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 1912 – This is a bill proposing a statewide study of secondary school start times.  This is in response to several studies into sleep and the importance of sleep to adolescent development that have gained visibility lately.  I, for one, hope that such a study in Pennsylvania gets traction, and I think anything that comes of it could positively affect kids in foster care, since they have the same developmental needs as their peers along with, often, additional transportation challenges.

State Senate

SB 179 – This is actually really interesting, but it’s going to take a lot of time, money, and planning, which means it’s going to have trouble getting passed without significant lobbying.  It was introduced in a previous session and died in committee, so it’s paddling upstream already.  Essentially, the bill would create a registry for mental health treatment facilities.  The registry would…

  • Include contact information and descriptive details for participating psychiatric facilities throughout the state. This information would also apply to residential crisis stabilization units;
  • Provide real-time information regarding the number of beds available at each facility; the type of patient who may be admitted; and level of security; and
  • Identify appropriate facilities for detention and treatment of individuals who meet the criteria for temporary detention.

22 other states and the District of Columbia already have directories like this.  In January 2016, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on this issue and found beds in hospital psychiatric units in Pennsylvania regularly sit empty due to a lack of direct communication between providers seeking care for these patients and facilities with available services for them.  A registry like this, if used properly and supported by the necessary parties, could lower the burden on ER facilities.  Considering how many kids and birth parents involved in the child welfare system go to the ER or need immediate mental health treatment, I think this bill is important to our clients; this registry could improve the quality of those services for them as well as for everyone else in the state.



Nothing specific that I saw.


S. 534 – “A bill to prevent the sexual abuse of minors and amateur athletes by requiring the prompt reporting of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities, and for other purposes….The federal budget process occurs in two stages: appropriations and authorizations. This is an authorization bill, which directs how federal funds should or should not be used. (It does not set overall spending limits, however, which are the subject of appropriations bills.) Authorizations are typically made for single fiscal years (October 1 through September 30 of the next year) but are often renewed in subsequent law.”  This passed in the Senate on Tuesday.

Happy Friday!  Here is our uplifting story for the week!  Check out how Foster Care alumni are changing the world, making it a better place.

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