2014 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes
Title 23 - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
Chapter 63 - Child Protective Services
Section 6365 - Services for prevention, investigation and treatment of child abuse

23 PA Cons Stat § 6365 (2014) What's This?

§ 6365. Services for prevention, investigation and treatment of child abuse.

(a) Instruction and education.--Each county agency shall make available among its services for the prevention and treatment of child abuse instruction and education for parenthood and parenting skills, protective and preventive social counseling, outreach and counseling services to prevent newborn abandonment, emergency caretaker services, emergency shelter care, emergency medical services and the establishment of self-help groups organized for the prevention and treatment of child abuse, part-day services, out-of-home placement services, therapeutic activities for child and family directed at alleviating conditions that present a risk to the safety and well-being of a child and any other services required by department regulations.

(b) Multidisciplinary review team.--The county agency shall make available among its services a multidisciplinary review team for the prevention, investigation and treatment of child abuse and shall convene the multidisciplinary review team at any time, but not less than annually:

(1) To review substantiated cases of child abuse, including responses by the county agency and other agencies providing services to the child.

(2) Where appropriate to assist in the development of a family service plan for the child.

(c) Multidisciplinary investigative team.--A multidisciplinary investigative team shall be used to coordinate child abuse investigations between county agencies and law enforcement. The county agency and the district attorney shall develop a protocol for the convening of multidisciplinary investigative teams for any case of child abuse by a perpetrator involving crimes against children which are set forth in section 6340(a)(9) and (10) (relating to release of information in confidential reports). The county multidisciplinary investigative team protocol shall include standards and procedures to be used in receiving and referring reports and coordinating investigations of reported cases of child abuse and a system for sharing the information obtained as a result of any interview. The protocol shall include any other standards and procedures to avoid duplication of fact-finding efforts and interviews to minimize the trauma to the child. The district attorney shall convene the multidisciplinary investigative team in accordance with the protocol. The multidisciplinary investigative team shall consist of those individuals and agencies responsible for investigating the abuse or for providing services to the child and shall at a minimum include a health care provider, county caseworker and law enforcement official.

(d) Child fatality or near fatality review team and written report.--

(1) A child fatality or near fatality review team shall be convened by a county agency in accordance with a protocol developed by the county agency, the department and the district attorney in a case when a child dies or nearly dies as a result of child abuse as to which there is an indicated report or when the county agency has not made a status determination within 30 days. The team may convene after a county agency makes a determination of an indicated report and shall convene no later than 31 days from the receipt of the oral report to the department of the suspected child abuse. A county agency in the county where the abuse occurred and in any county where the child resided within the 16 months preceding the fatality or near fatality shall convene a child fatality or near fatality review team. A team shall consist of at least six individuals who are broadly representative of the county where the team is established and who have expertise in prevention and treatment of child abuse. With consideration given to the circumstances of each case and availability of individuals to serve as members, the team may consist of the following individuals:

(i) A staff person from the county agency.

(ii) A member of the advisory committee of the county agency.

(iii) A health care professional.

(iv) A representative of a local school, educational program or child care or early childhood development program.

(v) A representative of law enforcement or the district attorney.

(vi) An attorney-at-law trained in legal representation of children or an individual trained under 42 Pa.C.S. § 6342 (relating to court-appointed special advocates).

(vii) A mental health professional.

(viii) A representative of a children's advocacy center that provides services to children in the county. The individual under this subparagraph must not be an employee of the county agency.

(ix) The county coroner or forensic pathologist.

(x) A representative of a local domestic violence program.

(xi) A representative of a local drug and alcohol program.

(xii) An individual representing parents.

(xiii) Any individual whom the county agency or child fatality or near fatality review team determines is necessary to assist the team in performing its duties.

(2) Members of the team shall be responsible for all of the following:

(i) Maintaining confidentiality of information under sections 6339 (relating to confidentiality of reports) and 6340.

(ii) Providing and discussing relevant case-specific information.

(iii) Attending and participating in all meetings and activities as required.

(iv) Assisting in the development of the report under paragraph (4)(v).

(3) The county agency, in accordance with the protocol and in consultation with the team, shall appoint an individual who is not an employee of the county agency to serve as chairperson.

(4) The team shall perform the following:

(i) Review the circumstances of the child's fatality or near fatality resulting from suspected or substantiated child abuse.

