Mandated Reporters of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
Endangering Welfare of Children
In accordance with 18 Pa.C.S. § 4304., a parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age or a person who employs or supervises such a person, can be criminally charged with a third degree felony if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support, or (in an official capacity) prevents or interferes with the making a report of suspected child abuse as described below.
Reporting Suspected Child Abuse
Any person can make a report if the person has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is an abused child. Since 2006, in Pennsylvania, the child does not have to ‘come before’ the reporter.
According to the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) [see 23 Pa.C.S. § 6311, a person who, in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of a profession, comes into contact with children shall report or cause a report to be made in accordance with section § 6313. when the person has reasonable cause to suspect, on the basis of their medical, professional or other training and experience, that a child under the care, supervision, guidance or training of that person or of an agency, institution, organization or other entity with which that person is affiliated is a victim of child abuse, including child abuse by an individual who is not a perpetrator.
* A ‘perpetrator’ is defined here as person who has committed child abuse and is a parent of a child, a person responsible for the welfare of a child**, an individual, over age 14, residing in the same home as a child, or a paramour of a child's parent.
** A ‘person responsible for the child’s welfare’ is a person who provides permanent or temporary care, supervision, mental health diagnosis or treatment, training or control of a child in lieu of parental care, supervision and control. The term does not include a person who is employed by or provides services or programs in any public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school.
Persons required to report child abuse include (but are not limited to):
- A licensed physician, dentist, optometrist, osteopath, chiropractor, psychologist, podiatrist, intern, registered nurse or licensed practical nurse.
- medical examiner, coroner, funeral director,
- Hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons.
- A Christian Science practitioner, member of the clergy,
- School administrator, school teacher, school nurse
- Social services worker, mental health professional, day care center worker or another child care or foster care worker, and
- Peace officer or law enforcement official.
When required to report in the capacity as a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, that person shall immediately notify the person in charge (or designated agent) of the institution, school, facility or agency. Upon notification, the person in charge or the designated agent, if any, shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be made. (Only one report is required from any such institution, school, facility or agency.)
The CPSL presumes that a person who reports a case of suspected child abuse has acted in good faith. Any person who makes a report in good faith is immune from criminal and civil liability, and protected from employment discrimination, etc.
Abuse or Injury by School Employees
The CPSL requires (see 23 Pa.C.S. § 6352.) that a school employee who has reasonable cause to suspect, on the basis of professional or other training and experience, that a student coming before them in a professional or official capacity is a victim of serious bodily injury, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation by a school employee shall immediately contact the administrator.
When a school employee (or a person other than a school employee who suspects that a school employee has committed student abuse) makes the report to the school administrator, the administrator must report the allegations to law enforcement officials and the appropriate district attorney. (see 23 Pa.C.S. § 6353.)
If the administrator is the subject of the report, the school employee must report allegations to law enforcement officials and the appropriate district attorney.
Law enforcement officials will in turn notify CYF. CYF will coordinate efforts with law enforcement to conduct an investigation of the alleged abuse or injury and complete a ChildLine report.
School employees making reports are also immune from civil and criminal liability arising out of the report.
A school employee who does not report allegations to the administrator commits a summary offense (third degree misdemeanor for subsequent failures); and the administrator who does not report commits a misdemeanor of the third degree.
Infants Born and Identified as being affected by illegal substance abuse
Health care providers who are involved in the delivery or care of an infant who is born and identified as being affected by illegal substance abuse or as having withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure shall immediately cause a report to be made to the appropriate county agency. (see 23 Pa.C.S. § 6386.)
Mandatory reporting and postmortem investigation of deaths
A required reporter of child abuse shall report the fatality to the appropriate coroner if there is suspicion that child abuse was involved. (see 23 Pa.C.S. § 6317)
Recent legislation regarding Mandated Reporters
Pa. Act 126 as of July 2012
Amends the Public School Code of 1949 - Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Training with new training requirements, many related to the recognition and reporting of sexual misconduct on the part of employees of educational institutions. Effective 180 days after signing.
Act 179 as of May 2007
A person or official required by the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) to report a case of suspected child abuse or to make a referral to the authorities who willfully fails to do so commits a misdemeanor of the third degree for the first violation, and a misdemeanor of the second degree for a second or subsequent violation.
Act 146 as of May 2007
Health care providers who are involved in the delivery or care of an infant who is
Organizations that provide Mandated Reporter (MR) trainings
A Child's Place at Mercy, Allegheny County Child Advocacy Center
Offers training to medical and non-medical MRs. When requested, professionals in law enforcement and criminal prosecution may be added to the team to discuss MRs' responsibility under both the CPSL Mandated Reporting Law and the Crimes Code Mandated Reporting Law.
- Training is provided at the location requested and is free of charge
- For more information or to schedule a presentation, please call 412-232-7200.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Pa. Chapter
AAP offers MR training to MRs in the medical field such as primary care providers and their entire office staff, school nurses, emergency medical service professionals and hospital staff.
- Training is provided on-site and free of charge, including training materials.
- For more information or to schedule a presentation, visit www.pascan.org or call 866-823-7226 (toll free in Pa. only) or 484-446-3007.
Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance Mandated Reporter Information
Offers training to non-medical MRs such as school personnel, child care staff, law enforcement agencies, community service providers, social workers, and other individuals.
- Training is offered both as a three-hour overview and as a six-hour comprehensive presentation.
- Free training is available to organizations approved by the Pa. Department of Public Welfare.
- To arrange for training, call PFSA at 800-448-4906.
Reporting child abuse
Child Protective Services Law Definitions
Flyer about changes for Mandated Reporters
More detailed information about Act 146 and Act 179
New laws related to child welfare