Policy AD72 - REPORTING SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE

Policy Steward: Vice President for Administration

Contents:

  • Purpose
  • Scope
  • Definitions
  • Policy
  • Further Information
  • Cross References
  • Attachment A - Reporting Suspected Child Abuse FAQs

  • PURPOSE:

    To provide guidance to University employees, volunteers, and independent contractors regarding mandated reporting requirements pursuant to Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) and pursuant to Penn State Policy.  This Policy is intended to apply broadly and, when in doubt, members of the University community should always err on the side of reporting suspected child abuse.

    SCOPE:

    This policy applies to all Penn State University locations and to all University employees, volunteers, and independent contractors.  The Penn State Hershey Medical Center campus (including the College of Medicine) will follow a separate policy that complies with the principles of this policy, but reflects its unique activities.

    DEFINITIONS:

    Adult – An individual 18 years of age or older.  (23 Pa. C.S.§6303(a)).

    Child - An individual under 18 years of age.  (23 Pa. C.S.§6303(a)).

    Child Abuse – Pursuant to the Pennsylvania CPSL, the term “child abuse” shall mean intentionally, knowingly or recklessly doing the following (23 Pa. C.S.§6303(b.1)):

    1. Causing bodily injury to a child through any recent act or failure to act.
    2. Fabricating, feigning or intentionally exaggerating or inducing a medical symptom or disease which results in a potentially harmful medical evaluation or treatment to the child through any recent act.
    3. Causing or substantially contributing to serious mental injury to a child through any act or failure to act or a series of such acts or failures to act.
    4. Causing sexual abuse or exploitation of a child through any act or failure to act.
    5. Creating a reasonable likelihood of bodily injury to a child through any recent act or failure to act.
    6. Creating a likelihood of sexual abuse or exploitation of a child through any recent act or failure to act.
    7. Causing serious physical neglect of a child.
    8. Engaging in any of the following recent acts:
      1. Kicking, biting, throwing, burning, stabbing or cutting a child in a manner that endangers the child.
      2. Unreasonably restraining or confining a child, based on consideration of the method, location or the duration of the restraint or confinement.
      3. Forcefully shaking a child under one year of age.
      4. Forcefully slapping or otherwise striking a child under one year of age.
      5. Interfering with the breathing of a child.
      6. Causing a child to be present at a location while a violation of 18 Pa. C.S. § 7508.2 (relating to operation of methamphetamine laboratory) is occurring, provided that the violation is being investigated by law enforcement.
      7. Leaving a child unsupervised with an individual, other than the child's parent, who the actor knows or reasonably should have known:
        1. Is required to register as a Tier II or Tier III sexual offender under 42 Pa. C.S. Ch. 97 Subch. H (relating to registration of sexual offenders), where the victim of the sexual offense was under 18 years of age when the crime was committed.
        2. Has been determined to be a sexually violent predator under 42 Pa. C.S. § 9799.24 (relating to assessments) or any of its predecessors.
        3. Has been determined to be a sexually violent delinquent child as defined in 42 Pa. C.S. § 9799.12 (relating to definitions).
    9. Causing the death of the child through any act or failure to act.

    ChildLine – The 24-hour toll free telephone reporting system operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services to receive reports of suspected child abuse at 1-800-932-0313(23 Pa. C.S.§6303(a)).

    Direct Contact with children – The care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children.  (23 Pa. C.S.§6303(a)).

    Mandated Reporter – All University employees, volunteers, and independent contractors are required to report all instances of suspected child abuse consistent with this Policy, and because this Policy imposes broader obligations than the law, the obligation on employees, volunteers, and independent contractors of the University is broader than the obligations on the general public.

    Solely under the law, a mandated reporter is a person who is required to make a report of suspected child abuse under Pennsylvania law.  Accordingly, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, the following shall make a report of suspected child abuse, if the person has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse (23 Pa. C.S. §6311(a)):

    1. A person licensed or certified to practice in any health-related field under the jurisdiction of the Department of State.
    2. A medical examiner, coroner or funeral director.
    3. 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.
    4. A school employee (specifically includes employees of state-related universities who have direct contact with children).
    5. An employee of a child-care service who has direct contact with children in the course of employment.
    6. A clergyman, priest, rabbi, minister, Christian Science practitioner, religious healer or spiritual leader of any regularly established church or other religious organization.
    7. 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.
    8. An employee of a social services agency who has direct contact with children in the course of employment.
    9. A peace officer or law enforcement official.
    10. An emergency medical services provider certified by the Department of Health.
    11. An employee of a public library who has direct contact with children in the course of employment.
    12. An individual supervised or managed by a person listed under sections 1 – 11 above, who has direct contact with children in the course of employment.
    13. An independent contractor.
    14. An attorney affiliated with an agency, institution, organization or other entity, including a school (which includes state-related universities) or regularly established religious organization that is responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or control of children.
    15. A Foster Parent.

