See other bills
under the
same topic
PRINTER'S NO. 3622
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
2913
Session of
2022
INTRODUCED BY DeLISSIO, KINSEY, BOBACK, HANBIDGE, MADDEN, HILL-
EVANS, GUENST, T. DAVIS, HOWARD, SANCHEZ, SAPPEY, CIRESI,
HOHENSTEIN AND DELLOSO, NOVEMBER 2, 2022
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN AND YOUTH, NOVEMBER 2, 2022
AN ACT
Amending the act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), entitled
"An act providing for and reorganizing the conduct of the
executive and administrative work of the Commonwealth by the
Executive Department thereof and the administrative
departments, boards, commissions, and officers thereof,
including the boards of trustees of State Normal Schools, or
Teachers Colleges; abolishing, creating, reorganizing or
authorizing the reorganization of certain administrative
departments, boards, and commissions; defining the powers and
duties of the Governor and other executive and administrative
officers, and of the several administrative departments,
boards, commissions, and officers; fixing the salaries of the
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and certain other executive
and administrative officers; providing for the appointment of
certain administrative officers, and of all deputies and
other assistants and employes in certain departments, boards,
and commissions; providing for judicial administration; and
prescribing the manner in which the number and compensation
of the deputies and all other assistants and employes of
certain departments, boards and commissions shall be
determined," establishing the Office of Child Advocate within
the Department of Health; appointing the Child Advocate; and
providing for their powers and duties.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. The act of April 9, 1929 (P.L.177, No.175), known
as The Administrative Code of 1929, is amended by adding an
article to read:
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
ARTICLE V-C
OFFICE OF CHILD ADVOCATE
Section 501-C. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this article
shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Child Advocate." The Child Advocate appointed in accordance
with this article.
"Child health, safety and welfare programs." The term
includes services and programs designed to:
(1) Prevent neglect, abuse and exploitation of children
and encourage reporting of suspected child abuse under 23
Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to child protective services).
(2) Provide temporary, substitute care in foster family
homes or residential child care facilities for a child in
need of the care under Article VII of the act of June 13,
1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Human Services Code, and
67 Pa.C.S. Chs. 21 (relating to adoption opportunities) and
31 (relating to family finding and kinship care).
(3) Provide court-ordered care or supervision to alleged
or adjudicated dependent or delinquent children under 42
Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters).
(4) Provide mental health care, substance use disorder
care and childhood trauma and trauma-informed care.
(5) Provide early intervention under the act of December
19, 1990 (P.L.1372, No.212), known as the Early Intervention
Services System Act.
(6) Perform child fatality and near fatality review
under 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to child protective
services).
20220HB2913PN3622 - 2 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
"County agency." The county children and youth social
service agency exercising the powers and duties provided for in
section 405 of the act of June 24, 1937 (P.L.2017, No.396),
known as the County Institution District Law, and supervised by
the Department of Human Services under Article IX of the Human
Services Code.
"Department." The Department of Health of the Commonwealth.
"Executive agency." As defined in section 102 of the act of
October 15, 1980 (P.L.950, No.164), known as the Commonwealth
Attorneys Act.
"Executive Board." The Executive Board of the Commonwealth
established under section 204 .
"Facility." A residential facility for children licensed by
the department.
"Local government." A county, county institution district,
city, borough, incorporated town, township or any similar,
general or limited purpose unit of local government or unit
created by joint action of two or more local government units
authorized to be created by law.
"Office." The Office of Child Advocate established by this
article.
Section 502-C. Office of Child Advocate.
(a) Establishment.--The Office of Child Advocate is
established within the department. Except as otherwise provided
in this article, the office shall be subject to this act.
(b) Appointment.--Within 90 days of the effective date of
this section, the Governor shall appoint a Child Advocate. The
Child Advocate shall be selected on the basis of integrity,
capability for strong leadership and demonstrated ability in
public administration, child advocacy and public policy issues
20220HB2913PN3622 - 3 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
impacting children. The Child Advocate shall serve a term of six
years and until a successor is appointed. The Child Advocate may
be reappointed for additional terms.
(c) Compensation.--The Executive Board shall set the
compensation for the Child Advocate.
(d) Limitation.--The Child Advocate may not seek election
nor accept appointment to a political office during tenure as
the Child Advocate and for one year thereafter.
Section 503-C. Powers and duties.
(a) Specific duties.--The Child Advocate shall:
(1) Serve as a dedicated advocate for children by
supporting and enhancing child health, safety and welfare
programs. The Child Advocate, or the advocate's authorized
designee, may conduct unannounced and announced visits to a
facility. During the visits, the Child Advocate or the
advocate's authorized designee may interview staff and
residents of the facility. The Child Advocate shall provide
written notification to the Department of Human Services of
the unannounced and announced visit within 24 hours after the
visit.
