HARRISBURG, Pa., March 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Legislation to require "mandated reporters" employed in Pennsylvania schools to receive training on recognizing and reporting child abuse has cleared its first committee hurdle. "We're extremely pleased to see this bill moving," said Angela Liddle, executive director of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA). She urged lawmakers to "keep the momentum going."
PFSA has endorsed Senate Bill 449, which was introduced last month by state Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland and York counties. The measure was reported out of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee today.
Liddle said it only makes sense to require training for mandated reporters—those who come into contact with children in the course of performing their jobs and who are required by law to report abuse and neglect.
"The point is that mandated reporters have a legal duty, an obligation, to report suspected child abuse," Liddle said. "They need to be trained in order to be able to carry out and fulfill that duty. It doesn't make any sense to tell someone they have a job they must do and then not give them the tools to do the job."
The bill would direct the state Department of Public Welfare, in consultation with the state Department of Education, to set up a child abuse recognition and reporting 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. In addition to teachers, school-employed social workers, guidance counselors, school nurses, and administrators would be covered.
The proposed law would apply to public school districts, intermediate units, vocational-technical schools, charter schools, and private schools.
According to PFSA, 75 percent of all reports of suspected child abuse come from mandated reporters and most of those are in 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