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DHS News August 2011  

pdf.gif August 2011 DHS Newsletter

DHS Director testifies before PA Senate Committee about definition of child abuse

On Friday, Aug. 26, DHS Director Marc Cherna testified before the Pennsylvania Senate Committee on Aging and Youth regarding Senate Bill 753, which seeks to expand the definition of child abuse to include mothers of children who test positive at birth for a controlled substance.

In his testimony, Cherna clearly stated the problems with this proposed expanded definition including the fact that there is no appropriation for universal testing and no requirement to do so.

“Defining women who use drugs during pregnancy as child abusers does not advance the goal [of protecting children],” Cherna said. “Rather, it stigmatizes and distracts from ensuring women receive the help they need.”

Cherna also testified that this proposed expanded definition of child abuse will further exacerbate existing racial disproportionality in child welfare, which is an issue that DHS continues to address. Pennsylvania already has laws that require health care providers involved in the delivery or care of an infant affected by illegal substances to report the case to the county child protective services, and that those General Protective Services cases constitute an overwhelming majority of both the referrals to the DHS Office of Children, Youth and Families (CYF) and the cases accepted for services. The label is not important; it’s the assessments and provision of services that keep children safe.

Read Cherna’s full testimony (scroll down to the bottom of the page)

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