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Paid for by Tom Corbett for Governor

Center for Childrens Justice


Governor Tom Corbett
1.) In light of the number and diversity of programs, services and funding streams within
the jurisdiction and oversight of the current Department of Public Welfare; how will
you meaningfully use the Office of Governor to prioritize the safety, well-being and
permanency of Pennsylvanias infants, children and youth?

Over the last four years, my administration has saved nearly $2 billion by fighting waste,
fraud, and abuse in the Department of Public Welfare. This has allowed us to ensure that
more funds are available to provide services for our most vulnerable, including children,
the elderly, and people with physical or intellectual disabilities. In my second term I will
continue this focus, and will look for more ways to direct funding to the vulnerable,
including children.
2.) How will you meaningfully use the Office of Governor to promote inter-disciplinary,
public/private, and evidence-based strategies to reduce a childs exposure to Adverse
Childhood Experiences, including child abuse and neglect?
I spent most of my adult life as a prosecutor, where I dedicated myself toward fighting
abuse, protecting children, and putting child predators behind bars. I have continued this
as Governor. I have worked with the General Assembly to enact bipartisan laws to
strengthen our states child protection laws. These bills have included a broadening of the
definition of child abuser as it pertains to barring dangerous individuals from employment
in childcare, creating a statewide database to enable quicker information sharing in child
abuse cases, and creating new funding streams for Childrens Advocacy Centers. I am
pleased of the work we have gotten done on this issue, and look forward to continuing this
effort in partnership with the legislature.

3.) Within your early childhood care and education plan, do you have specific strategies
and outcome measures to improve the safety, health (including mental health), and
permanency for children from birth to age three? Please highlight how these
strategies are intended to strengthen the confidence and competence of parents, who
are a childs first protector and teacher.
I am extremely proud of signing the new pass the trash bill last week, Act 168, to ensure
that our educators are the most well-vetted child care professionals in the nation. With
these protections in place, I am more confident that our professionals in early education are
Paid for by Tom Corbett for Governor

in a better place to work with parents and care-givers to secure a safe and productive future
for our children.

4.) Will you support designating a portion of the fee charged by the PA State Police for
a criminal background check ($10) and by the Department of Public Welfare for its
child abuse history check ($10) toward evidence-based child abuse and neglect
prevention services/programs?
YES.

5.) What is your actionable plan to reduce child abuse fatalities and near fatalities?
One of my proudest accomplishments as a public official has been the creation of the Child
Protection Unit within the Office of Attorney General. During my tenure, we had more
than 250 arrests for charges related to child predation with a 100% conviction
rate. Regardless of that work, when I was inaugurated as governor there was clearly more
work yet to be done in terms of cleaning up Pennsylvania statutes and protocols to ensure
that potential predators could not be in a position to seek out victims among our public
school students. It is for that reason that I facilitated the creation of the Task Force on
Child Protection, which resulted in a series of recommendations to enhance our legal
protections for children, and a dozen new laws to protect our kids.

6.) What would you identify as the strengths of Act 33 of 2008 and what, if any,
weaknesses would you identify within Act 33 of 2008?
Act 33 was effective in identifying DPW as having primary responsibility for creating a
centralized, consolidated report in the case of a child fatality or near fatality to help direct
an investigation in the case where an incident has already taken place, but provided little
with regard to tools to prevent child abuse from happening in the first place. I am very
proud of the legislation Ive worked to get to my desk as a recommendation of the Task
Force on Child Protection, which has accomplished initiatives such as clarifying provisions
for mandated reporters, enhancing criminal penalties for perpetrators of child abuse and
child pornography, streamlining processing of child abuse investigations and increasing
dollars for Child Advocacy Centers. I am also very pleased that just five days ago I was
able to sign HB 1816, having received unanimous affirmative votes in both the House and
the Senate. HB 1816, now Act 168 known as the pass the trash bill, was the remaining
piece of legislation recommended by the Task Force that had remained to be signed. Act
168 helps to ensure that educators who have been accused or investigated for sexual abuse
against their students cannot simply retreat to another school or district in order to preserve
their access to potential victims.



Paid for by Tom Corbett for Governor

7.) How do you intend to monitor and measure the implantation of these 2013-2014
comprehensive policy and practice changes, especially around key provisions (e.g.
consistency in reporting suspected child abuse and ensuring multidisciplinary
investigation teams operate with the protocol required by state law)?
I believe it is imperative that state government (Office of the Governor, Department of
Public Welfare, Pennsylvania State Police and Attorney General) work in partnership with
law enforcement and other relevant stakeholders to monitor the implementation of recent
policies changes.
Since each entity possesses unique insight on the effectiveness of certain statutory
provisions, it is critical that we work in a collaborative fashion to identify areas that may
require additional support or modification.
It is too early to judge the lasting consequences of these recent changes, but I believe we
have set the foundation for a more uniform reporting structure for investigating suspected
child abuse cases.

8.) Will you initiate an independent audit of ChildLine in order to analyze the hotlines
staffing trends (e.g. number of staff, turnover rates, use of overtime) and the recent
implementation of modern technology?
YES.

