Child abuse and neglect allegations are serious, especially in the state of Pennsylvania. One inaccurate and exaggerated phone call to the ChildLine agency can single-handedly ruin your reputation and limit your opportunities.
For the purposes of this article, we will discuss (1) what ChildLine is, (2) the ChildLine registry, (3) and the appeals process applicants will undergo if they wish to challenge a determination.
What is ChildLine?
ChildLine is an agency hosted by the state's Department of Public Welfare. Its primary function is to offer protection for children and youth who have endured abuse. ChildLine's specialists operate a toll-free 24-hour hotline that is completely accessible to the public. People who have witnessed the mistreatment of a child are urged to call the hotline and report instances of abuse. Once an instance is called in, it is the job of ChildLine specialists to gauge the plausibility of this report by analyzing a variety of components. The relationship between a witness and the accused, the accuracy of details within a complaint, and the cultural differences between an observer and parties involved are just some of the factors that will be considered by ChildLine agency specialists. If the report is deemed feasible, a countywide investigation will be launched by ChildLine and Lehigh County's Children & Youth Services to find evidence supporting this report. If enough evidence is found (by the judgment of the agencies), an alleged perpetrator will be notified and listed on the ChildLine registry shortly after.
The ChildLine Registry
If your name is placed on the ChildLine placed, it is present alongside the likes of pedophiles and people who have committed heinous crimes against children. Those who have access to the registry - employers, organizations, law enforcement, schools etc. - will associate you with these types of people. Also, by law, being listed on this registry means that you are forbidden from being in the vicinity of children in social, private and professional settings. This strictly limits your access to potential careers, your involvement in your child's education, and activities that you may wish to participate in. Even events or jobs that don't involve or aren't centered around children may refuse to hire or accept you due to the stigma surrounding child abuse allegations.
The Appeals Process
Once you have been notified of the allegations made against you, you are given a timeframe to appeal this determination and ultimately expunge ChildLine's reports and findings. People in this situation are encouraged to comply with these deadlines, as untimely hearing requests, or an appeal submitted after the given timeframe, are rarely considered and granted. Lehigh County ChildLine cases will most likely be heard at one of the following locations of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Bureau of Hearings and Appeals (BHA):
Philadelphia State Office Building
Commonwealth of PA
Department of Human Services
In a scheduled hearing, a hearing officer will be tasked with reassessing a case with the basis of an appeal in mind. Then ChildLine will be given the burden of proving that you committed the actions in this report with clear and convincing evidence. If the agency fails in doing so, you will be granted an expungement. This means that the report, the findings, your name on the childline agency along with any related documentation will be eradicated from ChildLine and FBI databases.
Lehigh County ChildLine Appeal Attorney
If you have been notified by an agency that allegations of child abuse against you are “founded,” you should consult with an attorney. You have the right to appeal this determination if you feel that these findings are unjust or unfair. For a successful outcome contact skilled legal professional Joseph D. Lento today for assistance.