2014 Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes
Title 23 - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
Chapter 63 - Child Protective Services
Section 6368 - Investigation of reports
§ 6368. Investigation of reports.
(a) Response to direct reports.--Upon receipt of a report of suspected child abuse by a perpetrator from an individual, the county agency shall ensure the safety of the child and any other child in the child's home and immediately contact the department in accordance with the provisions of section 6334 (relating to disposition of complaints received).
(b) Response to reports referred to county agency by department.--Upon receipt of a report of suspected child abuse from the department, the county agency shall immediately commence an investigation and see the child within the following time frames:
(1) Immediately, if:
(i) emergency protective custody is required, has been or will be taken; or
(ii) it cannot be determined from the report whether emergency protective custody is needed.
(2) Within 24 hours of receipt of the report in all other cases.
(c) Investigation.--An investigation under this section shall include the following:
(1) A determination of the safety of or risk of harm to the child or any other child if each child continues to remain in the existing home environment.
(2) A determination of the nature, extent and cause of any condition listed in the report.
(3) Any action necessary to provide for the safety of the child or any other child in the child's household.
(4) The taking of photographic identification of the child or any other child in the child's household, which shall be maintained in the case file.
(5) Communication with the department's service under section 6332 (relating to establishment of Statewide toll-free telephone number).
(d) Investigative actions.--During the investigation, all of the following shall apply:
(1) The county agency shall provide or arrange for services necessary to protect the child while the agency is making a determination under this section.
(2) If the investigation indicates bodily injury, the county agency may require that a medical examination by a certified medical practitioner be performed on the child.
(3) Where there is reasonable cause to suspect that there is a history of prior or current abuse, the medical practitioner has the authority to arrange for further medical tests or the county agency has the authority to request further medical tests.
(4) The investigation shall include interviews with all subjects of the report, including the alleged perpetrator. If a subject of the report is not able to be interviewed or cannot be located, the county agency shall document its reasonable efforts to interview the subject and the reasons for its inability to interview the subject. The interview may be reasonably delayed if notice of the investigation has been delayed pursuant to subsection (m).
(e) Review of indicated reports.--A final determination that a report of suspected child abuse is indicated shall be approved by:
(1) the county agency administrator or a designee and reviewed by a county agency solicitor, when the county agency is investigating; or
(2) the secretary or a designee and reviewed by legal counsel for the department, when the department is investigating.
(f) Final determination.--Immediately upon conclusion of the child abuse investigation, the county agency shall provide the results of its investigation to the department in a manner prescribed by the department. Within three business days of receipt of the results of the investigation from the county agency, the department shall send notice of the final determination to the subjects of the report, other than the abused child. The determination shall include the following information:
(1) The status of the report.
(2) The perpetrator's right to request the secretary to amend or expunge the report.
(3) The right of the subjects of the report to services from the county agency.
(4) The effect of the report upon future employment opportunities involving children.
(5) The fact that the name of the perpetrator, the nature of the abuse and the final status of a founded or indicated report will be entered in the Statewide database, if the perpetrator's Social Security number or date of birth are known.
(6) The perpetrator's right to file an appeal of an indicated finding of abuse pursuant to section 6341 (relating to amendment or expunction of information) within 90 days of the date of notice.
(7) The perpetrator's right to a fair hearing on the merits on an appeal of an indicated report filed pursuant to section 6341.
(8) The burden on the investigative agency to prove its case by substantial evidence in an appeal of an indicated report.
(g) Notice.--Notice under subsection (f) shall constitute mailing of the final determination to the recipient's last known address. The determination is presumed received when not returned by the postal authorities as undeliverable. If the determination is returned as undeliverable, the entry in the Statewide database shall include information that the department was unable to provide notice. No further efforts to provide notice shall be required, except that the department shall resume reasonable efforts to provide notice if new information is received regarding the whereabouts of an individual who is entitled to receive notice under subsection (f).
(h) Notice to mandated reporter.--If a report was made by a mandated reporter under section 6313 (relating to reporting procedure), the department shall notify the mandated reporter who made the report of suspected child abuse of all of the following within three business days of the department's receipt of the results of the investigation:
(1) Whether the child abuse report is founded, indicated or unfounded.
