Being charged with a crime involving a minor or the suspected abuse or neglect of a child could lead a person to be “childlined,” or put on a statewide registry that severely limits your opportunities. In Pennsylvania, a criminal conviction is not required to justify being placed on the list, the determination is left under the discretion of ChildLine specialists.
If you have received notification that your name is being placed on the registry, it's important you act fast. For the purposes of this article, we will address (1) what ChildLine is, (2) the ChildLine registry, and (3) the appeals process applicants will undergo to get these allegations expunged.
What is ChildLine?
Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare hosts the ChildLine agency. Its role is to offer protection for minors who have been neglected and abused, while simultaneously holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. Through the use of a toll-free, 24-hour hotline, the agency encourages the public to report instances of abuse if witnessed. Once a report is called in, ChildLine specialists are trained to gauge whether or not a report will be pursued. Factors like the relationship between the accuser and the accused, the details in a report and other relevant factors are considered by these specialists. If a report is deemed plausible, a countywide investigation conducted by ChildLine and Montgomery's Children and Youth Services will be launched to seek more evidence to support the report. If enough evidence is obtained (by the judgment of an agency), an alleged perpetrator will be notified of these findings and listed on the ChildLine Registry.
The ChildLine Registry
There are harsh consequences for being listed on the ChildLine Registry. Pennsylvania law dictates that individuals on the registry are forbidden from being around children in private, social and professional settings. This severely limits access to potential careers, hinders your involvement in your child's education and can prevent you from partaking in activities that you enjoy.
The Appeals Process
People facing ChildLine allegations are granted a specific timeframe towards appealing and ultimately expunging these allegations. The method of appealing consists of requesting a hearing. It's important to note that the deadlines for appealing a determination are strict, and untimely hearing requests - an appeal that is submitted outside of the given time frame - are rarely considered and allowed. Montgomery County ChildLine cases will be heard at the applicable Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Bureau of Hearings and Appeals (BHA) office; most often at the Southeastern Region office in Philadelphia at the following location:
Philadelphia State Office Building
Commonwealth of PA
Department of Human Services
In the event that a hearing request is received and granted, a hearing officer will then revisit the facts of a report, taking into account the basis of an appeal. The burden of proving with clear and convincing evidence that an alleged perpetrator committed the actions detailed in a report will be placed on the ChildLine agency. If the agency fails to do so, the perpetrator will be granted an expungement.
Montgomery County ChildLine Appeal Attorney
If you have been notified that the child abuse allegations against you are “founded,” you have every right to challenge this determination. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento is dedicated to helping you provide a solid defense to get these findings expunged. Contact him today for assistance.