AN ACT

 

1Amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania
2Consolidated Statutes, in child protective services, further
3providing for definitions<-; providing for exclusions from 
4child abuse; and further providing for disposition of founded 
5and indicated reports, for release of information in 
6confidential reports and for investigation of reports<-; and 
7providing for factors to consider when investigating child 
8abuse.

9The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
10hereby enacts as follows:

<-11Section 1. The definitions of "child," "nonaccidental,"
12"recent acts or omissions," "serious physical injury" and
13"sexual abuse or exploitation" in section 6303(a) of Title 23 of
14the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes are amended, subsection
15(a) is amended by adding definitions and subsection (b) is
16amended to read:

<-17Section 1. The definitions of "child," "nonaccidental," 
18"perpetrator," "person responsible for the child's welfare," 
19"recent acts or omissions," "serious physical injury" and
 

1"sexual abuse or exploitation" in section 6303(a) of Title 23 of 
2the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes are amended, subsection 
3(a) is amended by adding definitions, subsection (b) is amended 
4and the section is amended by adding a subsection to read:

5§ 6303. Definitions.

6(a) General rule.--The following words and phrases when used
7in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this
8section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

9* * *

10"Bodily injury." Impairment of physical condition or
11substantial pain.

12"Child." [Includes] An individual under 18 years of age. The 
13term includes a newborn.

14* * *

<-15"Intentionally." The term shall have the same meaning as
16provided in 18 Pa.C.S. § 302 (relating to general requirements
17of culpability).

<-18"Nonaccidental." [An injury that is the result of an
19intentional act that is committed with disregard of a
20substantial and unjustifiable risk] Conduct that is knowing or
21intentional or is committed with conscious disregard of a
22substantial and unjustifiable risk.

<-23"Knowingly." The term shall have the same meaning as 
24provided in 18 Pa.C.S. § 302 (relating to general requirements 
25of culpability).

26* * *

27["Nonaccidental." An injury that is the result of an
28intentional act that is committed with disregard of a
29substantial and unjustifiable risk.]

30"Peer." A person similar in age, grade level, physical

1maturity and developmental ability to another.

2"Perpetrator." A person who has committed child abuse and is
3a parent of a child, a person responsible for the welfare of a
4child, an individual residing in the same home as a child, a 
5relative of the child or a paramour, spouse, former paramour or 
6former spouse of a child's parent.

7"Person responsible for the child's welfare." A person who
8provides permanent or temporary care, supervision, mental health
9diagnosis or treatment, training or control of a child in lieu
10of parental care, supervision and control. [The term does not
11include a person who is employed by or provides services or
12programs in any public or private school, intermediate unit or
13area vocational-technical school.]

14* * *

15"Recent [acts or omissions." Acts or omissions] act or 
16failure to act." Any act or failure to act committed within two 
17years of the date of the report to the Department of Public 
18Welfare or county agency.

<-19"Recklessly." The term shall have the same meaning as
20provided in 18 Pa.C.S. § 302 (relating to general requirements
21of culpability).

22"Relative." A person who is 14 years of age or older and is
23related to the child within the third degree of consanguinity or
24affinity, whether or not the individual lives in the same home
25as the child.

26* * *

27["Serious physical injury." An injury that:

28(1) causes a child severe pain; or

29(2) significantly impairs a child's physical
30functioning, either temporarily or permanently.]

1"Serious physical neglect." Any of the following when
2committed by a perpetrator that endangers a child's life or
3health, threatens a child's well-being, causes bodily injury or
4impairs a child's health, development or functioning:

5(1) A repeated, prolonged or <-egregious unconscionable
6failure to supervise a child in a manner that is appropriate
7considering the child's developmental age and abilities.

8(2) The failure to provide a child with adequate
9essentials of life, including food, shelter or medical care.

10["Sexual abuse or exploitation." Any of the following:

11(1) The employment, use, persuasion, inducement,
12enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist
13another individual to engage in sexually explicit conduct.

14(2) The employment, use, persuasion, inducement,
15enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist
16another individual to engage in simulation of sexually
17explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual
18depiction, including photographing, videotaping, computer
19depicting and filming.

20(3) Any of the following offenses committed against a
21child:

22(i) Rape.

23(ii) Sexual assault.

24(iii) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

25(iv) Aggravated indecent assault.

26(v) Molestation.

27(vi) Incest.

28(vii) Indecent exposure.

29(viii) Prostitution.

30(ix) Sexual abuse.

