In 2014, Pennsylvania amended and strengthened its child welfare laws by expanding the definition of mandatory reporters, streamlined the reporting process, increased penalties for mandatory reporters who fail to report abuse or neglect, and provided protections from employment discrimination for filing a report in good faith.
An individual identified as a mandatory reporter commits an offense if that individual willfully fails to report a case of suspected child abuse or to make a referral to the appropriate authorities. Governor Corbett signed this act into law on April 15. This law took effect June 15, 2014. Certain persons are required by law to report child abuse—those who come into contact with children in the course of their employment, occupation, or practice of their profession. The report must be made when the person has reasonable cause to suspect, on the basis of his or her medical, professional, or other training and experience, that a child he or she is aware of in his or her professional capacity is an abused child.
Effective December 31, 2014, the new definition of a mandatory reporter includes anyone who comes into contact, or interacts, with a child or is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance, or training of a child. The law now specifically includes volunteers with children’s programs and employees (not just administrators, teachers, and nurses) of elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools. If they suspect abuse, mandated reporters are required to immediately report the abuse to the Department of Public Welfare by phone and by a written or electronic report filed within 48 hours.
Persons required to report include, but are not limited to, the following professions or any roles that come into contact with a child or youth as part of their professional employment duties.
- A licensed physician, medical examiner, coroner, funeral director, dentist, optometrist, osteopath, chiropractor, psychologist, podiatrist, intern, registered nurse, or licensed practical nurse.
- Hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care, or treatment of persons.
- A Christian Science practitioner, member of the clergy, school administrator, school teacher, school nurse, social services worker, daycare center worker (or another child care or foster care worker), mental health professional, peace officer, or law enforcement official.
New Continuing Education Requirements
Act 31 of 2014 amends the Domestic Relations Law to require licensed professionals identified as mandated reporters to take educational classes on child abuse.
Professionals applying for a license or certificate with their professional licensing board on or after January 1, 2015, are required to submit documentation that they completed at least 3 hours of approved child abuse recognition and reporting training. This training must be approved by the Department of Public Welfare.
Professionals applying for renewal of their license or certificate on or after January 1, 2015, must submit documentation that they completed at least 2 hours of continued education per licensure cycle. This training must be approved by the appropriate licensing board in consultation with the Department of Public Welfare. This law takes effect December 31, 2014.
More information on mandatory reporter training in Pennsylvania can be found at: