AN ACT

 

1Amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania
2Consolidated Statutes, in child protective services, further
3providing for definitions; providing for advanced 
4communication technologies and for regulations; further 
5providing for persons required to report suspected child 
6abuse, for reporting procedure, for photographs, medical 
7tests and X-rays of child subject to report, for 
8establishment of Statewide toll-free telephone number, for 
9continuous availability of Department of Public Welfare and 
10for disposition of complaints received; providing for 
11responsibility for investigation; and further providing for 
12information in Statewide central register <-and, for continuous 
13availability to receive reports <-and for education and 
14training.

15The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
16hereby enacts as follows:

17Section 1. Section 6303(a) of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania
18Consolidated Statutes is amended by adding definitions to read:

19§ 6303. Definitions.

20(a) General rule.--The following words and phrases when used
21in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this

1section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

2* * *

3"Advanced communication technologies." The transfer of
4information in whole or in part by technology having electrical,
5digital, magnetic, wireless, optical, electromagnetic, photo
6electronic or photo-optical systems or similar capabilities. The
7term includes, but is not limited to, e-mail, Internet
8communication or other means of electronic transmission.

9* * *

10"Mandated reporter." A person required to report suspected
11child abuse under section 6311 (relating to persons required to
12report suspected child abuse).

13* * *

14Section 2. Title 23 is amended by adding sections to read:

15§ 6304. Advanced communication technologies.

16(a) Departmental procedures.--The department shall establish
17procedures for the secure and confidential use of advanced
18communication technologies for the transmission of information
19under this chapter, including:

20(1) the filing of reports and other required records;
21and

22(2) the verification of records and signatures on forms.

23(b) Confirmation of reports.--A confirmation by the
24department of the receipt of a report of suspected child abuse
25submitted by advanced communication technologies shall relieve
26the person making the report of making an additional oral or
27written report of suspected child abuse.

<-28(c) Limitation.--The department shall not accept anonymous
29reports of suspected abuse submitted through advanced
30communication technologies. Reports submitted through advanced

1communication technologies shall include the name of the person
2making the report and a valid telephone number where the person
3making the report can be reasonably contacted. If an anonymous
4report is received through advanced communication technologies,
5or the report does not contain a valid telephone number for the
6person making the report, no investigation of the report is
7required.

<-8(c) (d) Effect on other law.--

9(1) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to
10supersede the provisions of the act of December 16, 1999
11(P.L.971, No.69), known as the Electronic Transactions Act.

12(2) Any procedures developed by the department under
13this section shall comply with all applicable Federal and
14State laws regarding the confidentiality of personally
15identifiable information.

<-16(e) Implementation.--The department shall implement this
17section within three years of the effective date of this
18section.

19§ 6305. Regulations.

20The department shall promulgate regulations necessary to
21implement this chapter.

22Section 3. Sections 6311(c), 6313, 6314, 6332(a), 6333 and
236334 of Title 23 are amended to read:

24§ 6311. Persons required to report suspected child abuse.

25* * *

26(c) Staff members of institutions, etc.--Whenever a person
27is required to report under subsection (b) in the capacity as a
28member of the staff of a medical or other public or private
29institution, school, facility or agency, that person shall 
30report in accordance with section 6313 and shall immediately

1notify the person in charge of the institution, school, facility
2or agency or the designated agent of the person in charge. Upon
3notification, the person in charge or the designated agent, if
4any, shall assume the responsibility [and have the legal
5obligation to report or cause a report to be made in accordance
6with section 6313] for facilitating the cooperation of the 
7institution, school<-, facility or agency with the investigation 
8of the report. This chapter does not require more than one
9report from any such institution, school, facility or agency.

10* * *

11§ 6313. Reporting procedure.

12[(a) General rule.--Reports from persons required to report
13under section 6311 (relating to persons required to report
14suspected child abuse) shall be made immediately by telephone
15and in writing within 48 hours after the oral report.

