Complete Your CE Test Online - Click Here The Child Protective Services Law ensures that each county establishes a protective services program to protect our children, locally. County agencies are charged with the responsibility of investigating suspected reports of child abuse. Each county agency submits a annual plan of how they will implement the law, and submits a yearly report on child abuse statistics and analysis within their respective county. Section 6302(b) of the Child Protective Services Law, explains the purpose of this chapter regarding county responsibility: “To establish in each county protective services for the purpose of investigating the reports swiftly and competently, providing protection for children from further abuse and providing rehabilitative services for children and parents involved so as to ensure the child’s well-being and to preserve, stabilize and protect the integrity of family life wherever appropriate or to provide another alternative permanent family when the unity of the family cannot be maintained.” Pennsylvania’s substantiation rate (suspected reports of abuse that are verified) remained the same as in 2012 at 13%. Forty counties out of 67 were at or above this average in 2013 (Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare Annual Child Abuse Report, 2013). CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES VS. GENERAL PROTECTIVE SERVICES It is important for mandated reporters to differentiate between Child Protective Services (CPS) and General Protective Services (GPS). PA law requires agencies to provide both services to youth and children in their respective county. General Protective Services General Protective Services are defined in section 6303 of the Child Protective Services Law as: “Those services and activities provided by each county agency for cases requiring protective services, as defined by the department in regulations.” These types of services are provided for case reports of non-serious injury or neglect, such as insufficient shelter, school truancy, and abandonment. These types of conditions threaten a child’s health and well-being. General Protective Services can be provided to families, whose religious beliefs deny medical care to their child, because the health and welfare of the child is now at risk. This may not rise to the level of an abuse report, but does lead to being provided General Protective Services for the child. GPS also includes services to families that DO NOT meet the criteria for legal adjudication, (the act of making a judicial ruling, such as a judgment or decree). At times, assessments may conclude that while court involvement may not be necessary, the family, child, or both may benefit from additional services. GPS provides referrals for such services. Child Protective Services Section 6303(a) of the Child Protective Services law defines Child Protective Services: “As those services and activities provided by the department and each county agency for child abuse cases”. Child Protective Services (CPS) has the responsibility of receiving and investigating alleged reports of abuse. They conduct safety assessments and develop a safety plan for the child and intervene when necessary to protect them from harm. CPS is responsible for receiving and evaluating reports of suspected child abuse and neglect, determines if the reported information meets the statutory and agency guidelines for child maltreatment, and judges the urgency with which the agency must respond to the report. CPS provides or arranges services to achieve a secure home environment for the child, whether that is reunification with the family, or some alternative home in order to provide them with the care and safety that every child deserves. Their mission is to achieve safety, wellbeing and permanency for the abused and/or neglected child. For the cases that do not warrant an abuse report, GPS assesses the need for services and can offer assistance. RECENT CHANGES TO THE PENNSYLVANIA CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES LAW Twenty five pieces of legislation were signed into law in Pennsylvania in 2013 and 2016 which changed how Pennsylvania responds to child abuse. These changes amended the definitions of child abuse and perpetrator, grounds for involuntary termination of parental rights, significantly expanded the list of mandated reporters and streamlined the mandatory reporting processes. Please note that the following list does not include all legislative bills but rather highlights some of the recent changes in legislation impacting mandated reporters and the process of recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse. Reporting of infants born and identified as being affected by illegal substance abuse The new Child Protective Service Law requires a health care provider to immediately make a report or cause a report to be made to the appropriate county agency if the provider is involved in the delivery or care of a child under one year of age who is born and identified as being affected by any of the following: 1. Illegal substance abuse by the child’s mother. 2. Withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure. 3. A Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Note: The only change was that the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder was added. Child abuse education and training The Child Protective Services Law requires licensed professionals identified as mandated reporters to receive training on recognizing and reporting child abuse. Professionals applying for a license or certificate with their professional licensing board on or after January 1, 2015, are required to complete at least 3 hours of approved child abuse recognition and reporting training. This training must be approved by the Department of Human Services. Professionals applying for renewal of their license or certificate on or after January 1, 2015, are required to complete at least 2 hours of continuing education per licensure cycle. This training must be approved by the appropriate licensing board in consultation with the Department of Human Services. The state approved provider is required to report these hours to the Pennsylvania Department of State electronically, you are NOT required to submit documentation. This law took effect December 31, 2014. Page 3