|Posted:||June 22, 2021 02:02 PM|
|From:||Representative Ann Flood|
|To:||All House members|
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to allow a county children and youth agency to petition the court for an order to compel drug screening when there is evidence that substance use may be a contributing cause of child abuse or neglect.
Last June, the PA Supreme Court ruled in In the Interest of D.R. that county children and youth agencies’ authority to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect does not include the authority to obtain an involuntary urine sample from the subject of the investigation. Although the Child Protective Services Law contains no express authority to compel drug screening, the county agencies had generally considered it to be within their investigative powers. Because substance abuse is a common and substantial contributing factor in many cases, county agencies have commonly required drug screening and, historically, have often sought court orders when met with resistance. After last year’s ruling, county agencies may still request voluntary drug screening during the course of an investigation, but may not compel such testing.
My legislation will provide that, if there is evidence that impairment due to substance use is a contributing cause of alleged abuse or neglect, the county agency may seek a court order to compel appropriate testing. At that point, it would be up to the court to determine whether drug screening is warranted under the circumstances and to make an appropriate order. I believe that this legislation strikes an appropriate balance between the responsibilities of the county agencies, the realities of parental substance abuse, and the role of the court in protecting individual liberty interests. In short, it seeks both to protect children from abuse and parents from undue governmental intrusion. Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation.
Introduced as HB1737