Thank you for signing onto the letter urging that Mr. Corbett and Mr. Wolf use the remaining days of this election cycle to step forward and speak up about their goals to protect PA’s children. Should we hear back from the candidates be assured that I will share any responses.
The letter sent to their campaign offices today is attached. Also attached is a press release that will be sent out later today.
Thank you again for quickly responding and being so dedicated to being a voice and force for PA’s at-risk and abused children!
Nurture, protect, listen to and speak up #4PAKids
The Center for Children’s Justice
PA Gubernatorial Candidates Silent on Child Protection In Aftermath of Sex Abuse Scandals
Contact: Cathleen Palm, Founder
610-488-5059 or 717-215-1440
October 22nd - Today, more than 100 Pennsylvania advocates for children called on gubernatorial candidates Tom Corbett and Tom Wolf to provide voters with specifics about how they would prioritize prevention and ensure that children can live free from child abuse growing up in safe and supported families.
In early September, advocates led by the Center for Children’s Justice asked the gubernatorial candidates to answer 12 child protection questions including:
• Will you support designating a portion of the fees charged for background checks toward evidence-based child abuse and neglect prevention services/programs?
• What is your actionable plan to reduce child abuse fatalities and near fatalities?
• Will you initiate an independent audit of ChildLine in order to analyze the hotline’s staffing trends (e.g., number of staff, turnover rates, use of overtime) and the recent implementation of modern technology?
• 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?
• Do you support a state-level independent Child Protection Ombudsman or what some refer to as the Child Protection Advocate?
Child sexual abuse survivor and author Marsha Barth urged the gubernatorial candidates to speak up for children. “I recognize that there are many competing concerns for government to address, but none are greater than ensuring a child’s trust is not betrayed, their bodies not violated.” Barth, who is from Berks County, continued, “Please speak up and exercise leadership on behalf of vulnerable children and abuse survivors.”
Child advocates acknowledged that, over the course of the last year, more than twenty child protection bills were enacted with strong bipartisan support in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. These reforms were enacted after the serial child sexual abuse perpetuated by Gerald Sandusky proved a critical tipping point in advocates’ decade long fight to reform PA’s child protection laws and practices, including in how child abuse is defined, reported and investigated.
“For too long Pennsylvania children lingered in abusive situations, perpetrators continued to have the upper hand and too many of our infants and young children died, in part, because laws were flawed and state-level leadership hard to find,” said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children’s Justice.
“PA’s time in the national spotlight should be incentive for leaders to vow that protecting PA’s children will be a sustained state priority.”
Advocates prepared the child protection gubernatorial questions to raise awareness that passing laws is the easy part. Leadership is needed now to ensure an on-going commitment to effective implementation, measurement of outcomes (intended and unintended), and for continuous quality improvement.
“Passing legislation will not be enough to affect the change needed, these laws must be linked to smart prevention-focused investments accompanied by strong leadership from PA’s Governor,” said Linda Crockett from Lancaster County’s Samaritan Counseling Center.
Frank Cervone from the Support Center for Child Advocates in Philadelphia reinforced, “Ensuring Pennsylvania children are safe will require supporting high quality practice, transparency, and accountability for outcomes.”
Advocates welcomed the recent decision to dedicate state funding for children’s advocacy centers in order to minimize a child’s trauma and to promote coordinated child-centered investigations.
Teresa Smith, who is a Centre County resident and leading expert in developing and maintaining high quality multi-disciplinary investigative teams, called on the candidates to “grow investment in children’s advocacy centers meeting national standards.” She joined with fellow advocates to urge focus on assuring abused children and non-offending family members have access to trauma-informed services (e.g., mental health and victim services) within and, well beyond, the formal abuse investigation.
The PA gubernatorial candidates were asked to address their views on PA’s criminal and civil statute of limitations in child sexual abuse.
“Too often a child sexual abuse victim feels guilty, betrayed and even frightened to come forward convinced that they were somehow responsible for their abuse,” said York County Nurse Practitioner Deborah Mangan Gobel. She urged the gubernatorial candidates to examine the impact of statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases. “PA’s statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases can either be a tool for or barrier to healing and justice as well as fuller protections for all PA children.”
