Friends of Children:
Late last night, Governor Tom Corbett’s campaign staff provided his responses to the 12 child protection questions shared with him and Mr. Wolf on September 3rd.
Upon receiving the Governor’s responses last night, I outreached to the senior policy staff for Mr. Wolf and they responded that he also intends to answer the questions.
It is heartening that we are half way there for PA’s at-risk and abused children. It will be great to soon share Mr. Wolf’s responses as well!
Before sending Governor Corbett’s responses, I did ask his campaign to place his answers on his letterhead so that it was clear that the answers were his. I just received the updated document on Corbett letterhead and am sharing it with you now.
Governor Corbett’s responses provide a positive reflection on his service in law enforcement. Also pride is evident that, as Governor, he signed 20+ pieces of child protection legislation put on his desk over the last year, including dedicated funding for children’s advocacy centers (CACs). While he technically answered all the questions, he remained silent on any actionable plan to reduce child abuse fatalities and near-fatalities and in outlining specific strategies to improve the safety and well-being of young children birth to age three. He indicates that in a second term he will support:
1. Evidence-based prevention programs and services by directing a portion of the fees, paid by potential employees/volunteers for criminal and child abuse background checks, into prevention services/programs.
2. Independent auditing of ChildLine – the state’s child abuse reporting hotline – to analyze staffing trends and the implementation of modern technology.
3. Legislation establishing an independent Child Protection Advocate (he notes it is his “belief” that such an office “would require legislative authorization”). He writes that a Child Protection Advocate “will serve a critical function in coordinating and implementing child protection programs across agencies.”
4. Changes to the criminal and civil statute of limitations (SOLs) in child sexual abuse cases.
By way of background, both #3 and #4 were issues that the Task Force on Child Protection, which was chaired by the Governor’s appointee intentionally opted against addressing. Legislation on both fronts (Child Protection Advocate and SOL reform) have been introduced in the current legislative session.
The independent Child Protection Advocate effort, via legislation sponsored by Republican Representative Scott Petri in multiple legislative sessions, always hits a wall with officials in the Governor’s Budget Office and Department of Public Welfare (now the Department of Human Services). Hopefully the tide is turning on that front. With regard to SOL reforms, this has been an extremely contentious issue in the legislature with bipartisan leaders of the House Judiciary Committee working to limit action, including opportunities for objective and civil debate.
Please review the Governor’s responses for yourself and trust that when (underscore WHEN) Mr. Wolf’s responses come they too will be shared.
Thank you, thank you for being a VOICE for PA’s at-risk and abused children. If we had not joined together (and so quickly last week), it is possible that this gubernatorial election would have forced abused children into the shadows and permitted silence to win out!
Nurture, protect, listen to and speak up #4PAKids
The Center for Children’s Justice
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