Policy Update - On Training Mandated Reporters
TO: Members of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee
cc: Senator Patricia Vance DPW Acting Secretary Harriet Dichter
FROM: Cathleen Palm, Executive Director
RE: Senate Bill 1137
On behalf of the Protect Our Children Committee (POCC), I applaud Senator Patricia Vance for introducing legislation that seeks to ensure that school professionals, who are required by Pennsylvania law to report suspected child abuse, are properly notified of their legal responsibility and trained in this important requirement. Senate Bill 1137 is an important step forward in the Commonwealth’s needed effort to elevate required training for mandated reporters.
Established in 2003, the Protect Our Children Committee (POCC) is Pennsylvania’s leading statewide coalition dedicated to preventing child abuse and securing targeted reforms of Pennsylvania’s child welfare system. The POCC’s work and policy priorities are guided by well established and widely endorsed Principles. Among the included Principles:
- Reporting suspected child abuse is a step toward assuring a child is safe; and
- Mandated child abuse reporters are essential to reporting suspected child abuse and they require access to proven, effective training funded adequately with public resources to fulfill their legally established role.
Our Principles are consistent with the intention of Senate Bill 1137. We support this legislation with the recognition that it is a first step toward required training for all mandated reporters of suspected child abuse.
Beyond Senate Bill 1137, we would also urge legislative attention on the following:
- Requiring a time-specific identification and execution of a statewide strategy that will connect all mandated reporters, inclusive of but beyond school employees, to training opportunities. This strategy should be developed by the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) in partnership with additional cabinet level offices (Department of Education, Labor and Industry, Health, etc) as well as public and private entities.
- Included within this strategy should be the recognition of and allocation of appropriate resources to meet the training requirement; and
- Mandated reporters across the full spectrum of professional employment should be able to fulfill a child abuse training requirement through a variety of mechanisms (school-based in-service programs, continuing education, county children and youth agencies, private trainers, etc) so long as such training complies, at a minimum, with a training curriculum approved by DPW.
Again we appreciate the leadership of Senator Vance and the Senate Aging and Youth Committee on this important initiative to better protect Pennsylvania’s children.
The positions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of all members of the POCC.