16(b) Oral reports.--Oral reports shall be made to the
17department pursuant to Subchapter C (relating to powers and
18duties of department) and may be made to the appropriate county
19agency. When oral reports of suspected child abuse are initially
20received at the county agency, the protective services staff
21shall, after seeing to the immediate safety of the child and
22other children in the home, immediately notify the department of
23the receipt of the report, which is to be held in the pending
24complaint file as provided in Subchapter C. The initial child
25abuse report summary shall be supplemented with a written report
26when a determination is made as to whether a report of suspected
27child abuse is a founded report, an unfounded report or an
28indicated report.

29(c) Written reports.--Written reports from persons required
30to report under section 6311 shall be made to the appropriate

1county agency in a manner and on forms the department prescribes
2by regulation. The written reports shall include the following
3information if available:

4(1) The names and addresses of the child and the parents
5or other person responsible for the care of the child if
6known.

7(2) Where the suspected abuse occurred.

8(3) The age and sex of the subjects of the report.

9(4) The nature and extent of the suspected child abuse,
10including any evidence of prior abuse to the child or
11siblings of the child.

12(5) The name and relationship of the person or persons
13responsible for causing the suspected abuse, if known, and
14any evidence of prior abuse by that person or persons.

15(6) Family composition.

16(7) The source of the report.

17(8) The person making the report and where that person
18can be reached.

19(9) The actions taken by the reporting source, including
20the taking of photographs and X-rays, removal or keeping of
21the child or notifying the medical examiner or coroner.

22(10) Any other information which the department may
23require by regulation.

24(d) Failure to confirm oral report.--The failure of a person
25reporting cases of suspected child abuse to confirm an oral
26report in writing within 48 hours shall not relieve the county
27agency from any duties prescribed by this chapter. In such
28event, the county agency shall proceed as if a written report
29were actually made.]

30(a) Report by mandated reporter.--

1(1) A report of suspected child abuse by <-or on behalf of
2a mandated reporter shall be made immediately to the
3department by telephone or advanced communication
4technologies.

5(2) A mandated reporter making an oral report of
6suspected child abuse shall also make a report in writing or
7by advanced communication technologies within 48 hours to the
8county agency assigned to the case in a manner and format
9that the department prescribes by regulation.

10(3) The failure of the mandated reporter to file the
11report in writing or by advanced communication technologies
12as set forth in paragraph (2) shall not relieve the county
13agency from any duty under this chapter, and the county
14agency shall proceed as though the mandated reporter complied
15with paragraph (2).

16(b) Permissive report.--A report of suspected child abuse by
17a person under section 6312 (relating to persons permitted to
18report suspected child abuse) may be made orally <-or by advanced
19communication technologies to the department or county agency or
20to law enforcement.

21(c) Contents of report.--A report of suspected child abuse
22that is made in writing or by advanced communication
23technologies shall include the following information, if known:

24(1) The names and addresses of the child, the child's
25parents and any other person responsible for the child's
26welfare.

27(2) Where the suspected abuse occurred.

28(3) The age and sex of each subject of the report.

29(4) The nature and extent of the suspected child abuse,
30including any evidence of prior abuse to the child or any

1sibling of the child.

2(5) The name and relationship of each individual
3responsible for causing the suspected abuse and any evidence
4of prior abuse by each such individual.

5(6) Family composition.

6(7) The source of the report.

7(8) The <-person making the report and where that person
8can be reached. <-name, telephone number and e-mail address of
9the person making the report.

10(9) The actions taken by the person making the report,
11including those actions taken under section 6314 (relating to
12photographs, medical tests and X-rays of child subject to
13report), 6315 (relating to taking child into protective
14custody), 6316 (relating to admission to private and public
15hospitals) or 6317 (relating to mandatory reporting and
16postmortem investigation of deaths).

17(10) Any other information that the department requires
18by regulation.

19§ 6314. Photographs, medical tests and X-rays of child subject
20to report.

21A person or official required to report cases of suspected
22child abuse may take or cause to be taken photographs of the
23child who is subject to a report and, if clinically indicated,
24cause to be performed a radiological examination and other
25medical tests on the child. Medical summaries or reports of the
26photographs, X-rays and relevant medical tests taken shall be
27sent to the county agency at the time the written report is sent
28or within 48 hours after a report is made by advanced 
29communication technologies or as soon thereafter as possible.
30The county agency shall have access to actual photographs or

1duplicates and X-rays and may obtain them or duplicates of them
2upon request.

