November 27, 2012

Task Force Calls For Sweeping Changes In Child Abuse Laws

The PA Task Force on Child Protection Tuesday released its report with recommendations to dramatically improve state laws and procedures governing child protection and the reporting of child abuse.
Click Here for highlights of report recommendations.

The 11-member panel, chaired by Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, held 11 public meetings throughout 2012. It was created by the passage of Senate Resolution 250 in December 2011.
"Our Task Force heard testimony from more than 60 people with hands-on expertise in every aspect of protecting children and investigating and prosecuting child abuse," Heckler said. "Based on their testimony, other written submissions and the substantial experience of our members, we have developed a sweeping set of proposals."
"The Task Force's recommendations call for what is essentially a complete rewriting of the Child Protective Services Law – such as redefining and clarifying what constitutes child abuse itself, and expanding the list of those who are required to report child abuse to Pennsylvania's ChildLine," Heckler said. "We also call for upgrading some crimes and creating several new offenses. We propose a transformation in the way information concerning child abuse is handled and maintained, the way in which crimes against children are investigated in parts of the state, and the way in which those with a responsibility for the well being of children are trained."
Heckler noted that the Task Force's sweeping recommendations will need to be introduced in numerous bills for the General Assembly to consider, and that many issues will require additional public hearings.
"The Task Force took a comprehensive look at Pennsylvania's current laws governing child protection," he said. "Strengthening these laws must be done as soon as possible, but we should recognize that it cannot be done overnight."
Video of Tuesday’s press conference and the Task Force report will be posted online.