Children's Justice & Advocacy Report

Pennsylvania's Center for Children's Justice (C4CJ) is dedicated to connecting inter-disciplinary stakeholders, especially those on the front lines of protecting Pennsylvania's children, to timely and reliable policy, practice and research updates and analysis. C4CJ is widely respected for its extensive and independent insight to and expertise about the systems enlisted to protect Pennsylvania's children. The CJAR provides straightforward user-friendly analysis of complex statutory and regulatory realities that directly impact child-serving systems and the outcomes achieved for at-risk children and families. Through the CJAR, we provide timely reporting on the evolving elements of interdisciplinary policy, practice and research trends. The CJAR is a cost-effective and essential tool for any individual or organization seeking to effectively understand and influence policy development, secure systems improvement and to become a powerful (and informed) voice for children. The CJAR is published, at least twice a month, and may be produced with more frequency, as warranted.

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Past Issues / Archives:

2017 Issues:

  • August 25th
    Exploring the connection between the opioid epidemic and human trafficking
    Death of Pennsylvania infant provides troubling picture into intersection of epidemic and trafficking
  • August 14th
    Babies born withdrawing from opioids trigger concern and confusion
    Federal and state statutes contain reporting and plan of safe care provisions, but PA created 2015 "loophole"
  • July 27th
  • Pennsylvania senators broker a deal with Governor Wolf to "balance the budget"
  • "New ground broken" as Senate approves a severance tax and dedicated funding for LIHEAP
  • Fees for criminal records and child abuse history background checks would increase
  • First Chance Trust Fund (commitment to children of incarcerated parents) advances as part of budget deal
  • Opioid prevention education coming to PA schools
  • Schools to be prohibited from "stigmatizing students" unable to pay lunch tab
  • Baker's ABLE Savings Program Tax Exemption Act part of Senate-Wolf budget deal
  • July 11th
    • Clock is ticking, lawmakers and Governor Wolf still have no agreement on how to pay for 2017-2018 budget
    • After earlier veto, Pennsylvania lawmakers again seek to create Office of State Inspector General able to work "independently from the influence of any governor"
    • Public Assistance Integrity Act on the move in PA Senate
    • PA Senate supports bill promoting risk assessment tools toward informing bail decisions in domestic violence cases
    • Statewide 2-1-1 System Grant Program slated for final vote in PA Senate
  • February 10:
    President Trump Vows his Administration is ‘going to be
    very tough on crime’, signs 3 executive orders
  • February 7:
    Auditor General Keeps Spotlight on Child Welfare
  • January 30:
    • Wolf Ready to Consolidate Aging, Drug & Alcohol Programs, Health and Human Services into Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
    • PA Senate Judiciary Committee Expedites SOL Reform Bill
    • Cross-Reporting of Abuse against Children and Animals
  • January 23:
    HHS Complies with Casey/McConnell Protecting Our Infants Act (POIA)
  • January 19:
    Two Perpetrators — Dramatically Different Situations and Women
    Cases illustrate complexity of child welfare and the General Assembly’s unfinished work on background checks
  • January 12:
    • 232 Pennsylvania children experienced a fatality or near-fatality
      reported as suspected child abuse in 2016.
    • A lens into the child fatalities and near-fatalities that fall outside
      of an Act 33 review
    • Emerging details about the life, rape and murder of Grace Packer
      raise alarm and questions
    • Renewed calls for legislative oversight and an independent Office
      of Child Advocate
    • Watson still pursuing Task Force on Children
      and the Opioid Crisis
  • 2016 Issues:

    • December 21
      Major Milestone for Pennsylvania's child protection efforts
      Inaugural GPS data reveals magnitude of families intersecting with child welfare
    • December 16
      From "Heinous roots" of Sandusky serial child sexual abuse, blossoms of funding and services for victimized children
      PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency awards another $1.7 million in Endowment Funding
    • December 15
      Wolf Administration confirms $600 million budget gap
      Lagging revenues and supplemental budget requests generate calls to rethink role of government (and what might be replaced by the non-profit sector)
    • November 16
      Pennsylvania projected to have big gap between revenues and expenditures
      Governor Tom Wolf will face budget negotiations with an expanded number of Republicans winning election to the General Assembly
    • November 9
      PA voters split tickets, give wins to Trump, Toomey, Shapiro, DePasquale and Torsella
      Plus big wins for Republicans in the Pennsylvania Senate and House of Representatives
    • October 26
      Auditor General DePasquale Puts Children and Youth Agencies 'On notice'
      Audit flags lack of "supporting documentation" for nearly $17 million of in-home services and "questionable billing practices"
    • October 17
      PA lawmakers have huge to do list and so few (only 6) days to act
      Still to be tackled background checks, CAPTA compliance, defining criminal offenses against children
    • September 20
      Justice for child sexual abuse victims in jeopardy
      as PA legislative session set to close