1(x) Sexual exploitation.]

2"Sexual abuse or exploitation." Any of the following:

3(1) The employment, use, persuasion, inducement,
4enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist
5another individual to engage in sexually explicit conduct,
6which includes, but is not limited to, the following:

7(i) Looking at the sexual or other intimate parts of
8a child or another individual for the purpose of arousing
9or gratifying sexual desire in any individual.

10(ii) Participating in sexually explicit conversation 
11either in person, by telephone, by computer or by a 
12computer-aided device <-for the purpose of sexual 
13stimulation or gratification of any individual.

14(iii) Actual or simulated sexual activity or nudity
15for the purpose of sexual stimulation or gratification of
16any individual.

17(iv) Actual or simulated sexual activity for the
18purpose of producing visual depiction, including
19photographing, videotaping, computer depicting or
20filming.

21This paragraph does not include consensual activities between
22a child who is 14 years of age or older and <-a person another
23person who is 14 years of age or older and whose age is
24within four years of the child's age.

25(2) Any of the following offenses committed against a
26child:

27(i) Rape, as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3121 (relating
28to rape).

29(ii) Statutory sexual assault, as defined in
3018 Pa.C.S. § 3122.1 (relating to statutory sexual

1assault).

2(iii) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, as
3defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (relating to involuntary
4deviate sexual intercourse).

5(iv) Sexual assault, as defined in
618 Pa.C.S. § 3124.1 (relating to sexual assault).

7(v) Institutional sexual assault, as defined in
818 Pa.C.S. § 3124.2 (relating to institutional sexual
9assault).

10(vi) Aggravated indecent assault, as defined in
1118 Pa.C.S. § 3125 (relating to aggravated indecent
12assault).

13(vii) Indecent assault, as defined in
1418 Pa.C.S. § 3126 (relating to indecent assault).

15(viii) Indecent exposure, as defined in
1618 Pa.C.S. § 3127 (relating to indecent exposure).

17(ix) Incest, as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 4302
18(relating to incest).

19(x) Prostitution, as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 5902
20(relating to prostitution and related offenses).

21(xi) Sexual abuse, as defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6312
22(relating to sexual abuse of children).

23(xii) Unlawful contact with a minor, as defined in
2418 Pa.C.S. § 6318 (relating to unlawful contact with
25minor).

26(xiii) Sexual exploitation, as defined in
2718 Pa.C.S. § 6320 (relating to sexual exploitation of
28children).

29* * *

<-30(b) Child abuse.--

1(1) The term "child abuse" shall mean any of the
2following:

3(i) Any recent act or failure to act by a
4perpetrator which causes nonaccidental [serious physical
5injury] bodily injury to a child [under 18 years of age].

6(ii) An act or failure to act, or a series of such
7acts or failures to act, by a perpetrator which causes,
8or substantially contributes to, nonaccidental serious
9mental injury to [or] a child.

10(iii) An act or failure to act by a perpetrator
11which causes sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a
12child [under 18 years of age].

13[(iii)] (iv) Any recent act, failure to act or
14series of such acts or failures to act by a perpetrator
15which creates [an imminent] a substantial and
16unjustifiable risk of [serious physical injury] bodily
17injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a
18child [under 18 years of age].

19[(iv)] (v) Serious physical neglect by a perpetrator
20[constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision
21or the failure to provide essentials of life, including
22adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or
23development or impairs the child's functioning].

24(2) [No child shall be deemed to be physically or
25mentally abused based on injuries that result solely from
26environmental factors that are beyond the control of the
27parent or person responsible for the child's welfare, such as
28inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing and medical
29care.

30(3) If, upon investigation, the county agency determines

1that a child has not been provided needed medical or surgical
2care because of seriously held religious beliefs of the
3child's parents, guardian or person responsible for the
4child's welfare, which beliefs are consistent with those of a
5bona fide religion, the child shall not be deemed to be
6physically or mentally abused. The county agency shall
7closely monitor the child and shall seek court-ordered
8medical intervention when the lack of medical or surgical
9care threatens the child's life or long-term health. In cases
10involving religious circumstances, all correspondence with a
11subject of the report and the records of the Department of
12Public Welfare and the county agency shall not reference
13"child abuse" and shall acknowledge the religious basis for
14the child's condition, and the family shall be referred for
15general protective services, if appropriate.] The term "child
16abuse" does not include any of the following:

17(i) Physical or mental injuries that result solely
18from environmental factors that are beyond the control of
19the parent or person responsible for the child's welfare,
20such as inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing
21and medical care.

