Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Rule Changes in Pennsylvania

This is a reminder to Pennsylvania counselors, pastors, and Sunday School volunteers: as of January 1, 2015, Pennsylvanians must abide by a new set of child abuse reporting rules. The majority of the changes have to do with who must report suspected child abuse and how the report will be made. I will give a few of the changes but I encourage you to use this link to get a free training. This link will give you a summary of the changes plus links to each rule.

Who must report suspected child abuse?

1. All therapists and mental health practitioners who learn of possible child abuse of any child, whether a client or not.

Change? Gone is the “child coming before you language.” What this means is that you are now responsible to report all child abuse whether you are serving the child or the family. You may not remove the mandate to report just because it is something you see in your neighborhood or hear about from another (e.g., your mail carrier tells you his grandchild is being abused). Consider yourself a mandated reported in every situation you find yourself in.

2. Anyone who educates and/or works with children. Pastors, teachers, volunteers, are all mandated reporters when they are overseeing children. They cannot just tell a supervisor but must report themselves.

Change? Even lawyers representing churches or other organizations are mandated reporters if they learn of child abuse in the institution. Interestingly, the pastor who learns of child abuse in a confession from an abuser may still have some protections. But, if your denomination doesn’t practice confessions, then this loophole won’t work for you.

3. Licensed practitioners (licensed by PA) must complete 2 hours of child abuse reporting training before next licensure period. For LPCs, that is before end of February 2015. Those seeking licensure for the first time must complete 3 hours in order to be considered for licensure.

Change? New requirement. Must be training approved by Dept of Public Welfare and may or may not count toward their required continuing education requirements. The first link above is one of those approved trainings.

4. Reporting now is done online for mandated reporters (while permissive reporters–everybody else–may still call in).

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