      In twist of irony, supporters and opponents of statute of limitation reform
      may be united to kill reforms before November 30th
    • July 7
      Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act has momentum, faces hurdles
      Congress strikes agreement on “substance” of bill, but funding becomes political hot potato
    • June 10
      Mandatory child abuse reporting law earns criticism
      Senator Reschenthaler readies legislation linked to reasonable cause to suspect standard
    • May 16
      Opioid epidemic gives politicians chance to be bipartisan
      Comprehensive addiction and recovery bill heads to conference to tackle tough decisions about funding and the fate of improving plans of safe care for substance-exposed infants
    • May 3
      Annual Child Abuse Report gets rebranded and will arrive in "three releases"
      Initial "release" provides insight to, invites questions about fatalities and near fatalities
    • April 30
      Congress in overdrive to fight "national epidemic of prescription opioid and heroin use"
      U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passes Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), House shifts from CARA to "blizzard" of bills
    • April 28
      Governor Wolf and PA lawmakers committed to giving a "clean slate" to persons convicted of "non-violent" offenses
      Fuller understanding of sealing convictions related to Endangering the Welfare of Children (EWOC) required before well-intentioned legislation hits Wolf's desk
    • April 12
      PA House poised to equalize statute of limitation for murder and sexual crimes against children
      Momentum for extending civil SOL remains, but a window for survivors faces hurdles
    • April 4
      PA Senate advances next fix to Child Protective Services Law
      Background checks for health care providers, clergy plus efforts to retain records longer woven into Senate Bill 1156
    • April 3
      PA House prepares to "strengthen" statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases
    • March 2
      Failure to report suspected child abuse triggers Grand Jury Report
      Shockwaves ripple across Pennsylvania as Grand Jury gives voice to 100s of children sexually assaulted by "at least 50 different priests or religious leaders." Dioceses' online child abuse reporting materials out-of-step with PA law.
    • February 24
      1. Judiciary offers insight on "offensive" emails, uptick and oversight of foster care plus what's next for juvenile lifers
      2. U.S. Senate Finance Committee spotlights Family First Act in studying opioid "epidemic"
      3. March 29th Roundtable to address opioid epidemic's impact on PA infants and children
      4. Recognizing the link between human abuse and animal abuse
      5. Funding for Children's Advocacy Centers gets political, remains difficult to track
      6. Remembering Scalia's dissent in a case essential to advancing child testimony options
    • February 11
      Urging Senators Casey and Toomey to lead on Family First Act
    • February 4
      Effort "to clarify" who needs background checks leads to "unintended consequence"
    • February 3
      Pennsylvania's heroin and opioid "epidemic" jeopardizes early childhood
    • January 18
      1. Congressional Committee flexes oversight on CAPTA Plans of Safe Care provision
      2. Congress puts forth important child protection vision in CAPTA, but resources and vision don't match up
      3. CAPTA State Plan provisions get altered by Congress and then HHS eliminates the regulations
      4. PA Budget Process Slugs Along
      5. Collateral Consequences of Conviction legislation introduced
      6. Sex trafficking victims and Title IV-E allowable costs

    2015 Issues:

    • October 28
    • October 7
      1. PA House, with support of Democrats, votes down Governor’s tax package
      2. On verge of 100 day budget standoff, Republicans and Governor
        draw different conclusions about what happened, where to next
    • October 1
      1. One week till a PA budget, more like another day (91 in fact)
        and more rounds of gotcha politics
      2. Inaction on SOL reform in PA triggers new tactics
      3. Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children critiqued
        by PA district attorneys
    • September 1
      1. PA Superior Court gives life to civil case involving physicians
        who failed to report suspected child abuse
    • June 8
      Bill to make background checks less “onerous” for volunteers
      alters mandatory reporting landscape
    • June 5
      Grand Jury identifies “serious issues” within Dauphin County Children and Youth Services
    • June 3
      PA House Committee readies legislation to address child protection glitches
    • May 29

      ... In the May 29th edition:
      1. Greenleaf and Leach propose Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children
      2. Examining PA’s balancing act about when child welfare files are expunged
      3. Parental substance abuse and the impact on PA’s young children
        and the child welfare system
      4. Leveraging State and Federal Statutes and Funding Streams
        to Support Mothers and Babies
      5. Getting intentional about Plans of Safe Care for infants
      6. Toomey turning up the heat to increase funding

    • April 27
      U.S. Senate Ends Stall on Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, CAPTA Regulations Deemed "Obsolete" and Evidence-Based Home Visiting Gets Congressional Lifeline
    • April 16
      Checking in on PA's implementation of the 20+ child protection laws enacted in 2013-2014
    • March 18
      March 18th edition: Prescription drug abuse deemed "the worst public health crisis"
      and Human trafficking bill stalls in U.S. Senate, trips up AG nomination
    • March 4
      Governor Wolf's investment in education is headliner,
      but health and human services not neglected
    • March 3
      U.S. Supreme Court examines mandatory reporting of child abuse
    • February 11
      House Children and Youth Chairwomen makes the case
      to let child protection changes "work"
    • January 29
    • January 19
    • January 16

    2014 Issues:

    2013 Issues:

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