In the early 1990s, Northeast Delta Dental formed a coalition of individuals, professional associations, and agencies in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont with a vested interest in the health and welfare of children to promote the Prevent Abuse and Neglect through Dental Awareness (P.A.N.D.A.) program with the support of the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation, Inc., P.A.N.D.A. is an educational program geared toward dental professionals and their office staffs to advise them of their legal responsibility to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, how to recognize the physical and behavioral symptoms, and what the reporting mechanism is in each state.
What if I suspect that a child is being abused or neglected? The Child Protection Acts in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont state that any person who has reason to suspect that a child under the age of 18 has been abused and/or neglected must make a report to each state's Department of Health and Human Services.
When should I report my concerns? If you suspect that a child is being abused and/or neglected, you are required to immediately report your concerns to each state's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Proof of abuse and neglect is not required before reporting. Early reporting is important in preventing future harm to the children and the family. After business hours, if you believe the child is in imminent danger, call the local police department or the 24 hour number given below.
What if I am mistaken? Each state's Child Protection Act states that any person making a report in good faith is immune from any civil or criminal liability. It's better that you make your concerns known to DHHS than to remain silent and possibly allow a child to remain unprotected. Remember, it is the responsibility of DHHS to assess the information you provide about the family.
Do I need to provide a written report? Each state's Child Protection Act requires an oral report to be made immediately and permits DHHS to request a written report within 48 hours.
The P.A.N.D.A. program is coordinated by Jessica Leandri, Director, Professional Relations. For more information, please contact Ms.Leandri at 603-223-1000, extension 1352 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.