The first child protection law in Pennsylvania was enacted in 1967. The intention of this law was to allow county child welfare agencies the ability to investigate reports of child abuse made by physicians. In 1975, the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) was passed that established the Child Abuse Hotline and Central Registry. The purpose of these laws was to encourage the reporting of suspected child abuse and to formally establish in each county a Child Protective Services that was able to investigate suspected cases of child abuse.
Subsequently, Pennsylvania amended the CPSL law over time but on December 31, 2014 there were 24 pieces of legislation enacted with the intent to change the way reporting, investigation, assessment, prosecution and judicial handling of child abuse cases.
The new laws have specifically:
- Amended the definition of child abuse and perpetrators
- Streamlined and clarified the mandatory child abuse reporting process
- Increased penalties for failure to report suspected cases of child abuse
- Enhanced protection for persons who report child abuse
- Promote the use of multi-disciplinary investigative teams to investigate child abuse
- Supported the use of information technology to increase efficiency and tracking of child abuse data