Mandated Reporters

To report suspected child abuse, call:


ChildLine: 1-800-932-0313

Mandated Reporter

Protecting our children is the responsibility of us all. But certain professionals, due to their contact with children, have special responsibilities. These people are called mandated reporters and are of critical importance to the child abuse prevention efforts.


Mandated reporters consistently have provided the most accurate and reliable information on abused and neglected children. Mandated reporters have made more than 70% of the reports of suspected child abuse in recent years.

Mandated reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse immediately to Pennsylvania’s ChildLine based on their medical or professional training or other experience. They also must make a written follow-up report to the investigating County Children and Youth Agency within 48 hours. Mandated reporters who make a report in good faith have immunity from civil and criminal liability that might otherwise result from their actions.


Mandated reporters include:

  • Health Care Professionals – physicians, medical examiners, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, psychiatrists, psychologists, interns, nurses, public health department personnel, funeral directors and hospital personnel.
  • Law Enforcement Officials – police officers, sheriffs, county detectives, coroners and court officials.
  • Social Services Professionals – social services workers, child care workers and clergy.
  • Education Professionals – teachers, principals, school nurses, school administrators and counselors.
  • Anyone who as part of his or her job has contact with children.


Where to report

  • ChildLine Abuse Registry (for abuse that occurs in Pennsylvania)


  • ChildLine is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • If it is an emergency or if the abuse is occurring right now, call 911.

    When referrals will be made:

    Referrals will be made to local law enforcement officials when:

    • Sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or serious bodily injury are caused by persons – whether they are related to the child or not.
    • Child abuse is caused by persons who are not family members.
    • Serious physical injury is caused involving extensive and severe bruising, burns, broken bones, lacerations, internal bleeding, shaken baby syndrome or choking, or an injury that significantly impairs a child’s physical functioning, either temporarily or permanently.

    What mandated reporters are entitled to know after reporting abuse.

    • Findings of the investigation
    • Services provided to protect the child

Recognizing Child Abuse

Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law defines abuse as non-accidental serious physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, or serious physical neglect caused by the acts or omissions of the parent or caretaker.

Types of Abuse

Child abuse takes many forms, and the warning signs vary. Abuse can be physical, mental, sexual, or happen through neglect. Below are some typical signs of types of abuse. It’s important to recognize that some of these signs by themselves don’t necessarily mean that abuse is occurring. But if these signs are part of a pattern or seem to be continually present, there could be reason for suspicion.

Physical Abuse

This is when a child is purposely hurt through hitting, kicking, shaking, biting or similar actions.

  • Physical signs include unusual or unexplained bruises, welts, cuts or other injuries; broken bones and burns.
  • Behavioral signs may include wearing clothing that is inappropriate for the weather to hide injuries; seeming withdrawn or depressed; seeming afraid to go home; shying away from physical contact and showing aggression.

Mental Abuse (also known as emotional or verbal abuse)

This is when there are repeated threats or insults that are intended to scare or embarrass children or crush their self-esteem.

  • Physical signs include speech disorders and/or slowed physical development.
  • Behavioral signs may include the child acting too mature or too childish for his or her age; having difficulty making or keeping friends and having extreme behavioral changes.

Sexual Abuse

This is when there is any inappropriate sexual activity with the child. Inappropriate touching is the most frequent form of sexual abuse. Other include using a child for sexual films or prostitution, or exposing a child to adult sexual activity (through photographs, videos, etc.)

    • Physical signs include torn, stained or bloody underwear; trouble walking or sitting; pain or itching in the genital area; bruises or bleeding in the genital area; or sexually transmitted disease.
    • Behavioral signs are an unusual knowledge of sex; fear of a particular person; seeming to be withdrawn or depressed; sudden weight gain or loss; or shying away from physical contact.


Child neglect is a repeated failure to provide a child with needed care, protection and attention. More than one million cases are reported each year.

  • Physical signs of neglect include poor hygiene; slowed physical development or appearing underweight; unattended medical needs or little or no supervision at home.
  • Behavioral signs include arriving at school very early or late, or missing school often; being frequently tired or hungry; stealing food or dressing inappropriately for the weather.

Types of Neglect:

  • Physical neglect includes abandonment or rejection; lack of supervision; failure to provide food, clothing, or proper hygiene and the failure to seek medical care.
  • Medical neglect includes refusing to obtain medical treatment.

Imminent Risk

This is the act or failure to act that is likely to cause non-accidental serious injury, sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child. Failure to act means that an adult knew or should have understood the risk for the child. It can also mean that an adult failed to exercise reasonable judgment in protecting a child involved in an abusive situation.

