Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter II. Reports of Neglected Children.


§ 4–1321.01. Purpose.

It is the purpose of this subchapter to require a report of a suspected neglected child in order to identify neglected children; to assure that protective services will be made available to a neglected child to protect the child and his or her siblings and to prevent further abuse or neglect; and to preserve the family life of the parents and children, to the maximum extent possible, by enhancing the parental capacity for adequate child care.


(Nov. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 1354, Pub. L. 89-775, § 1; Sept. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22, title I, § 103(b), 24 DCR 3341.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 2-1351.

1973 Ed., § 2-161.


§ 4–1321.02. Persons required to make reports; procedure.

(a) Notwithstanding § 14-307, any person specified in subsection (b) of this section who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child known to him or her in his or her professional or official capacity has been or is in immediate danger of being a mentally or physically abused or neglected child, as defined in § 4-1301.02(15A), shall immediately report or have a report made of such knowledge or suspicion to either the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia or the Child and Family Services Agency.

(a-1) A person specified in subsection (b) of this section shall report to the Child and Family Services Agency any child who is age 5 through 13 years and who has 10 or more days of unexcused absences within a school year, as that term is defined in § 38-201(4).

(a-2) Expired.

(b) Persons required to report such abuse or neglect shall include Child and Family Services Agency employees, agents, and contractors, and every physician, psychologist, medical examiner, dentist, chiropractor, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, person involved in the care and treatment of patients, law-enforcement officer, humane officer of any agency charged with the enforcement of animal cruelty laws, school official, teacher, athletic coach, Department of Parks and Recreation employee, public housing resident manager, social service worker, day care worker, human trafficking counselor as defined in § 14-311(2), domestic violence counselor as defined in § 14-310(a)(2), and mental health professional as defined in § 7-1201.01(11). Such persons are not required to report when employed by a lawyer who is providing representation in a criminal, civil, including family law, or delinquency matter and the basis for the suspicion arises solely in the course of that representation. Whenever a person is required to report in his or her capacity as a member of the staff of a hospital, school, social agency or similar institution, he or she shall immediately notify the person in charge of the institution or his or her designated agent who shall then be required to make the report. The fact that such a notification has been made does not relieve the person who was originally required to report from his or her duty under subsection (a) of this section of having a report made promptly to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia or the Child and Family Services Agency.

(c) In addition to those persons who are required to make a report, any other person may make a report to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia or the Child and Family Services Agency.

(d) In addition to the requirements in subsections (a) and (b) of this section, any health professional licensed pursuant to Chapter 12 of Title 3, or a law enforcement officer, [or] humane officer of any agency charged with the enforcement of animal cruelty laws, except an undercover officer whose identity or investigation might be jeopardized, shall report immediately, in writing, to the Child and Family Services Agency, that the law enforcement officer or health professional has reasonable cause to believe that a child is abused as a result of inadequate care, control, or subsistence in the home environment due to exposure to drug-related activity. The report shall be in accordance with the provisions of § 4-1321.03.

(e) Notwithstanding § 14-307, any person specified in subsection (b) of this section who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child known to him or her in his or her professional or official capacity has been, or is in immediate danger of being, the victim of “sexual abuse” or “attempted sexual abuse” prohibited by Chapter 30 of Title 22 [§ 22-3001 et seq.]; or that the child was assisted, supported, caused, encouraged, commanded, enabled, induced, facilitated, or permitted to become a prostitute, as that term is defined in § 22-2701.01(3); or that the child has an injury caused by a bullet; or that the child has an injury caused by a knife or other sharp object which has been caused by other than accidental means, shall immediately report or have a report made of such knowledge, information, or suspicion to the Metropolitan Police Department or the Child and Family Services Agency.

(f) A health professional licensed pursuant to Chapter 12 of Title 3 [§ 3-1201.01 et seq.], who in his or her own professional or official capacity knows that a child under 12 months of age is diagnosed as having a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, shall immediately report or have a report made to the Child and Family Services Agency.

