2. Description of Child Welfare in Pennsylvania (2023)

In 2011 the Pennsylvania General Assembly created the Task Force on Child Protection, the job of which was to conduct a “comprehensive review of the laws and procedures relating to the reporting of child abuse and the protection of the health and safety of children” (KKSP, 2015). More than 20 pieces of legislation were enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly as a result.

The new laws, which took effect on December 31, 2014, affect all aspects of child abuse and neglect cases, including reports, investigations, assessments, prosecutions, and related judicial proceedings. Definitions for perpetrator and mandatory reporter have been updated and expanded, a streamlined reporting process has been implemented, and rules for mandatory reporting have been clarified. Revisions to the definition of child abuse and clarification of reporting requirements are seen as the most fundamental and substantive changes.

The new processes are intended to make reporter rules and responsibilities clearer, while the legislation that enabled use of a single shared database has facilitated development of the Child Welfare Information Solution (CWIS), which has sped up the processes for both reporting child abuse and obtaining clearance verifications by those who work with children (KKSP, 2015; Mason, 2015).

The CWIS, launched in January 2015, is a case management system that allows real-time electronic sharing of state and county information critical to administering the commonwealth’s child welfare program (KKSP, 2015a). ChildLine is the portal for new reports of suspected child abuse by mandated reporters.

(Video) Overview of PA's New Child Protection Laws

Child Protective Services Law (CPSL)

The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) encourages more complete reporting of suspected child abuse. It involves law enforcement agencies in responding to child abuse and establishes protective services in each county for the purpose of:

  • Investigating the reports swiftly and competently;
  • Providing protection for children from further abuse;
  • Providing rehabilitative services for children and parents involved to ensure the child’s wellbeing; and
  • Preserving, stabilizing, and protecting the integrity of family life wherever appropriate, or to provide another alternative permanent family when the unity of the family cannot be maintained. (PDHS, 2016)

Chapter 63 Child Protective Services Law

Title 23, Domestic Relations, Chapter 63 of the Laws of Pennsylvania is the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL). It provides critical definitions, provisions, and responsibilities for reporting abuse, the powers and duties of the Department of Human Services, the organization and responsibilities of child protective services, and certain miscellaneous provisions (PGA, 2017).

Title 55 Public Welfare, Chapter 3490

Title 55 Public Welfare, Chapter 3490 is currently under review.

(Video) The disturbing, heartbreaking reality of Child Protective Services caseworkers

Child Protective Services (CPS)

Child protective services are those services and activities provided by the department and each county agency for child abuse cases (PGA, 2017). ChildLine receives all reports of child abuse (calls and electronically) and forwards those appropriate to the respective county children and youth agency for investigation and outcome. They intervene when children are abused or neglected and provide services and activities to children and their families (PGA, 2017). When a child remains in or returns to the home in which the neglect or abuse has occurred, CPS arranges for regular (weekly) visits to assess the situation. Each county is required to provide child protective services to its residents.

General Protective Services (GPS)

General protective services are those services and activities provided for non-abuse cases where intervention and support may help to avoid future abuse. Each county agency is responsible for administering a program of general protective services to children and youth. Services begin with a report or referral or when a parent or a person responsible for a child’s welfare requests assistance (PGA, 2017).

General protective services include education in parenting skills; counseling; emergency caretaker services, shelter care, and medical services; part-day services and out-of-home placement services. Therapeutic activities are also available for the child and family directed at alleviating conditions that present a risk to the safety and well-being of a child (PGA, 2017).

23 Pa.C.S. §6303 (a) General protective services

Those services and activities provided by each county agency for cases requiring protective services, as defined by the department in regulations.

General protective services are supports and services provided when protective services are required in non-abuse cases.

(Video) (Part 2 of 6) Keynote address at 2016 Pennsylvania Permanency Conference

55 PA. CODE § 3490.223. General protective services—Services to prevent the potential for harm to a child who meets one of the following conditions:

  1. Is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for his physical, mental, or emotional health, or morals.
  2. Has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law.
  3. Has been abandoned by his parents, guardian or other custodian.
  4. Is without a parent, guardian or legal custodian.
  5. Is habitually and without justification truant from school while subject to compulsory school attendance.
  6. Has committed a specific act of habitual disobedience of the reasonable and lawful commands of his parent, guardian or other custodian and who is ungovernable and found to be in need of care, treatment or supervision.
  7. Is under 10 years of age and has committed a delinquent act.
  8. Has been formerly adjudicated dependent under section 6341 of the Juvenile Act (relating to adjudication), and is under the jurisdiction of the court, subject to its conditions or placements and who commits an act which is defined as ungovernable in subparagraph (vi).
  9. Has been referred under section 6323 of the Juvenile Act (relating to informal adjustment), and who commits an act which is defined as ungovernable in subparagraph (vi).

