About the Children: Policy Updates from Pennsylvania

While a lot has been happening this week in the news, not much has been happening in the legislatures regarding children or child welfare.  Here are the few items I found.


State House

HB 1899 – This bill would require health care providers and first responders to immediately report an actual or suspected drug overdose to the appropriate county CYF agency. This would alert CYF to any overdoses by people with open CYF cases, but it would also make the health care providers and first responders investigate whether there were any children either involved in the overdose or affected by the overdose (i.e., their parents overdosed).  I have a case like this right now, where the children were present when the father overdosed and the police took them to their grandfather’s house when they were found, but CYF was not notified for two days that the family was in need of CYF services.  This bill does not, at this time, require health care providers to test pregnant women for opiates at birth if it is not required by their insurance provider.  I would suggest you write to your congressperson and tell them that that is a necessary addition, since this legislative proposal would define drug overdose as “the intentional or accidental ingestion or application of a drug or other substance in quantities greater than are recommended or generally practiced, and which may result in severe toxicity or death,” and any amount of opiate abuse during pregnancy should meet that definition, given the effect it could have on the fetus.

The house legislative committee on Children and Youth will meet next Wednesday, the 15th for an “informational meeting on Psychologist Dr. Craig Childress; will brief the committee on parental alienation syndrome, defined as the psychological manipulation of a child by one parent in order to alienate the child from the other parent during and following a divorce.”  This doesn’t precisely relate to child welfare policy, but I thought it was interesting.  The last time one of these informational meetings was called for this committee, though, it was canceled, so we’ll see how it works out this time.

State Senate

Nothing that I saw.


Pub.L. 115-82 – This is our old friend S. 782, or H.R. 1846, also known as the Protect Our Children Act of 2017.  It’s the law of the land, now!  This bill was originally introduced in the Senate at the end of March of this year, and it is the first piece of legislation that we’ve tracked this year that has made it all the way to becoming a law, so that’s exciting.  As a reminder, “The long-and-short of it is that there was a law passed in 2008 (PL 110-401) that established a National Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which expired in 2016.  This new Protect Our Children Act of 2017 reestablishes that task force and keeps it in place until 2022.  I don’t know what the first task force did, or how much of that work was lost in the intervening year since it disbanded, but evidently someone wants it to keep going.”  This bill was signed by the president on November 2nd.


Nothing specific that I saw.


Nothing specific that I saw.

Let me know if there’s anything I missed!

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