Harrisburg – As Chairman of the Senate Aging & Youth Committee, Senator John DiSanto (Dauphin/Perry) held a voting meeting to approve bills that strengthen penalties for failing to report child abuse and better track reports of infants born with drug or alcohol addiction.
House Bill 1051, introduced by Representative Todd Stephens, seeks to address a recommendation of the 40th Statewide Grand Jury Report issued last year. The bill imposes a continuing obligation on mandatory reporters of child abuse when a reporter knows or has reasonable cause to suspect an individual continues to have direct contact with children through the individual’s employment, program, activity or service.
The bill also steepens penalties for willful failure to report child abuse from a first degree misdemeanor to a third degree felony. The statute of limitations for an ongoing failure to report child abuse will now be the same for failing to report a one-time act of abuse—which is the statute of limitations for the crime committed against the child.
Senator DiSanto expressed support for the bill, saying “Reporting child abuse is not just a moral obligation, it is the law and this legislation clarifies and strengthens penalties for failing to protect children.”
Senate Bill 368, by Senator Lisa Boscola, requires the Department of Human Services to compile and publish online notification data from health care providers about the number of infants born affected by substance use or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug or alcohol exposure.
“In the midst of an opioid epidemic, this legislation will give lawmakers and the public insight on the trends of infants born with addiction so that we may focus on policies to decrease these numbers and devote proper resources for the care of these children,” said DiSanto.
Both bills advance to the full Senate for consideration.
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