22(ii) A refusal to provide needed medical,
23psychological or surgical care that is the result of
24seriously held religious beliefs, consistent with those
25of a bona fide religion, by the child's parents, guardian
26or person responsible for the child's welfare.

27(iii) The use of force by a parent or guardian or
28other person similarly responsible for the general care
29and supervision of a child or a person acting at the
30request of the parent, guardian or their responsible

1person, if all of the following apply:

2(A) the force is used for the purpose of
3safeguarding or promoting the welfare of the child,
4including the prevention or punishment of the child's
5misconduct;

6(B) the force used is not designed to cause or
7known to create a substantial risk of causing death,
8serious bodily injury, disfigurement, extreme pain or
9mental distress or gross degradation; and

10(C) the use of force is reasonable considering
11the circumstances, the physical and mental maturity
12of the child and the physical and mental condition of
13the child.

<-14(b) Child abuse.--

15[(1) The term "child abuse" shall mean any of the
16following:

17(i) Any recent act or failure to act by a
18perpetrator which causes nonaccidental serious physical
19injury to a child under 18 years of age.

20(ii) An act or failure to act by a perpetrator which
21causes nonaccidental serious mental injury to or sexual
22abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18 years of
23age.

24(iii) Any recent act, failure to act or series of
25such acts or failures to act by a perpetrator which
26creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury to or
27sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18
28years of age.

29(iv) Serious physical neglect by a perpetrator
30constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or

1the failure to provide essentials of life, including
2adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or
3development or impairs the child's functioning.

4(2) No child shall be deemed to be physically or
5mentally abused based on injuries that result solely from
6environmental factors that are beyond the control of the
7parent or person responsible for the child's welfare, such as
8inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing and medical
9care.

10(3) If, upon investigation, the county agency determines
11that a child has not been provided needed medical or surgical
12care because of seriously held religious beliefs of the
13child's parents, guardian or person responsible for the
14child's welfare, which beliefs are consistent with those of a
15bona fide religion, the child shall not be deemed to be
16physically or mentally abused. The county agency shall
17closely monitor the child and shall seek court-ordered
18medical intervention when the lack of medical or surgical
19care threatens the child's life or long-term health. In cases
20involving religious circumstances, all correspondence with a
21subject of the report and the records of the Department of
22Public Welfare and the county agency shall not reference
23"child abuse" and shall acknowledge the religious basis for
24the child's condition, and the family shall be referred for
25general protective services, if appropriate.]

26The term "child abuse" shall mean intentionally, knowingly or
27recklessly doing any of the following:

28(1) Causing bodily injury to a child through any recent
29act or failure to act.

30(2) Causing or substantially contributing to serious

1mental injury to a child through any act or failure to act or
2a series of such acts or failures to act.

3(3) Causing sexual abuse or exploitation of a child
4through any act or failure to act.

5(4) Creating a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to
6a child through any recent act or failure to act.

7(5) Creating a likelihood of sexual abuse or
8exploitation of a child through any recent act or failure to
9act.

10(6) Causing serious physical neglect of a child.

11(7) Engaging in any of the following recent acts:

12(i) Kicking, biting or throwing, burning, stabbing
13or cutting a child in a manner that endangers the child.

14(ii) Unreasonably physically restraining a child,
15based on consideration of the method, location or the
16duration of the restraint.

17(iii) Forcefully shaking a child under one year of
18age.

19(iv) Forcefully striking a child under one year of
20age.

21(v) Interfering with the breathing of a child.

22(vi) Causing a child to be present at a location
23where any of the following offenses has occurred:

24(A) A violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 7508.2 (relating
25to operation of methamphetamine laboratory) resulting
26in a conviction.

27(B) A felony violation of the act of April 14,
281972, known as The Controlled Stance, Drug, Device
29and Cosmetics Act, resulting in a conviction.

30(C) A violation of 75 Pa.C.S. § 3802 (relating

1to driving under the influence of alcohol or a
2controlled substance), where the child is a
3passenger, resulting in a conviction.

4(8) Causing the death of the child through any act or
5failure to act.

6(c) Child abuse exclusions.--The term "child abuse" does not
7include any conduct for which an exclusion is provided in
8section 6304 (relating to exclusions from child abuse).

<-9Section 2. Section 6368 of Title 23 is amended by adding a
10subsection to read:

11§ 6368. Investigation of reports.

