HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 24, 2011 /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.
Those who come into contact with children in the course of performing their jobs and are required by law to report abuse and neglect are considered mandated reporters.
The legislation, Senate Bill 449, was introduced earlier this month and referred to the Senate Aging and Youth Committee. The bill 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.
Sen. Vance introduced a similar bill in the last legislative session, but it died without being acted upon when the session ended.
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.
"Over and over we have seen instances of abuse where required training of school employees could have made a difference," said Angela Liddle, executive director of PFSA. "Awareness of what to look for, how to go about reporting abuse, and an understanding of what the duty to report means are all critical tools for those employed in our schools."
Liddle said PFSA once again was indebted to Sen. Vance for taking the lead in trying to protect Pennsylvania's children. "She has been a consistent champion of this issue," Liddle said. 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.
"We have said this before, but it is still true: Required training will help protect more children," Liddle said. "This legislation is needed. It is long overdue. We urge Pennsylvania lawmakers to move this bill and pass it."
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.
Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance
Protecting children from abuse
- Training for professionals
- Support for families
- Education for communities
SOURCE PA Family Support Alliance