The Juvenile Act

The first juvenile court act dealing with the treatment of youth who commit criminal acts was established in Pennsylvania in 1901. It has been amended many times in the intervening years, with significant revisions in 1995 (JSGC, 2015), at which time the Act was amended and the mission of Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system was redefined to include the goals of Balanced and Restorative Justice (JCJC, 2017).

The Juvenile Act mandates “. . . balanced attention to the protection of the community, the imposition of accountability for offenses committed, and the development of competencies to enable children to become responsible and productive members of the community.” All interventions and all decisions, from intake to aftercare, must be aimed at achieving these fundamental goals-community protection, offender accountability and competency development- consistent with the protection of the public interest (JCJC, 2017).

Reports: GPS vs. CPS

In Pennsylvania a distinction is made between child protective services (CPS) and general protective services (GPS). Reports that involve non-serious injury or neglect are treated by the agency as General Protective Service (GPS) cases and can include inadequate shelter, truancy, inappropriate discipline, hygiene issues, abandonment, lack of appropriate supervision, or other problems that threaten a child’s opportunity for healthy growth and development. GPS services are intended to help parents recognize and correct conditions that are harmful to their children.

Child Protective Services (CPS) cases require that the alleged abuse falls under the definition of child abuse as provided in the Child Protective Services law. As a reporter of suspected abuse or neglect, it is not necessary to know if the child and family in question might need CPS or GPS. If you suspect possible abuse or neglect, make the report! Child welfare professionals who staff ChildLine are trained to take the information and make the proper referrals.

(Video) The Legacy of Sandusky: PA's Child Protective Services Law 2015

Since the new reporting laws were implemented, reports of child abuse have increased each year. Between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016, statewide substantiated reports of child abuse were 1.7 per thousand children in 2016 (compared to 1.6 per thousand in 2015). Sexual abuse remains the leading category of abuse, followed by physical abuse. Parents continue to be the persons most responsible for abuse of their children (PDHS, 2017).

Amendments to the Child Protective Services Law, effective in December 2014, continue to drive increases in reports of child abuse. These amendments increased the number of mandated reporters of child abuse and added additional persons who could be identified as perpetrators of child abuse (PDHS, 2017).

2. Description of Child Welfare in Pennsylvania (1)

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, 2017.


(Video) PA Child abuse clearances



What are the 2 child welfare services in PA? ›

Foster care provides temporary care with foster parents for children who are unable to remain in their own homes, while adoption connects children with their forever families.

What is child welfare services in PA? ›

It provides services to help families overcome problems that result in dependency, neglect, and delinquency, and to enhance the family's capacity to provide for their children's educational, physical, and behavioral health needs.

How is the child welfare system in Pennsylvania characterize? ›

How is the child welfare system in Pennsylvania characterized? It is monitored by CAPTA. The child welfare system is founded on the criminal justice model. It is supervised by the state and administered by the various local county agencies.

What is the child welfare system quizlet? ›

A group of services designed to promote the well being of children by ensuring safety, achieving permanency, and strengthening families to care for children successfully.

What is child services called in PA? ›

CHILDLINE: www.compass.state.pa.us/cwis. CHILDLINE is Pennsylvania's electronic portal for reporting suspicions of child abuse and neglect. CHILDLINE operates seven days/week, 24 hours/day to receive reports of suspected child abuse and neglect.

What is an example of child welfare? ›

Programs and Services that provide for the out-of-home care of children (e.g. Foster Care and Relative Home Placements); Programs and Services that provide for the permanent removal of children from abusive homes (e.g. Adoptions, legal guardianship, Kinship Care).

How does welfare work in PA? ›

Pennsylvania has one cash assistance program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). To be eligible for cash assistance, your income must be below the cash grant size: $205 a month for a single person, $316 a month for two people, $403 a month for a family of three.

Who qualifies for PA welfare? ›

Households with incomes within these guidelines receive this Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)-funded brochure, Help for Pennsylvanians in Need.
Income requirements beginning October 1, 2022:
Household SizeMaximum Gross Monthly Income
7 more rows

What is child welfare workers? ›

Child welfare social workers protect children. They are prepared with the skills and knowledge needed to ensure the welfare and well-being of infants, children, teens, and families. A vital aspect of the child welfare social worker role is to work closely with children who have been impacted by various social issues.

What are the three main goals of the child welfare system? ›

The child welfare system is a group of services designed to promote the well-being of children by ensuring safety, achieving permanency, and strengthening families.

What is the Pennsylvania child welfare Practice Model? ›

WHAT IS PENNSYLVANIA'S CHILD WELFARE PRACTICE MODEL? Pennsylvania's Child Welfare Practice Model outlines that children, youth, families, child welfare representatives and other child and family service partners need to work together as team members with the shared community responsibility to achieve positive outcomes.

