Perry County ChildLine Referral Attorney

It is devastating to learn you have been accused of child abuse or neglect through the Pennsylvania ChildLine system. Suddenly, investigators are scrutinizing and intruding on every aspect of your life. Meanwhile, you are scrambling to protect your family, career, and reputation from the stigma and repercussions of being a suspected child abuser.

The adverse consequences of a child abuse investigation and placement on the ChildLine registry will impact every aspect of your life. People on the ChildLine registry may face limited employment opportunities, exclusion from community and volunteer activities, and changes to custody arrangements.

Because of the destructive impact of a ChildLine investigation, you want to take smart and immediate action to protect yourself from an accusation of child abuse or neglect. The attorneys at the LLF Law Firm have years of experience helping Perry County residents navigate ChildLine referrals and investigations. Call the LLF Law Firm Team at 888-535-3686 or submit a confidential online consultation form to discuss your case.

What is Pennsylvania's ChildLine System?

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services established and operates ChildLine's 24-hour telephone hotline and online portal. A referral begins when an individual reports an incident of child abuse or neglect to ChildLine. Then, ChildLine forwards the report to the appropriate county's Child, Youth, and Family Service department within 24 hours.

The Perry County Children & Youth Social Services' Office of Children, Youth & Families receives ChildLine referrals for abuse and neglect that occurred in Perry County or involved a child who lives in the county. Additionally, Perry County also accepts reports of child abuse and neglect directly through its county offices.

After receiving the report, Perry County staff review the ChildLine referral to determine whether the behavior constitutes child abuse. If county staff conclude that the report involves child abuse, they begin an investigation. Perry County has 60 days to complete its investigation.

In 2022, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services received 182 total reports of suspected child abuse in Perry County. After review, 27 reports were substantiated.

Who Can Report Child Abuse or Neglect to ChildLine?

Pennsylvania's ChildLine system accepts reports of child abuse or neglect from anyone who wishes to make a report. Any person who, in good faith, reasonably suspects that a child is the victim of abuse or neglect may submit their concerns through the ChildLine telephone number.

Additionally, some people who work with children are legally required to report child abuse and neglect to ChildLine.

Mandated Reporters

Mandated (or mandatory) reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect. The legal obligation is so great that a mandated reporter who fails to report suspected child abuse or neglect may face a criminal investigation and prosecution.

People who work closely with children, such as healthcare workers, teachers, counselors, daycare workers, police officers, social workers, and religious officials are mandated reporters in Pennsylvania.

Mandated reporters may access the ChildLine telephone hotline or its online portal to make a report. Mandated reporters must provide their names and contact information when reporting child abuse or neglect. ChildLine and any involved law enforcement agencies keep the reporter's identity confidential.

Pennsylvania law protects mandated reporters from legal liability for making a ChildLine report. There is a general presumption that reports of child abuse and neglect are made in good faith. Unless a mandated reporter intentionally files a false report for malicious purposes, they will not be liable even if their report is erroneous or unsubstantiated.

Permissive Reporters

A permissive reporter is an individual who reports suspected child abuse or neglect to the ChildLine system without a legal obligation to do so. A permissive reporter may make a ChildLine report without leaving their name.

The ChildLine system intends to protect vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. Despite the best intentions, the system isn't perfect. Because ChildLine accepts anonymous reports, anyone can make a false report. False accusations may arise during divorces, custody battles, or other emotionally charged family situations. Desperation often drives people to make fraudulent accusations of abuse and neglect against a current or former spouse, partner, or co-parent in an attempt to manipulate the outcome of a legal hearing or to gain leverage during contested negotiations.

Regardless of who makes the report, any accusation of child abuse or neglect will undermine your life. The LLF Law Firm's team of experienced attorneys can help you defend your rights and protect your life during a ChildLine investigation in Perry County.

How Are ChildLine Referrals and Investigations Managed in Perry County?

In response to the ChildLine referral, Perry County staff often organize multi-agency teams, consisting of social service and law enforcement organizations, to investigate the report.

A ChildLine inquiry may include interviews with potential witnesses of the abuse and any other individual who may know about the incident, including the accused and their friends, family members, employers, co-workers, and neighbors.

If the target of a ChildLine investigation holds a professional license from Pennsylvania, their license may be at risk. During a ChildLine investigation, investigators may notify the relevant state licensing board. The professional board then determines if action should be taken against the accused's license.

What Happens at the End of a ChildLine Investigation?

After the investigation, Perry County's ChildLine investigators conclude their inquiry by classifying the report of child abuse as “unfounded,” “indicated,” or “founded.”

A report is classified as “unfounded” if investigators do not discover evidence of child abuse or neglect. When a report is determined to be unfounded, the accused's name is not added to the ChildLine registry.

If investigators conclude there is substantial evidence of child abuse, the report is classified as “indicated,” and the accused's name is added to the ChildLine registry.

A report is classified as “founded” if a hearing and a judicial determination concluded that there was substantial evidence of child abuse.

