The following is a statement from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children President and CEO Joan Benso regarding the report issued today by the Task Force on Child Protection:
"The task force did a thorough job examining some very difficult issues, and obviously there is a lot to digest in this extensive report. That said, we are pleased to see the task force calling for some long overdue changes that we believe will help keep kids safe. Many of these are recommendations we urged the task force to consider in our testimony before them earlier this year.
"We agree with the task force's recommendation to eliminate the severe pain threshold as part of our child abuse definition and to eliminate the separate definition of abuse in schools versus out of school – a disparity that sets a higher threshold for what constitutes student abuse. We support the proposed changes to mandated reporter requirements. And we support the recommendation that Pennsylvania strengthen the requirements for individuals working in institutions to directly report suspected child abuse to child protective services. These are common-sense changes that can better protect kids. If the proposal for individual reporter requirements for those working in institutions had been law in 2001, Mike McQueary would have been required to directly report what he witnessed rather than relying on his supervisor. This could have stopped many more years of child abuse committed by Mr. Sandusky.
"As the governor and lawmakers consider the task force recommendations, they need to make sure any additional efforts to investigate suspected abusers do not detract or divert resources away from efforts to protect kids before abuse occurs and help children and their families safely reunify. The reality is, most children who come to the attention of our child welfare system have not been abused, but they show up on our radar because of circumstances that could jeopardize their health or safety. Pennsylvania's child protection services are mandated under state law and funded through a federal, state and county partnership. The state absorbs in excess of 60 percent of the costs. We need to carefully approach any recommendations that would expand the responsibilities of the child protection system to include those responsibilities that currently are within the domain of the criminal justice system, unless we are prepared to budget the money required to take on these additional responsibilities."
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