Examples of Imminent Risk of Serious Physical Injury:

  • Perpetrator fires a gun toward the child; however, the child was not harmed.
  • Perpetrator leaves a young child unsupervised in the home and a house fire occurs; however, child is saved by a third party before the child is harmed.

Examples of Imminent Risk of Sexual Abuse/Exploitation:

  • Perpetrator knowingly allows a child in the unsupervised care of a known sex offender.
  • Perpetrator attempts to sexually abuse the child; however, an interruption of some sort prevents the act from occurring.

Student Abuse

Student abuse is the sexual abuse or serious bodily injury of a child committed by a school employee. School employees are individuals employed by a public or private school, intermediate unit or vocational-technical school. They include independent contractors, employees and student interns.

School employees are required to report suspected student abuse to the school administrator who must report it to law enforcement officials without screening. If law enforcement officials have reasonable cause to suspect student abuse, they must notify the local children and youth agency. The agency then registers a suspected student abuse report with ChildLine and conducts an investigation.

Reporting Child Abuse

If you think a child has been abused:

  • Stay calm. Fear and anger are normal reactions, but they can frighten a child. Be sure not to blame, punish or embarrass the child.
  • Give emotional support. Tell the child that he or she is right to tell and is not to blame. Reassure the child that he or she is safe and that no harm will come from reporting the incident.
  • Believe the child, no matter how hard it may be. Never assume the child is making it up.
  • Get medical help. For the child who needs medical attention, call 911 or the County Children and Youth Agency.
  • Contact ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313. ChildLine is Pennsylvania’s toll-free number for reporting suspected child abuse. All reports are confidential and referred for investigation.

When making a report, it is helpful to have as much of the following information as possible without delaying the phone call:

  • About the child:
    • Name or physical description if the name is not known.
    • Age or approximate age range.
  • About the parent or legal guardian:
    • Name, home address and telephone number.
  • The suspected abuser:
    • Name or physical description or license plate number if the name is not known.
    • Home address and telephone number
    • Relationship to the child – whether the suspected abuser is a parent, neighbor, babysitter or teacher.

●The type of abuse that is suspected:

    • A description of suspected injury or impairment of bodily function.
    • Where the incident took place and when it occurred.
    • Any concern for the child’s immediate safety.

●The reporter:

    • What is your (the reporter’s) relationship with the child?
    • What actions have you taken – talking to the parent, reporting to the police, obtaining medical care for the child?
    • You may report an incident anonymously; however, it is helpful for the agency to be able to contact you for additional information if necessary.

You may be asked for additional information to help assess the urgency or seriousness of the situation. This information may include knowledge of substance abuse, domestic violence or other physical or behavioral concerns.

Did You Know?

  • Child abusers are found among all socio-economic, religious and ethnic groups and most often are ordinary people trapped in a stressful life situation they can’t cope with.
  • Caregivers and birth parents of a child younger than one year are the most common perpetrators of fatal abuse.
  • Every 10 seconds in America a child is abused.
  • More than three children in the United States die each day as a result of parental abuse.
  • Child molestation is most often perpetrated by relatives and acquaintances rather than strangers.
  • Videos and booklets explaining the differences between good and bad touches are available from most public libraries and pediatricians.
  • Children who are abused are at a higher risk for crime, substance abuse, school drop-out, teen pregnancy and a host of other social ills.
  • Homicide is the leading cause of injury deaths among infants in the US.
  • Abused children are 25 times more likely to repeat a grade.
  • Eighty-five percent of long-term prisoners were abused children.

To report suspected child abuse, call:


ChildLine: 1-800-932-0313

Questions Regarding Mandated Reporters

I just called a report into the county agency and they told me to call ChildLine. Why do I have to make this report twice?

The only call a mandated reporter is required to make under the CPSL is to ChildLine. The mandated reporter may call the county agency in addition to calling ChildLine.

Is there anything else a mandated reporter is required to do after calling ChildLine?

Within 48 hours of making the oral report to ChildLine, the mandated reporter is required to make a written report to the county agency. A form entitled "Report of Suspected Abuse" (CY-47) should be completed and mailed to the appropriate county agency. These forms can be obtained from the county agency.

How can I find out what actions were taken on the report I made?

As the mandated reporter who made the report of suspected abuse, you are entitled to the following information:

    • The final status of the child abuse report following the investigation, whether it be indicated, founded or unfounded; and
    • The type of services provided, arranged or planned by the county agency to protect the child.

