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Pickett Supports Bills to Further Protect Children
6/25/2013

Latest measures address reporting, background clearances

HARRISBURG – In an effort to prevent children from the horrors of abuse, Rep. Tina Pickett (R-Bradford/Sullivan/Susquehanna) has endorsed several bills to improve the state’s Child Protective Services Law.

“Sadly, as we have learned from cases locally and around the state, there are people in society who put children at harm, and it is our job to make sure that the laws in this state not only hold them accountable for their despicable actions, but also help to ensure that abuse is stopped in its tracks and children can be spared from further trauma,” said Pickett.

The package of bills passed by the House on June 20 and 24 seek to strengthen the reporting system for suspected cases of abuse, lower the threshold to meet the criminal definition of abuse in the state’s Child Protection Services Law and enhance criminal background checks.

The bills in the package include:

  • House Bill 430 to establish procedures for reporting suspected child abuse through advanced communication technology. That legislation would improve the ability of reports to be made in a timely manner and for that information to be relayed to the proper investigative authorities. In addition, mandated reporters who are part of an organization are required to report to ChildLine and the person in charge of the organization. The person in charge of the organization then assumes responsibility for facilitating the organization’s cooperation with the investigation.
  • House Bill 726 to expand and enhance the definition of child abuse in the state’s Child Protection Services Law. The legislation seeks to lower the injury threshold to mirror simple assault, expand the ability to substantiate serious emotional abuse, include grooming activities, broaden serious physical neglect and expand the definition of perpetrator.
  • House Bill 433 to establish additional safeguards and due process with respect to the outcome of a child abuse investigation. This bill would require that the county Children and Youth Agency director and solicitor approve indicated reports of child abuse and provide a specific timeline for appeals of the outcome of a child abuse investigation.
  • House Bill 434 to remove the separate standards and procedures that exist for school employees accused of abusing a student. This bill would ensure that school employees are subject to the same investigations and held to the same standards as parents, child care workers and other perpetrators of child abuse. 
  • House Bill 435 to enhance background clearance requirements for those who work with children or volunteer in a role where they supervise children. This bill would expand the scope of those required to receive background clearances, require that clearances be renewed every 24 months, and require employees and volunteers to disclose arrests and convictions that would affect their ability to work or volunteer with children.
  • House Bill 436 to expand the list of mandated reporters of suspected child abuse, clarify a mandated reporter’s basis to report child abuse and enhance penalties for failure to report.

The bills are based on recommendations from the Task Force on Child Protection, which was created last year in the wake of high-profile sexual abuse scandals in Pennsylvania. The package of bills passed in the past week are in addition to more than a dozen others endorsed earlier this spring to close many of the cracks in the child welfare system that have made it difficult for cases to be properly investigated and prosecuted.

“All of these bills are designed to ensure the overall well-being of children,” Pickett said. “These proposals were all thoroughly reviewed and scrutinized as to minimize any sort of unintended consequences, while making sure that those who should never be alone with children are not put in the position of caring for them. These bills represent an ongoing effort to care for our children and to prevent them from needless suffering and pain.”

All of the bills are now with the state Senate for consideration.

Anyone who suspects child abuse can make a report to the state’s toll-free hotline for child abuse suspicions, called ChildLine, at 800-932-0313.


Representative Tina Pickett
110th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact:  Jennifer Keaton
(717) 705-2094
jkeaton@pahousegop.com
RepPickett.com / Facebook.com/RepPickett
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