Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone may report suspected abuse; mandated reporters are those people who are required by law to report suspected child abuse. Mandated reporters are held to a higher standard of responsibility and may receive serious consequences for not reporting suspected abuse. Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) was amended in 2014, including substantial changes to the list of people who are mandated reporters. Effective December 31, 2014, people in these positions are mandated to report child abuse:

  • A person licensed or certified to practice in any health-related field under the jurisdiction of the Department of State;
  • A medical examiner, coroner or funeral director;
  • An employee of a health care facility or provider licensed by the Department of  Health, who is engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of  individuals;
  • A school employee;
  • An employee of a child care service, who has direct contact with children in the course of employment;
  • Clergyman, priest, rabbi, minister, Christian Science practitioner, religious healer or spiritual leader of any regularly established church or other religious organization;
  • An individual paid or unpaid; who, on the basis of the individual’s role as an integral part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service, accepts responsibility for a child;
  • An employee of a social services agency, who has direct contact with children in the course of employment;
  • A peace officer or law enforcement official defined as Attorney General, District Attorney, PA State Police and municipal police officer.
  • An emergency medical services provider certified by the Department of Health;
  • An employee of a public library, who has direct contact with children in the course of employment;
  • An individual supervised or managed by a person listed above who has direct contact with children in the course of their employment; and
  • An independent contractor who has direct contact with children.
  • An attorney affiliated with an agency, institution, organization or other entity that is responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or control of children.
  • A foster parent.

When you suspect child abuse, the law requires you to immediately make an oral report of suspected child abuse via the Statewide toll-free telephone number ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. The recent amendments to CPSL allows mandated reporters to make a written report online.

If you make an oral report to ChildLine you must follow-up with a written report, which may be submitted electronically, within 48 hours. For more about how to report suspected child abuse, click here.

No, changes to CPSL now require that a mandated reporter must personally make the report. Your supervisor may assist you in making the report (for example, sit with you for support if you are uncomfortable in the process) as long as they do not interfere in any way with the making of the report. Afterward, you should inform your supervisor (or whoever is designated at your place of employment) about the report.

Yes. You do not have to investigate or be certain of the abuse, or even know the name of the person who is suspected of abusing a child. Your responsibility is to make a report when you have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse. Learn more about the indicators of child abuse and neglect

Each referral is evaluated at ChildLine by a trained caseworker who will determine the most appropriate course of action. These actions include forwarding a report to a county agency for investigation as child abuse or for assessment as general protective services, or forwarding the referral to the appropriate law enforcement official(s).  You may be contacted by children and youth or law enforcement for additional information or if they have questions.  Children and youth often offer services to families even if no abuse is present to help prevent future abuse. If ChildLine categories the report as a CPS (suspected child abuse) and you made the report as a mandated reporter, you will automatically receive a letter notifying you of the result of the investigation, to include the final status and any services planned/provided to the child/family.  

The law requires the name of the mandated reporter to be kept confidential, and Children and Youth Services agents take that requirement VERY seriously. It is possible, however, that some parents will figure out where the report came from. Fears of retaliation can, unfortunately, be justified. Reporters should rely on the organizational policies that are in place to handle any potentially angry or violent client.

For instance, a parent can be equally angry if their son “the star quarterback” is not allowed to play football because of a failing grade. Professionals have resources for protecting their safety; children who are abused often do not. Reporters are encouraged to try to appreciate the parent’s reactions and fears, and assure them you only have the best interest of their child in mind and will be glad to assist them in remedying the cause for concern however you can.

Mandated reporters are protected from liability for reporting, cooperating with investigations, and testifying in court as a result of the report, among other things. As long as you make the report without malice (with good intentions based on your suspicions), you cannot be sued or receive any adverse action from your employer.  The good faith of a mandated reporter is assumed.

Willful failure to report suspected abuse is a serious crime. The first willful failure is considered a second-degree misdemeanor; if the child is found to be abused upon investigation, the willful failure to report is considered a first degree felony (or higher, depending on the situation). Penalties increase if willful failure to report continues. For more information on failure to report, click here.

Perhaps. New training requirements for mandated reporters were part of the 2014 amendments. In addition to required training for school employees and independent contractors (enacted in 2012), mandated reporters who hold a professional license or certification under the Department of State and mandated reports who work for an agency that is licensed, supervised or registered with the Department of Human Services are required to receive training. Foster parents are also required to have regular training. Requirements vary according to the type of employment/license the mandated reporter holds. Click here for details on training requirements.

Yes. We have been providing mandated reporter training for almost 20 years. Our training is approved by the Department of Human Services and Department of State and has been recognized as the leading curriculum for mandated reporter training. We offer several formats and training experiences. Click here to learn more about our training options.

Visit our “what are a mandated reporter's responsibilities” page .

You can receive updates and news for mandated reporters by signing up for our newsletter and child welfare emails.

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