(ii) Review the delivery of services to the abused child and the child's family provided by the county agency and review services provided to the perpetrator by the county agency in each county where the child and family resided within the 16 months preceding the fatality or near fatality and the services provided to the child, the child's family and the perpetrator by other public and private community agencies or professionals. This subparagraph includes law enforcement, mental health services, programs for young children and children with special needs, drug and alcohol programs, local schools and health care providers.

(iii) Review relevant court records and documents related to the abused child and the child's family.

(iv) Review the county agency's compliance with statutes and regulations and with relevant policies and procedures of the county agency.

(v) Within 90 days of convening, submit a final written report on the child fatality or near fatality to the department and designated county officials under section 6340(a)(11). Within 30 days after submission of the report to the department, the report shall be made available, upon request, to other individuals to whom confidential reports may be released, as specified by section 6340. The report shall be made available to the public, but identifying information shall be removed from the contents of the report except for disclosure of: the identity of a deceased child; if the child was in the custody of a public or private agency, the identity of the agency; the identity of the public or private agency under contract with a county agency to provide services to the child and the child's family in the child's home prior to the child's death or near fatality; and the identity of any county agency that convened a child fatality or near fatality review team in respect to the child. The report shall not be released to the public if the district attorney certifies that release of the report may compromise a pending criminal investigation or proceeding. Certification by the district attorney shall stay the release of the report for a period of 60 days, at which time the report shall be released unless a new certification is made by the district attorney. The report shall include:

(A) Deficiencies and strengths in:

(I) compliance with statutes and regulations; and

(II) services to children and families.

(B) Recommendations for changes at the State and local levels on:

(I) reducing the likelihood of future child fatalities and near fatalities directly related to child abuse and neglect;

(II) monitoring and inspection of county agencies; and

(III) collaboration of community agencies and service providers to prevent child abuse and neglect.

(d.1) Release by county agency.--Prior to completing its child fatality or near fatality report, the investigating county agency may release the following information to the public concerning a child who died or nearly died as a result of suspected or substantiated child abuse:

(1) The identity of the child, only in the case of a child's fatality.

(2) If the child was in the custody of a public or private agency, the identity of the agency.

(3) The identity of the public or private agency under contract with a county agency to provide services to the child and the child's family in the child's home prior to the child's death or near fatality.

(4) A description of services provided under paragraph (3).

(e) Response by department.--Within 45 days of receipt of a report of a child fatality or near fatality under subsection (d), the department shall review the findings and recommendations of the report and provide a written response to the county agency and the child fatality review team or near fatality review team. The department's response to the report of the child fatality or near fatality review team shall be made available, upon request, to other individuals to whom confidential reports may be released, as specified by section 6340. The department's response shall be made available to the public, but identifying information shall be removed from the contents of the response, except for disclosure of: the identity of a deceased child; if the child was in the custody of a public or private agency, the identity of the agency; the identity of the public or private agency under contract with a county agency to provide services to the child and the child's family in the child's home prior to the child's death or near fatality; and the identity of any county agency that convened a child fatality or near fatality review team in respect to the child. The response shall not be released to the public if the district attorney certifies that release of the response may compromise a pending criminal investigation or proceeding. Certification by the district attorney shall stay the release of the report for a period of 60 days, at which time the report shall be released unless a new certification is made by the district attorney.

(f) Construction.--The provisions of this section shall be construed to assist in the improvement of services designed to identify and prevent child abuse. The provisions shall not be construed to impede or interfere with criminal prosecutions of persons who have committed child abuse.

23c6365v

(Dec. 16. 1994, P.L.1292, No.151, eff. July 1, 1996; Dec. 15, 1998, P.L.963, No.127, eff. Mar. 1, 1999; Dec. 9, 2002, P.L.1549, No.201, eff. 60 days; July 3, 2008, P.L.276, No.33, eff. 180 days; Dec. 18, 2013, P.L.1235, No.123, eff. 90 days; May 14, 2014, P.L.645, No.44, eff. Dec. 31, 2014)

2014 Amendment. Act 44 added subsec. (d.1).

2013 Amendment. Act 123 amended subsecs. (b) and (c).

2008 Amendment. Act 33 added subsecs. (d), (e) and (f).

2002 Amendment. Act 201 amended subsec. (a).

Cross References. Section 6365 is referred to in sections 6334.1, 6340, 6343.1, 6368, 6509 of this title.

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