Allegations that entail you have abused or neglected a child are serious, especially in Pennsylvania. Individuals who have acquired criminal charges involving minors or have merely been suspected of mistreating a child are “ChildLined” in the state, or have their name placed on a registry that labels them as a perpetrator of child abuse. A criminal conviction is not required to be placed on the childline registry, as the decision to do is based solely on the discretion of the ChildLine agency.
If you live in Bucks County and have recently received notice that you have been unwarrantedly placed on the ChildLine registry, it's important that you immediately contact an attorney. Your name has been listed alongside the likes of pedophiles and abusers who have committed heinous acts against children. All those who have access to this registry - employers, law enforcement, schools etc. - will associate you with an actual child abuser, severely limiting your access to potential careers, your child or siblings' schools, and any other activities or events that involve children. However, with the help of an attorney, you will be able to appeal this determination and reinstate the rights you once had prior to being ChildLined.
The ChildLine Registry
ChildLine is an agency that is hosted by the state's Department of Public Welfare. Its main function is to protect children from undergoing abuse and neglect by encouraging people to report instances of this behavior to a toll-free hotline. Once the agency catches wind of this report, ChildLine specialists gauge the plausibility of the claim based on a number of factors, such as who the report is coming from, the details provided and other relevant factors. Once a report is deemed viable by the agency, the Buck County's Children & Youth services will work with ChildLine to launch a countywide investigation in an effort to obtain evidence that supports this claim. Once enough evidence (in the agency's eyes) is collected to substantiate a report, the alleged perpetrator will be notified and he or she will be immediately placed on the ChildLine Registry.
The Appeals Process
Once the accused has been notified of ChildLine's findings, he or she is given a short amount of time to request a hearing to appeal this determination. People in this situation should try their best to adhere to deadlines since untimely requests, or appeals submitted after deadlines, are rarely considered. Bucks County ChildLine cases will often be heard at the Southeastern Region office of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Bureau of Hearings and Appeals (BHA). The Southeastern Region office is located in Philadelphia at the following address:
Philadelphia State Office Building
Commonwealth of PA
Department of Human Services
In the scheduled hearing, an officer will reassess the facts of a case, taking into account the basis of an appeal. The burden lies on ChildLine specialists to prove that an alleged perpetrator committed the acts listed in the initial report with clear and convincing evidence. If the agency can not do so, an appeal will be granted and the report along with any documentation related to it will be expunged.
Bucks County ChildLine Appeal Attorney
If you have been notified by an agency that allegations of child abuse against you are “founded,” you have every right to challenge this determination. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento is here to present a solid defense to put unjust or unfair reports behind you. Contact him today for help.