AMBLER, Pa., April 15, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Tom Corbett today signed into law four pieces of legislation that will further protect Pennsylvania's children from child abuse.
The new laws will expand and further define mandatory reporters and the reporting process, increase penalties for those mandated to report suspected child abuse who fail to do so, and provide protections from employment discrimination for filing a good faith report of child abuse.
"Today I'm signing four crucial bills that demonstrate our commitment to helping protect innocent children from the monsters that would do them harm,'' Corbett said. "By our actions today, we are sending a message that we will not turn a blind eye to the abuse of children − those who we entrust with the care of our children must be held to a higher standard."
Surrounded by legislators, advocates and a group of individuals representing individuals required to be mandatory reporters, Corbett signed the four new bills at the Ambler Area YMCA.
"We can stop future acts of abuse," Corbett said. "Today, we all stand together to say 'no' to crimes against our children."
Several of the new laws follow the recommendations from a November 2012 report by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection.
The new laws the governor signed today will specifically do the following:
Senate Bill 21 (Ward): Effective Dec. 31, 2014
- Clarify the definition of mandatory reporter to include anyone who comes in contact with a child, or is directly responsible for the care, supervision, guidance, or training of a child as a mandatory reporter.
- Outline the reporting process for mandatory reporters, including immediate reporting to the Department of Public Welfare by phone, with a written or electronic report filed within 48 hours.
House Bill 436 (Stephens): Effective June 16, 2014
- Add definitions, outline and streamline reporting procedures for mandatory reporters, while expanding those who are required to report suspected child abuse.
- Increase penalties for a mandatory reporter's failure to report suspected child abuse or make a referral to the proper authorities.
- Require the posting of signs in certain business establishments to provide information on where to make a report of suspected child abuse.
House Bill 431 (Gingrich): Effective Dec. 31, 2014; Applicable to applications or renewals on or after Jan. 1, 2015
- Require Department of State licensing boards with jurisdiction over licensees identified as mandatory reporters to provide training and continuing education, approved by the Department of Public Welfare, on child abuse recognition and reporting.
- Define number of hours of training required prior to the issuance or renewal of a license.
Senate Bill 33 (Mensch): Effective Dec. 31, 2014
- Provide for protection from employment discrimination for mandatory and permissive reporters who report suspected child abuse in good faith.
Governor Corbett was joined for the signing by Majority Caucus Secretary, Representative Mike Vereb (R-Montgomery); chair of the House Children & Youth Committee, Representative Kathy Watson (R-Bucks); and prime sponsor of House Bill 436, Representative Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery). Representatives David Maloney (R-Berks) and Kate Harper (R-Montgomery) were also in attendance.
For more information on Department of Public Welfare services and benefit programs for children, visit www.dpw.state.pa.us/forchildren/.
For more information on the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, visit www.childprotection.state.pa.us/.
Media contact: Christine Cronkright, Governor's Office, 717-783-1116
Kait Gillis, Department of Public Welfare, 717-425-7606
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor