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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: February 25, 2013 12:59 PM
From: Senator Edwin B. Erickson
To: All Senate members
Subject: Cosponsorship of False Claims in Detention Facilities
I plan to introduce legislation to address the recommendations made by the Task Force on Child Protection established by SR 250. My legislation will amend Title 23, to establish accountability and essential due process protections for individuals who work with delinquent children and students in juvenile detention facilities and private residential rehabilitative institutions. Over the years the number of false claims of child abuse against staff has increased, and the appeals can take an average of 18 months to conclude.

My legislation will establish specific timelines for appeals for indicated cases of child abuse. It will also contain provisions to establish a subfile within the State Registry of those who have been found guilty of intentionally filing a false report, along with the name of the child involved in the report. The bill allows staff and employees to request expungement of reports in appropriate cases and also permits appeals of private residential rehabilitative institution employees, where the Department of Public Welfare denies requests for expungement.

In addition, my legislation will include a new section on Immunity from Liability that was recommended by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection in their report released in November 2013. This new provision will provide immunity when acting in good faith for the following:
  1. Making a report of suspected child abuse or making a referral for general protection services;
  2. Cooperating or consulting with an investigation, including providing information to a child fatality or near-fatality review team;
  3. Testifying in a proceeding arising out of an instance of child abuse;
  4. Engaging in actions relating to medical tests and x-ray, taking the child into protective custody, admission to hospitals or mandatory reporting and postmortem investigation of deaths.

It also includes immunity to Department of Public Welfare and county employees who refer a case in good faith to law enforcement. Good faith is presumed unless actual malice can be proven.

Further, it creates a third degree misdemeanor offense to intentionally make a false report of suspected child abuse against a school, private residential rehabilitative institution, detention facility, school employee, private residential rehabilitative institutions employee or detention facility employee.

If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact my office at 787-1350.

Introduced as SB30