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Programs and Policies
 

Citation Program

In an effort to streamline the disciplinary system, the Pennsylvania legislature authorized the Bureau to develop a citation program and schedule of civil penalties for various minor infractions. The program was implemented as Act 48 of 1993.

The Bureau's inspectors are now able to issue citations and impose civil penalties in accordance with the adopted schedule for 11 boards and commissions, including the State Board of Funeral Directors, State Board of Pharmacy, State Board of Vehicle Manufacturers, Dealers and Salespersons, State Board of Barber Examiners, State Board of Cosmetology, State Real Estate Commission, State Board of Auctioneer Examiners, State Architects Licensure Board, State Board of Dentistry, State Registration Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists and the State Board of Accountancy. The program is a great benefit to the public because it allows the Bureau's inspectors, investigators and prosecutorial staff to resolve minor infractions quickly, allowing them to concentrate on allegations of serious misconduct.

Extensive consultations have taken place over the last several months between the Bureau and the affected Boards and Commission. Under Act 48, inspectors are now authorized to issue citations and impose penalties for various minor violations in accordance with the adopted schedules of civil penalties. Under Act 48, due process is still guaranteed. Additional Boards are reviewing their regulations to determine if Act 48 would be of benefit to their legal process.

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Child Protective Services Law

The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) was signed into law in 1975 and was amended in 1994. The amendments were intended to further enhance the protection of children from abuse and reabuse; to provide rehabilitative services to ensure the child's well-being; and to preserve, stabilize and protect the integrity of family life, whenever appropriate.

Although many licensed professionals have been mandated to report suspected abuse since initial passage of the CPSL, the 1994 amendments were intended to encourage more complete reporting.

In fulfilling CPSL's mandate, the department has begun to make training and educational programs and material available for all professional licensing boards whose licensed professionals are responsible for reporting child abuse. In addition, each licensing board with jurisdiction over licensed professionals identified as mandated reporters has promulgated regulations delineating reporting requirements and clarifying that the CPSL takes precedence over any professional standard that might otherwise apply in order to protect children from abuse.

Persons under the jurisdiction of the department's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs who are required to report include, but are not limited to, any licensed physician, osteopath, psychologist, funeral director, dentist, optometrist, chiropractor, podiatrist, intern, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons, social service workers and mental health professionals. In addition, any licensed professional may make such a report if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused.

If you suspect that a child has been abused, immediately call CHILDLINE at
1-800-932-0313.

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Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

How does the Child Protective Services Law impact licensed professionals?

The Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) was signed into law in 1975 and was amended in 1994. The amendments are intended to further enhance the protection of children from abuse and reabuse; to provide rehabilitative services so as to ensure the child's well-being; and to preserve, stabilize and protect the integrity of family life, whenever appropriate.

Although many professional licensees have been mandated to report suspected abuse since initial passage of the CPSL, the 1994 amendments are intended to encourage more complete reporting.

The 1994 amendments mandate that the Department of State make training and educational programs and material available for all professional licensing boards whose licensees are responsible for reporting child abuse. In addition, each licensing board with jurisdiction over professional licensees identified as mandated reporters were required to promulgate regulations regarding the responsibilities of reporting. The regulations clarify that the CPSL, takes precedence over any professional standard that might otherwise apply in order to protect children from abuse.

Who is required to report suspected child abuse?

Persons, who in the course of their employment, occupation or practice of their profession come into contact with children, shall report or cause a report to be made when they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused.

Persons under the jurisdiction of the Department of State's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs who are required to report include, but are not limited to, any licensed physician; osteopath; psychologist; funeral director; dentist; optometrist; chiropractor; podiatrist; intern; registered nurse; licensed practical nurse; hospital personnel engaged in the admission, examination, care or treatment of persons; social service workers and mental health professionals. In addition, any person may make such a report if there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused.

What is child abuse?

