Foster Parents Accused of Abuse Face Double Liability

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jul 25, 2023 | 0 Comments

If you're a foster parent of a child or children in Pennsylvania, you've already shown your dedication to your role by undergoing the mandatory background clearance required under Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services Law. By agreeing to assume the role of foster parent to a child or children, you've taken on a huge amount of responsibility. Caring for someone else's children, even temporarily, can be very rewarding, but it also offers many challenges. Your willingness to take on those challenges when most people wouldn't even think about doing so says a lot about you.

So if you learn that you've been accused of child abuse, it can be a frightening and nerve-wracking experience. Because Pennsylvania's ChildLine abuse reporting system will often protect the identity of the person making the report, it may seem like the system is working against you from the beginning. On top of all of that, as a foster parent, you are a mandated reporter under the ChildLine law, meaning that you could, in theory, be charged not only with child abuse but also with failing to report yourself.

This also highlights a second obligation you have as a foster parent – to report abuse if you believe it may be happening to any child, not just the ones you're caring for directly.

What to Do if You're Accused of Child Abuse

The first thing you should do if you're accused of abusing one of the children in your foster care is not to panic. You need help at this point and contacting an experienced attorney who understands the law and the child abuse investigation process can make a huge difference in the outcome.

It may also help to know that, statistically speaking, only a relatively small percentage of reports of suspected child abuse in Pennsylvania are substantiated. In 2021, for example, that figure was about 13.5%. Of the substantiated reports in 2021, roughly 3.6% took place in a foster home or other type of foster care setting. So the fact that you may have been reported for suspected child abuse doesn't mean that you're going to be found responsible for doing so.

But you'll need an advocate to help you through the investigative process. It's likely to be very invasive, extremely uncomfortable, and likely to make you feel worried about your future. Having an experienced attorney by your side who can make sure the investigation and questioning are conducted fairly can make all the difference between an investigation that clears you and one that finds grounds to move forward with child abuse charges.

Potential Penalties for Child Abuse or Failing to Report Child Abuse

The penalties for a conviction of child abuse can be severe. Depending on whether the suspected crime is prosecuted as a state crime under Pennsylvania law or as a federal crime (under the Child Abuse and Prevention and Treatment Act), penalties can include sentences of up to 15 years in prison or longer, depending on the nature of the abuse.

You Need an Experienced Lawyer to Help You Defend Yourself

If you're a foster parent in Pennsylvania who has been accused of abusing one of the children in your care – or any other child, for that matter – you need experienced help, and you need it now. Child abuse investigations are invasive and disruptive and can ruin your life if you misunderstand a question and provide an unclear answer. The LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has years of experience advising people such as yourself who have been accused of serious criminal acts, including acts against children. They understand that you, as an accused citizen, have rights and deserve a strong and effective defense.

Call our Criminal Law Team today at 888.535.3686, or click on this link to schedule a confidential consultation with the LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team. We understand how difficult these situations are for our clients, and we are here to listen and help.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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