Child abuse allegations are a huge deal. Most people subjected to the stigma of this crime and penalties for neglecting or abusing children have had the chance to undergo a trial that determines their guilt. However, in Pennsylvania, this isn't necessarily the case. Individuals who have acquired criminal charges involving minors or are merely suspected of harming children are at risk of being placed on a statewide registry, known as ChildLine. A person does not have to be convicted of child abuse charges or related offenses to be placed on this registry. The fate of those reported is put in the hands of social workers at the ChildLine agency, who are granted the authority to determine whether or not a person's name is listed.
Consequently, placement on the registry severely limits access to potential job prospects, schools and activities centered around or involving children. Not to mention that an alleged perpetrator will be placed on a registry with the likes of pedophiles and people who have committed heinous acts against children.
If you have received notice of child abuse allegations against you, it is important you immediately consult with an attorney. A legal professional will be able to help you fight unjust and unfair reports by assisting you in appealing a determination. For the purposes of this article, we will briefly address how a person's name is put on the ChildLine registry, and the appeals process the accused will undergo in the event that he or she decides to appeal.
The ChildLine Registry
The ChildLine agency is hosted by Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare. Its role is to protect children from being neglected and enduring abuse through the use a 24-hour toll-free hotline. The public is encouraged to call that number when they witness or simply suspect that a child is being abused. Once a report is made, ChildLine specialists gauge the plausibility of this report. Factors such as the relationship between the reporter and an alleged perpetrator, details in a case and more are considered before the next step in the process, the investigation ensues. If a report is deemed feasible by the agency, ChildLine and Chester County's Children Youth and Families agency will conduct a countywide investigation for the sole purpose of finding evidence to support these claims. If enough evidence is found (in the eyes of the agency), the alleged perpetrator will be contacted and immediately placed on the ChildLine Registry.
The Appeals Process
The agency will likely give accused persons a deadline in which they have to request a hearing to appeal a determination by. Once this request is received, a hearing will be scheduled and held, at the applicable Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Bureau of Hearing and Appeals (BHA) Regional Office. Chester County ChildLine cases will often be heard at the Southeastern Region office located in Philadelphia at the following address:
Philadelphia State Office Building
Commonwealth of PA
Department of Human Services
Within a hearing, an officer will revisit the facts of a cause on the basis of an appeal in mind. ChildLine will then be responsible for proving that an alleged perpetrator did, in fact, commit the acts of abuse listed in the original report with clear and convincing evidence. If the agency fails to do so, an appeal will be granted and all reports and related documentation will be expunged.
Chester County ChildLine Appeal Attorney
If you have been notified of child abuse allegations against you from an agency, you have every right to challenge this determination. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento is here to help. Contact him today for help.