HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA) today endorsed legislation introduced by state Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland and York counties, which would require "mandated reporters" employed by schools to undergo training on how to recognize and report child abuse.
Mandated reporters are people who come into contact with children in the course of performing their jobs and are required by law to report abuse and neglect.
The legislation, Senate Bill 1137, was introduced last week. It calls on the state Department of Public Welfare, in consultation with the state Department of Education, to set up a child abuse recognition and reporting program.
Under the program, teachers and other mandated reporters employed by or under contract to schools would be required to undergo a minimum of three hours of training every five years. Teachers would get continuing education credits for the training.
The proposed law would cover public school districts, intermediate units, vocational-technical schools, charter schools, and private schools.
"We have been pushing for legislation like this and we are grateful to Sen. Vance for drafting and introducing this bill," said Angela Liddle, executive director of PFSA.
Vance, a professionally-trained nurse, is chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.
Liddle said mandated reporters covered by the legislation would include teachers, school-employed social workers, guidance counselors, school nurses, and administrators.
"A great deal of responsibility goes with being a mandated reporter," Liddle explained. "Training on how to recognize the signs of child abuse and how to properly report suspected abuse will help mandated reporters live up to that responsibility. In the end, required training will help protect more children."
Liddle pointed out that 75 percent of all reports of suspected child abuse come from mandated reporters and of those most come from schools.
More than 25,650 cases of suspected abuse were reported in Pennsylvania in 2008, an increase of about 1,600 over the previous year. Reports of child abuse occurred in all 67 counties of Pennsylvania -- urban, suburban, and rural.
PFSA, a nonprofit organization, provides training on recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect through schools, early childhood education centers, religious institutions, and social service agencies. It has trained nearly 8,000 individuals during the past year.
For more information, visit the PFSA Web site at www.pa-fsa.org.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance