PPC Home | Blogging4Children | Operation Restart Blog | Porch Light Project Blog
Focusing on a variety of education, health and youth development issues of importance to children and families in Pennsylvania.

New Child Protection Laws Signed

In case you missed it, Gov. Tom Corbett signed four more child protection bills into law yesterday, adding to the great work state officials have done in recent months to better protect kids from abuse and neglect. The newest laws include:

  • Senate Bill 21, sponsored by Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland), which identifies who is legally obligated to report suspected child abuse and requires them to report directly to ChildLine. Ultimately, it eliminates reporting to authorities through chain-of-command policies in some institutions – one of the key recommendations of the state’s Task Force on Child Protection.
  • Senate Bill 33, sponsored by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery), which provides employment protection for those who report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect, so no one hesitates to make a report out of fear of losing a job.
  • House Bill 431, sponsored by Rep. Mauree Gingrich (R-Lebanon), which requires training for certain licensed or certified mandated reporters on how to identify and report suspected child abuse. Training requirements must be met to obtain or renew a license.
  • House Bill 436, sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery), which sets penalties for failure to report child abuse and designates attorneys who are affiliated with certain child-serving institutions as mandated reporters. The bill also provides for confidentiality protections.

Stay tuned to PPC for updates on more child protection bills we want to see enacted.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

Kids Can't Vote, But You Can

Did you know April 21 is the last day you can register to vote in Pennsylvania’s May 20 primary election? As someone who cares deeply about our children’s future, this looming date should inspire you to ask everyone you know if they are registered. And if they aren’t, help them get registered.

Voter registration resources can be found at prekforpa.org/vote.

There is bipartisan consensus that high-quality pre-kindergarten is smart policy around the United States and here in Pennsylvania. Strong majorities of Pennsylvania’s Democrats, Republicans and independents favor ensuring every 3- and 4-year-old has access to high-quality pre-k, yet only 1 in 6 of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year olds has access to a high-quality program.

So it’s up to you to give children a voice in Harrisburg. Make sure candidates for office know that you speak for kids - and that you vote.

Please help us spread the word by sharing this “Kids Can’t Vote” graphic on Facebook or Twitter. And if you haven’t already, please sign up as a supporter of the statewide “Pre-K for PA” campaign, which now has more than 2,500 supporting organizations and individuals.

Thanks for everything you do for Pennsylvania’s children.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Throwback Thursday: Pre-k Edition

In social media circles, today is known as “Throwback Thursday” - or #tbt for short - a day to reminisce by posting old photos of yourself so friends and family can see what you looked like all those years ago.

This also happens to be the national “Week of the Young Child,” an annual celebration to focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. It’s a great time to further elevate the public discussion about ways we can work together to better meet the educational needs of our youngest learners.

One of those ways, of course, is to provide greater access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs across the commonwealth. Currently, only 1 in 6 of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds benefits from this once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity. That means nearly a quarter of a million children statewide are missing out on the opportunity high-quality pre-k provides in preparing them for success in school and beyond.

The urgent need to boost access to high-quality pre-k is why Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children helped launch the statewide Pre-K for PA campaign earlier this year. What started with 10 organizations in January has now grown to more than 2,200 supporting organizations and individuals from every part of the commonwealth. And that support is growing by the day.

So if you’re inclined to take part in “Throwback Thursday,” post a picture of yourself at the age of 3 or 4 with the hashtags #tbt and #IAmPreK and remind your online friends that young learners only get one chance to benefit from high-quality pre-k.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

More Child Protection Laws Signed

We wanted to share the good news that Gov. Tom Corbett signed three additional child protection bills into law earlier today, building on the work Pennsylvania has been done in recent months to better protect our kids.

The measures signed today include:

  • Senate Bill 24, sponsored by Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), creates a statewide database to help authorities more efficiently and effectively receive and respond to reports of abuse and neglect.
  • House Bill 316, sponsored by Rep. Julie Harhart (R-Northampton), increases critical funding to expand the work of child advocacy centers (CACs) around the state, which provide investigation and treatment services to children who suffered sexual and other forms of abuse.
  • House Bill 89, sponsored by Rep. Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin), provides additional funding for CACs by repurposing unused Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE) vehicle license plate funds. 