Which laws guide PA child welfare program? ›

The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) was signed into law in 1975 and was amended in 1994.

What is the problem with the child welfare system? ›

We found that child welfare systems punish families experiencing poverty by removing children and charging parents with “neglect.” Our analysis of nationwide child welfare data showed alarming racial and ethnic disparities. Black and Indigenous families are more likely to be investigated than white families.

What is the child welfare system made up of _______________? ›

The child welfare system is made up of multiple federal, state, and county agencies, the juvenile courts, and private social service agencies, all of which share the goals of provid- ing for the safety, permanence, and well-being of children and their families.

What is the primary responsibility of the child welfare system quizlet? ›

Child welfare is dependent on the interaction between the child and their environment. To strengthen family life for children is regarded as the primary purpose of child welfare.

What is child neglect in Pennsylvania? ›

(1) A repeated, prolonged or egregious failure to supervise a child in a manner that is appropriate considering the child's developmental age and abilities. (2) The failure to provide a child with adequate essentials of life, including food, shelter or medical care.

Is the child welfare system in PA county administered? ›

Pennsylvania has a state supervised, county administered child welfare system, as established in the Pennsylvania Code.

Does Pennsylvania have CPS? ›

In Pennsylvania, CPS must make a reasonable effort to place your child in a kinship care relationship, and you have the right to advocate for your child to go to a grandparent, aunt or uncle, cousin, or close friend's home. You should provide CPS with possible adults' names and contact information.

How many children are on welfare in the US? ›

Data Type All
LocationData Type2021
United StatesNumber19,611,000
United StatesPercent27%

How many children are in the child welfare system in the US? ›

There are over 391,000 children and youth in foster care. Mental and behavioral health is the largest unmet health need for these children and teens.

Which of the following is a goal of a welfare system? ›

Which of the following is a goal of a welfare system? To provide an adequate standard of living.

What is welfare called in Pennsylvania? ›

2021 Pennsylvania TANF State Plan

The Department of Human Services (DHS) is dedicated to helping low-income families become independent while they receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits. TANF is also referred to as cash assistance.

What is welfare and how does it work? ›

What Is Welfare? The term welfare refers to a range of government programs that provide financial or other aid to individuals or groups who cannot support themselves. Welfare programs are typically funded by taxpayers and allow people to cope with financial stress during rough periods of their lives.

How many people are on welfare in PA? ›

Participation in federal programs
Adults and children receiving welfare (TANF):81,735
Children receiving food stamps (SNAP):629,000
EITC recipients:885,000
Families receiving child care subsidies:57,500
Households receiving federal rental assistance:217,000
4 more rows

Does PA welfare pay for a car? ›

Through a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, ACTS is available to assist working parents with financial assistance to purchase an automobile or repair an automobile.

What is Pennsylvania ability to benefit? ›

Ability to Benefit (ATB) is a grant that provides funding for students without a high school diploma or GED. ATB is based on income and provides 100% percent tuition funding for eligible students. ATB allows eligible students to pay for tuition, fees, and books.

What is poverty level in PA? ›

House Hold/Family Size100%200%
4 more rows

How do you explain social work to a child? ›

Social workers help people cope with problems in their everyday lives. Social workers assist the poor, children, people with disabilities or serious illnesses, or the elderly. This kind of help is called social services. There are many types of social workers.

What did child workers do? ›

Young lads in urban areas often earned their living as newspaper carriers or as couriers. In many towns, mills and glass factories regularly employed girls and boys. Young children worked in the fields performing farm labor and on the coasts in the seafood industry.

What does child of worker mean? ›

Child of the employee means the biological or adopted child of the employee or employee's spouse, or a child under the legal guardianship, legal custody, or foster care of the employee and, with respect to state employees, includes the biological or adopted child of the employee's domestic partner as defined in RCW ...

What are the three 3 basic needs that children have? ›

Kids must feel safe and sound, with their basic survival needs met: shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from harm.

What are the six domains of child welfare? ›

Those domains include the extent of child maltreatment; surrounding circumstances accompanying the maltreatment; child functioning; adult functioning; disciplinary approaches; and parenting practices.

What are the four core conditions in child welfare practice? ›

3.6 Child welfare worker evaluates the functioning of the family as a unit including cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional strengths and limitations of each family member, and resources available to the family.

What is a parenting plan in PA? ›

--A parenting plan shall include the following: (1) The schedule for personal care and control of the child, including parenting time, holidays and vacations. (2) The education and religious involvement, if any, of the child. (3) The health care of the child. (4) Child-care arrangements.

Who owns PA child care? ›

Gregory Zappala took sole ownership of the company when he purchased co-owner Robert Powell's share in June 2008.

