In the News:

( Go to our NEWS ARCHIVES page for previous events and commentary ... )

Allegheny County DHS using algorithm
to assist in child welfare screening

Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice, based in Berks County, said if the tool is leading to better safety outcomes for children in Allegheny County, it would be good to find a way to apply it elsewhere in Pennsylvania, though Ms. Palm said realistically, most other counties do not have the same level of integrated data as Allegheny County does. "You would be hard-pressed to find this in other communities, particularly on this scale," she said.

Kate Giammarise | April 9, 2017 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette |  Read More...

Protecting our children:
Sandusky case changed everything

"If the measure is, did we get more reports, that's a success," said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice. "We got a boatload of reports. In other ways, advocates and those close to the system say, they may be swamping caseworkers so it's harder to focus on cases of actual abuse in the midst of the avalanche of allegations. "We have to stop deluding ourselves that the hard work is making the report" of suspected abuse, Palm said. "The system is overwhelmed."

John Finnerty, CNHI State Reporter | April 9, 2017 | Johnstown Tribune Democrat |  Read More...

Note to Penn State trustee Albert Lord: Money doesn't
erase the pain suffered by Jerry Sandusky's victims

Victims can go on to lead wonderful lives, Palm said, but it's as if the abuse they suffered gets hardwired into their DNA — "it doesn't ever really leave you."

Editorial | April 4, 2017 | Lancaster Intelligencer Journal |  Read More...

State must prevent addiction's toll on its youngest

The bill's goals are important, as Center for Children's Justice founder Cathleen Palm of Jefferson Township noted last year: "A baby, a young child's brain is 80 percent developed by the time they are 3."

Editorial | April 3, 2017 | Reading Eagle |  Read More...

Smallest Victims - Narcotic-dependent newborns
growing along with drug epidemic

Marion Callahan and Jo Ciavaglia staff writers | Mar 31, 2017 | |  Read More...

Former Penn State President Found Guilty in Sandusky Abuse Case

Children's advocates called the administrators' convictions a victory for accountability. "We can no longer put institutional loyalty above protecting kids," said Cathleen Palm, the founder of the Center for Children's Justice, a nonprofit that pushed for changes to Pennsylvania's child abuse policies in the wake of the scandal.

By Jess Bidgood And Richard Pérez - Peña | March 24, 2017 | NY Times |  Read More...

Victim advocates warn against 'walking away'
from lessons of Sandusky and Spanier

Cathleen Palm, founder of the state's Center for Children's Justice, said it's likely that the Sandusky abuse would have been reported sooner if it happened today. In the past, she said, someone like Joe Paterno was only required to tell his supervisor. Now, he would be required to call Childline, the tipline to report abuse, or law enforcement.

The verdict against Spanier is a case study in the failures of the old system, Palm said, although the new system has its own flaws. The flurry of legislation that came after Sandusky led to a lot more child abuse reporting because people are worried about running afoul of the law for not reporting. Funding hasn't kept pace and neither has training.

"So many reports are coming in the front door," she said, "there's not enough resources or people to sort through and figure it out."

Wallace McKelvey | March 24, 2017 | PennLive |  Read More...

Were foster child's claims about Packers taken seriously?

It's for exactly that reason, Palm said, that the state rather than the counties investigates abuse allegations against people in the child-care system. It reduces the possibility of conflicts between foster parents and county caseworkers and employees of private agencies under contract with those counties.

"You can see how it might be possible — even unintentionally — for those who might be familiar with another to give them more of a pass," she said.

Palm believes another layer of protection for children is needed to ensure checks and balances, namely, an independent ombudsman who would provide additional oversight of the child welfare system.

Peter Hall, Michelle Merlin and Nicole Radzievich | March 19, 2017 | The Allentown Morning Call |  Read More...

Spanier trial could shed light on Penn State's culpability

"This is one of those situations that will potentially prove precedent-setting," said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice in Berks County, who also noted the many improvements lawmakers have already made to Pennsylvania's child-abuse reporting laws in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. "So in some ways the lessons to be learned have already been learned and are in place, hopefully protecting kids better than five years ago, a decade ago, two decades ago."