With these and other recently enacted child protection laws, state policymakers are demonstrating a commitment to keeping kids safe. Stay tuned to PPC for updates on more child protection bills we want to see enacted.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

High-Quality Pre-K Pays Off For All Of Us

High-quality pre-k has many proven benefits for children - benefits that go far beyond readiness for kindergarten and extend into lifelong savings to Pennsylvania’s taxpayers. In fact, research shows high-quality early learning programs can return as much as $17 in savings for every $1 invested over the long term.

The criminal justice system is one area where those savings can be seen. Nearly 70 percent of America’s state prison inmates fail to receive a high school diploma. Research shows high-quality pre-k jump starts the learning process for children, ensuring they enter school ready to learn and have a much better chance of completing high school - meaning they have a better chance of being productive members of society.

Unfortunately, only 1 in 6 of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds benefits from publicly funded, high-quality pre-k. The statewide Pre-K for PA campaign (of which Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a founding partner) is working to improve access to high-quality pre-k so it benefits more kids and can have broader long-term benefits for the entire commonwealth.

You can help this effort by joining the campaign.

The Pre-K for PA campaign already has more than 2,150 supporters statewide since its launch in late January. These supporters know that, as a commonwealth, we can invest now to help give our young learners a solid chance to succeed, or pay a lot more later for failing to do so.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

The Ongoing Effort to Protect Our Kids

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an opportunity to shine the spotlight on the work that is being done - and the work that remains - to protect children from abuse and neglect.

It was 16 months ago that the state’s Task Force on Child Protection completed its thoughtful, thorough review of existing laws and provided recommendations on ways to better protect kids. At the beginning of 2013, with recommendations in hand, the legislature got off to a strong start in advancing many of the recommendations made by the task force through numerous pieces of legislation. To date, about a dozen new child protection laws have been enacted and lawmakers continue working to advance some remaining pieces of legislation.

One of the critical issues still on the table involves updating our state’s mandated reporter requirements. These proposed changes not only would identify who must report suspected child abuse, but how reports of abuse are to be made. Helping ensure mandated reporters are adequately trained is also an important part of this effort.

Ongoing legislative efforts aside, it is important for each of us recognize the role we have in helping to keep children safe. The most basic role is a simple one: If you suspect child abuse, report it!

Call ChildLine, the state’s child abuse hotline, at 1-800-932-0313. It's available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and reports can be made anonymously.

Put it in your phone directory and pass it along to friends, family and colleagues who might not have it in theirs. You never know when you might need it.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

 

Tags:

A Race We Cannot Afford to Lose

For our commonwealth and our country to be successful, we need to ensure all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential regardless of race, ethnicity or where they live. Given that children of color will be the majority of children by 2018 and the majority of the workforce by 2030, our future prosperity and global competitiveness hinge on the success of children of color.

That’s why the Annie E. Casey Foundation issued an important KIDS COUNT® policy report today. Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children compares how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state level - data that can help Pennsylvania create policies and programs that benefit all children, and help identify areas where targeted strategies and investments are needed.

This is the first-ever national report that includes a state-level index of racial equity for different child racial categories. The index focuses on 12 milestones that children need to achieve from birth through young adulthood in order to become economically successful adults. The report finds the picture of racial equity in Pennsylvania is very similar to the national picture on several measures. In Pennsylvania, no one racial group has all children meeting the 12 milestones. This is also true of the national overview.

Boiled down, this means Pennsylvania and the nation have some work to do to get all kids on a path to success and ensure all children live in economically successful families, reside in supportive communities and meet developmental, health and educational milestones.

If we want to remain prosperous for generations to come, all children must have a fair chance to succeed. As the report notes: “We are truly in a race against time to deliver better results for our kids.”