A copy of the letter and the child protection questions sent to the candidates are attached.
October 22, 2014
Governor Tom Corbett
c/o Tom Corbett for Governor
P.O. Box 1145Harrisburg, PA 17108
Mr. Tom Wolf Tom Wolf for Governor
PO Box 22454
Philadelphia, PA 19110
Dear Governor Corbett and Mr. Wolf:
We are joined together as advocates for children dedicated to ensuring that every Pennsylvania child is able to live free from abuse and sexual violence and to grow up in safe, supported and permanent families.
We are also linked in understanding that the prevention of child abuse and the implementation of effective interventions is a shared community responsibility – one in which government is a critical, but in no way the singular, partner to healing and changed culture. We also believe that change doesn’t happen without leadership.
This election is shaping up as quite ironic. Virtually every media report about the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race is written with some reference to a high-profile child sexual abuse case. Still, both of you have yet to articulate intentional and measured child protection goals. In early September, you were provided with 12 child protection questions developed with insight from inter-disciplinary stakeholders (e.g., child welfare caseworkers, physicians, educators, child advocates, and victim service providers). We hoped by September 30th to know your answers.
As a result of recent high profile cases, voters better understand there are life-long consequences when a child’s trust is betrayed, their body violated.
There is also heightened awareness about the ripple effect on our society, including when taxpayers are asked to aid in fighting the consequences of child maltreatment (e.g., poor school readiness or performance, addiction, chronic health conditions, and crime and corrections). Consider just one state budget line item linked to child abuse. This fiscal year Pennsylvania will spend more than $1 billion in state funds to investigate and immediately respond to child abuse. This $1 billion plus figure does not include federal or local funding or private charitable contributions. It also does not capture related health, education and human services expenditures. Most troubling is that this $1 billion plus line item is most often about reacting to, not preventing, abuse against PA’s infants, children and youth.
Abused children, especially very young children, are powerless counting on an adult – either operating alone or as part of a system – to step forward and speak up so that cycles of abuse and violence can stop and healing can begin.
And so today we jointly ask, how will you step forward and speak up for PA’s at-risk and abused children, if elected Pennsylvania’s next Governor?
Center for Children’s Justice Mary Achilles, Board Chair, Cathleen Palm, Founder
Children's Alliance Center of Berks County Melissa Haydt, Vice President
Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, Anne Holland Brown, Director of Trauma Services
Community Prevention Partnership of Berks County Cheryl Guthier, CEO
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Philadelphia Wendy Graham, Executive Director
Court Appointed Special Advocates of Venango County Cinnamon Evans, Executive Director
Crime Victim Center of Erie Paul Lukach, Executive Director
Defend A Child, Bob Daman, Child Advocate
Family First Health Kara Kehm Waltemeyer, NFP Supervisor
Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse Tammy Lerner, Vice President
HAVIN Jo Ellen Bowman, Executive Director
Maternity Care Coalition JoAnne Fischer, Executive Director
National Association of Social Workers, PA Chapter Justin Fleming, Director of Government Relations
Network of Victim Assistance Barbara P. Clark, Executive Director
Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office Tara Dechert, Business Development Officers
Pathways PA Brenda Dawson, President & CEO
Pennsylvania Children's Trust Fund Bruce Clash, Chair
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence Peg Dierkers, Executive Director