What are PA state ratios for childcare? ›

Pennsylvania mandates a ratio of 1:4 for children from birth to 1 year of age, with a maximum group size of 8. Required ratios for 1- to 2-year-olds are 1:5 and 2:10, with a cap at 10. For 2- to 3-year-olds, the required ratio is 1:6, with a maximum of 12.

What is the children's Bill of Rights in Pennsylvania? ›

The right to be treated as a person and not as a pawn, possession or negotiating chip. The right to freely and privately communicate with both parents. The right not to be asked questions by one parent about the other. The right to not be a messenger.

What are the names for child welfare? ›

CPS is also sometimes known by the name of department of social services (DSS or simply social services for short), though these terms more often have a broader meaning.

What can CPS not do in PA? ›

CPS cannot enter your home without your permission.

Unless CPS has a court order, or they believe your child is in immediate danger, they can't enter your home unless you say it's okay. If a CPS social worker comes to your home for a visit and you're unprepared, simply tell them that it's not the best time.

What are the biggest problems with welfare? ›

  • Extreme Poverty. The myriad of welfare programs too often miss those in extreme poverty. ...
  • Complexity. The welfare system was never created as a single system like Medicare or Social Security but instead as independent programs addressing a certain need. ...
  • Marriage Penalty.

What are the three emerging issues in child welfare? ›

Substance abuse, inadequate housing, health needs, parental incarceration, and racial discrimination are just some of the issues that challenge the capacity of the child welfare system and its staff to provide adequate services to the families and children it serves.

What is one common error of reasoning a child welfare worker may make? ›

Failing to detect errors in communication, including hearing others incorrectly, writing records inaccurately, and expressing oneself in vague terms that contribute to misinterpretation.

What are the four components of the social welfare system? ›

Social welfare systems provide assistance to individuals and families through programs such as health care, food stamps, unemployment compensation, housing assistance, and child care assistance.

What was the welfare system created for? ›

In 1935, the United States established its welfare system under the Social Security Act. The program was launched to help people who could not work because of age, illness, or disability, at a time otherwise known for the most severe unemployment the country has ever seen.

What is welfare made up of? ›

Public welfare expenditures include cash assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income, and other payments made directly to individuals, as well as payments to physicians and other service providers under programs like Medicaid.

Who is responsible for taking care of children? ›

Parents have the duty to protect their children's rights until they are old enough to make their own way in the world. The authority to make decisions concerning and affecting the care, welfare and proper development of the child is known as 'parental responsibility'.

What are the three basic goals for children in the child welfare system established by federal and state laws? ›

The three principal outcomes—safety (being safe from further child abuse and neglect), permanency (stability when in child welfare care and achieving permanency through reunification, adoption, or guardianship), and well-being (often characterized as child well-being, focused primarily on physical health; behavioral, ...

Who has the primary responsibility for the protection of all children? ›

Protecting children from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation is everybody's responsibility. Families, communities, governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) together play a vital role in realising children's rights to protection.

What is the difference between CPS and GPS in PA? ›

GPS services are intended to help parents recognize and correct conditions that are harmful to their children. Child Protective Services (CPS) cases require that the alleged abuse falls under the definition of child abuse as provided in the Child Protective Services law.

What happens when CPS is called in PA? ›

What happens when a report is made? The county children and youth agency must begin an investigation within 24 hours. A thorough inquiry is conducted to determine if the child was abused and what services are appropriate for the child and family.

How long does PA Cys have to investigate? ›

--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.

Who investigates safety of children in PA? ›

Under Pennsylvania law, it is the responsibility of the county Children & Youth agency to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect or assess a family for General Protective Services.

Can a child refuse to see a parent in PA? ›

The short answer is no, your child cannot refuse visitation in Pennsylvania. It is your responsibility as the custodial parent to ensure that minor children see their noncustodial parent.

What is the definition of child welfare? ›

What Is Child Welfare? Child welfare is a continuum of services designed to ensure that children are safe and that families. have the necessary support to care for their children successfully. Child welfare agencies typically: ▪ Support or coordinate services to prevent child abuse and neglect.

What is the largest child welfare system in the US? ›

Los Angeles' child welfare agency is the largest in the nation, serving more than 34,000 children, almost 21,000 of whom are placed in out-of-home foster care.


1. Pennsylvania Newsmakers 8/2/15: Education and Child Protection
2. I Paid Two Private Investigators To Follow Each Other
(Max Fosh)
3. Child Abuse Recognition and Mandated Reporter Training (2 CE)
(Dr. Mansoor Madani)
4. What is the Adoption Process in Pennsylvania? (Part Two)
(The Law Office of Roy Galloway, LLC)
5. Pennsylvania Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Course | Training
(Online Courses, Tutorials and Webinar)
6. Updates on Pennsylvania's child protection crisis.
(Defend A Child)


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