With 1,700 cases of child sex abuse in 2011, Pa. struggles to find funding to help

    In 21 facilities throughout Pennsylvania, multidisciplinary teams of doctors, police, and counselors treat children who have suffered abuse.

    State lawmakers are now mulling how to improve the existing centers and encourage their expansion.

    The accredited or developing centers, with locations in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, have been described as one-stop shops.

    Child Advocacy Centers have a variety of staff on hand to assist children who may have suffered physical or sexual abuse.

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    But state lawmakers are grappling with the question of how to push more funding their way.

    That funding is vital, says Rep. Julie Harhart, R-Lehigh, judging by the rate of reported child abuse.

    “Just in 2011 there were over 3,400 substantiated cases of child abuse in Pennsylvania and over 50 percent of the child abuse cases, which the Department of Public Welfare classified as substantiated, were classified as sexual abuse,” she said.

    Harhart wants to create a special fund to help support existing centers and create new ones. She has proposed generating the money from a fee on court filings.

    The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has another idea. Rep. Ron Marsico, R-Dauphin, says he’ll propose hiking the fee on child abuse background checks.

    Marsico, who said he anticipates that will rankle groups required to check the abuse history of new employees, says he’s offering the idea, “just throwing that out, just for discussion.”

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