a determination about whether there was abuse or neglect.

If you are contacted

If you are called by an IAIU investigator for an interview, you should ask the investigator whether you are being interviewed as a target of the investigation or as a witness. Tell them you are happy to cooperate in the investigation, but you cannot speak to them at this time and take down their contact information so an interview can be scheduled for a later date. You should then reach out to your local leadership, who can put you in touch with your NJEA
UniServ field representative. Your field representative will be able to assist you with next steps, which may include a consult with a NJEA network attorney.