9.) How will your administration build upon Pennsylvanias recent statutory decision to
dedicate state funding for childrens advocacy centers?
My administration will continue working in partnership with the General Assembly and
stakeholders to ensure the Commonwealth is fully investing in the creation of childrens
advocacy centers. It is my belief that these centers provide an invaluable resource to
Pennsylvanias children and must be preserved at all costs.

10.) Do you support regularly updated (e.g. every 2 years) criminal and child abuse
background checks conducted by the Pennsylvania State Police and the Department
of Public Welfare (DPW) for volunteers and paid employees having regular contact
with a child?
YES.

11.) Do you support a federal criminal background check conducted by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for individuals who want to work or volunteer with
Pennsylvania children but the person has not lived in PA continuously for the last 10
years?
YES.

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12.) Do you support a state-level independent Child Protection Ombudsmen or
what some refer to as the Child Protection Advocate?
Yes. I believe the establishment of an independent Child Protection Advocate will serve a
critical function in coordinating and implementing child protection programs across
agencies. While the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has been a national leader in
mitigating violence against children, we must continue to evolve and enhance strategies
for eliminating child abuse.
Therefore, the creation of a Child Protection Advocate will be an essential resource for
expanding outreach programs and educating all Pennsylvanians on this critical topic.
It is my belief that the establishment of such an office would require legislative
authorization. This action will ensure no future governor can unilaterally eliminate the
position, as well as provide the General Assembly with a vested interest in enhancing the
program.

13.) Do you support changes to Pennsylvanias criminal and civil statute of
limitations in child sexual abuse cases, specifically would you sign the following
legislation as Governor of the Commonwealth:
a. To eliminate the criminal statute of limitation?
YES.
b. To eliminate the civil statute of limitation?
YES.
c. To extend the civil limitations in child sexual abuse cases until the child victim
reaches the age of 50?
YES.
d. To permit a time-limited (e.g. 2 year) retroactive window for filing a civil claim
with this option available to child sexual abuse survivors previously barred by
existing SOLs?
YES.


PROBLEM STATEMENT: Too often Pennsylvanias child protection policies, practices, and funding
have been sequestered to a single state agency undercutting intentional, inter-disciplinary and routinely
measured prevention and intervention strategies. A further complication is that the majority of funding for
and oversight of Pennsylvanias child protection policies and practices are housed within the Department
of Public Welfare. Even when DPW is renamed the Department of Human Services (DHS), it is likely to
remain an agency that is targeted for budget cuts, including those that will impact the workforce
responsible to implement and to continuously monitor and measure the quality of PAs child protection
strategies.
QUESTION #1
In light of the number and diversity of programs, services and funding streams
within the jurisdiction and oversight of the current Department of Public Welfare;
how will you meaningfull y use the Office of Governor to prioritize the safety, well-
being and permanency of Pennsyl vanias infants, children and youth?

PROBLEM STATEMENT: Recent studies have demonstrated that Adverse Childhood Experiences
(ACEs), such as child abuse and neglect and exposure to other forms of violence, can be toxic stressors
that lead to lifelong consequences (e.g., chronic and costly physical and mental health problems). It
remains extremely difficult to identify or analyze Pennsylvanias investment in prevention and specific
positive outcomes for infants, children and youth. Service categories are not clearly identified, budgeted
funds are not designated, and service planning and delivery for prevention services are rarely
documented on either case-specific or agency-budget levels. As a result, meaningful oversight,
consolidation, and efforts to improve prevention-focused services are frustrated.
QUESTION #2
How will you meaningfull y use the Office of Governor to promote inter-disciplinary,
public/private, and evidence-based strategies to reduce a childs exposure to
Adverse Childhood Experiences, including child abuse and neglect?

QUESTION #3
Within your earl y childhood care and education plan, do you have specific
strategies and outcome measures to improve the safety, health (including mental
health), and permanency for children from birth to age three? Please highlight
how these strategies are intended to strengthen the confidence and competence of
parents, who are a childs first protector and teacher.



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QUESTION #4
Will you support designating a portion of the fee charged by the PA State Police for a
criminal background check ($10) and by the Department of Public Welfare for its child
abuse history check ($10) toward evidence-based child abuse and neglect prevention
services/programs? _____ Yes _____No

PROBLEM STATEMENT: Between 2008 and 2012, Pennsylvania recorded at least 175 child abuse
fatalities with nearly 80 percent involving a child who was three years of age or younger. An additional
225 Pennsylvania children experienced a child abuse near-fatality and 84 percent of these sentinel
events involved a child three years of age or younger. The challenges faced by children and their
families do not exist in isolation even as they can be isolating. The complex needs and realities of infants
and families with young children can lead to involvement with a number of publicly funded systems, well
beyond the traditional child welfare system. Coexistent risk factors make multi-system interventions
challenging and too rarely is the response holistic, preventative, or strength-based. There are powerful
human and economic incentives to work with intention across disciplines and all child-serving systems
toward improved safety, well-being and permanence for every Pennsylvania infant and child. There is
also incentive to determine whether Act 33 of 2008, which requires local and state-level timely reviews
and publicly released reports when a child dies from suspected or substantiated child abuse, has proven
itself an effective prevention tool.
QUESTION #5
What is your actionable plan to reduce child abuse fatalities and near fatalities?
Please provide some brief outline of the components of this plan. If you do not have a
plan, please explain why not.