3§ 6332. Establishment of Statewide toll-free telephone number.

4(a) General rule.--The department shall establish a single
5Statewide toll-free telephone number that all persons, whether
6mandated by law or not, may use to report cases of suspected
7child abuse. A county agency or law enforcement personnel shall
8use the Statewide toll-free telephone number or advanced 
9communication technologies for determining the existence of
10prior founded or indicated reports of child abuse in the
11Statewide central register or reports under investigation in the
12pending complaint file.

13* * *

14§ 6333. Continuous availability of department.

15The department shall be capable of receiving oral reports of
16child abuse [made] and reports made by advanced communication 
17technologies pursuant to this chapter, reports under section
186353.2 (relating to responsibilities of county agency) and
19report summaries of child abuse from county agencies and shall
20be capable of immediately identifying prior reports of child
21abuse and prior reports of abuse or injury under Subchapter C.1
22(relating to students in public and private schools) in the
23Statewide central register and reports under investigation in
24the pending complaint file and of monitoring the provision of
25child protective services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

26§ 6334. Disposition of complaints received.

27[(a) Notice to county agency.--Upon receipt of a complaint
28of suspected child abuse, the department shall immediately
29transmit orally to the appropriate county agency notice that the
30complaint of suspected child abuse has been received and the

1substance of the complaint. If the Statewide central register or
2the pending complaint file contains information indicating a
3prior report or a current investigation concerning a subject of
4the report, the department shall immediately notify the
5appropriate county agency of this fact. The appropriate county
6agency shall mean the agency in the county where the suspected
7child abuse occurred. If the residency of the subjects is a
8factor that requires the cooperation of more than one county
9agency, the department shall develop regulations to ensure the
10cooperation of those agencies in carrying out the requirements
11of this chapter.

12(b) Referral for services or investigation.--If the
13complaint received does not suggest suspected child abuse but
14does suggest a need for social services or other services or
15investigation, the department shall transmit the information to
16the county agency or other public agency for appropriate action.
17The information shall not be considered a child abuse report
18unless the agency to which the information was referred has
19reasonable cause to suspect after investigation that abuse
20occurred. If the agency has reasonable cause to suspect that
21abuse occurred, the agency shall notify the department, and the
22initial complaint shall be considered to have been a child abuse
23report.]

24(a) Receipt of reports by county agencies and law
25enforcement.--After <-ensuring making reasonable efforts to ensure
26the immediate safety of the child and any other child in the
27child's home, a county agency or law enforcement agency that
28receives a report of suspected child abuse shall immediately
29notify the department of the report. If the report is an oral
30report by telephone, the county agency or law enforcement agency

1shall attempt to collect as much of the information listed in
2section 6313(c) (relating to reporting procedure) as possible
3and shall submit the information to the department within 48
4hours through a report in writing or by advanced communication
5technologies.

6(b) Receipt of reports by department and referral to county
7agency.--The department shall immediately transmit an oral
8notice or a notice by advanced communication technologies to the
9county agency of the county where the suspected child abuse is
10alleged to have occurred. The notice shall contain the following
11information:

12(1) That a complaint of suspected child abuse by a
13perpetrator has been received.

14(2) The substance of the complaint.

15(3) The existence in the central register of a prior
16indicated or founded report or a current investigation
17concerning a subject of the report.

18(c) Receipt of reports by department and referral to law
19enforcement.--If the department receives a report of suspected
20child abuse that also alleges that a criminal offense has been
21committed against the child, the department shall immediately
22transmit an oral notice or notice by advanced communication
23technologies to law enforcement personnel in the county where
24the suspected child abuse is alleged to have occurred. The
25notice shall contain the following information, consistent with
26section 6340(a)(9) and (10) (relating to release of information
27in confidential reports):

28(1) That a complaint of suspected child abuse has been
29received.

30(2) The substance of the complaint.

1(3) The existence in the Statewide database under
2section 6331 (relating to establishment of pending complaint
3file, Statewide central register and file of unfounded
4reports) of a prior founded or indicated report or a current
5investigation concerning a subject of the report.