12* * *

13(e) If, upon investigation, the county agency determines
14that a child has not been provided needed medical, psychological
15or surgical care because of seriously held religious beliefs of
16the child's parents, guardian or person responsible for the
17child's welfare, which beliefs are consistent with those of a
18bona fide religion, the county agency shall closely monitor the
19child and shall seek court-ordered medical intervention when the
20lack of medical or surgical care threatens the child's life or
21long-term health. In cases involving religious circumstances,
22all correspondence with a subject of the report and the records
23of the department and the county agency shall not reference
24"child abuse" and shall acknowledge the religious basis for the
25child's condition, and the family shall be referred for general
26protective services, if appropriate.

27Section 3. Title 23 is amended by adding a section to read:

28§ 6368.1.  Factors to consider when investigating child abuse.

29(a) Investigation of suspected physical abuse.--When
30investigating suspected physical abuse, the county agency shall

1consider all relevant factors, including the following:

2(1) Whether bodily injury occurred, based on an obvious
3bodily injury or a substantial likelihood that the child's
4injury caused substantial pain or impairment of physical
5condition during or after the time of injury, considering the
6age, size, physical and mental condition of the child.

7(2) Whether the injury was nonaccidental.

8(3) Whether the injury was caused by the alleged
9perpetrator's act or failure to act.

10(4) Whether the injury was caused by justifiable force
11that does not constitute child abuse under this chapter.

12(b) Investigation of suspected sexual abuse or
13exploitation.--When investigating suspected sexual abuse or
14exploitation, the county agency shall consider all relevant
15factors, including whether the alleged perpetrator's act or
16failure to act caused sexual abuse or exploitation of the child.

17(c) Investigation of suspected emotional abuse.--When
18investigating suspected emotional abuse, the county agency shall
19consider all relevant factors, including the following:

20(1) Whether serious mental injury occurred to the child.

21(2) Whether the serious mental injury was nonaccidental.

22(3) Whether the alleged perpetrator caused or
23substantially contributed to the serious mental injury.

24(d) Investigation of creation of risk.--When investigating
25whether suspected child abuse occurred by creating risk, the
26county agency shall consider all relevant factors, including the
27following:

28(1) Whether the alleged perpetrator's actions created
29foreseeable danger of bodily injury to or sexual abuse or
30exploitation of the child.

1(2) Whether the alleged perpetrator created a
2substantial and unjustifiable risk of bodily injury to or
3sexual abuse or exploitation of the child.

4(3) Whether the perpetrator's actions served any
5legitimate purpose.

6(e) Investigation of suspected serious physical neglect.--
7When investigating suspected serious physical neglect, the
8county agency shall consider all relevant factors, including the
9following:

10(1) Whether the alleged perpetrator was responsible for 
11providing the supervision of the child or the essentials of 
12life that was not provided to the child.

13(2) Whether the alleged perpetrator knew or should have
14known that the child was in need of adequate essentials of
15life or age-appropriate supervision.

16(3) Whether the child's life or health was endangered,
17the child's well-being was threatened, bodily injury was
18caused to the child, or the child's health, development or
19functioning was impaired.

20(4) Whether a failure to supervise the child was
21repeated, prolonged or egregious given the physical and
22mental maturity of the child and the physical and mental
23condition of the child.

24(5) Whether the child lacked adequate food, shelter or
25timely medical care.

<-26Section 2. Title 23 is amended by adding a section to read:

27§ 6304. Exclusions from child abuse.

28(a) Environmental factors.--No child shall be deemed to be
29physically or mentally abused based on injuries that result
30solely from environmental factors that are beyond the control of

1the parent or guardian, such as inadequate housing, furnishings,
2income, clothing and medical care.

3(b) Practice of religious beliefs.--If, upon investigation,
4the county agency determines that a child has not been provided
5needed medical or surgical care because of sincerely held
6religious beliefs of the child's parents or guardian, which
7beliefs are consistent with those of a bona fide religion, the
8child shall not be deemed to be physically or mentally abused.
9In such cases the following shall apply:

10(1) The county agency shall closely monitor the child
11and the child's family and shall seek court-ordered medical
12intervention when the lack of medical or surgical care
13threatens the child's life or long-term health.

14(2) All correspondence with a subject of the report and
15the records of the department and the county agency shall not
16reference child abuse and shall acknowledge the religious
17basis for the child's condition.

18(3) The family shall be referred for general protective
19services, if appropriate.

