Aging & Youth Committee approves Department of Aging Nominee

Senator Michele Brooks, Chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee asking questions of Acting Secretary Teresa Osborne during Secretary Osborne’s confirmation hearing.

Senator Michele Brooks, Chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee asking questions of Acting Secretary Teresa Osborne during Secretary Osborne’s confirmation hearing.

The Senate Aging & Youth Committee yesterday recommended Senate confirmation of the nomination of Teresa Osborne to serve as state Secretary of Aging, according to Committee Chair Senator Michele Brooks (R-50).

Osborne, who was confirmed by the full Senate on Wednesday, is a native of Scranton. She previously served as the executive director of the Luzerne/Wyoming Counties Area Agency on Aging and as chancellor and chief operating officer of the Diocese of Scranton. She earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree and holds a Masters of Health Service Administration from Marywood University.

“Pennsylvania has the fourth largest senior population by percentage of population in the country and I was pleased that Secretary Osborne supports efforts to keep our loved ones at home as long as possible,” said Senator Brooks. “From her testimony, Secretary Osborne shares our goal of maintaining local support and services that are provided by organizations like community Area Agencies on Aging rather than shifting those services to Harrisburg.”

Secretary Osborne has extensive background, experience and expertise in a wide array of issues related to the elderly, which makes her a good choice to lead the Department of Aging and further its mission of serving Pennsylvania’s senior citizens, stated Senator Brooks. “I look forward to working with Secretary Osborne and my colleagues to provide quality care as well as supporting an environment of independence for our seniors and ensure they have options available,” said Senator Brooks.

The Aging and Youth Committee also approved at yesterday’s meeting House Bill 753, a freestanding act that establishes the Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Council within the Department of Aging.  The Council will advise the Secretary of Aging and make recommendations on regulations, licensure and financing of long-term care.

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Contact:

Michael Hengst
(717) 787-1322

More information from the meeting is available at https://pasenategop.com/aging/

Acting Secretary of the Department of Aging Teresa Osborne, seated on the right, during her confirmation before the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Senator Brooks.

Acting Secretary of the Department of Aging Teresa Osborne, seated on the right, during her confirmation before the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Senator Brooks.

Senator Michele Brooks (center), Chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee and other members of the committee and committee staff during the confirmation of Acting Secretary of the Department of Aging, Teresa Osborne.

Senator Michele Brooks (center), Chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee and other members of the committee and committee staff during the confirmation of Acting Secretary of the Department of Aging, Teresa Osborne.

Joint Senate Hearing Continues Work on Overhauling PA Child Protection Laws

Harrisburg – The process of overhauling Pennsylvania’s child protection laws continued to move forward today with a joint Senate hearing co-chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24) to discuss legislative recommendations by the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection.

The Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Senator Mensch, and the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, chaired by Sen. Pat Vance (R-31), heard from task force members and Acting Public Welfare Secretary Beverly Mackereth.

“This is the first step in a journey to better protect Pennsylvania children. We’re going to move cautiously, but we are going to act,” said Mensch.

Task force members on hand included its chairman, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler; Dr. Cindy Christian, director of Safe Place: The Center for Child Protection and Health at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and attorney Jason Kutulakis.

The task force members encouraged greater use of Multidisciplinary Investigative Teams, composed of county prosecutors, law enforcement and child advocates, whose sole mission is to stop offenders from preying upon children. The panel also endorsed Child Advocacy Centers, where a qualified forensics interviewer speaks with children who may be victims of abuse, and “academies” to improve training of case workers.

According to the task force testifiers, Pennsylvania has a multi-tiered system when it comes to child abuse allegations that is inclusive of our criminal justice system to investigate crimes and child protective services to ensure the safety of the child as well as determines if there are any further victims. Far too often, police and child protective services work in “silos” when it comes to investigations – within narrow communication channels where information is not always shared. In addition, state health privacy (HIPPA) laws can hinder the exchange of information necessary for an investigation, task force members said.

Acting Secretary Mackereth, who spent 20 years as a county case worker, explained the obstacles faced by case workers when investigating potential abuse. The Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection was created by the passage of Senate Resolution 250 in December 2011. The panel held a series of public meetings and released its report in November 2012.

The task force recommendations led to the introduction of a bipartisan package of legislation to provide sweeping improvements to Pennsylvania’s child protection laws. Senator Mensch is sponsoring Senate Bill 27 to improve the exchange of information among medical practitioners and county agencies. He also drafted Senate Bill 33 to provide employee whistleblower protection for child abuse reporting.

“I am grateful of the hard work done by the Task Force on Child Protection to identify weaknesses in our current child protection laws and recommend legislative improvements,” said Mensch. “We will continue to rely on their counsel as we move our legislative package forward toward the goal of safeguarding children from the heinous crime of child abuse.”

(Video of the hearing is posted on the committee website.)

More information about state issues is available at Senator Mensch’s website, www.SenatorMensch.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PASenatorBobMensch.

Joint Senate/House Briefing Reviews Implementation of State Aging Plan

Harrisburg – The Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), and the House Committee on Aging and Older Adult Services held a joint public briefing today on the implementation of the 2012-2016 State Plan on Aging.

Every four years, the state Department of Aging prepares a strategic plan, with the input of multiple interests and individuals, focusing on the needs of older Pennsylvanians. The plan fulfills requirements of the U.S. Administration on Aging and Older Americans Act. The document was submitted to the federal government in August 2012 and approved in October 2012.

“With 91 employees serving nearly a million older Pennsylvanians, the state Department of Aging provides a great bang for the buck. But there are always policies and procedures that can be improved or done more efficiently, and implementation of the State Plan on Aging should help make that possible,” said Mensch.

Secretary of Aging Brian Duke discussed the four goals that the department has begun to implement:

  • Improve access to care for older individuals at the right time, setting and intensity.
  • Empower older individuals to remain in the setting of their choice by serving as a catalyst in developing communities as places in which to age and live well.
  • Direct older individuals to the supports necessary to maximize their health and well-being.
  • Revitalize and redesign aging services to further enhance the lives of older individuals.

Secretary Duke noted that the department provides services through 52 Area Agencies on Aging serving all 67 counties, and 1,200 care facilities. Services include providing 1.2 million meals for seniors and low-cost prescription drugs through the PACE and PACENET programs.

“Senior citizens are perhaps the largest single constituency in Pennsylvania, and those of us on the Senate Aging and Youth Committee are going to work to ensure that the commonwealth continues to provide some of the best senior services in the nation,” said Mensch.

The 2012-2016 State Plan on Aging can be viewed here.

More information about state issues is available at Senator Mensch’s website, www.SenatorMensch.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/senatormensch.

CONTACT:

Sarah Stroman
(215) 368-3117

Joint Senate/House Hearing Set on State Aging Plan

Harrisburg – The Senate Aging and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-24), and the House Committee on Aging and Older Adult Services will hold a public hearing Wednesday on the 2012-2016 State Plan on Aging.

  • The hearing will be held Wednesday, March 20 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 60 of the Capitol’s East Wing.
  • The joint panel will hear testimony from Secretary of Aging Brian Duke.

The State Plan on Aging helps to set priorities and establish an aging agenda for the commonwealth. It is also a requirement in order for the commonwealth to receive federal funds under the Older Americans Act. The plan is updated every four years and submitted to the federal Administration on Aging.

 

Contact: Sarah Stroman
(215) 368-3117