(2) Serve as a resource to connect children and families
with child health, safety and welfare programs.
(3) Represent the health, safety and welfare interest of
children before the General Assembly.
(4) Receive and review complaints from the public,
including receiving complaints from minors, relating to child
health, safety and welfare program processes or procedures
and, in the Child Advocate's discretion, make
recommendations, referrals, or both, to the appropriate
executive agency concerning the complaints.
20220HB2913PN3622 - 4 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
(5) Review and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency
of existing child health, safety and welfare programs
complaint processes and make recommendations for the
improvement of the processes.
(6) Notwithstanding any other provision of law,
participate as a member of a child fatality or near fatality
review team under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6365 (relating to services for
prevention, investigation and treatment of child abuse). The
Child Advocate may authorize a designee to participate in a
child fatality or near fatality review team.
(7) Coordinate educational, informational and other
programs for public awareness and education concerning child
maltreatment and the role of the community in strengthening
families and keeping children safe.
(8) Promote best practices and effective programs
relating to child health, safety and welfare programs and
work collaboratively with executive agencies and county
agencies, when appropriate, regarding improvement of child
health, safety and welfare programs.
(9) Consult with executive agencies and make
recommendations on regulations, licensure, financing or other
responsibilities of the agencies to improve the safety of and
promote better outcomes for children and families receiving
services in child health, safety and welfare programs in this
Commonwealth.
(10) Request, access and review information, records or
documents necessary for carrying out the powers and duties
enumerated in this article from an executive agency or local
government under section 505-C.
(b) Relationship to Department of Human Services and county
20220HB2913PN3622 - 5 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
agency powers and duties.--The powers and duties of the Child
Advocate under subsection (a) do not supplant, supersede or
otherwise affect the powers, duties and responsibilities of the
Department of Human Services or a county agency.
(c) Construction.--Nothing in this article shall be
construed to prohibit the Department of Human Services, a county
agency or the Child Advocate from working in collaboration with
each other.
Section 504-C. Organization of office.
(a) Staff.--The Child Advocate shall employ staff as may be
necessary to carry out the purposes of this article. Positions
of the office shall be placed under the unclassified service
provisions of 71 Pa.C.S. Pt. III (relating to civil service
reform).
(b) Assistance from department.--Upon request of the Child
Advocate, the department shall make available facilities,
administrative support and other assistance to the office.
(c) Legal counsel.--Legal counsel for the office shall be
appointed in accordance with the act of October 15, 1980
(P.L.950, No.164), known as the Commonwealth Attorneys Act.
Section 505-C. Access to information.
(a) Access.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law,
upon request of the Child Advocate, an executive agency or local
government shall furnish information, records or documents under
a child health, safety and welfare program to the Child
Advocate, or an authorized designee as follows:
(1) Information, records and documents generally. An
executive agency or local government shall furnish existing
information, records or documents in its possession, custody
or control within 10 days of the request. Nothing in this
20220HB2913PN3622 - 6 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
article shall be construed to require an executive agency or
local government to create a record that does not currently
exist.
(2) Child protective services reports. Access under this
section includes access to child protective services reports
specified under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6339 (relating to
confidentiality of reports). An executive agency or local
government shall furnish a child protective services report
to the Child Advocate within 10 days of the Child Advocate's
request.
(b) Immunity.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law,
no person providing requested materials under this section may
be found, by reason of having provided the materials specified
in subsection (a), to have violated any criminal law, or to be
civilly liable under any law, unless the materials are false and
the person providing the materials knew or had reason to believe
that the materials were false and was motivated by malice toward
a person directly affected by the action.
Section 506-C. Confidentiality.
(a) General rule.--Confidential, privileged or protected
information, records or documents provided to the office under
section 505-C:
(1) Shall remain confidential, privileged and protected.
(2) Shall not be discoverable or admissible as evidence
in an action or proceeding.
(3) Shall not be accessible for inspection and
duplication in accordance with the act of February 14, 2008
(P.L.6, No.3), known as the Right-to-Know Law.
(b) Immunity not applicable.--Information, records or
documents that would otherwise be available from original
20220HB2913PN3622 - 7 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
sources may not be construed as immune from discovery or use in
an action or proceeding merely because they were presented to
the office.
Section 507-C. Annual report.
Beginning June 30, 2023, and each June 30 thereafter, the
office shall issue an annual report to the General Assembly. The
annual report shall be posted on the office's publicly
accessible Internet website and include, at a minimum, the
following:
(1) A summary regarding the type of matters handled by
the office during the year.
(2) Recommendations concerning legislative amendments to
improve the safety of and promote better outcomes for
children and families receiving services in child health,
safety and welfare programs in this Commonwealth.
Section 2. This act shall take effect immediately.
20220HB2913PN3622 - 8 -
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16