What Are a Mandated Reporter's Responsibilities?
Mandated reporters are required to make a report of suspected abuse when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse under any of the following circumstances:
The child does NOT have to come before the mandated reporter in order for the mandated reporter to make a report of suspected child abuse.
Mandated reporters must not try to determine whether abuse has happened. They are not investigators and should not ask questions about what happened, who did it, and so forth beyond reaching the threshold of reasonable cause to suspect that the child has been abused. For information on responding to disclosures of abuse click here.
To fulfill his/her legal mandate, when a mandated reporter has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is being abused, s/he must immediately make the report. This can now be done in two ways:
By calling ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. ChildLine is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As a mandated reporter, you must provide your name and contact information when making the call. After making the call, mandated reporters must follow up with an electronic report or a written report completed on the CY-47 form within 48 hours of making the oral report.
By submitting the report electronically. The report is submitted directly to ChildLine via Child Welfare Information Solution portal. You will need to include your name, telephone number, and email address. You also will include any other actions you have taken (see below). You will receive an email confirmation that your report has been received; you should print and keep this confirmation for your records.
After making the report to ChildLine, the mandated reporter must tell the person in charge of the organization or program (for example, a school principal or the director of a child-serving program or the head little league coach). That person then is responsible to facilitate the organization’s cooperation with any investigation and assists the mandated reporter with any concerns s/he may have.
Currently, only mandated reporters may make a report electronically. Everyone is encouraged to make a report if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is victim of abuse. Those people who are not mandated reporters can make a report by calling ChildLine at 800-932-0313.
To read an updated version of the CPSL, click here.
Many mandated reporters are required to have regular training on how to recognize and report child abuse (Act 126 and Act 31). Learn more here.
To learn more about training on how to recognize and report child abuse click here.
Written Reports by Mandated Reporters
Within 48 hours of making the call to ChildLine, mandated reporters must complete a form called a CY-47, which is a Report of Suspected Child Abuse or make an electronic report. The CY-47 is sent to the Children and Youth office, and you should keep a copy for your own records in a separate confidential file. The form should be sent to the county agency where the alleged abuse will be investigated. The written report can be made electronically using ChildLine’s Child Welfare Information Solutions Self- Service Portal. https://www.compass.state.pa.us/CWIS
The written report (CY-47) or electronic report is not required if an electronic report is made in lieu of the telephone call to ChildLine. The initial electronic report serves as both the oral and written report.
Other Actions by Mandated Reporters
Mandated reporters may take certain other actions on behalf of a child suspected of being abused.
A mandated reporter may also:
Any photographs, x-rays and/or medical summaries then should be sent to the county agency where the report is investigated within 48 hours of an electronic report. The mandated reporter must give the county access to the actual photographs and x-rays.
Only a law enforcement officer, physician, or hospital administrator can take protective custody of a child without a court order. This action may be taken when it is immediately necessary to protect the child. When a child is taken into protective custody, that person (e.g., law enforcement, physician, etc.) must immediately notify the county agency. A child cannot be held in this type of protective custody for more than 24 hours. However, if necessary, the county agency can obtain a court order permitting the child to remain in protective custody for a longer period of time. If a child is taken into emergency custody, the case must be brought before a judge within 72 hours.
No county agency worker (caseworker) may take custody of the child without a court order.
In all cases, the county maintains written records of the investigation.
Information Available to Mandated Reporters After a Report is Made
Mandated reporters, under the amendments to the CPSL, will receive certain information about a child who was the subject of a report of suspected child abuse that was made by the mandated reporter. The information will be sent to the mandated reporter automatically within three days of ChildLine receiving the results of the investigation.
Mandated reporters are allowed to know the final status of the child abuse report - whether it is indicated, founded or unfounded - and any services provided, arranged for, or to be provided by the county agency to protect the child.
Penalties for Willful Failure to Report Suspected Child Abuse
Willful failure to report (having a reasonable suspicion of abuse and deciding not to report it) may be punished. The penalties for failure to report have been increased under the new CPSL amendments.
The first offense of willful failure to report is a second degree misdemeanor. Penalties are increased to a third degree felony if the mandated reporter willfully fails to report child abuse that is a felony of the first degree or higher and the mandated reporter has direct knowledge of the nature of the abuse. For multiple offenses, a felony of the third degree is committed, increasing if the abuse of the child is a felony of the first degree or higher.
If willful failure to report continues, while the mandated reporter knows or has reasonable cause to believe the child is being actively abused, the offense is considered a first degree misdemeanor except when the abuse to the child constitutes a felony of the first degree or higher. In this instance the penalty is a felony of the third degree.
To read a summary of all of the changes to the CPSL, click here.
Confidentiality and Protection for Mandated Reporters
Information regarding cases of child abuse is confidential except in certain instances specified by law. In most circumstances, the identity of a person who makes a report of suspected abuse or cooperates in a subsequent investigation is kept confidential and cannot be released by the county agency. However, if the case must be reported to law enforcement officials by the county agency, the names of the persons who made the report or cooperated in the investigation must be given to law enforcement officials upon request. Law enforcement officials must treat the reporting sources and persons who cooperated in the investigation as confidential informants.
All persons are protected from civil and criminal liability if acting in good faith when reporting, cooperating and consulting in investigations, testifying in proceedings as a result of the report, taking photographs, arranging for medical tests and x-rays, taking a child into protective custody (as allowed under the CPSL) and admitting a child to a private or public hospital. The good faith of a mandated reporter is assumed.
The amendments to the CPSL have expanded immunity from liability for reporting general protective services cases and testifying in proceedings as a result of the general protective services report. Also, mandated reporters may not be the victims of employment discrimination because they have made a report.
To read a summary of all of the changes to the CPSL, click here.