Bill ap­proved

Public Spirit - - OPINION -

The state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives voted unan­i­mously to ap­prove leg­is­la­tion spon­sored by state Rep. Bernie O’Neil, R-29, which would re­quire courts in cus­tody pro­ceed­ings to con­sider whether a child has been iden­ti­fied as a vic­tim of child abuse by a per­son seek­ing cus­tody or mem­ber of that per­son’s house­hold.

House Bill 414 was drafted by O’Neill based on the rec­om­men­da­tion­soft­hePenn­syl­va­nia Task Force on Child Pro­tec­tion that was cre­ated by the Gen­eral Assem­bly­to­con­duc­ta­com­pre­hen­sive re­view of the laws and pro­ce­dures re­lat­ing to the health and safety of chil­dren.

Specif­i­cally, House Bill 414 ful­fills the task force rec­om­men­da­tions by re­quir­ing that the court be pro­vided with in­for­ma­tion from De­part­ment of Pub­lic Wel­fare re­gard­ing whether the child has been iden­ti­fied as a vic­tim of abuse and whether a par­ent has been iden­ti­fied as the per­pe­tra­tor of that abuse, un­der the Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices Law; re­quir­ing that the court be pro­vided with in­for­ma­tion from the DPW re­gard­ing the type of ser­vices made avail­able to the fam­ily un­der the Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices Law; and re­quir­ing that a court con­sider whether there is an in­di­cated or founded report of child abuse by a party or a mem­ber of the party’s house­hold when de­ter­min­ing the best in­ter­ests of the child. Cur­rently, there are 16 fac­tors to weigh when de­ter­min­ing the best in­ter­ests of the child. If ap­proved, this would be an ad­di­tional fac­tor.

“rl­ti­mately, my bill is about en­sur­ing courts and judges have ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion re­lated to records of child abuse and ne­glect, so that they can act in the best in­ter­est of the child when award­ing cus­tody and make a de­ci­sion that would pre­vent any fur­ther harm to a child,” said O’Neill in a press re­lease.

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