Pa. House, Senate consider enhancing child-protection system

    Pennsylvania lawmakers are engaged in dueling efforts to fix problems in the state’s child-protection infrastructure.

    State senators are just getting around to the task of holding hearings on measures to make children safer nearly a year and a half after the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case became public.

    A pediatrician who served on the task force created after the scandal to study the state’s child-protection system says the roughly 20 proposals moving on parallel tracks in the House and in the Senate are pieces of a puzzle.

    “What I don’t want to have lost in all of the conversation is that I think of that report and these bills as pieces of a puzzle,” testified Dr. Cindy Christian of Philadelphia. “And they work well because you need to have all the pieces in place for you to make a puzzle that actually makes sense.”

    At the same time, a state Senate Republican is urging a cautious approach to child-protection legislation as House lawmakers are poised to advance a number of the proposals.

    Hearing this week

    Speaking at a joint committee hearing this week, Sen. Bob Mensch, R-Montgomery, says he’s taking to heart advice from others not to rush anything that could add to the burden of local child welfare offices.

    “This is the first step, not the last step,” Mensch said.

    Meanwhile, the House GOP has signaled a desire to step up the pace, noting April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

    The chamber already has passed one measure to facilitate investigations of suspected child abusers.

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