Task Force on Child Protection
As a response to the Jerry Sandusky and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia child abuse scandals, the Pennsylvania General Assembly created a Task Force on Child Protection in January to review the state’s child protection laws and procedures. After months of testimonies throughout the state being given by various advocate groups and professionals who deal with child abuse on a daily basis, the task force released their recommendations today.
The following is a brief outline of suggestions by the task force:
- Eliminate certain restricting language in the definition of “child abuse” and replace it with more broad language to cover a wider spectrum of what constitutes child abuse
- Expand the definition of perpetrator to include employees/volunteers who have direct or regular contact with a child, school teachers and employees, any person present in the child’s home to name a few
- Expand the list of mandatory reporters to include coaches, attorneys, librarians, persons working or volunteering in programs that have ties to children, etc.
- Increase the penalties for failure to report child abuse
- Upgrade the child protective services and general protective services reports database
- Require child abuse clearances to be renewed every 24 months as well as require certain volunteers to obtain clearances before working with children
- Enhance abuse training and education for individuals working with children
- Dedicate state funding for multidisciplinary investigative teams/children’s advocacy centers
- Enhance ChildLine – a public 1-800 number that takes calls to report suspected child abuse – by upgrading staff qualification and training, creation of a easy three-digit number similar to “911”, hiring additional staff to keep up with the daily call volume coming in so that there is no wait to talk to a professional
To view the Task Force on Child Protection’s entire report, please click on the following link:
Early in 2011, I introduced Senate Bill 549 (SB 549) that would require school employees to report suspected abuse to both school authorities and law enforcement immediately so that the discretion of the school is removed. During the 2011-12 session, my legislation had over 35 co sponsors and clearly shows bipartisan support, yet SB 549 never made it out of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
SB 549 was nothing new. I have introduced a form of this bill since 2005 and over the past few years, I have tweaked the legislation as I continued to work with stakeholders to improve the measure to meet their suggestions and recommendations. Furthermore, in May, I sent a request to Chairman Heckler asking him to speak on the need for my legislation in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, my request was denied.
Why must a taskforce have to suggest a measure like my bill created in order for the legislation to pass the General Assembly?
Action on SB 549 has long been overdue and I can only hope that with the release of the recommendations of the task force we can move forward quickly in bipartisan manner in the new year with child protection laws. The time is now to protect children from abuse and it can start with you. If you suspect child abuse, please report it by calling ChildLine’s toll-free hotline at 1-800-932-0313. Professionals are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Did You Know…
Did you know that more than five children die every day in the United States as a result of child abuse?
Pittsburgh Schools Receive Acclaim
Last week, Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) honored 10 city schools for high achievement. These schools were named the district’s first STAR schools. STAR, which stands for Students and Teachers Achieving Results, is a school-level award that recognizes all Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers’ staff in schools making extraordinary gains in student achievement. Schools within PPS earn STAR status by being within the top 15% or 25% of all Pennsylvania schools, rank-ordered for growth.
Five of the 10 schools that were honored reside in the 42nd Senatorial District including Whittier K-5 in Mt. Washington and South Hills 6-8 in Beechview, which each scored within the top 15% statewide for academic growth. Brookline PreK-8 was also honored as being within the top 25%. Pittsburgh Conroy in the city’s Manchester neighborhood and Pioneer in Brookline were both awarded STAR Special School status.
Congratulations to all the teachers and staff at these schools for their commitment to educating our children! I would also like to commend Dr. Linda Lane, Superintendent of PPS and Nina Esposito-Visgitis, President of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers for creating a system that measures and recognizes student academic growth that takes into consideration prior levels of student achievement.
Small Business Outreach Day
The next Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Outreach Day will be on Thursday, November 29th. This is a free service that allows entrepreneurs to receive help on improving an existing business or starting a new business. SBDC Client Services Liaison John Dobransky will once again be at my Kennedy Township Office (Kenmawr Plaza) to provide assistance between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You may schedule an appointment with John by calling 412-624-2290. Appointments are not required but are encouraged. New and returning clients are welcome.
I want to remind all dog owners that state law requires you to purchase an annual dog license for any dog three months or older. You can purchase these licenses through the Allegheny County Treasurer's office. An annual license is $8.45 and a lifetime license is $51.45. If your dog is spayed or neutered, the annual fee is $6.45 and the lifetime license is $31.34. Discounts are also available to older adults and people with disabilities.
