PA DHS awards PFSA multi-year deal to train professionals in Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse
Fulfills a key recommendation of post-Sandusky PA Task Force on Child Protection
HARRISBURG, PA – Flanked by members of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection, district attorneys, child advocates and medical professionals, Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA) President and CEO Angela Liddle today applauded the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ (DHS) decision to award PFSA an up to five-year, $2.5 million competitively bid contract to provide face-to-face training in recognizing and reporting child abuse to mandated reporters across Pennsylvania.
“PFSA’s selection by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is a testament to the soundness of our approach, the depth of our curriculum, and the professionalism of our child welfare trainers and staff,” said Liddle. “PFSA is the gold standard when it comes to the training of mandated reporters in recognizing and reporting child abuse in Pennsylvania. Through this contract, we will train thousands of additional mandated reporters.”
Mandated reporters are people who are required by law to report suspected child abuse. They generally are people who come into contact with children as a part of their employment, practice of their profession and, sometimes, as volunteers in child-serving programs. The Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) was amended in 2013 and in 2014, including significant changes to the list of people who are mandated to report suspected child abuse. They make more than 75% of the calls to ChildLine, the state’s 24-hour hotline to report child abuse – 800-932-0313.
PFSA has provided DHS-approved mandated reporter training curricula since 1995. PFSA’s face-to-face training, Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse, is one of only a few curricula approved by the Pennsylvania departments of Human Services, Education and State, is eligible for Act 48 credits, and meets the requirements for training under Acts 126 and 31.
Jason P. Kutulakis, a member of the PA Task Force on Child Protection and a founding partner of the law firm of Abom & Kutulakis LLP, said, “The Task Force on Child Protection, convened by the General Assembly and former Governor Tom Corbett after the Jerry Sandusky-PSU child sexual-abuse scandal, recommended that the state establish and support proven training programs for a wide range of mandated reporters. This contract fulfills that recommendation. I am confident that the professional trainers and staff of PFSA have the expertise and commitment to help us better protect Pennsylvania’s children.” Kutulakis also serves on the PFSA Board of Directors.
“Child abuse and neglect cases are heartbreaking. They are also preventable,” noted David Arnold, president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and Lebanon County district attorney. “As a prosecutor, I’d much rather stop child abuse before it happens. Through this expanded training, more mandated reporters across the commonwealth will know exactly how to detect abuse and neglect and how to report it. Our goal should always be to intervene at the first sign of trouble so we can spare more children the physical and emotional scars of abuse.”
State Representative Julie Harhart (R-Lehigh and Northampton counties) sponsored HB 316 enacted by the General Assembly in April 2014. It provides the funding mechanism for child advocacy centers and MR training through an additional fee for copies of state Department of Health birth records. She commented, “I have been a long-time advocate of children’s issues and have fought hard to establish a reliable funding stream for child advocacy centers across the state. These centers are a critical asset to help children who have been abused by providing a place for them to go and get the help they need.
“A key element in addressing the issue of child abuse is to recognize the signs of abuse and to know the correct steps to take to help the child through this tragedy. The contract we celebrate today will do just that by enabling more state-mandated reporters to receive this vital training. I applaud the work of the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance and everyone who is working so hard to ensure the safety and well-being of our children and families.”
Strengthening Training of Medically Licensed Professionals:
One of the primary purposes of the CPSL is to encourage more complete reporting of child abuse. A key change made by lawmakers to the CPSL places a training requirement on those individuals applying for initial licensure or renewal of a health-related state license (Act 31 of 2014).
PFSA has partnered with Lori Frasier, M.D., division chief of child abuse pediatrics at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, to develop a clinical portion that augments its approved face-to-face training. PFSA will seek approval of the new clinical-training component from the departments of Education, Human Services and State.
“It’s very important for health professionals to recognize the more subtle signs of child abuse. These often occur in infants and young children who cannot speak yet,” Dr. Frasier said. “The purpose of clinical training is to bring physicians up to the level of recognizing early-stage child abuse and feel confident in their medical judgement that this has occurred.”
Research conducted by Franklin and Marshall College on behalf of PFSA in 2014 clearly shows that when mandated reporters are trained properly, they know how to recognize and report the signs of abuse. “In fact, our research demonstrated that those mandated reporters who are well trained are five times more likely to report suspected child abuse,” noted Liddle. “Mandated reporters often are the first line of defense for kids so their proper training is the key to early intervention in a potentially abusive situation involving children.”
ABOUT PFSA: Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance provides training on recognizing and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect to schools, early childhood education centers, law enforcement agencies, religious institutions, and social service agencies. PFSA is the Pennsylvania sponsor of The Front Porch Project®, a training initiative that educates community members so they can play a vital role in child protection. PFSA also works with more than 50 affiliate agencies across Pennsylvania to provide information, educational materials, and programs that teach and support good parenting practices. Visit www.pa-fsa.org to learn more about PFSA.