20(4) This subsection shall not apply if the failure to
21provide needed medical or surgical care causes the death of
22the child.

23(c) Use of force for supervision, control and safety 
24purposes.--Subject to subsection (d), the use of reasonable 
25force on or against a child by a person responsible for 
26supervision, control or safety of the child shall not be 
27considered child abuse if any of the following conditions apply:

28(1) The use of reasonable force constitutes incidental,
29minor or reasonable physical contact with the child or other
30actions that are designed to maintain order and control.

1(2) The use of reasonable force is necessary:

2(i) to quell a disturbance or remove the child from
3the scene of a disturbance that threatens physical injury
4to persons or damage to property;

5(ii) to prevent the child from self-inflicted
6physical harm;

7(iii) for self-defense or the defense of another
8individual; or

9(iv) to obtain possession of weapons or other
10dangerous objects or controlled substances or
11paraphernalia that are on the child or within the control
12of the child.

13(d) Reasonable force by parents and guardians and other
14authorized persons.--Notwithstanding subsection (c), this
15chapter does not restrict the generally recognized existing
16rights of parents, guardians and persons authorized by a parent
17or guardian to use reasonable force for supervision, control and
18discipline when raising children. Such force shall not be
19considered child abuse, provided that force is used in a
20reasonable and controlled manner. When determining whether such
21force is reasonable, the intent of the parent, guardian or other
22authorized person, the circumstances, the physical and mental
23maturity of the child and the physical and mental condition of
24the child are factors to be considered. This subsection shall
25not be construed to supersede any law or regulation prohibiting
26or regulating the use of disciplinary force or physical
27punishment by certain individuals who are not parents or
28guardians, including, but not limited to, foster parents, school
29employees, child care employees and employees of residential
30facilities.

1(e) Participation in events that involve physical contact
2with child.--An individual participating in a practice or
3competition in an interscholastic sport, physical education, a
4recreational activity or an extracurricular activity that
5involves physical contact with a child does not, in itself,
6constitute contact that is subject to the reporting requirements
7of this chapter.

8(f) Peer-on-peer contact.--No child shall be deemed to be
9physically or mentally abused based on injuries that result from
10a dispute, fight or scuffle with a peer.

11(g) Defensive force.--Reasonable force for self-defense or
12the defense of another individual, consistent with the
13provisions of with 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 505 (relating to use of force
14for self-protection) and 506 (relating to use of force for the
15protection of other persons), shall not be considered child
16abuse.

17(h) Accidental conduct.--Conduct that causes injury or harm
18to a child or creates a risk of injury or harm to a child shall
19not be considered child abuse if there is no evidence that the
20person acted intentionally, knowingly or recklessly when causing
21the injury or harm to the child or creating a risk of injury or
22harm to the child.

23Section 3. Section 6338 of Title 23 is amended by adding
24subsections to to read:

25§ 6338. Disposition of founded and indicated reports.

26* * *

27(d) Expunction of information when a perpetrator attains 21
28years of age.--Notwithstanding subsection (c), the name of a
29perpetrator of child abuse who was under 18 years of age when
30the individual committed child abuse shall be expunged from the

1Statewide central register when the individual reaches 21 years
2of age, if the individual has not been named as a perpetrator in
3any subsequent founded or indicated report of child abuse. The
4expunction shall be mandated and guaranteed by the department.

5(e) Nonapplicability.--The provisions of subsection (d)
6shall not apply in the case of a:

7(1) sexually violent delinquent child as defined in 42
8Pa.C.S. § 9799.12 (relating to definitions) who:

9(i) is required to register under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 97
10Subch. H (relating to registration of sexual offenders);
11and

12(ii) was found delinquent as a result of the same
13acts which resulted in the sexually violent delinquent
14child being named a perpetrator of child abuse; or

15(2) juvenile offender as defined in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9799.12
16who:

17(i) is required to register under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 97
18Subch. H;

19(ii) is required to register under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 97
20Subch. H as a result of an adjudication of delinquency
21for the same acts which resulted in the juvenile
22offender's being named a perpetrator of child abuse; and

23(iii) has not been removed from the Statewide
24Registry of Sexual Offenders pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. §
259799.17 (relating to termination of period of
26registration for juvenile offenders).

27Section 4. Sections 6340(a)(9), (10) and (13) and 6368(a) of
28Title 23 are amended to read:

29§ 6340. Release of information in confidential reports.