Susan Snyder & Jeremy Roebuck - Staff Writers | March 19, 2017 | |  Read More...

Pennsylvania focuses on helping opioid-addicted parents kick habit, keep their children

While it's difficult to get specific data from county bureaus, Pennsylvania children have been neglected or even died after a parent or caretaker died of an overdose or fell unconscious, said Cathleen Palm, founder of The Center for Children's Justice. Palm is concerned that there is no "systematic statewide review" of such incidents.

For a system already swamped with the expanded mandated abuse reporting law, the opiate epidemic "couldn't be happening at a worse time," Palm said. With no easy fix to protect at-risk children, the center has called for a state task force to examine the problem.

Renatta Signorini | March 18, 2017 | Pittsburgh Tribune Review |  Read More...

In sect that shuns medicine, case against pastor is novel

Cathleen Palm, of the Pennsylvania-based Center for Children's Justice, said she hopes the prosecution, at a minimum, will spur action in the Legislature to protect children whose parents don't seek necessary medical care based on religion.

"What the district attorney has done is clearly pivotal," she said.

Michael Rubinkam | March 16, 2017 | Associated Press |  Read More...

Kids affected by opioid crisis need protection, say state officials

"From what we know about early brain development," Palm said, "we want to have someone watching out for these kids, who are victims of the opioid crisis, and make sure their experiences are those of nurture and protection, not of trauma, abuse, anxiety or uncertainty."

Both Watson and Palm envision a task force made up of nongovernmental stakeholders and experts in the field, including behavioral health treatment providers, obstetric and pediatric physicians, early intervention providers and providers of home-visiting programs.

Susan Baldrige, Staff Writer | March 15, 2017 | |  Read More...

Editorial: Systemic troubles now in focus

Cathleen Palm, executive director of the Center for Children's Justice, said agencies across the state, regardless of location, population, demographics and workforce all attempt to overcome the same challenges. "This is systemic," she said.

March 5, 2017 | Sunbury Daily Item | 

Auditor general launching review of child protection statewide

Palm echoed DePasquale's observation that the challenges facing child protection caseworkers have come in waves as the state changed the law, creating a crush of new reports of suspected child abuse at a time when many long-time caseworkers left the field.

"It's critical that we take another look to see, did we fix it or did we exacerbate" the problems, Palm said.

John Finnerty | Mar 2, 2017 | CNHI Harrisburg Bureau |  Read More...

Too often, abused children remain voiceless and forgotten

The brutal rape, murder and dismemberment of Grace Packer provides a potent illustration that too often the abused child in our commonwealth is voiceless and forgotten. Grace's life and death also provide a reminder that important decisions about child safety, well-being and permanency are made by systems operating with little transparency or accountability. In the spring of 2011, well before Pennsylvanians were shocked by the serial child sexual abuse perpetrated by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky, dozens of organizations called on Pennsylvania's governor and General Assembly to create a Task Force on Child Protection and Accountability.

Cathleen Palm | March 5, 2017 | The Intelligencer |  Read More...

'You can tell they're in pain:'
Hospitals see more infant victims of opioid crisis

There's a bill to create a task force to focus on the impact of the opioid crisis on pregnant woman and babies. It's a large effort by the Center for Children's Justice.

Samantha Galvez | Feb. 9, 2017 | ABC 27 News |  Read More...

Tiniest victims

Cathleen Palm, founder of the Pennsylvania-based Center for Children's Justice, said much more needs to done to provide help for mothers of NAS babies, and to monitor and protect the babies. "We have really been trying to get policy makers to understand the nuances," she says.

Born addicts, opioid babies suffer withdrawal from first breath

David Wenner | Feb. 9, 2017 | | 

Child advocacy group calls for changes to abuse laws in PA

"I think we all want parents to be able to parent their children. We want people to be able to subscribe to their religious beliefs," Palm told 69 News, "but we also have to ask ourselves, have we reached a point that it's unreasonable for a child to die of something as preventable and as treatable as pneumonia?"