Child abuse, as defined in the CPSL, includes any of the following:

Any recent act or failure to act by a perpetrator which causes nonaccidental serious physical injury to a child under 18. 

An act or failure to act by a perpetrator which causes nonaccidental serious mental injury to or sexual abuse or sexual  exploitation of a child under 18.

Any recent act, failure to act or series of such acts or failures to act by a perpetrator which creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury to or sexual abuse or exploitation of a child under 18.

Serious physical neglect by a perpetrator constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or the failure to provide essentials of life, including adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or development or impairs the child's functioning.

The CPSL defines sexual abuse or exploitation as the employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement or coercion of any child to engage in or assist any other person to engage in any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction, including photographing, videotaping, computer depicting or filming, or any sexually explicit conduct or the rape, sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, molestation, incest, indecent exposure, prostitution, statutory sexual assault or other form of sexual exploitation of children. 

Who can be a perpetrator?

A perpetrator can be a parent of a child, or a person responsible for the welfare of a child who provides permanent or temporary care, supervision, mental health diagnosis or treatment, training or control of a child in lieu of parental care, supervision and control. Also, an individual residing in the same house as a child or a paramour of a child's parent, can be a perpetrator.

What is CHILDLINE?

CHILDLINE is a 24 hour toll-free telephone reporting system operated by the Department of Public Welfare to receive reports of suspected child abuse.

What should you do if you suspect a child has been abused?

If you have reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abused, a report should be made immediately by telephone to CHILDLINE at 1-800-932-0313. Within 48 hours of the oral report, a written report must be made to the appropriate county children and youth agency by the reporter. Forms can be obtained from the county agency.

Whenever the reporter is a member of the staff of a medical or other public or private institution, school, facility or agency, the reporter shall immediately notify the person in charge. Upon notification, the person in charge or the designated agent shall assume the responsibility and have the legal obligation to report to the Department of Public Welfare and the county agency. The person in charge shall notify the reporter once the report is made to CHILDLINE.

What occurs once a report is filed?

Once a report of suspected child abuse is filed, CHILDLINE forwards it to the local county children and youth agency, which must begin an investigation within 24 hours of the report, decide if the report is a valid instance of child abuse, and if so, arrange for or provide the services that are needed to prevent further mistreatment of the child and preserve the family unit.

Will the reporter know whether the child was abused and what is being done to protect the child from further abuse?

Reporters may receive information from their county children and youth agency regarding the final status of the report and the services provided for or arranged by the agency.

What happens to the reporter?

Mandated reporters are encouraged to identify themselves and where they can be reached. A caseworker may need to contact the reporter for additional information. Only the Secretary of the Department of Public Welfare has the authority to release the name of the reporter or anyone who cooperated with the investigation.

Does a reporter face liability?

A person who participates in good faith in making a report, cooperating with an investigation, testifying in a proceeding arising out of an instance of suspected child abuse, the taking of photographs or the removal or keeping of a child shall have immunity from civil and criminal liability.

Are there penalties for failing to report suspected child abuse?

A person required to report a case of suspected child abuse who willfully fails to do so commits a summary offense for the first violation and a misdemeanor of the third degree for a second or subsequent violation.

For more information, please contact the board office.

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Child Support Enforcement - -
Social Security Numbers Required on Applications for Licenses and Renewals

Effective Jan. 1997, state law requires that applicants provide their Social Security numbers on all applications for licenses and licensure renewals.

Section 301.1(a) (2) of Act 124 of 1996 amends the Domestic Relations Code. All government agencies are mandated under the Act to require the Social Security number of an individual on any application for a professional or occupational license.  The Act also requires government agencies, including the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, to provide a licensee's name, address, and Social Security number to the Department of Public Welfare. The amendments were authorized under the Federal Welfare Reform Act known as the Federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The Department of Public Welfare is the state agency responsible for enforcing child support orders.

