Friday, May 7, 2021

Mass “Child Advocate” misleads on $ consequences of abolishing mandatory reporting

The Massachusetts Mandated Reporter Commission just wrapped up another meeting – once again the chair, State “Child Advocate” Maria Mossaides seemed to do more talking than everyone else combined.  And, once again something she said was grossly misleading.

Mossaides claimed that if mandatory reporting were abolished, Massachusetts DCF would lose “half its $1 billion budget.”  At another point she revised that downward a little to $400 million. 

But the real figure is probably, at most, $1.5 $1.7 million.

It is true that the federal Child Abuse Prevention and TreatmentAct (CAPTA) requires states to have mandated reporting laws in order to get some federal funds – but only funds given via CAPTA itself.  And for the entire US of A, the total amount available under CAPTA in 2019 was $178 million.   

Access to only part of that $178 million requires having a mandatory reporting law. 

It appears that Massachusetts expected to get about $1.5 million in CAPTA funding in 2019 according to this DCF document. [UPDATE, FEB 9, 2024: As of FFY 2022, the amount Massachusetts could, theoretically, lose if it got rid of mandatory reporting has risen - to $1.7 million.]

Of course, it’s possible that this document doesn’t cover every penny Massachusetts gets under CAPTA.  And the figure may go up in 2021 because CAPTA got a funding boost as part of the COVID relief bill.  But whatever the exact amount, it’s the difference between a drop in the bucket and two drops in the bucket.  And the amount saved in not chasing down false reports and engaging in less needless surveillance of families probably would more than make up for it.