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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 6, 2019 08:49 AM
From: Representative Tina M. Davis
To: All House members
Subject: Coordination Between DHS and Schools to Stop Child Abuse
Recently in my district, there was a situation in which a teenage girl tragically lost her life at the hands of her cousin. The girl had previously been the subject of a DHS report of potential child abuse, but she transferred schools, and the new school did not know her school absences could be linked to continued child abuse. Research shows she is not the only one for whom school absences are linked to trauma. Several studies using large sample sizes of children found a correlation between adverse childhood experiences – such as abuse, neglect and household dysfuction – and attendance at school.

That is why I am introducing legislation to require DHS and the Department of Education to jointly develop regulations that would require schools to notify DHS after one unexcused absence if the child is currently the subject of a founded or indicated report of child abuse, or after three unexcused absences if the child was previously a subject of a child abuse report. The regulations would allow DHS and PDE to decide the best way to share information, and would have to include measures for preserving the confidentiality of the data. It is my hope that my legislation might save even one child whose absence is a sign of continued abuse.

Please join me in giving DHS and our schools one more tool to protect Pennsylvania students. Your consideration and co-sponsorship are appreciated.

Introduced as HB2051