Child abuse accusations are serious. Due to the stigma surrounding child abuse, merely being accused of a crime of this nature is enough to tarnish an individual's reputation and limit their opportunities. People with criminal charges of child abuse typically have the chance to undergo a trial that determines a person's guilt or innocence. However, in Pennsylvania, a criminal conviction is not a requirement to be penalized by the state.
Individuals who have acquired charges involving a minor or have simply been suspected of neglecting or abusing a child are at risk of being “childlined,” or placed on a statewide registry and labeled as a perpetrator of child abuse. This decision is made by social workers based on witness reports, rather than evidence dissected and assessed by a jury.This is why If you have received notice of child abuse allegations, you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney.
For the purposes of this article, we will address (1) what exactly is ChildLine, (2) the ChildLine registry, (3) and the appeals process a person will have to undergo if allegations of child abuse arise.
What is ChildLine?
ChildLine is an agency hosted by the Department of Public Welfare that offers protection for children and youth that have been neglected and abused. The agency receives reports through the operation of a toll-free 24-hour hotline. The public is encouraged to call this number when they witness the mistreatment of a child. When a report is called in, ChildLine specialists gauge whether or not a report is plausible by analyzing a number of factors. The relationship between the witness and the accused, details in a report, and cultural differences are just some of the factors considered by the agency. If after this analysis it is determined that a report is feasible, ChildLine and Lancaster county's Children & Youth Agency will launch a statewide investigation in pursuit of evidence that will validate reports of abuse. If enough evidence is collected (by the judgment of the agency), an alleged perpetrator will be notified and immediately placed on the ChildLine Registry.
The ChildLine Registry
Being listed on this registry warrants harsh consequences. Although a criminal penalty is not always imposed, there are other repercussions that are just as severe. Persons listed on the registry are expected to stay out of the vicinity of children in private, professional and social settings. This expectation strictly limits access to potential job opportunities, involvement in your child's school and activities that you may be interested in partaking in.
The Appeals Process
If you have been notified of ChildLine allegations, you will be allotted a short period of time to appeal and ultimately expunge these allegations. The appeals process consists of requesting a hearing for your case to be revisited. It's crucial that you adhere to these deadlines, as untimely appeal requests are rarely considered and approved. Lancaster County ChildLine cases will generally be heard at either the Central or Southeastern Regional Office of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Bureau of Hearings and Appeals (BHA):
Central Regional Office:
Southeastern Regional Office:
Philadelphia State Office Building
Commonwealth of PA
Department of Human Services
Once a hearing request is granted, it is the duty of a hearing officer to reassess a case on the basis of an appeal in mind. Then the burden of proving that you committed the acts detailed in a report must be backed with clear and convincing evidence by the agency. If ChildLine fails to do so, you will be granted an expungement.
Lancaster County ChildLine Appeal Attorney
If you feel as if the findings of child abuse against you are unfair or unjust, you should immediately contact an attorney. You have the right to appeal a determination and get these allegations expunged if they are inaccurate or exaggerated. Contact knowledgeable legal professional Joseph D. Lento for assistance today.