Administrative Policies

AD72 Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

Policy Status: 

Active

Subject Matter Expert: 

Sandy Weaver, 814-865-8785, stw126@psu.edu

Policy Steward: 

Vice President for Administration

Contents:

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.  

Child - An individual under 18 years of age. 

Child Abuse – Pursuant to the Pennsylvania CPSL, the term “child abuse” shall mean intentionally, knowingly or recklessly doing the following 

  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.

Direct Contact with children – The care, supervision, guidance or control of children or routine interaction with children.

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 Pennsylvania law, the obligation on employees, volunteers, and independent contractors of the University is broader than the obligations of the general public. For a complete list of Mandated Reporters pursuant to Pennsylvania law only, please refer to item 1 in the Policy FAQ’s. 

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). 

POLICY

It is the policy of Penn State University to require ALL University employees, volunteers, and independent contractors who in the course of their University 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 University business or volunteer activity, have reasonable suspicion of child abuse, as defined by Pennsylvania law, must make a report as outlined in this policy.  In addition, ALL University employees, volunteers and independent contractors, who, in the course of their University business or volunteer activity, must make a report as outlined in this policy of the following: (1) when a person makes a specific disclosure to a University employee, volunteer or independent contractor that an identifiable  child is a victim of child abuse, or (2) when an individual 14 years of age or older makes a specific disclosure to a University employee, volunteer or independent contractor that he/she has committed child abuse.  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.

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, 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 a report by following the instructions below for an (A) Electronic Report or (B) Oral Report:

A. Electronic Report

Make an electronic report using the Child Welfare Portal (the “Portal”) at www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis. If you have not done so already, you will be required to create an account for the Portal.  Complete the report and submit it online.  The Portal will then automatically generate a completed Form CY47 based on the report.  Download a copy of the completed Form CY 47 and forward as directed in Section 3 below.  Solely informing a supervisor that you suspect abuse is NOT sufficient under this Policy or the law.

B. Oral Report

Call the Pennsylvania Department of Human services via ChildLine (1-800-932-0313) to make the report.   After the oral report is made to ChildLine, immediately prepare and submit a written report utilizing Form CY47, which then must be submitted by facsimile, to the County Children and Youth agency where the suspected abuse occurred.  Solely informing a supervisor that you suspect abuse is NOT sufficient under this Policy or the law.

  1. Whenever a University employee, volunteer or independent contractor makes a report to ChildLine, that person shall also immediately make an internal report to the University’s designated agents for purposes of this policy and Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law by immediately sending an email to AD72@psu.edu that attaches the completed Form CY47.  If the report was made electronically, the Form CY47 can be downloaded from the Portal.   If the report was made orally and the written Form CY47 was sent via facsimile to the County Children and Youth agency, please also attach the facsimile confirmation sheet. 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
  2. Forward any subsequent communication from the Department of Human Services relating to the report to AD72@psu.edu.
  3. 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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. volunteers, and/or independent contractors will be required to complete the Annual Compliance Training on a yearly basis which will include a review of the instructions for reporting suspected child abuse.
    3. All University employees, volunteers, and/or independent contractors who are considered Professional Licensees are required to follow on-going training requirements as outlined in 23 Pa. C.S. §6383(b).
    4. All University employees, volunteers, and/or independent contractors  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).

POLICY VIOLATIONS

Federal, state, and/or local governments have enacted various laws and regulations relating to youth protection to which the University is bound.  Compliance with this Policy is designed, in part, to ensure that the University is complying with its various youth protection reporting obligations.

University employees, volunteers and independent contractors who violate this Policy may be subject to 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,

AC70 - 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

Most recent changes:

  • January 6, 2020 - Editorial changes to remove list of individuals considered to be a mandated reporter under the law, as well as the “When to Make a Report” section, as these are already present in the Policy FAQ’s. An editorial change has been made within Section 2 of “How to Make a Report” to provide clarity to the online vs electronic ChildLine reporting process. A Policy Violation section was added.

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • November 11, 2016 - An editorial change has been made in the POLICY section under Education & Training, Ongoing Training, 2.B. This verbiage has been revised to clarify ongoing training requirements for the employees classified as "All Other University Employees".
  • July 13, 2016 - An editorial change made in the POLICY section, How to Make a Report (#3), providing a direct link to Form CY47.
  • August 24, 2015 - An editorial change made in the POLICY section, Education & Training, points 1.B. and 2.B. clarifying training requirements for those individuals working with minors and those not working with minors.
  • June 29, 2015 - An editorial change made in the TABLE OF CONTENTS at the top of the policy, reflecting the addition of a link to Attachment A, REPORTING SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE FAQs.
  • January 1, 2015 - Major changes have been made to the entire policy to comply with reporting requirements pursuant to Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL):
    • Changes made to the definitions and how to make a report of suspected child abuse section as required by changes in the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law.
    • Changes made to training requirements.
    • Changes made to compliance.
  • April 25, 2013 - An editorial change made in the POLICY section under "How to make a report of suspected child abuse." A sentence was added at the end of step #1 to better clarify the policy parameters for reporting suspected child abuse.
  • March 13, 2013 - A SCOPE section has been added, and editorial changes made to the POLICY section to better clarify the policy parameters for reporting suspected child abuse.
  • May 14, 2012- New Policy.

Date Approved: 

January 6, 2020

Date Published: 

January 17, 2020

Effective Date: 

January 17, 2020