QUESTION #6
What would you identify as the strengths of Act 33 of 2008 and what, if any,
weaknesses would you identify within Act 33 of 2008?


PROBLEM STATEMENT: Pennsylvania receives reports of suspected child abuse via a 24-hour
reporting hotline known as ChildLine. The state hotline is staffed by specially trained workers. In 2013,
ChildLine answered 142,084 calls an increase of more than 20,000 calls when compared with 2010.
The Task Force on Child Protections November 2012 report addressed the importance of ChildLine
staffing levels and retention issues. In 2012, Pennsylvania investigated reports at a rate of 8.6 per
1,000 children; nationally it was 42 per 1,000 children. One out of every thousand children in our
Commonwealth was determined to be a victim of child abuse, while nationally it exceeded 9 per 1,000
children. Responding to this outlier status, the General Assembly legislatively created the Task Force on
Child Protection. Beginning in 2013, more than twenty pieces of legislation were enacted largely
following this Task Forces recommendations related to defining, reporting and investigating child abuse.
Included in these changes was dedicated funding for state-of-the-art childrens advocacy centers. Still,
there is unfinished business, including decisions about a childs access to high quality medical exams
and on-going counseling and victim services. Also, undecided is which individuals should submit to
background checks and how regularly these checks should occur.
QUESTION #7
How do you intend to monitor and measure the implementation of these 2013/2014
comprehensive policy and practice changes, especiall y around key provisions
(e.g., consistency in reporting suspected child abuse and ensuring
multidisciplinary investigation teams operate with the protocol required by state
law)?

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QUESTION #8
Will you initiate an independent audit of ChildLine in order to anal yze the hotlines
staffing trends (e.g., number of staff, turnover rates, use of overtime) and the
recent implementation of modern technology? _____Yes _____ NO

QUESTION #9
How will your administration build upon Pennsyl vanias recent statutory decision
to dedicate state funding for childrens advocacy centers?

QUESTION #10a
Do you support regularl y updated (e.g., every 2 years) criminal and child abuse
background checks conducted by the Pennsyl vania State Police and the
Department of Public Welfare (DPW) for volunteers and paid employees having
regular contact with a child? _____Yes _____ No

QUESTION #10b
Do you support a federal criminal background check conducted by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for indi viduals who want to work or volunteer with
Pennsyl vania children but the person has not lived in PA continuousl y for the last
ten years? _____Yes _____ No



PROBLEM STATEMENT: Pennsylvania children, youth and families benefit from child-welfare services
delivered by public and private providers as part of a state-supervised and county-administered system
that has many strengths. Unfortunately, too often the child welfare system does not function as needed
to effectively assess and assure the safety of a child as well as guard the rights of parents, children and
alleged perpetrators. Decisions made and public resources spent have a profound impact on the safety,
liberty and custody of children and families. Mechanisms to respond to child-welfare complaints or to
report concerns about specific decisions for an individual child or a class of children exist within the
Department of Public Welfare, the county child welfare agencies and their contractors. This presents an
obvious lack of objectivity and independence as well as impacts public confidence in this system.
QUESTION #11
Do you support a state-level independent Child Protection Ombudsman or what
some refer to as the Child Protection Advocate? _____ Yes _____ No

If yes, please explain how you see this office developing during your administration (e.g.,
by executive order or legislation, as an office of state government or through a contract
with an independent entity).

If you do not support the Ombudsman/Advocate, please explain how your administration
will assure meaningful independent complaint resolution within Pennsylvanias child
welfare system.


PROBLEM STATEMENT: Recently the New York Times Editorial Board acknowledged a central lesson
of the Gerald Sandusky serial child sexual abuse scandal - It can take years before victims are
emotionally and psychologically ready to come forward. Pennsylvanias criminal statute of limitation
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(SOL) in child sexual abuse cases is generally until the child victim reaches the age of 50, while the civil
SOL is to the victims 30
th
birthday. A states approach to SOLs can create uneven access to justice and
may contribute to some perpetrators escaping accountability permitting them opportunities to continue to
sexually abuse children. PAs criminal and civil SOLs in child sexual abuse cases were not addressed
by the Task Force on Child Protection in 2012.
QUESTION #12
Do you support changes to Pennsyl vanias criminal and civil statute of limitations
in child sexual abuse cases, specificall y would you sign the following legislation
as Governor of the Commonwealth:

To eliminate the criminal statute of limitation? ___ Yes ____ No

To eliminate the civil statute of limitation? ___ Yes ____ No

To extend the civil statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases until the child
victim reaches the age of 50? ___ Yes ____ No

To permit a time-limited (e.g., 2 year) retroactive window for filing a civil claim with
this option available to child sexual abuse survi vors previousl y barred by existing
SOLs? ___ Yes ____ No


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