§ 6303. Definitions.
(a) General rule.--The following words and phrases when used in this chapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Accept for service." Decide on the basis of the needs and problems of an individual to admit or receive the individual as a client of the agency or as required by a court order entered under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters).
"Child." Includes a newborn.
"Child-care services." Child day-care centers, group and family day-care homes, foster homes, adoptive parents, boarding homes for children, juvenile detention center services or programs for delinquent or dependent children; mental health, mental retardation, early intervention and drug and alcohol services for children; and other child-care services which are provided by or subject to approval, licensure, registration or certification by the Department of Public Welfare or a county social services agency or which are provided pursuant to a contract with these departments or a county social services agency. The term does not include such services or programs which may be offered by public and private schools, intermediate units or area vocational-technical schools.
"Child protective services." Those services and activities provided by the Department of Public Welfare and each county agency for child abuse cases.
"Children's advocacy center." A local public agency in this Commonwealth or a not-for-profit entity incorporated in this Commonwealth which:
(1) is tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Public Law 99-514, 26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3)); and
(2) operates within this Commonwealth for the primary purpose of providing a child-focused, facility-based program dedicated to coordinating a formalized multidisciplinary response to suspected child abuse that, at a minimum, either onsite or through a partnership with another entity or entities, assists county agencies, investigative teams and law enforcement by providing services, including forensic interviews, medical evaluations, therapeutic interventions, victim support and advocacy, team case reviews and a system for case tracking.
"Cooperation with an investigation or assessment." Includes, but is not limited to, a school or school district which permits authorized personnel from the Department of Public Welfare or county agency to interview a student while the student is in attendance at school.
"County agency." The county children and youth social service agency established pursuant to section 405 of the act of June 24, 1937 (P.L.2017, No.396), known as the County Institution District Law, or its successor, and supervised by the Department of Public Welfare under Article IX of the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code.
"Department." The Department of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth.
"Expunge." To strike out or obliterate entirely so that the expunged information may not be stored, identified or later recovered by any mechanical or electronic means or otherwise.
"Family members." Spouses, parents and children or other persons related by consanguinity or affinity.
"Founded report." A child abuse report made pursuant to this chapter if there has been any judicial adjudication based on a finding that a child who is a subject of the report has been abused, including the entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or a finding of guilt to a criminal charge involving the same factual circumstances involved in the allegation of child abuse.
"Founded report for school employee." A report under Subchapter C.1 (relating to students in public and private schools) if there has been any judicial adjudication based on a finding that the victim has suffered serious bodily injury or sexual abuse or exploitation, including the entry of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or a finding of guilt to a criminal charge involving the same factual circumstances involved in the allegations of the report.
"General protective services." Those services and activities provided by each county agency for nonabuse cases requiring protective services, as defined by the Department of Public Welfare in regulations.
"Indicated report." A child abuse report made pursuant to this chapter if an investigation by the county agency or the Department of Public Welfare determines that substantial evidence of the alleged abuse exists based on any of the following:
(1) Available medical evidence.
(2) The child protective service investigation.
(3) An admission of the acts of abuse by the perpetrator.
"Indicated report for school employee." A report made under Subchapter C.1 (relating to students in public and private schools) if an investigation by the county agency determines that substantial evidence of serious bodily injury or sexual abuse or exploitation exists based on any of the following:
(1) Available medical evidence.
(2) The county agency's investigation.
(3) An admission of the acts of abuse by the school employee.
"Individual residing in the same home as the child." An individual who is 14 years of age or older and who resides in the same home as the child.
"Near fatality." An act that, as certified by a physician, places a child in serious or critical condition.
"Newborn." As defined in section 6502 (relating to definitions).
"Nonaccidental." An injury that is the result of an intentional act that is committed with disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk.
"Perpetrator." A person who has committed child abuse and is a parent of a child, a person responsible for the welfare of a child, an individual residing in the same home as a child or a paramour of a child's parent.
"Person responsible for the child's welfare." A person who provides permanent or temporary care, supervision, mental health diagnosis or treatment, training or control of a child in lieu of parental care, supervision and control. The term does not include a person who is employed by or provides services or programs in any public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school.
"Private agency." A children and youth social service agency subject to the requirements of 55 Pa. Code Ch. 3680 (relating to administration and operation of a children and youth social service agency).
"Protective services." Those services and activities provided by the Department of Public Welfare and each county agency for children who are abused or are alleged to be in need of protection under this chapter.
"Recent acts or omissions." Acts or omissions committed within two years of the date of the report to the Department of Public Welfare or county agency.
"Resource family." A family which provides temporary foster or kinship care for children who need out-of-home placement and may eventually provide permanency for those children, including an adoptive family.
"Risk assessment." A Commonwealth-approved systematic process that assesses a child's need for protection or services based on the risk of harm to the child.
