by Katie S. Walker, New Holland, PA
Please call your legislators using the information found here. House Bill 1276 - purported to soften, but in reality expands Act 153 of 2014's reach - is scheduled to be debated Monday, June 15, 2015. Below is a sample of talking points regarding HB1276. Please pick 2-3 points which are important to you and help flood our legislators with letters, calls, e-mails and face-to-face office visits demanding lawmakers revoke mandatory child clearances and allow organizations to operate as their independent board deems necessary and prudent. House Bill 1276 is found in entirety here and can be read by clicking on the PDF. Further talking points can be found here, and on Facebook, click here and like PA Act 153 of 2014.
I am deeply troubled by the intrusiveness of Act 153 requiring child clearances for broad sweeping number of volunteers and paid employees. House Bill 1276 purports to “fix” and “clarify” Act 153. In reality it gives token acknowledgment to the roar of anger and deep rooted grumbling throughout
the same time expanding Act 153’s strangling grip on person’s working with
While giving token acknowledgement to the ridiculous criterion for teens (whose records as minors are protected already) to have clearances, Page 5 Line 27-29 removes language allowing a volunteer or employee to accept responsibility for a child to insisting that any volunteer or employee remotely connected to the event “is a person responsible for the child’s welfare.” Other language also expands, not narrows, even usurping parental supervision.
House Bill 1276 continues to
1) Violate separation of church from state interference and violate an individual’s right to assemble and organize in a manner they deem in good conduct and honor. Under this law, innocent organizers of lawfully organized and conducted assemblies will be prosecuted if child clearance “t’s” and “I’s” are not crossed and dotted. Page 5 Line 4 encompasses social gatherings, i.e. a family that hosts a small group gathering in their home.
2) Violate due process. All paid and/ or unpaid members working with children are deemed abusers until they produce paperwork showing innocence.
3) Drowns an already ineffective social service system with increased, false leads from mandatory, gestapo “just report” trained reporters.
4) Drowns organizations serving children with excessive paperwork and burdensome fees. Governor Wolf’s financial reprieve is TEMPORARY and based on funding – taxpayer funding. The government paying for the clearances is just a paperwork shuffle of taxpayer money allocation. House Bill 1276 returns the direct fee burden to organizations.
Department of Human Services, 512,853 applications for child abuse clearances were received between January and May of 2015. At approximately $20/ person (many clearances costs were much higher due to FBI fingerprinting!), the cost of child clearance paperwork already spent in the 2015 year and excluding the high volume month of June with the July 1, 2015 deadline approaching is approximately 10 million dollar – a low estimate and will continue to rise. Of these ½ million applications 8 parties were found to be perpetrators. Other laws already on the books already disqualify offenders from jobs and volunteer positions.
I care about my children and my neighbor’s children. Pennsylvania legislators just spent 10 million dollars shuffling paperwork and violating Pennsylvanian’s right to a fair trial, to assemble, and to organize according to their religious conscious. 10 million dollars would go a long way to fund emergency services, such as but not limited to volunteer firemen, camps, fine arts programs, libraries, schools, and churches proven to use methods not just preventing child abuse, but raising healthy children and families.