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Spread the Word: #IamPreK

This past weekend, one of our partners in the statewide Pre-K for PA campaign - the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC) - held its annual conference in Philadelphia. More than 1,000 early childhood professionals, including directors, teachers, administrators, therapists, doctors and consultants, took the opportunity to show their support for increasing access to high-quality pre-k in a clever way: They stood up during the plenary session and took “selfies” that they shared on social media using the hashtag #IamPreK.

This simple act helped push the Pre-K for PA message out to thousands more people across the commonwealth. Generating such awareness and support for Pre-K for PA is critical to our goal of ensuring that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to a high-quality pre-k.

About 82 percent of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds do not have access to high-quality, publicly funded pre-k. That means nearly a quarter of a million young learners are missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it provides in helping them prepare for success in kindergarten and beyond.

We hope you agree Pennsylvania can and should do more for these young learners – and we hope you’ll join the Pre-K for PA campaign if you haven’t already. And while you’re at it, take a moment to take a “selfie” and share it on social media with the #IamPreK hashtag.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Ready to Read = Ready to Succeed

Teachers know better than any of us that a child’s ability to arrive at school ready to learn is a key indicator of that child’s success. And teachers know that a child who attends a high-quality pre-k program will be better prepared for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Research shows that students who attend high-quality pre-k are more likely to read at grade level by 3rd grade. And children who read well by 3rd grade are more likely to stay on track through the middle grades and have lower dropout rates, higher graduation rates and an overall better chance at success later in life.

Put simply, children who are ready to read are ready to learn. And high-quality pre-k helps children be ready to do both.

This is one of the many reasons Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children helped launch the “Pre-K for PA” campaign, a statewide effort that advocates for access to high-quality pre-k education for all of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds.

We’re hardly alone in this goal. Since the campaign launched less than two months ago with 10 founding organizations, it has grown to include more than 1,600 individuals and organizations.

If you haven’t already joined, please do by visiting www.prekforpa.org. And if you have joined, send this message to a colleague, friend, family member or even your child’s teacher and ask them to sign up to support “Pre-K for PA.”

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

Work Remains On New Child Protection Laws

Several new child protection laws were enacted at the end of 2013, such as measures to expand the definition of child abuse and strengthen investigations. While we must recognize and applaud these advances in child safety, we can’t afford to lose sight of several additional pieces of legislation that haven’t yet made it to the governor’s desk.

Fortunately, some of the remaining reforms took a big step in the right direction today. The Senate Aging and Youth Committee voted out HB 434 (Rep. Maloney, R-Berks) and HB 316 (Rep. Harhart, R-Lehigh) and the House Children and Youth Committee voted out SB 31 (Sen. Fontana, D-Allegheny).

Sen. Fontana and Rep. Maloney are both seeking to repeal “student abuse” language that holds school employees to a different standard than other child caregivers when it comes to committing child abuse. Currently, the legal threshold to commit student abuse is considerably higher than the threshold to commit child abuse. Pennsylvania is the only state with this odd and troublesome difference in standards, and it’s time to get rid of it.

Rep. Harhart is spearheading legislation to create a permanent mechanism for funding Child Advocacy Centers. These centers provide a child-friendly and highly effective approach to the investigation and treatment of child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse. The legislation will promote broader and regional access to these critical services. HB 316 will also provide state funding for mandated reporter training to support proposed expansion of these requirements.

We congratulate Sen. Fontana and Rep. Maloney for helping ensure our children are safe when they attend school, and Rep. Harhart for her efforts to effectively report, investigate and respond to child abuse. We now need our General Assembly to advance these and other remaining child protection bills, such as clarifying and expanding the list of mandated reporters, establishing direct reporting of all child abuse reports, expanded clearance requirements and appropriate employment bans for those individuals who work with children.

Let’s hope today’s action is the momentum we need to carry forward the rest of these important bills.

###

Stay on top of the latest news affecting Pennsylvania's children by following Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children via social media:

Find us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Tags:

More Entries

Comments from readers of Blogging4Children do not necessarily represent the views of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.