About the Children: Policy Updates from Pennsylvania

Happy Friday, everyone!

PA

SB 1527– According to the memo for this bill that was written prior to its being submitted to the floor, it seeks to amend current mandated reporter laws to require mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse if they witness an abusive act to an identifiable child.  Evidently this was a loophole, wherein mandated reporters did not have to report abuse if they saw it, only if they were informed of it after the fact.  This bill was introduced in May, assigned to the Children and Youth committee in November, and was voted on by that committee this week.

SB 872 – This bill reminds me of HB 2009, which we brought up last week, but it seems to take a more hands-off approach.  “This bill will establish procedures for school entities to keep records of reports and investigations of violence. Additionally, reports made by students will be confidential and investigated promptly. School entities will provide professional development and education on issues related to violence and promote compliance with all applicable federal and state requirements around the prevention of sexual violence. To increase transparency, schools will be required to report the number of alleged acts of violence to the Department of Education.”  On first glance, I prefer this bill to the house bill, but I don’t know that they are alike enough to be resolved together.  More likely, if they are passed, they will be passed separately.  However, by my estimation, neither of them will probably be passed.


Federal

This isn’t a bill, per se, but I just wanted to update you on the status of CHIP funding.  A new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families estimates that if Congress does not approve funding for CHIP in January (it is looking increasingly likely that they won’t), an estimated 24 states could face funding shortfalls. Coverage beyond February is most at risk for approximately 1.7 million children in 21 of the 24 states with separate CHIP programs.  PA is on this list.  Just before the December recess, Congress approved $2.85 billion in CHIP funding in a so-called “patch” as part of the Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires today. The CR also changed the way that redistribution funds are awarded to states, no longer guaranteeing a specific share of these emergency shortfall funds to any state.

Uplifting News

Our uplifting news this week takes place in Michigan (I swear I don’t play favorites.  Michigan is just a happy place!).  This family was homeless after mom lost her job, but they have finally qualified for state housing.  They didn’t have any furniture or blankets for their house, but thanks to a fantastic non-profit, Humble Design, Daeyrs got his Christmas wish for his own bed and a kitchen table where he and his mom could eat together.  It’s a really heartwarming video; I encourage you to watch it!

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