Senators Unveil Bipartisan Package to Overhaul PA Child Protection Laws

Harrisburg – Senator Lisa Baker joined a bipartisan group of state senators today to unveil a package of legislation to provide sweeping improvements to Pennsylvania’s child protection laws.

The package implements changes recommended by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection created by the passage of Senate Resolution 250 in December 2011. The panel held a series of public meetings and released its report in November 2012.

“The Task Force told us that we can provide greater protections for children by expanding the definition of who should be considered a perpetrator of child abuse,” Baker said. “My bill updates the Child Protective Services Law to include individuals with direct or regular contact with children.”

Specifically, the new definition adds employees or volunteers with direct contact with children through programs and activities, such as camps, athletics or clubs; school teachers and employees; any person present in a child’s home when the alleged abuse occurred; an individual related to the child by birth, marriage or adoption to the fifth degree; those involved in a previous relationship with a child’s parent; and former step-parents.

The entire legislative package includes:

  • Senate Bill 20 Sen. LeAnna Washington (D-4), Sen. Kim Ward (R-39)
    Updates the definition of “child abuse” and provides exclusions.
  • Senate Bill 21 Sen. Kim Ward (R-39), Sen. John Blake (D-22)
    Clarifies who is a “mandatory reporter” of child abuse.
  • Senate Bill 22 Sen. Kim Ward (R-39), Sen. Tim Solobay (D-46)
    Increases penalties for failure to report child abuse.
  • Senate Bill 23 Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20), Sen. Christine Tartaglione (D-2)
    Updates the definition of “perpetrator” and expands definition of “person responsible for a child’s welfare.”
  • Senate Bill 24 Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-44), Sen. Larry Farnese (D-1)
    Requires the Department of Public Welfare to establish a Statewide Database of Protective Services.
  • Senate Bill 25 Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-44), Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-18)
    Updates procedures used to report child abuse and neglect.
  • Senate Bill 26 Sen. John Yudichak (D-14)
    Requires DPW to establish a three-digit, statewide number for reporting child abuse or for children in need of protective services.
  • Senate Bill 27 Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), Sen. Mike Stack (D-5)
    Improves the exchange of information among medical practitioners and county agencies.
  • Senate Bill 28 Sen. Pat Browne (R-16), Sen. Daylin Leach (D-17)
    Amends Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) to comprehensively strengthen Pennsylvania’s child abuse laws.
  • Senate Bill 29 Sen. Pat Vance (R-31), Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-3)
    Requires health care providers to immediately report if a newborn is identified as being affected by prenatal exposure to illegal substances.
  • Senate Bill 30 Sen. Ted Erickson (R-26), Sen. Richard Kasunic (D-32)
    Establishes accountability and due process protections for individuals working with delinquent children in juvenile detention facilities and residential rehabilitative institutions.
  • Senate Bill 31 Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-42)
    Eliminates the separate system for reporting abuse by school employees.
  • Senate Bill 32 Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19), Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-38)
    Requires a school district to notify the county agency when a child is enrolled in a home-schooled or cyber-school program and requires the county to do a risk assessment.
    Senate Bill 33 Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), Sen. Jim Brewster (D-45)
    Provides employee whistleblower protection for child abuse reporting.
  • Senate Bill 34 Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-13), Sen. Anthony Williams (D-8)
    Establishes a comprehensive system for professional educators who are investigated and disciplined for misconduct in Pennsylvania.
  • Senate Bill 46 Sen. Anthony Williams (D-8)
    Prevents “passing the trash” — hiring educators who have been investigated, dismissed or disciplined for abuse or sexual misconduct.

The next step in the process to boost child protection across Pennsylvania will be an April 9 joint public hearing on the package by the Senate Aging and Youth Committee and the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.


Jen Wilson

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