In early April, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed three bills that will help abused children and their advocates navigate more seamlessly in the child welfare system. The bills were three of 14 total bills that stemmed from the recommendations of the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s Task Force on Child Protection, whose four members include CHOP’s own Cindy W. Christian, MD, attending physician at CHOP’s Safe Place.
The task force was created after the massive Penn State University child abuse case and was responsible for completing a thorough review of state laws and procedures governing child protection and the reporting of child abuse. Their report was issued on November 30, 2012.
One of the three new laws creates a dedicated funding source — the doubling to $20 of the fee for a birth certificate copy — to generate nearly $4 million annually for the state's 21 child advocacy centers. In the 2014-15 budget, the new funds will go to the state Department of Public Welfare to train people who are required to report child abuse. In later years, 75 percent of the funds will go to the child advocacy centers and the rest will stay with the Department of Public Welfare.
Another new law funds child advocacy centers this fiscal year through a grant program from the remaining proceeds, $408,648, of the state's closed DARE Fund.
The final bill creates a statewide database to track child abuse claims — as opposed to each county or agency holding its own records. This will streamline the fragmented reporting system and fill gaps between the agencies.