Complete Your CE Test Online - Click Here Attorneys and other professionals involved in patient or client privileged communication An attorney affiliated with an agency, institution, organization, or other entity, including a school or regularly established religious organization that is responsible for the care, supervision, guidance, or control of children is now considered a mandated reporter. Confidential communication: The following protections shall apply: ● ● Confidential communications made to a member of the clergy are protected under 42 Pa.C.S. § 5943 (relating to confidential communications to clergymen). Example: A priest was told in confessional about child abuse, this is considered confidential communication and is not required to be reported. But in the course of his role he overhears or is told during the course of a conversation about alleged child abuse this is a case that must be reported. ● ● Confidential communications made to an attorney are protected so long as they are within the scope of 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 5916 (relating to confidential communications to attorney) and 5928 (relating to confidential communications to attorney), the attorney work product doctrine or the rules of professional conduct for attorneys. Example: An attorney is employed by an organization (daycare or a school) that is responsible for the care of children is required to report suspected child abuse or neglect. If an attorney is told about suspected child abuse or neglect from a client in confidence outside the above setting they are not required to report the information. Mandated vs. permissive reporting In Pennsylvania everyone is permitted to report child abuse. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between mandated reporters and permissive reporters. Mandated reporters are required by the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law to immediately report suspected child abuse or neglect. Permissive reporters are encouraged but not required to report child abuse. Section 6312 of the Child Protective Services Law. Persons encouraged to report suspected child abuse. “Any person may make an oral report of suspected child abuse, to the department, county agency or law enforcement, if that person has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse.” Investigations and types of reports Confidentiality In all cases, the county maintains written records of the investigation. Information regarding cases of child abuse is confidential except in certain instances specified by law. In most circumstances, the release of data by the department, county, institution, school, facility or agency or designated agent of the person in charge that would identify the person who made a report of suspected child abuse or who cooperated in a subsequent investigation is prohibited. Law enforcement officials shall treat all reporting sources as confidential informants. Difference between indicated, founded, and unfounded child abuse reports ● ● Indicated report is a report based on the medical assessment, the child protective service investigation or the admission of acts of abuse by the perpetrator or perpetrators that abuse or neglect has occurred. Example: A 3-month-old baby is examined in the emergency room where its determined to have bleeding on the brain, a broken leg and five rib fractures in various stages of healing. There are three individuals in the home who are responsible for the care of the child but evidence does not exist to determine who inflicted this child’s injuries. The investigation clearly substantiates that abuse has occurred so the report is an indicated report of child abuse. A report may be indicated which lists the perpetrator as “unknown” if substantial evidence of abuse by a perpetrator exists, but the department or county agency is unable to identify the specific perpetrator. Note: previous law did not allow for indicating child abuse when a perpetrator could not be named. Perpetrators of indicated reports are recorded in the ChildLine abuse reporting system. They are not considered criminals because the report did not lead to criminal charges. Indicated reports do not require law enforcement or court involvement. ● ● Founded report is a child abuse or neglect report that was escalated to the legal system and went to court. A judicial adjudication (the legal process by which a judge reviews the evidence) takes place that may or may not lead to criminal charges against the perpetrator. Founded reports take place in the legal system. ● ● Unfounded report: Any report made that does not qualify as a “founded report” or an “indicated report.” The evidence did not support the assertion of child abuse. THE REPORTING PROCESS Reports of suspected child abuse are to be made immediately and directly by the person who suspects that an identifiable child is the victim of child abuse. How do I report suspected abuse or neglect? ChildLine is the 24-hour reporting system operated by the Department of Human Services to receive reports of suspected child abuse. ChildLine forwards the report of suspected child abuse to the local county children and youth agency, which investigates the report to determine if the allegations can be substantiated as child abuse/neglect and also arranges for or provides the services that are needed to prevent the further maltreatment of the child and to preserve the family unit. Page 10