License fees support the Department of Agriculture’s Dog Law Enforcement Office in protecting the safety, health and welfare of dogs. The Department also licenses and inspects dog kennels, enforces activities related to dogs that are classified as dangerous and processes claims for livestock damage caused by dogs. Licensed kennels across the state are subject to a minimum of two unannounced inspections each year to ensure compliance with the law. If you suspect a dog is being mistreated and would like to register a complaint or a tip, please visit the Dog Law Enforcement Office page at www.agriculture.state.pa.us and fill out the online complaint form. You may also call 1-877-DOG-TIP1 to submit a complaint or tip.
Multi-Year Fishing Licenses Available
For the first time in their history, the PA Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) will be selling three-year and five-year fishing licenses. These licenses will be available beginning December 1st. The three-year licenses are valid through 2015 and the five-year licenses are valid through 2017. Anglers who purchase multi-year licenses will save money by not having to pay transaction and processing fees each year.
Additionally, the PFBC is offering a number of exclusive rewards for anglers who purchase a multi-year license, including a free online subscription to Pennsylvania Angler and Boater magazine, along with various offers from retailers and discount coupons which can be used at select sporting goods stores.
Anglers can purchase multi-year fishing licenses online at the PFBC Outdoor Shop, beginning December 1st, or from more than 900 issuing agents across the Commonwealth. Multi-year licenses can also be purchased from the Allegheny County Treasurer's Office or from PFBC Regional offices. For more information, please visit http://www.fish.state.pa.us/.
Food Bank Holiday Auction
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is holding its annual Holiday Auction through December 4th. The Holiday Auction provides an opportunity for holiday shoppers to bid on gifts with the proceeds benefiting the Food Bank. This year’s gifts available for bid include autographed sports memorabilia, gift baskets, local dining deals and much more. Bidding will close at 11 a.m. on December 4th. To view this year’s auction items and to make bids, please visit the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank’s Holiday Online Auction page.
Stroll the Strip
Neighbors in the Strip is hosting a fundraiser on November 29th. From 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., join Neighbors in the Strip as they “Stroll the Strip,” visiting and touring 12 local businesses in the Strip for samplings and surprises and to see what these local merchants have to offer. An after party is scheduled following the tour at Cruze Bar from 7 – 9 p.m. All proceeds from Stroll the Strip benefit the programs and services of Neighbors in the Strip. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.neighborsinthestrip.com.
Support Local Businesses
Pittsburgh Public Market (PPM) is giving away gift ideas this holiday season during their Shop Local Month which began November 23rd and runs through December 23rd. PPM is encouraging shoppers during Shop Local Month, to support local businesses with their holiday purchases. Shop Local Month will showcase the variety of gift options available from the more than 35 small businesses that make up the Public Market. During the month, PPM will be giving away a free product from one of their merchants every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during Shop Local Month. The Gift of the Day will be announced each morning on PPM’s Social Media pages, https://www.facebook.com/PittsburghPublicMarket and http://twitter.com/PghPubMarket, along with guidelines on how you can win that day’s gift. For more information on PPM’s Shop Local Month, please visit www.pittsburghpublicmarket.org.
Light Up Green Tree
Green Tree Borough is hosting Light Up Green Tree on Saturday, December 1st, beginning at 5 p.m. at the Municipal Center. The family-friendly event will be held outside so make sure to dress for the weather. Santa will be appearing and attendees will have the opportunity to see the new train display and enjoy free hamburgers and hot dogs. Special guests this year include the Mt. Pisgah Praise Band, Green Tree Girl Scouts, and Aiken Elementary School Students. For more information, please visit the borough's website.
The Coraopolis Community Development Foundation (CCDF) is hosting Celebrate Coraopolis on December 1st from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. The day-long event features store sales and specials, live music, family activities, sleigh rides, strolling carolers, pictures with Santa, and much more. A special Santa’s Workshop will be open on Fifth Avenue (between Main and Mills Streets) that will contain many special projects for kids and families. Mill Street will be closed to traffic and will feature live music, tables, and crafts. Proceeds from this event will benefit the programs of the CCDF, which this year so far has served over 1,200 families and given over $12,000 in direct assistance. For more information on participating or attending, please contact 412-329-8247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to the Sto-Rox High School football team on another great season! The Vikings reached the W.P.I.A.L. Class A Championship game for the second year in a row, losing to Clairton in the final game Friday at Heinz Field. Sto-Rox finished the season with an 11-2 record.
The Pennsylvania State Capitol Building was designed by Joseph Hutton of Philadelphia and was constructed from 1902-1906 at a cost of $4.5 million. The Capitol was dedicated on October 4, 1906 by Gov. Samuel W. Pennypacker with President Theodore Roosevelt serving as the keynote speaker in front of approximately 50,000 Pennsylvanians who attended the ceremony.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
524 Pine Hollow Rd
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15216