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L.A.M. v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (03/21/88)

decided: March 21, 1988.

L.A.M., D.T.M., IN BEHALF OF L.A.M., MINOR, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, in the case of Lesley Ann Moore, Darlene T. Moore, in behalf of Lesley Ann Moore, Minor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, c/o Leroy S. Zimmerman, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare, No. 1119-1986.

COUNSEL

Darlene T. Moore, for herself.

Ruth O'Brien, Assistant Counsel, for respondent.

Judges Craig, Palladino, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Palladino. Dissenting Opinion by Senior Judge Barbieri.

Author: Palladino

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 500]

D.T.M. (Petitioner), on behalf of her daughter L.A.M., appeals from a decision of the Department of Public Welfare, Office of Hearings and Appeals (DPW) directing the Beaver County Office of Children, Youth and Families (Beaver County OCY) to expunge the record of T.M., L.A.M.'s father, of an indicated report of child abuse against L.A.M.

On April 21, 1983 an indicated report of child abuse was entered on T.M.'s record by the Beaver County OCY. T.M. requested expungement which was denied by the Beaver County OCY on August 29, 1983. T.M. appealed this denial to DPW. Prior to a hearing being held, the Beaver County OCY notified the hearing officer assigned to the case that it had, on July 13, 1986, changed the status of the child abuse report in T.M.'s record from indicated to unfounded. On the basis of this change, the hearing officer recommended that T.M.'s appeal be sustained and that T.M.'s record be expunged. DPW adopted this recommendation in its final order issued July 18, 1986.

Petitioner filed a notice of appeal from this decision with the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas on August 14, 1986. The appeal was transferred to this court on November 12, 1986. Petitioner contends that it was

[ 114 Pa. Commw. Page 501]

    error for T.M.'s record to be expunged of the child abuse report without a hearing at which Petitioner could "show cause why this record [of indicated child abuse] should be maintained."

Extensive research has disclosed no cases in which the determination to change an indicated report of child abuse to unfounded has been challenged. Close scrutiny of the Child Protection Services Law (Law), Act of November 26, 1975, P.L. 438, as amended, 11 P.S. §§ 2201-2224, shows that the Legislature provides no opportunity for that determination to be challenged and so Petitioner has no right to a hearing to contest the change of the child abuse report in question from indicated to unfounded.

The purpose of the Law is set forth in section 2 as being --

     to encourage more complete reporting of suspected child abuse and to establish in each county a child protective service capable of investigating such reports swiftly and competently, providing protection for children from further abuse and providing rehabilitative services for children and parents involved so as to ensure ...


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