Task Force on Child Protection

“First and most important, measure all of your decisions and suggestions for legislative reform against the questions of whether a change or changes will improve the protection offered to vulnerable and dependent children.”
— Richard J. Gelles, Ph.D., Dean,
School of Social Policy & Practice of the University of Pennsylvania

I am privileged to take this opportunity to offer some general thoughts on behalf of myself and the extraordinarily able colleagues who served as members of this task force. First, as you can tell from the quotations set forth in our report, the quality of the scores of persons who addressed our panel during the course of the 11 hearings which we held was such that, had we made no recommendations or proposed no draft legislation whatsoever, we would still have performed a great service for this Commonwealth and its children by gathering the collective wisdom, frustrations and advice of the able and dedicated witnesses who appeared at our hearings. We would earnestly urge that those who wish to take up our recommendations or who wish to evaluate their validity, take time to review the collective testimony of these experts. All of it is available either in written form or as live recordings. Taken together, this body of testimony is both inspiring and highly informative. No one who listens to and considers it can doubt that dramatic change is required in the way our governmental institutions work to protect children in Pennsylvania.

Early in our proceedings we heard the words inscribed above from Dr. Richard Gelles, Dean of the School of Social Policy & Practice of the University of Pennsylvania. We have done our best to make them the standard for the way in which we performed our duties. This report contains many, many recommendations – some broad and sweeping, others narrow and specific. While the process and its participants, chief among them the chair, may have regularly fallen short of the challenge, we have striven in our deliberations to recommend courses of action and legislative changes which will improve the protection of children in this Commonwealth, first and above all else.

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