(g) A person who violates this section shall not be prosecuted under subchapter II-A of Chapter 30 of Title 22 [§ 22-3020.51 et seq.].

(h) The Metropolitan Police Department shall immediately report or have a report made to the Child and Family Services Agency of any knowledge, information, or suspicion of a child engaging in or offering to engage in a sexual act, as defined in § 22-3001(8), or sexual contact, as defined in § 22-3001(9), in return for receiving anything of value.


(Nov. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 1354, Pub. L. 89-775, § 2; Sept. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22, title I, § 103(c), 24 DCR 3341; Mar. 15, 1990, D.C. Law 8-87, § 2(a), 37 DCR 50; Mar. 2, 2007, D.C. Law 16-204, § 2, 53 DCR 9059; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-306, § 203(a), 53 DCR 8610; July 18, 2008, D.C. Law 17-198, § 3, 55 DCR 6283; Dec. 5, 2008, D.C. Law 17-281, § 102, 55 DCR 9186; Mar. 25, 2009, D.C. Law 17-353, §§ 173(a), 193, 240(b), 56 DCR 1117; Oct. 23, 2010, D.C. Law 18-239, § 202, 57 DCR 5405; Oct. 26, 2010, D.C. Law 18-242, § 2, 57 DCR 7555; July 13, 2012, D.C. Law 19-164, § 3, 59 DCR 6185; June 8, 2013, D.C. Law 19-315, § 2(a), 60 DCR 1702; Sept. 19, 2013, D.C. Law 20-17, § 302, 60 DCR 9839; May 7, 2015, D.C. Law 20-276, § 4, 62 DCR 479; May 10, 2019, D.C. Law 22-313, § 8, 66 DCR 1627.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 2-1352.

1973 Ed., § 2-162.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 3-1205.14, § 4-1301.06b, § 4-1451.06, § 16-1056, § 22-3020.52, § 38-203, and § 38-208.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-204, in subsec. (b), substituted “domestic violence counselor as defined in § 14-310(a)(2), and mental health professional as defined in § 7-1201.01(11)” for “and mental health professional”.

D.C. Law 16-306, in subsec. (a), substituted “Child and Family Services Agency” for “Child Protective Services Division of the Department of Human Services”; in subsec. (b), inserted “Child and Family Services Agency employees, agents, and contractors, and” following “include”, and inserted “athletic coach, Department of Parks and Recreation employee, public housing resident manager,” following “teacher,”; in subsecs. (b), (c) and (d), substituted “Child and Family Services Agency” for “Child Protective Services Division of the Department of Human Services”; and added subsec. (e).

D.C. Law 17-198, in subsec. (b), inserted “Such persons are not required to report when employed by a lawyer who is providing representation in a criminal, civil, including family law, or delinquency matter and the basis for the suspicion arises solely in the course of that representation.”

D.C. Law 17-281, in subsecs. (b) and (d), substituted “law-enforcement officer, humane officer of any agency charged with the enforcement of animal cruelty laws,” for “law-enforcement officer,”.

D.C. Law 17-353 validated previously made technical corrections in subsec. (b).

D.C. Law 18-239, in subsec. (b), substituted “day care worker, human trafficking counselor as defined in § 14-311(2),” for “day care worker,”.

D.C. Law 18-242 added subsecs. (a-1) and (a-2).

D.C. Law 19-164 added subsec. (f).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-315 added (g).

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 20-17 amended (a-2)(3) to read “This subsection shall expire September 19, 2013.”

