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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: Protecting children from abuse and neglect

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Mar 3, 2015 8:34 AM
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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, March 4, 2015:

Child abuse and neglect are among the most serious and heartbreaking issues of our time.  However, many people don't know what to do when it affects a child in their lives or if that person suspects a child is in danger or being neglected. 

It can be especially hard to know what to do when a parent who suffers from mental illness or is under emotional duress ends up harming their own child. .

In addition, new mandatory reporting laws put in place after the Sandusky child sex abuse case mean that more people than ever are required to be able to recognize and report child abuse.

One of the biggest challenges for parents with mental illness is the fear that if they ask for help, their children will be taken from them. The Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance provides resources to help prevent and recognize child abuse so that both children and parents can get the support they need.  A recent initiative of the Family Support Alliance and the Lehman Center at the Children's Aid Society called The Front Porch Project offers training to concerned citizens who wish to learn how to protect the children in their community.

Appearing on Wednesday's Smart Talk to discuss the variety of resources that are available to support parents, including those who are mentally ill, and their families in the prevention of child abuse are Angela Liddle, president and CEO, of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance, Beth Bitler, Program Director at PFSA, and Martha Martin, director of the Lehman Center in York, which is part of the Children's Aid Society under the Church of the Brethren.

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Martha Martin, Beth Bitler, Angela Liddle

For more information about the PA Family Support Alliance or mandatory reporter training:

800-448-4906, http://www.pa-fsa.org/

For more information about reporting suspected child abuse:

http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov/

If you have questions or want to check on the status of your clearance application: 1877-371-5422

Child line is ONLY for reporting child abuse: 1-800-932-0313

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-03-04 08:43

    Alice writes:

    Why would one need a PA Criminal Clearance AND a PA Child Abuse Clearance? If someone has been convicted of abuse would that not show up in the Criminal Clearance? How could someone be placed on the Child Abuse registry without also being in the Criminal database? Are people placed on the Child Abuse registry without due process? Also, why would someone need the two PA Clearances if they are getting an FBI clearance? Would the FBI Clearance not include anything that is found in either PA report?

    The cost for these clearance if all three (two PA and one FBI) are needed is almost $50. That adds up for organizations. It's also a burden for individuals who may now have to pay to volunteer! It also seems silly to have an individual go through all that when he/she will never be alone with the students. I think the law was a well-meaning attempt to "do something," but I think it is surgery with a chainsaw when a scalpel would be more effective.

    • PFSA img 2015-03-05 10:27

      A child abuse investigation by the county children and youth agency is a civil investigation and an investigation by the police is a criminal investigation. The definition of child abuse is sometimes different than the definition of a crime. It is possible that an incident of child abuse may be substantiated by the county children and youth agency but not result in a criminal conviction and vice versa.

      Persons named as alleged perpetrators are afforded due process and must be informed of their rights under 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 6337 (relating to right to counsel) and 6338 (relating to other basic rights). Persons named as perpetrators in substantiated reporters have the right to appeal the case.

      Convictions of crimes committed in other States would not be revealed in a PA criminal history check. That is why the FBI clearance is required.

      The cost of the PA criminal history and the child abuse history is $10 each. The cost of the FBI clearance is $27.50. Volunteers do not need the criminal history clearance if:
      * the position is unpaid and
      * the person has lived in PA for at least for the last 10 years and
      * the person swears or affirms in writing that he/she has not been convicted of any of the crimes that would prohibit volunteering under section 6344 (c) of the Child Protective Services Law http://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/23/00.063..HTM

      The $20 cost for the PA criminal history clearance and the child abuse history clearance broken out over three years is $6.66/year. PFSA has heard from some agencies that are establishing funds for those volunteers who cannot afford the clearances.

      Clearances are only once facet of child protection. Agencies and organizations must have and enforce policies that limit private, one-on-one contact with kids.

      • PFSA img 2015-03-05 10:46

        Just a point of clarification- Volunteers do not need the FBI clearance if all of the conditions listed above are met.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-03-04 08:51

    Liz asks:

    If a university campus member learns about potential abuse of a child, would that person now be required to report the abuse directly to Childline, as opposed to reporting it to their supervisor?

    • PFSA img 2015-03-05 10:31

      The reporting process of reporting to a superior has been removed from the Child Protective Services Law. The mandated reporter with the reasonable cause to suspect child abuse must immediately contact ChildLine by phone (800-932-0313) or by electronic reporting (compass.pa.state.us/CWIS). After the report has been made the mandated reporter must inform the person in-charge that the report was made. The person in-charge then is responsible to ensure the cooperation of the agency. This process is the same for all mandated reporters.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-03-04 09:29

    Mike emails:

    Ask your panel how the new clearance law is affecting them financially…churches & other non-profits and schools have a tremendous impact to cover the costs of all screening. I do not disagree with the laws but the State should be providing the access and even financial means to get the background checks done!
    Comments?

    • PFSA img 2015-03-05 10:43

      Some agencies and organizations have expressed concerns regarding the costs. Some are passing the cost on to the individual employee or volunteer; others are paying for some or all staff or volunteers.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-03-04 09:34

    Kim asks:

    I am a pastor in the Presbyterian Church USA. We are doing everything we can to comply with the requirements of the new laws. We have received conflicting answers to following questions: Are all volunteers who fall under the background check requirement mandatory reporters now AND are those same volunteers required to take the mandatory reporter training? We have heard that they are mandatory reporters but are NOT required to take the training, simply encouraged to take the training.

    • PFSA img 2015-03-05 10:58

      Volunteers who have a role as an integral part of a regularly scheduled program, activity or service, accepts responsibility for a child are considered mandated reporters. There are no current requirements under the Child Protective Services Law for volunteers to have training. Some insurance companies may require training for volunteers or staff as a condition of coverage.

      Training requirements include:

      Act 31 of 2014 requires training for person applying for or renewing a health related license and agencies, including family day care homes and foster parents, that are subject to licensure, certification or registration under the Department of Human Services.

      Act 126 of 2012 requires training for school employees and independent contractors.

      See PFSA's website for more information. pa-fsa.org

  • Scott LaMar img 2015-03-06 11:56

    Ed asks...
    Why are clearances conducted by a private third party vendor not acceptable to meet the requirements of the law?