On April 15, child protection legislation sponsored by state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield, was signed into law, making significant improvements to how abuse is reported and rectifying problems with mandatory reporting of child abuse that stemmed directly from the tragedies involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and Penn State University.
The new law requires child abuse reporting by additional professionals and volunteers who come into contact with children. It also requires all mandatory reporters to contact authorities directly and immediately. This will eliminate chain-of-command policies in some institutions and schools that sometimes delayed reporting and, quite frankly, put our children at further risk.
Sen. Ward is a champion for the protection of children and should be congratulated for her leadership. Not only did she sponsor some of the most critical changes among the many recent child protection reforms, but she also was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the state’s Task Force on Child Protection, a panel of child welfare professionals that advised the Legislature on how Pennsylvania’s child protection laws should be updated. The General Assembly took up the task force’s recommendations in a bipartisan way over the past 16 months and advanced more than 20 pieces of legislation to improve how we identify and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Child Welfare Policy Director
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children