New York: Child Abuse and Maltreatment/Neglect for Mandated Reporters (348)Page 6 of 16

5. Imminent Danger

Imminent danger means that the child is unsafe or at immediate risk or substantial risk of harm. Imminent danger considers the distance between a child and the harm created by a parent’s (or other person legally responsible) actions or failure to act. The danger to the child must be immediate or nearly immediate.

When assessing imminent danger, apply the standard of reasonableness: Ask yourself, “Is it reasonable to believe an intervention could occur?” If the answer is yes, then there is no immediate danger. If the answer is no, then it is reasonable to assume that harm could occur and there is imminent danger (NYSOCFS, 2023).

For example, if a parent swings an object at a child’s head and misses, the danger is imminent. The only additional thing needed for injury would have been for the parent to succeed rather than miss. In this instance, it is reasonable to believe this could have happened (NYSOCFS, 2023).

If a child is imminent danger, first call 911 or the police department, and then call the Statewide Central Registry (SCR). Scenarios in which such action might be appropriate could include a parent who arrives to pick up their child from an appointment is driving their own car, smells of alcohol, and has clearly been drinking; or a home visit reveals several young children fighting while in the care of a 12-year-old sibling who cannot control them and has no idea where the parents are.

5.1 Law Enforcement Referrals

If a call to the SCR provides information about an immediate threat to a child or a crime committed against a child, but the perpetrator is not a parent or other person legally responsible for the child, the SCR staff will make a Law Enforcement Referral (LER). The relevant information will be recorded and transmitted to the New York State Police Information Network or to the New York City Special Victims Liaison Unit. This is not a CPS report, and local CPS will not be involved (NSOCSF, 2024 April).

5.2 When to Report to the Justice Center

The Protection of People with Special Needs Act (Act) requires persons who are mandated reporters to report abuse, neglect, and significant incidents involving vulnerable persons to the Vulnerable Persons’ Central Register (VPCR) operated by the NYS Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs (

Under the Act, mandated reporters to the Statewide Central Register are also mandated reporters to the VPCR, except for daycare providers and staff. Daycare providers and staff are mandated reporters to the SCR, but not to the VPCR.

Effective June 30, 2013, persons who are mandated reporters under the Act have a legal duty to:

  • Report to the Justice Center, by calling the VPCR at 855 373 2122, if they have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect of a Vulnerable Person, including any person receiving residential services in a facility operated by, or provider agency facility licensed or certified by, the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS).
  • Report all Significant Incidents regarding vulnerable persons to the Justice Center by calling the VPCR at: 855 373 2122.
  • Continue to call the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment if they have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or maltreatment of children in family and foster homes, as well as day care settings. Suspicion of child abuse or maltreatment in a day care setting, foster care, or within a family home must continue to be reported to the Statewide Center Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment at 800 635 1522.

Note: If you are confused about where to call, the trained professionals at either location can help you get to the right place. The most important thing is to make the call!