"School employee." An individual employed by a public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school. The term includes an independent contractor and employees. The term excludes an individual who has no direct contact with students.
"Secretary." The Secretary of Public Welfare of the Commonwealth.
"Serious bodily injury." Bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or organ.
"Serious mental injury." A psychological condition, as diagnosed by a physician or licensed psychologist, including the refusal of appropriate treatment, that:
(1) renders a child chronically and severely anxious, agitated, depressed, socially withdrawn, psychotic or in reasonable fear that the child's life or safety is threatened; or
(2) seriously interferes with a child's ability to accomplish age-appropriate developmental and social tasks.
"Serious physical injury." An injury that:
(1) causes a child severe pain; or
(2) significantly impairs a child's physical functioning, either temporarily or permanently.
"Sexual abuse or exploitation." Any of the following:
(1) The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist another individual to engage in sexually explicit conduct.
(2) The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of a child to engage in or assist another individual to engage in simulation of sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depiction, including photographing, videotaping, computer depicting and filming.
(3) Any of the following offenses committed against a child:
(ii) Sexual assault.
(iii) Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.
(iv) Aggravated indecent assault.
(vii) Indecent exposure.
(ix) Sexual abuse.
(x) Sexual exploitation.
"Student." An individual enrolled in a public or private school, intermediate unit or area vocational-technical school who is under 18 years of age.
"Subject of the report." Any child, parent, guardian or other person responsible for the welfare of a child or any alleged or actual perpetrator or school employee named in a report made to the Department of Public Welfare or a county agency under this chapter.
"Substantial evidence." Evidence which outweighs inconsistent evidence and which a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion.
"Substantiated child abuse." Child abuse as to which there is an indicated report or founded report.
"Under investigation." A child abuse report pursuant to this chapter which is being investigated to determine whether it is "founded," "indicated" or "unfounded."
"Unfounded report." Any report made pursuant to this chapter unless the report is a "founded report" or an "indicated report."
(b) Child abuse.--
(1) The term "child abuse" shall mean any of the following:
(i) Any recent act or failure to act by a perpetrator which causes nonaccidental serious physical injury to a child under 18 years of age.
(ii) An act or failure to act by a perpetrator which causes nonaccidental serious mental injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18 years of age.
(iii) Any recent act, failure to act or series of such acts or failures to act by a perpetrator which creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18 years of age.
(iv) Serious physical neglect by a perpetrator constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or the failure to provide essentials of life, including adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or development or impairs the child's functioning.
(2) No child shall be deemed to be physically or mentally abused based on injuries that result solely from environmental factors that are beyond the control of the parent or person responsible for the child's welfare, such as inadequate housing, furnishings, income, clothing and medical care.
(3) If, upon investigation, the county agency determines that a child has not been provided needed medical or surgical care because of seriously held religious beliefs of the child's parents, guardian or person responsible for the child's welfare, which beliefs are consistent with those of a bona fide religion, the child shall not be deemed to be physically or mentally abused. The county agency shall closely monitor the child and shall seek court-ordered medical intervention when the lack of medical or surgical care threatens the child's life or long-term health. In cases involving religious circumstances, all correspondence with a subject of the report and the records of the Department of Public Welfare and the county agency shall not reference "child abuse" and shall acknowledge the religious basis for the child's condition, and the family shall be referred for general protective services, if appropriate.
(Dec. 16, 1994, P.L.1292, No.151, eff. July 1, 1995; Mar. 31, 1995, 1st Sp.Sess., P.L.985, No.10, eff. 60 days; Dec. 9, 2002, P.L.1549, No.201, eff. 60 days; Nov. 29, 2004, P.L.1291, No.160, eff. 60 days; Nov. 9, 2006, P.L.1358, No.146, eff. 180 days; Nov. 29, 2006, P.L.1581, No.179, eff. 180 days; July 3, 2008, P.L.276, No.33, eff. 180 days)
2008 Amendment. Act 33 added the defs. of "children's advocacy center" and "substantiated child abuse."
2006 Amendments. Act 146 added the defs. of "near fatality" and "nonaccidental" in subsec. (a) and Act 179 amended the def. of "sexual abuse or exploitation" in subsec. (a).
2004 Amendment. Act 160 added the defs. of "private agency" and "resource family" in subsec. (a).
2002 Amendment. Act 201 added the defs. of "child" and "newborn" in subsec. (a).
1995 Amendment. Act 10, 1st Sp.Sess., amended the def. of "sexual abuse or exploitation" in subsec. (a).
Cross References. Section 6303 is referred to in sections 6340, 6368, 6502 of this title; section 4306 of Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses); sections 6302, 6336.1 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure); section 4109 of Title 51 (Military Affairs).