SLICES OF MARY LEE’S HOUSE
Have you heard about Mary Lee’s House newest community project? Thanks to a generous grant from Children’s Board of Hillsborough County we are able to share Mary Lee’s House essence and sanctity beyond our four walls and into the community. The “Slices of Mary Lee’s House” consists of trauma informed design spaces that include soothing colors, a calming mural of a tree and a comfort corner for children. The very first slice is complete and is located in the dependency waiting room of George E. Edgecomb 13th Judicial Courthouse.
The goal of trauma informed design is to create spaces that are welcoming while demonstrating a safe environment. Studies have shown that paintings of plants and trees connect people with nature and in return have a calming effect over an individual’s emotions; this is the intent behind the painted tree on the wall in the dependency waiting room. We have also installed a “Doggie Delivery” mailbox so that the children waiting in the space can write to the courthouse dog, Tibet. These letters will go to Voices for Children and will be used to support the Courthouse dog program.
Another critical component of this project is the mini library replicating Mary Lee’s House. This library will contain children’s books as well as helpful resources for parents and caregivers.
This community project was unveiled on September 9th at a ribbon cutting ceremony.
MANDATORY REPORTER TRAINING
April 9, 2019 and April 10, 2019
Stetson University College of Law’s Tampa Law Center
Mary Lee’s House partnered with the Department of Children and Families to host out 7th annual training on the issue of mandated child abuse reporting. Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s training!
IDENTIFY & REPORT ABUSE
The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, of known or suspected child abuse, neglect or abandonment.
There are FOUR WAYS to make a report:
- Telephone: 1-800-96-Abuse (1-800-962-2873)
- Web reporting: https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/
- Fax: 1-800-914-0004
- TDD: 1-800-453-5145
*If you ever suspect a minor is in immediate danger, contact 911*
So what exactly is mandated reporting?
Effective October 2012, Section 39.201, Florida Statutes, requires any person who knows or reasonably suspects that a child has been abused, abandoned or neglected to report such knowledge or suspicion to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). This obligation now applies whether the alleged perpetrator is a parent, guardian, person responsible for the child’s welfare, or other adult.
Who qualifies as a mandated reporter?
Everyone is mandated to report suspicions of abuse, abandonment or neglect upon a minor. Reporters are generally not required to provide their name unless they are in certain occupations set forth in Section 39.201, Florida Statutes, which includes;
- Social Workers
- Mental Health professionals
However, the names of the reporters cannot be released to parties outside of DCF’s child protection team, hotline, law enforcement or the state attorney’s office without the reporter’s written consent.
What offenses or activities trigger the mandatory reporting obligation?
As a mandated reporter, you are required to report all allegations of child abuse, abandonment or neglect, not just allegations of sexual abuse.
- Child abuse: Any act or threatened act that results in any physical, mental, or sexual abuse, injury, or harm that causes or is likely to cause the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health to be significantly impaired. Abuse of a child includes acts or omissions. It does not necessarily include corporal punishment.
- Abandonment: The parent or legal custodian or caregiver of a child, while able, has made no significant contribution to the child’s care and maintenance or has failed to establish or maintain a substantial and positive relationship with the child, or both.
- Neglect: When a child is deprived of necessities for daily living, such as food, clothing, shelter or medical treatment, or is permitted to live in an environment that causes the child’s physical, mental or emotional health to be significantly impaired or to be in danger of being significantly impaired. If the perceived neglect is a result of limited financial means, the circumstances will not be considered neglect unless the parent or guardian rejected relief services.
- Juvenile sexual behavior: Sexual behavior that occurs by one juvenile upon another without consent, equality, or with coercion; this includes non-contact sexual behavior, such as making obscene phone calls and varying degrees of direct sexual contact.
What information do I need to report?
In making a report to DCF, it is important to have the following information:
- Name, ages, race and gender of all parties (alleged victim and alleged perpetrator) involved
- Addresses of all parties, including current location
- Relationship between alleged victim and alleged perpetrator
- Any other information that may assist DCF in making their investigation, such as injuries reported or observed, directions to location of parties and potential safety concerns for investigators.
We are all responsible to be advocates for children in need
Commonly Asked Questions About Post-Reporting:
What happens after I make the call?
If the report is accepted, the Hotline counselor sends a typed report of the allegations to the local investigation county office where the victim is located. After the report is sent to the local office, the report is assigned to a Child Protective Investigator (CPI) who is then responsible for conducting an investigation on the allegations called in.
How soon does DCF respond to the home?
If accepted, all child abuse reports are submitted to the Department of Children and Families within one hour after you make the call. The Child Protection Investigator (CPI) has up to 24 hours to initiate an investigation.
What are the penalties for failure to report?
Knowingly and willfully failing to report instances of child abuse and neglect is punishable as a third-degree felony eligible for a prison term of up to five years and a fine of $5,000.
What about reports of child sexual abuse that occurred out of state?
By statute, DCF will not accept reports of sexual abuse or neglect that occurred out of state, or in which the victim and/or perpetrator reside out of state. However, by statute, DCF is obligated to transfer such a report to the appropriate state.
Take a Tour with Mary Lee’s House:
You are invited to join us on our next Mary Lee’s House tour! Bring a friend, enjoy light refreshments, and take a behind the scenes look at the medical, legal, and counseling services provided here. You will hear firsthand about the work being done to protect and heal the children and families who pass through our doors.
Tours are traditionally scheduled on Tuesdays from 11:45AM-1:00PM pending the number of attendees. The upcoming tour dates are as follows: September 10, 2019, November 12, 2019, January 14, 2020, March 10, 2020, May 12, 2020.
To reserve your spot on our next Mary Lee’s House Tour, contact us by completing the form; please indicate the tour date and size of the group attending in the message box below:
For questions or special requests, please contact us directly at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 813.250.6650
* Tour requests are subject to availability. Space is limited in an effort to maximize the quality of tours for our attendants and to minimize disruption of regularly scheduled services.
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