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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 5, 2021 01:11 PM
From: Representative Karen Boback
To: All House members
Subject: Joint State Government Commission Study on Statewide Children and Youth Services Computer System Project (Grace Packer Case)
In 2016, 14-year-old Grace Packer was murdered by her adoptive mother. In a case that made international news for its horrifying depravity, article after article described how Grace was involved in children and youth services in three different counties in Pennsylvania, and how her adoptive mother used her “insider knowledge” of the information gaps in the system to enable for years the exploitation not only of Grace, but also numerous other children entrusted to her care.
In 2018, the Department of Human Services released its report on the Grace Packer case. Among the many human errors involved, there was also glaring technological shortcoming. Pennsylvania’s child welfare computer system does not allow for information sharing between and among counties. The Grace Packer case illustrated the opportunity this creates for exploitation and evasion of detection. The report noted that a statewide system was being created to allow the counties to communicate.
It is now 2021. DHS has been working on updating its child welfare case management system since 2012, with the first phase being implemented in 2014 and no discernable progress since. I am not the only member of the General Assembly who is growing impatient.  Therefore, to expedite the process, I am asking for your support of a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to study and report on the status of this project. The report will include a detailed summary of expenditures and progress, a projected timeline for the project, identification available resources, projected costs, and recommendations. My ultimate goal is to see a computer system that will allow the sharing of information between and among counties.  This would be a major step in preventing cases like Grace Packer’s to ever happen again. 

I hope you will join me in cosponsoring this legislation.  

Introduced as HR119