A ChildLine investigation is not a criminal inquiry, although ChildLine referrals may lead to criminal investigations. ChildLine and criminal investigations are distinct inquiries that may lead to independent and conflicting results. Law enforcement officers may begin a criminal investigation into the target of a ChildLine referral during or after a ChildLine investigation. Even if the ChildLine investigation concludes that the report was unfounded, a law enforcement agency may still pursue charges based on its independent criminal investigation.

ChildLine referrals and investigations wreak havoc with the lives of the accused, creating stressful and isolating circumstances. When you work with the LLF Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team, our attorneys can fight alongside you and help navigate every step of the process.

What Rights Do You Have During a ChildLine Investigation?

Anyone accused of child abuse or neglect through the ChildLine system has legal rights; however, you cannot trust that the ChildLine system will respect your due process rights. The LLF Law Firm Team can stand with you to ensure your rights are honored.

If you are the target of a ChildLine referral, you have the right to notification that an allegation of child abuse or neglect against you. Additionally, you have the right to an attorney and to have your attorney present during interviews or meetings with ChildLine investigators or other county officials or staff.

Additionally, Perry County ChildLine investigators must inform the accused about:

  • The results of the ChildLine investigation and the status of the child abuse report.
  • The effect the report may have on future job and career opportunities.
  • The fact that their name, a description of the abuse, and the result of the investigation will be entered into the ChildLine database.
  • Their right to request an amendment or expungement of the report and have their name removed from the ChildLine registry.
  • Their right to file an appeal within nine days.
  • Their right to a hearing on the merits on appeal, at which time Perry County must prove its case by substantial evidence.

It is extremely difficult to have an individual's name removed from the ChildLine registry. This is particularly problematic for people who only learn about the ChildLine registry after their name has been added.

Protecting your legal rights is the first step in defending your reputation, family, and career during a ChildLine investigation and its aftermath.

If you receive a ChildLine referral in Perry County, the LLF Law Firm can fight on your behalf and protect your rights and your future.

What Are the Consequences of a ChildLine Investigation?

For an individual accused of child abuse or neglect, the consequences of a ChildLine investigation can be destructive to both their personal and professional lives.

If your ChildLine investigation ends with the decision that child abuse or neglect was “indicated” or “founded,” your name is placed on the ChildLine registry. The general public cannot access the ChildLine registry; however, some employers review the registry and use the information when making employment decisions. The inclusion of your name on the ChildLine registry may jeopardize your employment and your family's financial security if you lose your job or professional license, have difficulty finding new employment, or face limited advancement opportunities.

Personal relationships often suffer during and after a ChildLine investigation. The inclusion of your name on the ChildLine registry may impact the custody arrangements for your children or lead to no-contact or restraining orders.

A ChildLine investigation, even when the report was determined to be unfounded, will disrupt, if not damage, your life. The stigma of a ChildLine investigation often leads to ruined relationships and puts enormous stress on your mental health. Additionally, the threat of an independent criminal investigation or prosecution may persist after the ChildLine inquiry is complete.

If you're facing a ChildLine referral and navigating the ChildLine system in Perry County, you need the LLF Law Firm and our experienced team in your corner. Together, we can work to protect your rights, future, and loved ones.

How Can the LLF Law Firm Help You During a ChildLine Referral or Investigation?

After learning of a child abuse or neglect allegation, you may feel shocked, angry, or embarrassed. You may want to avoid and ignore the accusation or believe you can manage the referral and investigation yourself. The stigma of a child abuse accusation might make it difficult for you to reach out for assistance.

Don't let your fear or anger dictate the course of your case. You can partner with the LLF Law Firm Team and together we can protect your legal rights and defend your reputation, career, and family. We can help you develop a comprehensive strategy to respond to and challenge a ChildLine referral and investigation.

As with any adversarial process, we should begin preparing our strategy as soon as possible. The LLF Law Firm can partner with you and defend your rights if:

  • You are accused of child abuse or neglect through the ChildLine system.
  • You are the subject of an ongoing ChildLine investigation.
  • Your name is added to the ChildLine registry.
  • You are preparing to appeal the inclusion of your name on the registry.
  • You are the target of a criminal investigation.

If you receive a ChildLine referral, the stakes for you and your loved ones are incredibly high. With the LLF Law Firm at your side, you can challenge the allegations and protect your rights.

You Don't Have to Navigate a ChildLine Referral Alone

A child abuse allegation can destroy your relationships, reputation, and career. An accusation of child abuse or neglect may undermine your mental health, financial security, and family and community connections. A ChildLine investigation is an exhausting and destructive experience, and the stigma of a child abuse accusation is devastating. There is no need for you to carry this burden alone.

The LLF Law Firm represents Perry County residents facing ChildLine referrals, investigations, and allegations of child abuse and neglect. We can help protect and defend you and your rights. To partner with the knowledgeable Criminal Defense Team at the LLF Law Firm, contact us at 888-535-3686 or submit an online consultation form.

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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