30(a) General rule.--Reports specified in section 6339

1(relating to confidentiality of reports) shall only be made
2available to:

3* * *

4(9) Law enforcement officials of any jurisdiction, as
5long as the information is relevant in the course of
6investigating cases of:

7(i) Homicide or other criminal offense set forth in
8section 6344(c) (relating to information relating to
9prospective child-care personnel), sexual abuse, sexual
10exploitation, serious bodily injury or [serious physical
11injury] bodily injury perpetrated by persons whether or
12not related to the victim.

13(ii) Child abuse perpetrated by persons who are not
14family members.

15(iii) Repeated physical injury to a child under
16circumstances which indicate that the child's health,
17safety or welfare is harmed or threatened.

18(iv) A missing child report.

19(10) The district attorney or his designee or other law
20enforcement official, as set forth in the county protocols
21for investigative teams required in section 6365(c) (relating
22to services for prevention, investigation and treatment of
23child abuse), shall receive, immediately after the county
24agency has ensured the safety of the child, reports of abuse,
25either orally or in writing, according to regulations
26promulgated by the department, from the county agency in
27which the initial report of suspected child abuse or initial
28inquiry into the report gives evidence that the abuse is:

29(i) a criminal offense set forth in section 6344(c),
30not including an offense under 18 Pa.C.S. § 4304

1(relating to endangering welfare of children) or an
2equivalent crime under Federal law or the law of another
3state, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or serious
4bodily injury perpetrated by persons, whether or not
5related to the victim;

6(ii) child abuse perpetrated by persons who are not
7family members; or

8(iii) [serious physical injury] bodily injury
9involving extensive and severe bruising, burns, broken
10bones, lacerations, internal bleeding, shaken baby
11syndrome or choking or an injury that significantly
12impairs a child's physical functioning, either
13temporarily or permanently.

14* * *

15(13) [Persons required to make reports under Subchapter
16C.1 (relating to students in public and private schools).
17Information under this paragraph shall be] If the alleged 
18perpetrator is a school employee, the school administrator 
19shall receive information limited to the final status of the
20report following the investigation as to whether the report
21is indicated, founded or unfounded. Information disclosed 
22pursuant to this paragraph shall be provided to the school 
23administrator within ten days of the completion of the 
24investigation.

25* * *

26§ 6368. Investigation of reports.

27(a) General rule.--Upon receipt of each report of suspected 
28child abuse, the county agency shall immediately commence an 
29appropriate investigation and see the child immediately if 
30emergency protective custody is required or has been or shall be
 

1taken or if it cannot be determined from the report whether 
2emergency protective custody is needed. Otherwise, the county 
3agency shall commence an appropriate investigation and see the 
4child within 24 hours of receipt of the report. The 
5investigation shall include a determination of the risk of harm 
6to the child or children if they continue to remain in the 
7existing home environment, as well as a determination of the 
8nature, extent and cause of any condition enumerated in the 
9report, any action necessary to provide for the safety of the 
10child or children and the taking of photographic identification 
11of the child or children to be maintained with the file. During 
12the investigation, the county agency shall provide or arrange 
13for services necessary to protect the child while the agency is 
14making a determination pursuant to this section. If the 
15investigation indicates [serious physical injury] bodily injury, 
16a medical examination shall be performed on the subject child by 
17a certified medical practitioner. Where there is reasonable 
18cause to suspect there is a history of prior or current abuse, 
19the medical practitioner has the authority to arrange for 
20further medical tests or the county agency has the authority to 
21request further medical tests. The investigation shall include 
22communication with the department's service under section 6332 
23(relating to establishment of Statewide toll-free telephone 
24number). Prior to interviewing a subject of the report, the 
25county agency shall orally notify the subject who is about to be 
26interviewed of the existence of the report, the subject's rights 
27under 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 6337 (relating to right to counsel) and 6338 
28(relating to other basic rights) and the subject's rights 
29pursuant to this chapter in regard to amendment or expungement. 
30Within 72 hours following oral notification to the subject, the
 

1county agency shall give written notice to the subject. The 
2notice may be reasonably delayed if notification is likely to 
3threaten the safety of the victim, a nonperpetrator subject or 
4the investigating county agency worker, to cause the perpetrator 
5to abscond or to significantly interfere with the conduct of a 
6criminal investigation. However, the written notice must be 
7provided to all subjects prior to the county agency's reaching a 
8finding on the validity of the report.

9* * *

10Section <-4 5. This act shall take effect in 60 days.

 

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