6(d) Notice of joint referrals.--When a report is referred to
7the county agency under subsection (b) and is also referred to
8law enforcement personnel under subsection (c), the notice shall
9include information as to the name and contact information of
10any persons receiving the referral.

11(e) Ability of law enforcement to receive reports.--The
12district attorney of the county where the suspected child abuse
13is alleged to have occurred shall designate three recipients to
14receive reports under subsection (c) and shall provide contact
15information for each recipient to the department for that
16purpose.

17(f) Jurisdictional overlap.--If the residency of any subject
18of a report is a factor that requires the cooperation of more
19than one county agency, the department shall develop <-regulations
<-20procedures to ensure the cooperation of those agencies in
21carrying out the requirements of this chapter.

22(g) Referral for services or investigation.--If the
23complaint received does not suggest a need for protective
24services but does suggest a need for social services or other
25services or investigation, the department shall transmit the
26information to the county agency or other public agency for
27appropriate action. The information shall not be considered a
28child abuse report unless the agency to which the information
29was referred has reasonable cause to suspect after investigation
30that abuse occurred. If the agency has reasonable cause to

1suspect that abuse occurred, the agency shall notify the
2department, and the initial complaint shall be considered to
3have been a child abuse report.

4[(c)] (h) Recording in pending complaint file.--Upon receipt
5of a complaint of suspected child abuse, the department shall
6maintain a record of the complaint of suspected child abuse in
7the pending complaint file. Upon receipt of a report under
8section 6353.2 (relating to responsibilities of county agency),
9the department shall maintain a record of the report in the
10report file under section 6331 [(relating to establishment of
11pending complaint file, Statewide central register and file of
12unfounded reports)].

13[(d) Incidents occurring outside of this Commonwealth.--

14(1) A report of suspected child abuse occurring in
15another state where the child victim is identified as a
16resident of this Commonwealth and the other state child
17protective services agency cannot investigate the report
18because of statutory or policy limitations shall be assigned
19as a general protective services report to the county of the
20child's residence or as determined by the department.

21(2) In addition to complying with the other requirements
22of this chapter and applicable regulations, a copy of the
23report shall be provided to the other state's child
24protective services agency and, when applicable under
25Pennsylvania law, to law enforcement officials where the
26incident occurred.

27(3) Reports and information under this subsection shall
28be provided within seven calendar days of completion of the
29general protective services assessment under section 6375
30(relating to county agency requirements for general

1protective services).]

2(i) Child abuse in another state where child is resident of
3Commonwealth.--A report of suspected child abuse by a
4perpetrator occurring in another state shall be referred to the
5county of the child's residence in this Commonwealth or other
6county as determined by the department and shall be investigated
7as any other report of suspected child abuse by a perpetrator
8if:

9(1) the child victim is identified as a resident of this
10Commonwealth; and

11(2) the other state's child protective services agency
12cannot investigate the report because of statutory or policy
13limitations.

14(j) Child abuse in another state where alleged perpetrator
15is resident of Commonwealth.--

16(1) If the suspected child abuse occurs in a
17jurisdiction other than this Commonwealth and the alleged
18perpetrator is identified as a resident of this Commonwealth,
19the report or complaint of suspected child abuse shall be
20referred to the county agency in the county of this
21Commonwealth where the alleged perpetrator resides.

22(2) The county agency shall:

23(i) <-contact notify the children and youth social
24service agency of the jurisdiction in which the suspected
25child abuse occurred; and

26(ii) <-investigate the suspected child abuse, either
27alone or in concert with the other agency. <-assist the
28other agency, if requested.

29Section 4. Title 23 is amended by adding a section to read:

30§ 6334.1. Responsibility for investigation.

1The department shall establish procedures regarding the
2following different responses to address suspected child abuse
3and protective services depending on the person's allegedly
4committing the suspected child abuse or causing a child to be in
5need of protective services:

6(1) If the suspected child abuse is alleged to have been
7committed by a perpetrator, the appropriate county agency
8shall investigate the allegation as provided in this chapter.

