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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 14, 2018 01:34 PM
From: Senator Lisa Baker and Sen. Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Interbranch Commission on the Child-Welfare System
Last year, the auditor general issued a “State of the Child” special report that detailed alarming deficiencies in Pennsylvania’s child welfare system. While we have read about several horrific cases of child abuse, the truth is too many children in supervised situations suffer death, serious injuries, or endure abysmal living conditions. Since the report came out, several community discussions have spotlighted the depth and extent of the shortcomings. The problems have been evident for some time, reaching back across administrations, and are largely structural within the system, rather than evidence of poor performance. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the system is underfunded and overburdened.

It is going to take a serious effort to push through remedies that will include increased funding, added personnel, more consistent oversight, and important changes in law and regulation.

To that end, we are introducing legislation creating the Interbranch Commission on the Child Welfare System. The commission will include four appointees each from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as the auditor general and the deputy secretary from the Department of Human Services.

This body is patterned after the Interbranch Commission for Juvenile Justice, which did an outstanding job of investigating the horrific circumstances of the Kids-for-Cash scandal in Luzerne County. They developed an extensive series of reform recommendations, the majority of which were implemented through legislation or by rule.

It is our intention to begin moving this resolution as soon as possible, so we can get the commission in place and operating.

Introduced as SB1087