    Professional Licensee - A person who is licensed, certified or otherwise regulated to provide health care services under the laws of this Commonwealth, including a physician, podiatrist, optometrist, psychologist, physical therapist, certified nurse practitioner, registered nurse, nurse midwife, physician's assistant, chiropractor, dentist, pharmacist or an individual accredited or certified to provide behavioral health services.

    Persons Subject to Department Regulation – Includes (1) operators of institutions, facilities or agencies which care for children and are subject to supervision by the Department of Human Services under Article IX of the Public Welfare Code, and their employees who have direct contact with children and (2) operators of facilities and agencies which care for children and are subject to licensure by the Department of Human Services under Article X of the Public Welfare Code and their employees who have direct contact with children.

    School - A facility providing elementary, secondary or postsecondary educational services (including state-related universities).  (23 Pa. C.S.§6303(a)).

    POLICY:

    It is the policy of Penn State University to require all University employees, volunteers, and independent contractors who in the course of their business or volunteer activity, have reasonable suspicion of child abuse, as defined by the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, to make a report as outlined in this policy. This does not include any confidential communications made to an attorney subject to the attorney-client privilege or a member of the clergy subject to the clergy-penitent privilege.

    Basis to Report

    Under this policy, ALL University employees, volunteers and independent contractors, regardless of their status as a mandated reporter as defined by Pennsylvania law, who, in the course of their business or volunteer activity, have reasonable suspicion of child abuse, as defined by Pennsylvania law, are to make a report as outlined in this policy. In addition, ALL University employees, volunteers and independent contractors, who, in the course of their business or volunteer activity, receive a specific disclosure from a person that an identifiable child is a victim of child abuse, or that the person has abused a child, are also required to make a report as outlined in this policy. Please note that information learned through any confidential communications made to an attorney subject to the attorney-client privilege or to a member of the clergy subject to the clergy-penitent privilege is not required to be reported.

    Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, any University employee, volunteer. and/or independent contractor, who is defined by law as a mandated reporter, must make a report if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of child abuse under any of the following circumstances (23 Pa. C.S.§6311(b)):

    1. The mandated reporter comes into contact with the child in the course of employment, occupation and practice of a profession or through a regularly scheduled program, activity or service.
    2. The mandated reporter is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of the child, or is affiliated with an agency, institution, organization, school, regularly established church or religious organization or other entity that is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance or training of the child.
    3. A person makes a specific disclosure to the mandated reporter that an identifiable child is the victim of child abuse.
    4. An individual 14 years of age or older makes a specific disclosure to the mandated reporter that the individual has committed child abuse.

    How to Make a Report

    If you are making a report as a mandated reporter pursuant to Pennsylvania law or as a University employee, independent contractor, or volunteer (or both), follow these steps:

    1. If a child is in immediate danger, contact police at 911 to obtain immediate protection for the child.
    2. Immediately make an oral report to the Pennsylvania Department of Human services via ChildLine (1-800-932-0313) (23 Pa. C.S. § 6313(a) (1)) or an electronic report using the Child Welfare Portal at www.compass.state.pa.us/cwisSolely informing a supervisor that you suspect abuse is NOT sufficient under this Policy or the law.
    3. Immediately, but in no event later than 48 hours after calling ChildLine (as described in #2 above), prepare and submit a written report utilizing Form CY47, which may be submitted electronically, to the County Children and Youth agency where the suspected abuse occurred (23 Pa. C.S. §6313(a)(2)).  If you make an electronic report using the Child Welfare Portal (as described in #2 above), you are not required to submit a Form CY47 to the County Children and Youth Agency.
    4. Whenever an employee, volunteer or independent contractor makes a report, that person shall also make an internal report to the University’s designated agents for purposes of this policy and Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, pursuant to (23 Pa. C.S.§6311(c)) by immediately sending an email to AD72@psu.edu, attaching the completed Form CY47 (if required, as described in #3 above).  In response to the email, the person making the report will be contacted by University Police Services, Penn State’s Office of Ethics & Compliance, and/or Penn State’s Risk Management Office. All University employees, volunteers, and independent contractors are required to assist the University, to the extent deemed necessary by the University, in gathering factual information related to the report.
    5. Forward any subsequent communication from the Department of Human Services relating to the report to AD72@psu.edu.
    6. To the extent provided by law, Penn State will preserve the confidentiality of all child abuse and neglect reports and records to protect the privacy rights of the person making the report. (23 Pa. C.S. §6340).