9(2) If the suspected child abuse is alleged to have been
10committed by a perpetrator and the behavior constituting the
11suspected child abuse may include a violation of a criminal
12offense, the appropriate county agency and local law
13enforcement shall jointly investigate the allegation through
14the investigative team established in section 6365(c)
15(relating to services for prevention, investigation and
16treatment of child abuse) and as provided in this chapter.

17(3) If the suspected child abuse is alleged to have been
18committed by a person who is not a perpetrator, <-and the 
19behavior constituting the suspected child abuse may include a 
20violation of a criminal offense, local law enforcement and
21the district attorney of the county where the suspected child
22abuse is alleged to have occurred shall be solely responsible
23for investigating the allegation. <-The county agency shall not 
24investigate suspected child abuse alleged to have been 
25committed by a person who is not a perpetrator.

26(4) If a child is alleged to be in need of other
27protective services, the appropriate county agency shall
28assess the needs of the child as provided in this chapter.

29Section 5. Sections 6336(c) and 6366 of Title 23 are amended
30to read:

1§ 6336. Information in Statewide central register.

2* * *

3(c) Limitation on release of information.--Except as
4provided in sections 6334, 6335, 6340 and 6342, no information
5shall be released from the Statewide central register or pending
6complaint file unless pursuant to section 6332 (relating to
7establishment of Statewide toll-free telephone number) and
8unless the department has positively identified the
9representative of the county agency requesting the information
10and the department has inquired into and is satisfied that the
11representative has a legitimate need, within the scope of
12official duties and the provisions of section 6332, to obtain
13the information. Information in the Statewide central register
14or pending complaint file shall not be released for any purpose
15or to any individual not specified in section 6340. Nothing in 
16this section shall prohibit the department from accepting and 
17responding to requests for information made using advanced 
18communication technologies if the department has established 
19procedures for all of the following:

20(1) Providing notice to the requester that access and
21dissemination of the information is restricted as provided by
22this chapter.

23(2) Electronically verifying the identity of the
24requester.

25(3) Obtaining an affirmation by the requester that the
26request is within the scope of that person's official duties
27and the provisions of this chapter.

28§ 6366. Continuous availability to receive reports.

29Each county agency shall receive 24 hours a day, seven days a
30week, all reports, [both oral and written] including reports
 

1submitted orally, in writing or by advanced communication 
2technologies, of suspected child abuse in accordance with this
3chapter, the county plan for the provision of child protective
4services and the regulations of the department.

<-5Section 6. Section 6383 of Title 23 is amended by adding a
6subsection to read:

7§ 6383. Education and training.

8* * *

9(a.2) Guidance for mandated and permissive reporters.--

10(1) In addition to the requirements of subsection (a),
11the department shall provide specific information and
12guidance related to the recognition and reporting of child
13abuse on its Internet website in forms, including, but not
14limited to, the following:

15(i) Website content.

16(ii) Printable booklets and brochures.

17(iii) Educational videos.

18(iv) Internet-based interactive training exercises.

19(2) Guidance shall be pertinent to both mandated and
20permissive reporters and shall address topics, including, but
21not limited to:

22(i) Conduct constituting child abuse and exclusions
23from child abuse.

24(ii) Persons classified as mandated reporters.

25(iii) Reporting requirements and procedures.

26(iv) The basis for making a report of suspected
27child abuse.

28(v) Penalties for failure to report.

29(vi) Background clearance requirements for
30individuals who work or volunteer with children.

1(vii) Recognition of the signs and symptoms of child
2abuse.

3(viii) Alternative resources to assist with concerns
4not related to child abuse.

5(3) The department shall include the following
6information with all certifications provided pursuant to §
76344(b)(2) (relating to information relating to prospective
8child-care personnel):

9(i) Information that certain persons are required by
10law to report suspected child abuse.

11(ii) The Internet address where the information and
12guidance required by this subsection can be obtained.

13(iii) A telephone number and mailing address where
14guidance materials can be requested by individuals who
15cannot access the department's Internet website.

16(4) The department shall implement this subsection
17within 180 days of the effective date of this subsection.

18* * *

19Section <-6 7. This act shall take effect in 60 days.

 

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