Butler County Children and Youth School Visitation Procedure: 2020-21 School Year
• There are times when a Caseworker will call ahead to verify that a child is at school, whether or not they actually attend your school, and what the child’s schedule looks like so that they can avoid arriving at a time that may be inconvenient to the child like lunchtime.
• The Caseworker will arrive at the school office and present county identification to the office staff.
• The Caseworker will identify the child they need to see and request a private place to speak with the child. The Caseworker will need to speak to the child alone.
• The Caseworker will maintain professional interactions with all school staff.
• The Caseworker may wish to speak with the Reporting Source if they are a member of the staff or any staff member who made aid in the investigation.
• The Caseworker may ask for attendance, behavioral, or academic records for the child(ren) depending on the nature of the report and investigation.
• Due to confidentiality, the Caseworker will not discuss the details of the report or interview with school staff members.
• Parents do not need to be notified or give permission for the Caseworker to talk with the child. Dependent upon the details of the investigation it may be necessary for the Caseworker to see and speak with the child before they engage the parents. This action is strictly to keep the child safe.
• If a school staff member is the Reporting Source, it is important to know that the agency Caseworker may not visit the child at the school on the day of the report. It is possible that the investigation necessitates the child being seen in their home. This is most usually important as it adds into our formulation of the child’s safety assessment.
a. It is important to understand that a child welfare investigation must adhere to law, regulations, and policies. If the Caseworker does not follow the above, it may actually put our ability to protect the child legally at risk. Just because a Caseworker may not respond does not mean that they are not working to keep the child safe.
• If a school staff member is the Reporting Source, that staff member is able to receive the following information once the investigation is complete:
a. Whether the child abuse report is indicated, founded or unfounded.
b. Any services provided, arranged for or to be provided by the county agency to protect the child.
Please remember that not every report that is made may necessitate a child welfare investigation. This does not mean that the report was ignored or did not matter. School staff members should not be discouraged if this occurs. Most typically this means that the report could be addressed in a lesser invasive way such as other community services. This could also indicate that even though the report shows family need, it does not rise to the level of government intervention. If there is additional information, please report it.
There are times in which a Caseworker my need to take custody of a child while they are in school to keep them safe. If this is necessary, the following process will take place:
The school will be presented with a court order by fax or if possible in hard copy from the Caseworker at their arrival.
Sometimes caseworkers are already in the field when they need to make the decision to remove a child. When this occurs, the Caseworker will not have a court order. They will only have a verbal court order from the Judge. The Caseworker will inform school staff of this if needed.
When the Caseworker removes the child from school, they will inform the parent properly of that action. The school district should not need to inform the parent.
Depending on the nature of the situation, the Caseworker may or may not be able to call the school in advance of arrival to notify of the detention. When it is possible, the Caseworker will do so.
As a reminder reports should be made to ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313 or make an electronic report by accessing the Child Welfare Portal at https://www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis/public/home
The additional pages of this document address the legal basis of a child abuse investigation applicable to the cooperation of schools. It is our intent to create a partnership with your school district so that we can clearly understand one another’s role in keeping children safe.
Finally, please feel free to reach out to us if you have a question or concern. We welcome the interaction and opportunity to help in this effort.
PA CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICE LAW
23 Pa.C.S. Chapter 63
Requirements for schools regarding mandated reporting
and cooperation with a child abuse investigation
CPSL 6311 (c): Staff members of institutions (schools)- “Whenever a person is required to report under subsection B (subsection B explains a Mandated Reporter basis to report) in the capacity as a member of the staff of the school, that person shall report immediately in accordance with section and shall immediately thereafter notify the person in charge of the school or the designated agent of the person in charge.
Upon Notification, the person in charge or the designated agent, if any, shall facilitate the cooperation of the school with the investigation of the report. Any intimidation, retaliation or obstruction in the investigation of the report is subject to the provisions of 18 Pa. CS 4985- (crimes code relating to intimidation, retaliation or obstruction in a child abuse investigation). This chapter does not require more than one report from any institution, school, facility or agency.
CPSL 6313. Reporting procedure.
(a) Report by Mandated Reporter.—
1. A mandated reporter shall immediately make an oral report of suspected child abuse to the department via the Statewide toll-free number or a written report using the electronic database
2. A mandated reporter making an oral report under paragraph (1) of suspected child abuse shall also make a written report, which may be submitted electronically, within 48 hours to the department.
(b) Contents of Report.—A written report of suspected child abuse, which may be submitted electronically, shall include the following information:
1. The names and addresses of the child and the child’s parents and any other person responsible for the child’s welfare.
2. Where the suspected child abuse occurred
3. The age and sex of each subject of the report
4. The nature and extent of the suspected child abuse, including any evidence of prior abuse to the child or any sibling of the child
5. The names and relationship of each individual responsible for causing the suspected abuse and any evidence of prior abuse by each individual.
6. Family composition
7. The source of the report
8. The name, telephone # and email address of the person making the report
9. The actions taken by the person making the report, including those actions taken under 6314 (relating to photos, medical tests, xrays), 6315, 6316 (relating to admission to private/public hospitals)
10. Any other law required by Federal law or regulation
11. Any other information that the department requires by regulation.
6346. Cooperation of other agencies.
(a) General rule.--The secretary may request and shall receive from Commonwealth agencies, political subdivisions, an authorized agency or any other agency providing services under the local protective services plan any assistance and data that will enable the department and the county agency to fulfill their responsibilities properly, including law enforcement officials when assistance is needed in conducting an investigation or an assessment of safety or risk to the child. School districts shall cooperate with the department and the agency by providing them upon request with the information as is consistent with law.
(b) Willful failure to cooperate.--Any agency, school or facility or any person acting on behalf of an agency, school or facility that violates this section by willfully failing to cooperate with the department or a county agency when investigating a report of suspected child abuse or when assessing safety or risk to a child commits a misdemeanor of the third degree for a first violation and a misdemeanor of the second degree for subsequent violations.
(c) Cooperation of county agency and law enforcement officials.--Consistent with the provisions of this chapter, the county agency and law enforcement officials shall cooperate and coordinate, to the fullest extent possible, their efforts to respond to and investigate reports of suspected child abuse.
CPSL 6318 thru 6320 addresses: Immunity from Liability when acting in good faith to make a report, Penalties for failure to report or refer and protection from employment discrimination.