Lebanon County ChildLine Referrals

Child abuse is a crime that should never be taken lightly. Outside of the trauma a victim can endure, allegations of child abuse or neglect carry serious repercussions for the person being accused. When used as intended and with fidelity, Pennsylvania's system for reporting suspected child abuse, the ChildLine registry, can save lives and put a stop to perpetrators. But when used inappropriately, as it sometimes unfortunately is, this anonymous reporting hotline can wreak havoc on innocent people's lives. 

If someone has "Childlined" you, as the phrase goes, and you know that they did so by mistake or out of retribution, you may be feeling frenzied or panicky about your next steps. This is understandable, given that your name might now be out there for the world to see – family, friends, neighbors, and employers included. What can you do if your name is being dragged through the mud by mistake or because of a vendetta someone has against you, perhaps your child's other parent or an ex? 

If you are among the outsized number of Pennsylvania residents who have been reported to ChildLine and who are now facing a confusing path forward as you try to clear your name, you have options, but you need to act quickly. Failure to do so could cost you your job, bar you from volunteering in your community, and cause you to lose important people in your life.  

Particularly if you are going through a breakup or divorce or are in the midst of a custody dispute, warranted or not, a ChildLine referral could cost you your family. When your future is on the line because of a referral, a strong legal strategy is a must-have. Defending against accusations of child abuse and enduring the intrusiveness of an investigation is probably one of the most stressful things you'll ever face. Doing so alone, without expert guidance, can only aggravate this stress. With so much at stake, you need the shrewdest legal team you can find serving Lebanon County, Pennsylvania residents.  

The uncompromising LLF Law Firm Criminal Defense Team has experience helping individuals nationwide respond to referrals to registries like ChildLine, in addition to all kinds of criminal and family law issues. Call us at 888-535-3686, or submit a confidential online consultation form to get the best legal help available in Lebanon County. 

What Is Pennsylvania's ChildLine System? 

ChildLine is a 24-hour hotline operated by Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services with the goal of identifying and stopping child abusers. Anyone can make an anonymous report of child abuse or neglect to ChildLine.  

There is a ChildLine registry with a roster of names of Pennsylvanians with "indicated" or "founded" reports of child abuse. The registry isn't public, but it is available to certain employers who make hiring – and firing – decisions after consulting the list.  

Having your name appear in the ChildLine registry can undermine the work you've put into your career and your personal life. It can limit your employment and volunteer options and understandably impact your child custody arrangements.  

It's not easy to have your name removed from the list. Many Lebanon County residents aren't aware that, because of the way the ChildLine system is set up, a referral can mean that they're added to the ChildLine registry without due process – i.e., without receiving any notice or an opportunity to respond. As a result, in many cases, people don't even know what ChildLine is until after they've been "ChildLined."  

What's a ChildLine Referral? 

When ChildLine receives a report of suspected child abuse, they have 24 hours to refer the report to the appropriate county's Child, Youth, and Family Services department. In Lebanon County, the overseeing agency is the Lebanon County Children and Youth Services (LCCYS). 

Each county in Pennsylvania handles the next steps in slightly different ways, but generally, after receiving a ChildLine referral, county workers analyze the allegations to determine whether the reported behavior could fall under the definition of child abuse. If it does, they will then appoint an investigator to interview the accused individual and gather more information in order to determine if the accusation is credible.  

This investigation is often done in tandem with other law enforcement and social service agencies. Working together, they may interview anyone who has any information about the allegations, including the accused person, their friends, spouses, neighbors, exes, families, and co-workers. They have 60 days to finalize their investigation.  

An investigation can also impact the accused person's professional license (teaching, nursing, social work, therapy, medicine, etc.), because ChildLine may also contact the appropriate Pennsylvania state licensing board so they can decide if they want to suspend or limit the license while they are being investigated.  

With so much at risk, don't sit back and hope the truth will come out and the issue will resolve itself. If your name is in the ChildLine registry, or may be soon, your surest chance of avoiding negative consequences is to retain the services of the experienced attorneys at the LLF Law Firm for help. 

ChildLine Referrals in Lebanon County 

As an example of how often individuals are reported to ChildLine without sufficient evidence, in 2021, out of the 444 reported cases of child abuse that were reported to Lebanon County, just 52 of them could be substantiated. In no way should this point be interpreted as discounting or diluting the seriousness of the substantiated cases. Clearly, those individuals who reported their suspicions or knowledge did the right thing, and hopefully, justice was served and children were helped. This is instead meant to underscore the fact that many accusations are made without evidence and presumably with little to no concern for the accused individual's well-being. This could be because the state allows and encourages anonymous reports. Sadly, heated divorces and custody battles can set the stage for these reports to take place. Whether it's a parent or grandparent angling to get custody of children or a neighbor, co-worker, or even a stranger making a false report for their own gain, all it takes is one anonymous "tip" to ChildLine to set off a reeling domino effect. Sadly, false reports can wind up harming children in the end, such as when they stoke custody disagreements even further, adding anxiety, confusion, and fear to an already stressful process.  