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-276 added (h).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Child Neglect and Sex Trafficking Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-48, Apr. 15, 2019, 66 DCR 5303).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Child Neglect and Sex Trafficking Emergency Amendment Act of 2018 (D.C. Act 22-555, Dec. 31, 2018, 66 DCR 259).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Child Neglect and Sex Trafficking Emergency Amendment Act of 2018 (D.C. Act 22-269, Feb. 26, 2018, 65 DCR 2131).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Child Neglect and Sex Trafficking Emergency Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Act 22-61, May 17, 2017, 64 DCR 4931).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Omnibus Public Safety Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-445, July 19, 2006, 53 DCR 6443).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-490, October 18, 2006, 53 DCR 8686).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-10, January 16, 2007, 54 DCR 1479).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(a) of Omnibus Public Safety Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-25, April 19, 2007, 54 DCR 4036).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 3 of Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Emergency Amendment Act of 2011 (D.C. Act 19-165, October 11, 2011, 58 DCR 8896).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see §§ 301 and 302 of the Attendance Accountability Emergency Act of 2013 (D.C. Act 20-133, July 30, 2013, 60 DCR 11531, 20 DCSTAT 1973).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Child Neglect and Sex Trafficking Temporary Amendment Act of 2018 (D.C. Law 22-100, June 5, 2018, 65 DCR 3769).

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 3 of Child Neglect and Sex Trafficking Temporary Amendment Act of 2017 (D.C. Law 22-7, July 28, 2017, 64 DCR 5302).

Section 3 of D.C. Law 19-64 added subsec. (f) to read as follows:

“(f) A health professional licensed pursuant to the District of Columbia Health Occupations Revision Act of 1985, effective March 25, 1986 (D.C. Law 6-99; D.C. Official Code § 3-1201.01 et seq.), who in his or her own professional or official capacity knows that a child under 12 months of age is diagnosed as having a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder shall immediately report or have a report made to the Child and Family Services Agency.”.

Section 5(b) of D.C. Law 19-64 provided that the act shall expire after 225 days of its having taken effect.

Editor's Notes

Applicability of D.C. Law 18-242: Section 4 of D.C. Law 18-242 provided:

“Sec. 4. Applicability.

“Section 2 shall apply as follows:

“(1) Subsection (a) shall apply upon the inclusion of its fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan.

“(2) Subsection (b) shall apply upon the inclusion of its fiscal effect in an approved budget and financial plan.”

Section 4 of D.C. Law 18-242 was repealed by D.C. Law 20-17, § 301.


§ 4–1321.03. Nature and contents of reports.

(a) Each person required to make a report of a known or suspected neglected child shall:

(1) Immediately make an oral report of the case to the Child and Family Services Agency or the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia; and

(2) Make a written report of the case if requested by said Division or Police or if the abuse involves drug-related activity.

(b) The report shall include, but need not be limited to, the following information if it is known to the person making the report:

(1) The name, age, sex, and address of the following individuals:

(A) The child who is the subject of the report;

(B) Each of the child’s siblings and other children in the household; and

(C) Each of the child’s parents or other persons responsible for the child’s care;

(2) The nature and extent of the abuse or neglect of the child and any previous abuse or neglect, if known;

(3) All other information which the person making the report believes may be helpful in establishing the cause of the abuse or neglect and the identity of the person responsible for the abuse or neglect; and

(4) If the source was required to report under this subchapter, the identity and occupation of the source, how to contact the source and a statement of the actions taken by the source concerning the child.


(Nov. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 1354, Pub. L. 89-775, § 3; Sept. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22, title I, § 103(d), 24 DCR 3341; Mar. 15, 1990, D.C. Law 8-87, § 2(b), 37 DCR 50; Apr. 12, 2005, D.C. Law 15-341, § 3, 52 DCR 2315; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-306, § 203(b), 53 DCR 8610.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 2-1353.

1973 Ed., § 2-163.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 4-1301.02, § 4-1302.02, § 4-1321.02, and § 16-1056.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 15-341 rewrote subsec. (b)(1)(B) which had read as follows: “(B) Each of the child’s siblings; and”

D.C. Law 16-306, in subsec. (a)(1), substituted “Child and Family Services Agency” for “Child Protective Services Division of the Department of Human Services”.

Cross References

Child Protection Register, information retained, see 4-1302.02.

