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Senate Unveils Child Protection Measures

Earlier this month, we told you about efforts in the state House of Representatives to strengthen Pennsylvania's child abuse laws. Since our last update, the state Senate has unveiled its own package of child protection bills.

Last week, a bipartisan group of senators announced a package of 16 bills that would implement reforms recommended by the Task Force on Child Protection. The lawmakers backing these bills include Sens. Kim Ward and Bob Mensch, the respective Republican and Democratic chairs of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee – a key committee in advancing seven of these 16 proposals.

Here's a rundown of each proposal:

Senate Bill 20 – addresses the definition of child abuse

Senate Bill 21 – addresses mandated reporting and procedures

Senate Bill 22 – sets penalties for failure to report abuse

Senate Bill 23 – defines perpetrators of abuse

Senate Bill 24 – establishes a statewide database of protective services

Senate Bill 25 – addresses electronic reporting of abuse

Senate Bill 26 – create a statewide toll-free number to report abuse

Senate Bill 27 – provides for the exchange of information in abuse complaints

Senate Bill 28 – expands some child abuse definitions and addresses false reporting

Senate Bill 29 – requires mandatory reporting of risks to newborns such as prenatal drug exposure

Senate Bill 30 – provides immunity from liability for reporting suspected abuse

Senate Bill 31 – addresses student abuse

Senate Bill 32 – addresses sharing of information between schools and counties

Senate Bill 33 – provides protection from employment discrimination for those who report suspected abuse

Senate Bill 34 – revises the state's professional educator discipline act

Senate Bill 46 – addresses employment screening and hiring requirements for school employees and contractors

On April 9, all 16 measures will be the focus of a joint public hearing hosted by the Senate's Aging and Youth and Public Health and Welfare committees.

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