AG Shapiro, Pennsylvania District Attorneys Request Increased Federal Funding For Child Welfare Services During Pandemic
HARRISBURG―Attorney General Shapiro and the Pennsylvania District Attorneys today sent a letter calling on the Pennsylvania delegation in Congress to increase available funding for child welfare and protection programs by $1.5 billion annually to combat the expected increase in reports of child abuse that will follow the end of the COVID-19 emergency. Pennsylvania’s child abuse hotline, ChildLine, saw calls and tips drop by half in April.
“We know that reports of child abuse are down during this pandemic because mandated reporters, including teachers, coaches, and school officials, are unable to see their students during this time,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “It’s critical that we protect the vulnerable members of our communities, whose families have been shaken by the effects of this emergency. I am urging everyone in the Commonwealth: if you see child abuse or neglect, report it.”
“COVID-19 has not slowed down child abuse, only the reporting of child abuse,” said Ray Tonkin, PDAA President and District Attorney of Pike County. “Now, more than ever, we need the resources and commitment to help identify, prevent, and address child abuse.”
In the letter, AG Shapiro and District Attorneys state, “We will not be able to see the full magnitude of abuse until children are visible to mandatory reporters. When that does happen, our support systems are in danger of being overwhelmed with a flood of new cases. To stem the tide, we need the resources to prevent abuse from happening now, better identify abuse during the crisis, and to appropriately handle all of these cases when they do come to light.”
The letter calls on more funding for programs like the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), but notes that benefits could also be extended to programs like Social Security Block Grants (SSBG), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Title X, the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCA).
Concerned citizens can report suspected child abuse to the Pennsylvania ChildLine by calling 1-800-932-0313. Pennsylvanians can also report abuse through the PA Attorney General’s tip line, Safe2Say Something, through the app, available on the Android and Apple stores, or by calling 1-844-SAF2SAY (723-2729). Tips are anonymous and the call center is open 24/7. The Attorney General’s office also had a Child Predator Hotline number for online sexual exploitation of children at 800-385-1044.
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