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape Delilah Rumburg, CEO
Pennsylvania Council of Churches Rev. Sandra L. Strauss, Director of Advocacy and Ecumenical Outreach
Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocates Dennis Hockensmith, Executive Director
Philadelphia Children's Alliance Chris Kirchner, Executive Director Jackie Block Goldstein, Associate Director
PinnacleHealth Children's Resource Center Lynn Carson, Executive Director
Prevent Child Abuse PA Teresa Olsen, Director
Project Child, Pam Wallace, Project Coordinator
Protect PA Kids, PAC Susan Matthews, Founder
Samaritan Counseling Center Linda Crockett, Director of Education & Consultation and SafeChurch Developer
Sexual Assault Resource & Counseling Center Jenny Murphy Shifflet, President & CEO
Support Center for Child Advocates Frank Cervone, Executive Director
The Women's Healthcare Group William M. Unwin, M.D., Partner Alyce Soffer, Practice Manager
Turning Point Women's Counseling & Advocacy Center Kristen Pfautz Woolley, Founder & Clinical Director, Deborah Mangan Gobel, Board Member
York County Children’s Advocacy Center Deborah Harrison, Executive Director Rebecca Burdette, Board Member
York County Cribs for Kids Dr. Michael Goodstein, Director
Individuals (County of residence) Jennifer Aglialoro (Lackawanna County) Allison Altman (York County) Victoria Arnold (Bucks County) Hollie Ayers (Mifflin County) Marsha Barth (Berks County) Arthur Baselice (Philadelphia) Nadine Bean (Chester County) Raymond Blehar (Centre County) Gail Boone (York County) Stephanie Bradley, Ph.D. (Centre County) Pat Bruno, M.D. (Snyder County) Elizabeth Charleston (York County) Amber Chronister (York County) Asahel Church (York County) Bridget Conway (Lackawanna County) Shari Copenhaver (Perry County) James Crook (York County) Gerald Davidson (York County) Alison Delmonte (York County) Joe DeVizia (Luzerne County) Perri Druen (York County) Steven J. Fair, CPA (York County) Sandra Federo (Lackawanna County) Ray Firth (Allegheny County) Bill and Cheryl Fleagle (Schuylkill County) Cheryl Friedman (Lackawanna County) Janet Fromkin (Allegheny County) Karen Galbraith (Cumberland County) Dan Gilbert (York County) Connie Graham (Crawford County) Warren Hartenstine Lucinda Hartshorne (York County) Susan Hennemuth (Lackawanna County) Hannah Holliway (York County) Pamela Hoover (Lancaster County) Kristen Houser (York County) Maria Jirau-Torres (Pike County) Karl Jones (Schuylkill County) Kathy Kane (Chester County) Ruth Kolb (Allegheny County) Maryanne LaMonaca (Delaware County) Mary Ann LaPorta (Lackawanna County) Laurie Lears (York County) Nichole Lehr (York County) Nancy Lee (Chester County) Benjamin Levi, MD. (Dauphin County) Alexa Livelsberger, LSW (Cumberland County) Venus Malave (Dauphin County) James Maranki (Northampton County) Claire Matthews (Montgomery County) Tammy Mikler (Berks County) Dolores Miller (Philadelphia) Joan Mills (Allegheny County) Kathryn Monk (York County) Micah Pflaum (York County) Jeff Pizutti Joyce Pruszenski (Beaver County) Ashley Rehm (York County) Jane E. Rice (Adams County) Ebony Robinson (Allegheny County) Gabe Rosetti (Philadelphia) Mark Rozzi (Berks County) Dr. Janet Rosenzweig (Bucks County) Julie Rudolf (Lackawanna County) William Rupert (Clarion County) Joanne Van Saun (Luzerne County) Dianne Schwartz (York County) Lee Sharon (Mercer County) Gary Shuey (Cumberland County) Stephanie Siegel-Mock (Lebanon County) Wendy Silverwood (Chester County) Rebecca Singer (York County) Carole Siskind (Washington County) Teresa M. Smith (Centre County) Andrea Sodaro (York County) Letty Thall (Philadelphia) Joanne Walcerz (Lancaster County) Michelle Weiss (York County) David Weitoish (York County) Jeff Winslow (Lebanon County) Meghan Winslow (Lebanon County) Elva Winter (York County) Travis Woolley (York County)
*Note the list of individuals or organizations signing onto this letter may be updated.
It includes those signing beginning on October 20, 2014 and through 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22nd.
PLEASE ADD YOUR NAME TO THIS PETITION