Don't let someone do this to your family. Fight back with the help of the knowledgeable attorneys at the LLF Law Firm as soon as you're notified that you're the subject of a ChildLine referral.  

Who Can Make a ChildLine Report? 

As discussed earlier, Pennsylvania encourages anyone who reasonably suspects that a child is being abused or neglected to report it and to do so anonymously, if desired.  

Permissive Reporters 

People who voluntarily report suspected child abuse, anonymously or not, are called "permissive" reporters. However, not everyone can remain anonymous when reporting. There are some people who are legally required to report suspected child abuse or neglect and to attach their name and contact information to the report.  

Mandated Reporters 

Mandated reporters are those who, if they suspect or are aware of child abuse and don't report it, could face criminal penalties. These are people who frequently come in contact with kids and families in their professional duties, such as physicians, nurses, teachers, therapists, childcare workers, police officers, social workers, and religious officials.  

While mandated reporters cannot report anonymously, the state does keep their information confidential and protect them from legal liability – unless they maliciously file a false report. 

The system aspires to be a failsafe, but it is not. Both permissive and mandated reporters can and do make mistakes, setting in motion devastating and life-altering consequences for the falsely accused. The Criminal Defense Team at the LLF Law Firm can help you defend yourself against ChildLine reports of abuse in Lebanon County. 

What Happens if a ChildLine Referral Results in a Finding of Child Abuse? 

The result of your ChildLine investigation will determine whether or not your name will appear on the ChildLine registry. There are two categories it might appear under: indicated or founded.  

If the county determines that a child abuse report against you is indicated, they will add your name to the ChildLine registry, believing that substantial evidence of child abuse exists. Again, this could happen without you even knowing about it. 

After a judicial adjudication – such as a trial verdict – that finds substantial evidence of child abuse, your ChildLIne listing status will change to founded. At this point, if you haven't already, you are likely beginning to experience professional and personal consequences and stigmas.  

It may feel like it, and a lot of people may not understand this, but being investigated by ChildLine isn't a criminal inquiry. It's true that a criminal investigation could take place alongside your ChildLine investigation, but don't confuse them. Do understand, though, that you could face criminal child abuse charges on top of what the ChildLine investigation determines. Alternatively, you may be facing criminal charges even with an unfounded ChildLine investigation. These are separate processes.  

If you're feeling confused, you're not alone. The legal complexities of both processes are not meant to be navigated by those not trained in the legal profession. But if there was ever a time in your life to have acute clarity and take decisive action, it's now. This is a time to invest in your legal defense. The LLF Law Firm's experienced Criminal Defense Team will work with you to assess your case and craft a strategy that will ensure that your rights are protected and enforced during the investigation and help you fully understand what the outcome means for you. 

What Are Your Rights if You've Been Referred to ChildLine? 

To review, someone's name can be added to the ChildLine registry without due process, meaning without being given an opportunity to respond. But it's important for you to know that if you're referred to ChildLine, you do have certain rights.  

If you are the subject of a ChildLine investigation, you must be notified that:  

  • a child abuse or neglect report has been made against you 
  • you have the right to hire an attorney and to have them present at any and all interviews or meetings with county officials 
  • you have a right to amend or expunge the county's decision   

After the investigation, the state has to notify you of: 

  • the decision   
  • your right to file an appeal within 90 days 
  • your right to request a hearing on the merits on appeal, in which the county has to prove its case through substantial evidence 
  • your right to request to amend or expunge the report and remove your name from the ChildLine registry 
  • how the investigation will impact your future job and career opportunities 
  • whether your name and the abuse will be listed as indicated or founded in the ChildLine database 

Lebanon County ChildLine Referrals Attorney 

If you're referred to ChildLine for child abuse in Lebanon County, the stakes are high. Having the experienced Criminal Defense Team at the LLF Law Firm at your side can help ensure that you know your rights and can make decisions that will help you achieve the best possible outcome. 

How the LLF Law Firm Can Help You if You've Been Referred to ChildLine in Lebanon County 

If Lebanon County is investigating you after receiving a referral from ChildLine, you need an experienced legal team behind you. The process of being investigated for child abuse is intense, and even if you're cleared of wrongdoing, that doesn't erase the emotional toll on you and your family. Rebuilding your personal and professional reputation could take the rest of your life. This isn't something that you should try to take on alone. The best thing you can do the moment you find out that you've been referred to ChildLine is to talk to the experienced attorneys at the LLF Law Firm.  

The LLF Law Firm has years of experience successfully representing Lebanon County clients with ChildLine referrals, investigations, and allegations of abuse and neglect. The knowledgeable Criminal Defense Team can help ensure that your rights are protected at every turn and that the outcome is the one you desire. Contact the LLF Law Firm at 888-535-3686, or submit a confidential online consultation form to get the best legal representation possible to defend yourself and clear your name. 

Contact Us Today!

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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