    Immunity from Liability

    Under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, a person acting in good faith who makes a report of child abuse, whether required to report or not, has immunity from civil and criminal liability. (23 Pa. C.S. §6318(a)).

    Failure to Report

    Pursuant to Pennsylvania law, a mandated reporter who willfully fails to report a case of suspected child abuse or to make a referral to the appropriate authorities commits an offense up to the level of a felony of the third degree. (23 Pa. C.S. §6319).

    Pursuant to University policy, if any University employee, volunteer, or independent contractor negligently, recklessly, or willfully fails to report a case of suspected child abuse, then that individual is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

    Protection from Employment Discrimination

    The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law provides protection from employment discrimination when a person has acted in good faith in making a report of suspected child abuse. (23 Pa. C.S. §6320(a)).

    University Policy AD67, Disclosure of Wrongful Conduct and Protection from Retaliation, encourages and enables any member of the University faculty, staff, or student body to make Good Faith Reports of suspected Wrongful Conduct, and to protect such individuals from Retaliation for making such reports to the University or an Appropriate Authority, participating in any investigation, hearing, or inquiry by the University or an Appropriate Authority or participating in a court proceeding relating to an allegation of suspected Wrongful Conduct at the University.

    Education & Training

    Penn State University will make educational communications and programs available to employees, volunteers, and independent contractors aimed at the prevention of child abuse and neglect, the recognition of the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, and reporting requirements and procedures.

    1. Initial Training Requirements
      1. All University employees, volunteers, and/or independent contractors who are interacting with minors in a youth program, activity or service must complete the Building a Safe Penn State: Reporting Child Abuse training prior to working within the program, activity or service.
      2. All other University employees will be required to complete the Building a Safe Penn State: Reporting Child Abuse training within the first 30 days of employment.
      3. In addition to Section A above, Penn State employees who are considered Professional Licensees are required to follow additional requirements as outlined in 23 Pa. C.S. §6383(b).
      4. In addition to Section A above, Penn State employees who work within a business unit that includes persons subject to department regulation are required to follow additional requirements outlined in 23 Pa. C.S. §6383(c).
    2. Ongoing Training
      1. All University employees, volunteers, and/or independent contractors who are interacting with minors in a youth serving program, activity or service must complete the Building a Safe Penn State: Reporting Child Abuse training on an annual basis.
      2. All other University employees will be required to complete the Building a Safe Penn State: Reporting Child Abuse Training on a triennial basis (that is, every three years).
      3. Penn State employees who are considered Professional Licensees are required to follow on-going training requirements as outlined in 23 Pa. C.S. §6383(b).
      4. Penn State employees who work within a business unit that is subject to department regulation are required to follow on-going training requirements outlined in 23 Pa. C.S. §6383(c).

    Education & Training - Compliance

    Employees, volunteers, and/or independent contractors who fail to meet training requirements will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

    FURTHER INFORMATION:

    For questions, additional detail, or to request changes to this policy, please contact the Office of Ethics and Compliance.

    CROSS REFERENCES:

    Other Policies in this Manual should also be referenced, especially the following:

    AD39 - Minors Involved in University-Sponsored Programs or Programs Held at the University,

    HR05 - “Regular” and “NonRegular” University Employees,

    HR70 - Dismissal of Tenured or Tenured-eligible Faculty Members,

    HR78 - Staff Employee Failure to Meet Acceptable Standards of Performance, and

    RA14 - The Use of Human Participants in Research


    Effective Date: January 1, 2015
    Date Approved: December 8, 2014
    Date Published: January 1, 2015 (Editorial Change, August 24, 2015)

    Most recent changes:

    Revision History (and effective dates):

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