In the state of Pennsylvania, mere accusations of child abuse can lead to penalties. A trial to determine a person's guilt or innocence is not a requirement to be “childlined,” or placed on a state registry as a perpetrator of child abuse. The decision to have an individual's name listed on a registry is based solely on the judgment of social workers. If they believe that a person has mistreated or neglected a child or youth, he or she will be labeled as an abuser, causing their reputation to be ruined and strictly limiting their opportunities.
This is why it's important you consult with an attorney if you find yourself in this situation. For the purposes of this article, we will discuss (1) what ChildLine is, (2) the ChildLine registry, and (3) the appeals process applicants will be required to undergo in the state to get these allegations expunged.
What is ChildLine?
The ChildLine agency is hosted by the state's Department of Public Welfare. Its main role is to offer protection for minors and youth who have endured abuse. Agency specialists operate a 24-hour toll-free hotline that the public is encouraged to call if they witness the mistreatment of children. Once a report is called in, it is the duty of ChildLine specialists to determine the feasibility of this instance based on assessing a number of factors. The relationship between the reporter and the alleged perpetrator, the accuracy of the details and facts within a complaint, and the cultural differences among between a complainant and the accused are just some of the factors that will be considered. If after the assessment of these factors a report is considered viable, a countywide investigation will be launched by ChildLine and Northampton County Children & Youth Services to find evidence backing these claims.
The ChildLine Registry
If your name is placed on the ChildLine registry, it will be listed alongside the likes of pedophiles and people who have committed unspeakable crimes towards children. People who have access to the registry - schools, organizations, employers, law enforcement etc. - will misjudge you and associate with these types of people. By law, being on the ChildLine registry means that you are prohibited from dwelling in the same vicinity in social, professional and private settings. These regulations severely limit potential career prospects, your involvement in your child's education, and your participation in events that you might be interested in. Even events that may not involve or be centered around children may reject you because of the stigma that accompanies child abuse allegations.
The Appeals Process
Once you have been notified of the allegations made against you, you are will be given a timeframe to request a hearing for an appeal. Northampton ChildLine cases will often be heard in Philadelphia. The Southeastern Region Office of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) Bureau of Hearings and Appeals (BHA) is located at:
Philadelphia State Office Building
Commonwealth of PA
Department of Human Services
During a hearing, a hearing officer will revisit a case taking into account the basis of your appeal. It will then be the duty of ChildLine to provide clear and convincing evidence that you committed the acts in a report. If the agency is unable to do so, you will be granted an expungement.
Northampton County ChildLine Appeal Attorney
If you believe that the findings of child abuse allegations against you are unfair or unjust, you have every right to challenge this determination. Skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento will provide a solid defense that will maximize the likelihood of an expungement. Contact him today for help.