(2) Any services provided, arranged for or to be provided by the county agency to protect the child.
(i) Investigation concerning a school or child-care service employee.--
(1) Upon notification that an investigation involves suspected child abuse by a school or child-care service employee, including, but not limited to, a service provider, independent contractor or administrator, the school or child-care service shall immediately implement a plan of supervision or alternative arrangement for the individual under investigation to ensure the safety of the child and other children who are in the care of the school or child-care service.
(2) The plan of supervision or alternative arrangement shall be approved by the county agency and kept on file with the agency until the investigation is completed.
(j) Referral for investigation.--If the complaint of suspected abuse is determined to be one that cannot be investigated under this chapter because the person accused of the abuse is not a perpetrator within the meaning of section 6303 (relating to definitions), but does suggest the need for investigation, the county agency shall immediately transmit the information to the appropriate law enforcement officials in accordance with the county protocols for multidisciplinary investigative teams required under section 6365(c) (relating to services for prevention, investigation and treatment of child abuse).
(k) Need for social services.--If the investigation determines that the child is being harmed by factors beyond the control of the parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare, the county agency shall promptly take all steps available to remedy and correct these conditions, including the coordination of social services for the child and the family or referral of the family to appropriate agencies for the provision of services.
(l) Notice of investigation.--
(1) Prior to interviewing a subject of a report, the county agency shall orally notify the subject, except for the alleged victim, who is about to be interviewed of the following information:
(i) The existence of the report.
(ii) The subject's rights under 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 6337 (relating to right to counsel) and 6338 (relating to other basic rights).
(iii) The subject's rights pursuant to this chapter in regard to amendment or expungement.
(iv) The subject's right to have an attorney present during the interview.
(2) Written notice shall be given to the subject within 72 hours following oral notification, unless delayed as provided in subsection (m).
(m) Delay of notification.--The notice under subsection (l)(2) may be reasonably delayed, subject to the following:
(1) If the notification is likely to:
(i) threaten the safety of a victim, a subject of the report who is not a perpetrator or the investigating county agency worker;
(ii) cause the perpetrator to abscond; or
(iii) significantly interfere with the conduct of a criminal investigation.
(2) The written notice shall be provided to all subjects of the report prior to the county agency reaching a finding on the validity of the report.
(n) Completion of investigation.--Investigations shall be completed in accordance with the following:
(1) Investigations to determine whether to accept the family for service and whether a report is founded, indicated or unfounded shall be completed within 60 days in all cases.
(2) If, due to the particular circumstances of the case, the county agency cannot complete the investigation within 30 days, the particular reasons for the delay shall be described in the child protective service record and made available to the department for purposes of determining whether either of the following occurred:
(i) The county agency strictly followed the provisions of this chapter.
(ii) The county agency is subject to action as authorized under section 6343 (relating to investigating performance of county agency).
(3) Where a petition has been filed under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters) alleging that a child is a dependent child, the county agency shall make all reasonable efforts to complete the investigation to enable the hearing on the petition to be held as required by 42 Pa.C.S. § 6335 (relating to release or holding of hearing).
(Dec. 16, 1994, P.L.1292, No.151, eff. July 1, 1996; Oct. 27, 2006, P.L.1192, No.126, eff. 60 days; Nov. 29, 2006, P.L.1581, No.179, eff. 180 days; Dec. 18, 2013, P.L.1170, No.108, eff. Dec. 31, 2014; Dec. 18, 2013, P.L.1235, No.123, eff. 90 days)
2013 Amendments. Act 108 added subsecs. (e), (f), (g) and (h) and Act 123 amended the entire section. Act 123 overlooked the amendment by Act 108, but the amendments do not conflict in substance and have both been given effect in setting forth the text of section 6368.
2006 Amendments. Section 3 of Act 126 provided that the Department of Public Welfare may promulgate rules and regulations to administer and enforce the amendment of section 6368 effected by Act 126.
1994 Amendment. See section 9 of Act 151 in the appendix to this title for special provisions relating to Department of Public Welfare study.
References in Text. The Department of Public Welfare, referred to in this section, was redesignated as the Department of Human Services by Act 132 of 2014.
Cross References. Section 6368 is referred to in sections 6338, 6362 of this title.
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