You will need to contact the county agency responsible for the investigation to obtain the information.

I am a mandated reporter; do I have to give my name?

As a mandated reporter, you are required to give your name and where you can be reached. This enables the county agency to reach you if they have any further questions or to verify any of the information.

Am I mandated to report if the child disclosed he was hit and there are no injuries?

Regardless of injuries, you are required to report when you suspect a child has been abused. ChildLine will assess the report and make the appropriate type of referral to the appropriate county agency or law enforcement agency.

My place of employment is refusing to report a suspected abuse. Must I report it and will I get in trouble or be fired if I do?

By notifying the person in charge or the designated agent, the person required to report has discharged their duty under the CPSL. Upon notification, the person in charge or the designated agency shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report or cause a report to be made. That person may not make an independent determination of whether to report. The person in charge or the designated agent is to notify the staff person when the report has been made. Nothing in the CPSL would prevent the staff person from making the report of suspected abuse themselves.

Other Questions

Are calls to ChildLine taped and do you have Caller ID?

ChildLine does not tape-record calls and does not have caller ID. All calls to ChildLine are confidential under the CPSL.

How old must a child be to be left home alone?

There is no set age at which a child can be left alone. There are guidelines which suggest the following conditions be considered in making a decision: the child’s maturity level, how many children are in the child’s care, the length of time the child is alone and the availability of nearby adults to assist the child if there were a problem. Each situation must be carefully evaluated.

What does ChildLine do with my report?

ChildLine contacts the appropriate county agency so they may begin an investigation. In cases where the perpetrator does not meet the definition under the CPSL, a referral may be made to the appropriate district attorney’s office. In addition, if a referral suggests a need for other services or investigation, ChildLine notifies the appropriate agency.

Can a child who is reported as abused or neglected be placed with a family member or will the child be placed in foster care?

The county agency will assess the child’s safety in the home. If the child is determined to be in immediate danger, the county agency will seek a court order to remove the child from the home. Placement with an able and appropriate relative is preferable to foster care.




Child care agencies are prohibited from employing any person who will have direct contact with children if the individual was convicted of certain criminal offenses or was named as a perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse within five years preceding the request for a clearance.

The CPSL requires prospective child care service and school employees to obtain child abuse clearances from the department to ensure they are not a known perpetrator of child abuse or student abuse.

Child care employees are also required to obtain clearance from the Pennsylvania State Police to determine whether they have been convicted of any of the following crimes at the time of the background clearance:

  • Criminal homicide
  • Aggravated assault
  • Harassment and stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • Unlawful restraint
  • Rape
  • Statutory sexual assault
  • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
  • Sexual assault
  • Aggravated indecent assault
  • Indecent Assault
  • Indecent exposure
  • Incest
  • Concealing the death of a child
  • Endangering the welfare of children
  • Dealing in infant children
  • Prostitution and related offenses
  • Pornography
  • Corruption of minors
  • Sexual abuse of children
  • Felony offense under the Act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), known as the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, committed within the five-year period immediately preceding verification under this section.

Act 127 of 1998 also prohibits hire if the applicant has been convicted of an equivalent crime listed above under the law of another state, or the "attempt, solicitation or conspiracy" to commit those offenses.

"Child care services"

    • Child care centers
    • Group and family child care homes
    • Foster Family Homes
    • Adoptive parents
    • Residential programs
    • Juvenile detention services
    • Programs for delinquent/dependent children
    • Mental health/mental retardation services
    • Early intervention and drug/alcohol services
    • Any child care services, which are provided by or subject to approval, licensure, registration or certification by DPW or a county social agency.
    • Any child care services, which are provided under contract with DPW or a county social service agency

An applicant for school employment includes:

    • Individuals who apply for a position as a school employee
    • Individuals who transfer from one position to another
    • Contractors for schools

The CPSL prohibits school administrators from employing anyone who has been convicted of certain criminal offenses, named as the perpetrator of a founded report of child abuse (at any time) or named as the individual responsible for a founded report of student abuse.

Federal criminal history record clearances by the FBI are also required for out-of-state residents who are applying for employment or approval for the following positions in Pennsylvania:

    • Child care services
    • Public or private schools
    • Foster Parents
    • Adoptive parents

At any time, a person can request voluntary certification to prove that he or she is not on file as a perpetrator of child or student abuse.

The purpose of requiring clearances is to protect children from abuse at school and at child care settings.

To obtain Child Abuse History Clearances
log onto the following website:
  • Child Abuse Clearance Form