Report Child Abuse
What is ChildLine?
ChildLine provides information, counseling, and referral services for families and children to ensure the safety and well-being of the children of Pennsylvania. The toll-free intake line, 1-800-932-0313, is available 24/7 to receive reports of suspected child abuse.
Professionals who come into contact with children (i.e., mandated reporters) are required to report when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child under the care, supervision, guidance or training of that person or of their agency, institution or organization is an abused child. However, any person may report suspected abuse. All mandated reporters must submit their name and contact information when making a report. Other members of the community who report can choose to remain anonymous.
Each call is answered by a trained intake specialist who interviews the caller to determine the most appropriate course of action. Actions include forwarding a report to a county agency for investigation as child abuse or general protective services, forwarding a report directly to law enforcement officials, or referring the caller to local social services.
For Mandated Reporters
If you are a mandated reporter, you must report suspected abuse immediately, either by phone or electronically.
Reporting Abuse By Phone
Call ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. As a mandated reporter, you must provide your name and contact information when making the call. After making the call, mandated reporters must follow up with a written report, which may be submitted electronically, within 48 hours to the Department or county agency assigned to the case by using the CY-47 form.
Report Abuse Electronically
The report is submitted directly to ChildLine via the Child Welfare Information Solution Portal. This option is only available to mandated reporters.
You will need to create a user account to submit the report electronically. Once you have submitted the report on this website, you will receive an email confirmation that your report has been received; you should print and keep this confirmation as defined by your agency’s documentation retention policy.
Other Actions By Mandated Reporters
There are certain actions that reporters must take on behalf of a child suspected of being abused.
A mandated reporter must in good faith:
- Make a report
- Cooperate with an investigation
- Notify police, if appropriate
- Testify in proceedings that result from their report
A mandated reporter may also:
- Take photographs of the child’s injuries
- Have X-rays taken
- Have the child hospitalized
- Have the child moved into protective custody according to the law
- Have a medical exam performed by a medical professional
Any photographs, X-rays and/or medical summaries should then be sent to the county agency with the Report of Suspected Child Abuse, or as soon after as possible. The mandated reporter must give the county access to the actual photographs and X-rays.
Taking Protective Custody
Only a court official, law enforcement officer, physician, or hospital administrator can take protective custody of a child. A caseworker must obtain a court order. This action may be taken when it is immediately necessary to protect the child from further harm. When a child is taken into protective custody that person (e.g., law enforcement, physician, etc.) must immediately notify the county agency. A child cannot be held in this type of protective custody for more than 24 hours. However, if necessary, the county agency can obtain a court order permitting the child to remain in protective custody for a longer period of time. If a child is taken into emergency custody, the case must be brought before a judge within 72 hours.
In all cases, the county maintains written records of the investigation.
Persons who report abuse voluntarily may do so orally, usually by telephone, by calling ChildLine or their county agency.
ChildLine is available at all times and can be reached toll free at 1-800-932-0313. The local agency’s number can be found in the telephone book by the name of the county in which the abuse occurred, for example, Dauphin County Children and Youth Services. The number is also listed in the blue pages of the telephone book under the category of abuse.
If the report is first received by ChildLine staff, they will call the county agency where the suspected abuse occurred for action. If the county agency staff receives the report first, they will see to the immediate safety of the child and other children in the home, then notify ChildLine of the report.