“Substantiated report” and “Unfounded report” defined, see 4-1301.02

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-445, July 19, 2006, 53 DCR 6443).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-490, October 18, 2006, 53 DCR 8686).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-10, January 16, 2007, 54 DCR 1479).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(b) of Omnibus Public Safety Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-25, April 19, 2007, 54 DCR 4036).


§ 4–1321.04. Immunity from liability.

Any person, hospital, or institution participating in good faith in the making of a report pursuant to this subchapter shall have immunity from liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed with respect to the making of the report. Any such participation shall have the same immunity with respect to participation in any judicial proceeding involving the report. In all civil or criminal proceedings concerning the child or resulting from the report good faith shall be presumed unless rebutted.


(Nov. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 1354, Pub. L. 89-775, § 4; Sept. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22, title I, § 103(e), 24 DCR 3341.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 2-1354.

1973 Ed., § 2-164.


§ 4–1321.05. Privileges; waiver.

Notwithstanding the provisions of §§ 14-306 and 14-307, neither the spouse or domestic partner privilege nor the physician-patient privilege shall be grounds for excluding evidence in any proceeding in the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia concerning the welfare of a neglected child; provided, that a judge of the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia determines such privilege should be waived in the interest of justice.


(Nov. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 1355, Pub. L. 89-775, § 5; July 29, 1970, 84 Stat. 577, Pub. L. 91-358, title I, § 159(a); Sept. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22, title I, § 103(f), 24 DCR 3341; Sept. 12, 2008, D.C. Law 17-231, § 13, 55 DCR 6758.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 2-1355.

1973 Ed., § 2-165.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 17-231 substituted “spouse or domestic partner” for “husband-wife”.


§ 4–1321.06. Exceptions for treatment solely by spiritual means.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this subchapter, no child who in good faith is under treatment solely by spiritual means through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall, for that reason alone, be considered to have been neglected within the purview of this subchapter.


(Nov. 6, 1966, 80 Stat. 1355, Pub. L. 89-775, § 6.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 2-1356.

1973 Ed., § 2-166.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2 of the Prevention of Child Neglect Emergency Amendment Act of 1993 (D.C. Act 10-100, August 9, 1993, 40 DCR 6141).

For temporary amendment of section, see § 2 of the Prevention of Child Neglect Emergency Amendment Act of 1994 (D.C. Act 10-288, July 22, 1994, 41 DCR 4992).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2 of Prevention of Child Neglect Temporary Amendment Act of 1993 (D.C. Law 10-61, November 20, 1993, law notification 40 DCR 8454).


§ 4–1321.07. Failure to make report.

Any person required to make a report under this subchapter who willfully fails to make such a report shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01, imprisoned not more than 180 days, or both. Violations of this subchapter shall be prosecuted by the Attorney General of the District of Columbia or his or her agent in the name of the District of Columbia.


(Nov. 6, 1966, Pub. L. 89-775, § 7; Sept. 23, 1977, D.C. Law 2-22, title I, § 103(g), 24 DCR 3341; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-306, § 203(c), 53 DCR 8610; June 8, 2013, D.C. Law 19-315, § 2(b), 60 DCR 1702.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 2-1357.

1973 Ed., § 2-167.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 16-801.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 16-306 substituted “$300” for “$100”; and substituted “90” for “30”.

The 2013 amendment by D.C. Law 19-315 rewrote this section, which formerly read: “Any person required to make a report under this subchapter who willfully fails to make such a report shall be fined not more than $300 or imprisoned for not more than 90 days or both. Violations of this subchapter shall be prosecuted by the Corporation Counsel of the District of Columbia or his or her agent in the name of the District of Columbia.”

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(c) of Omnibus Public Safety Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-445, July 19, 2006, 53 DCR 6443).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(c) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-490, October 18, 2006, 53 DCR 8686).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(c) of Omnibus Public Safety Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-10, January 16, 2007, 54 DCR 1479).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 203(c) of Omnibus Public Safety Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Act 17-25, April 19, 2007, 54 DCR 4036).