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Volunteer Licenses

Beginning in 1998, seven boards offered volunteer licensing to their licensees without charge, under Act 141 of 1996, known as the Volunteer Health Services Act (Act). The Act helps hospitals, health systems and community organizations establish primary care treatment centers for the poor and in areas with shortages of medical personnel.  The volunteer license was initially available only to retired practitioners who volunteered in community-based clinics.  The Volunteer Health Services Act was amended in 2002 to permit nonretired health care practitioners to obtain volunteer licenses.  The 2002 amendments also included indemnity and defense provisions for health care practitioners providing health care services at approved clinics without remuneration under active nonvolunteer licenses.  You may access the text of the 2002 amendments http://www2.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/BI/BT/2001/0/SB1017P1867.pdf.

Regulations authorizing the issuance of volunteer licenses were promulgated in November 1997 and were revised to reflect the 2002 changes to the Act.

 

Volunteer licenses may be issued to qualified individuals who wish to provide primary health care services to the community through an approved clinic without remuneration. Primary health services include such services as regular check-ups, immunizations, school physicals, health education, prenatal and obstetrical care, early periodic screening and diagnostic testing and health education. Each volunteer licensee treats patients within his or her scope of practice.

 

A volunteer license may be issued to a board licensee who retires or has retired from active practice with a board-issued license in good standing or to a licensee in good standing who is not retired, but who is not required to maintain professional liability insurance under the Health Care Service Malpractice Act or the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act (Mcare Act), because the practitioner is not otherwise practicing medicine or providing health care services in this Commonwealth.

 

An applicant for a license must agree to provide professional services without remuneration and must provide a letter from the clinic where the volunteers will provide services that the licensee has been approved to work in the clinic.

 

Licenses issued to volunteers are valid for the biennial period for which they are issued. They may be renewed biennially. A volunteer license is subject to the disciplinary provisions of the act with regard to licensee misconduct. In addition, volunteer licensees must complete any continuing education requirements of the board.

 

Licensees with mandatory professional liability insurance requirements are relieved of those requirements, so long as they hold a volunteer license. Volunteer licensees working in organized clinics are covered under the clinic's insurance plan.  Additionally, a health care practitioner who provides health care services at an approved clinic without remuneration under an active nonvolunteer license is entitled to indemnity and defense under the terms of whatever liability insurance coverage is maintained by or provided to the practitioner in the scope of their regular practice to comply with the Health Care Service Malpractice Act or the Mcare Act.

The State Boards of Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine, Dentistry, Podiatry, Nursing, Optometry and Chiropractic have authority to issue volunteer licenses.

Applications for volunteer licenses are available by calling the Board office.

Updated December 22, 2003

 

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Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank

Licensees should be aware that changes in federal law established state licensing board obligations to comply with various reporting requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).  That law established the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB), a national healthcare fraud and abuse data collection program to which all state health licensing boards are required to report final adverse actions imposed on healthcare providers, suppliers, or practitioners.

Pursuant to HIPDB reporting obligations, the Bureau’s 14 health licensing boards began reporting to the data bank historical information about disciplinary actions imposed since August 21, 1996.  Additionally, the Bureau’s health licensing boards report, on a monthly basis, every disciplinary action imposed.  Please be aware that the subject of any disciplinary action reported by a health licensing board to the HIPDB will receive a notice of the report from the data bank.  Therefore, if a licensee has been the subject of any disciplinary action since August 21, 1996, the licensee should expect to receive a notification from the HIPDB that the licensing board involved has reported it to the data bank.

    The following health licensing boards will be affected:

State Board of Chiropractic
State Board of Dentistry
State Board of Medicine
State Board of Nursing
State Board of Examiners of Nursing Home Administrators
State Board of Occupational Therapy
State Board of Optometry
State Board of Osteopathic Medicine
State Board of Pharmacy
State Board of Physical Therapy
State Board of Podiatry
State Board of Psychology
State Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors
State Board of Examiners in Speech-Language and Hearing


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Modified Date: 12/16/2009 09:15 AM