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Another Child Protection Bill Passes Senate

April 10, 2104
HARRISBURG – State Senator Kim Ward (R-39) applauded the General Assembly today for the unanimous passage of her legislation, Senate Bill 21, which clarifies who is a mandated reporter under the PA Child Protective Services (CPS) law and when and how they are required to report suspected child abuse. 

“With the passage of this bill, our children have a stronger layer of protection that they didn’t have before,” Ward said. Senate Bill 21 was one of the key pieces of the legislative package developed from the report issued by the Task Force on Child Protection, which was established by Ward’s Senate Resolution of 250 of 2011.

The bill clearly defines who is a mandated reporter of child abuse in Pennsylvania. Specifically, adults over the age of eighteen in the following professions would be required to report abuse if they reasonably suspect abuse has occurred:

•         Professionals in health-related fields, licensed or certified by the PA Department of State.

•         Medical examiners, coroners and funeral directors.

•         Employees of health care facilities and providers licensed by the PA Department of Health (DOH) who are involved with patient admission, examination, care or treatment.

•         School employees.

•         Employees of child-care services providers.

•         Clergy and other religious leaders.

•         Individuals (paid or unpaid) who accept responsibility for a child as part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service.

•         Employees of social service agencies.

•         Peace officers or law enforcement officials.

•         Employee at a public library with direct contact with children.

•         Emergency medical services providers certified by DOH.

•         Individuals supervised or managed in any of these enumerated professions who has direct contact with children.

•         An independent contractor.

•         Included in HB 436 -- Attorneys affiliated with organizations with responsibility for children.

Senate Bill 21 also requires all mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse directly to the Department of Public Welfare or law enforcement, thereby eliminating a current procedure for school employees that requires notification to superiors who are then tasked with reporting. “There will no longer be any mistake as to who has a requirement to report abuse,” Ward said. “No more passing the buck; no more pointing the finger at someone else to report. If you see abuse, you will report it.”

The bill also provides for an electronic reporting procedure, which DPW plans to institute, and requires DPW to post informational resources about recognizing the signs of child abuse and how to report.

“Collectively, this General Assembly has passed fifteen pieces of Task-Force recommended legislation into law, which is, I understand, among the largest package of bills moved in recent memory,” Ward said. “This body, as well as Governor Corbett, are to be commended for taking the steps necessary to better protect our children and strengthen our child protective services system from top to bottom.”

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