Palm said drawing the line between religion and parenting is difficult.

María Salazar | Feb. 3, 2017 | WFMZ |  Read More...

Child welfare investigation findings into Grace
Packer's death might not be public for months

"Clearly Grace Packer is a case that has, at the core, left people pretty uncertain about whether the state is competent in protecting kids in our foster care and adoption system," Palm added. "While a review is done on Grace's behalf, it's bigger than Grace."

Jo Ciavaglia staff writer | January 24, 2017 | BucksCountyCourierTimes |  Read More...

Could red flags have saved Grace Packer?

Perpetrators of child abuse deemed "founded" are barred from working or volunteering with minors. But entering the child abuse database on an "indicated" report, as Packer did, holds no legal significance, and does not start an investigation into a person's parental rights. Such registrants are not forbidden from working with children, according to the state Department of Human Services.

Nonetheless, most organizations still do not hire them, said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice, based in Bernville, Berks County.

Packer's entry into the registry "doesn't mean — and the law doesn't require it to mean — that [county child welfare agencies] have to go before the court and say: 'Should we reassess? ... Should there be any change in her ability to parent kids in her home?' " Palm said.

Justine McDaniel • STAFF WRITER | January 20, 2017 | |  Read More...

Bucks County lawmaker wants legislative
investigation of Grace Packer murder

A "foundational question" in this case is whether Sara Packer was identified as a child abuser before or after 2010, according to Cathleen Palm. She's the founder and executive director of the Center for Children's Justice in Berks County, the county that oversaw Grace Packer's adoption.

"There will likely be many more questions if (Sara Packer) was named as a perpetrator and the living status of the children was unchanged," she added.

Plus, Palm added, as a child welfare worker, Packer was mandated by state law to report even a suspected case of child abuse, Palm said.

Jo Ciavaglia, staff writer | Jan 13, 2017 | | Read More...

Advocate: Grace Packer tragedy should spur system review

The repeated abuse against Grace has many questioning the integrity of the child welfare system. "Whether it's Grace or other children, I think we are starting to realize, what many of us in the system already know, we are not a child-centered system," said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice.

Jamie Stover | Jan 13, 2017 | WFMZ | Read More...

State opens probe into Grace Packer's rape and murder

"This case really dictates something different than an Act 33 review," said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Berks County nonprofit Center for Children's Justice which pushed for passage of Act 33.
"We believe in these reviews. Grace's life so warrants ... an independent review."

Steve Esack • Contact Reporter | January 12, 2017 | The Morning Call | Read More...

Op-Ed: Child abuse tragedies
demand some collective soul-searching

Dauphin County Judge John Cherry recently sentenced a mother to state prison for the starvation death of her 5-month-old daughter. He questioned whether, as a society we have become 'anesthetized' to such horror. Some soul searching is clearly justified.

Cathleen Palm | January 11, 2017 | Harrisburg Patriot News | Read More...

Murder suspect Sara Packer's employment
as child welfare worker terminated over 'misconduct'

Pennsylvania employers and organizations are barred from hiring individuals or using volunteers for positions that involve direct unsupervised contact with children if the person was named as a perpetrator in a proven child abuse report within the previous five years. The same prohibition would apply to applicants for foster or adoptive parents, according to Cathleen Palm, founder and executive director of the Center for Children's Justice, a Berks County child advocacy center.

Jo Ciavaglia, staff writer | , 2017 | | Read More...

Abington mom accused of daughter's murder
was once a child welfare worker

Jo Ciavaglia, staff writer | Jan 9, 2017 | | Read More...

Affordable Care Act, and How the Opioid Crisis Affects Children

This week's Pennsylvania Newsmakers features an interview with Ted Dallas, Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services, who provides an update on the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion. Then, joining host Terry Madonna is Cathleen Palm, Founder of the Center for Children's Justice, for a discussion of children and the opioid crisis.

First Aired January 1, 2017 | |

Abused, neglected children often lack safety net
of mandatory reporters

Cathleen Palm, founder of The Center for Children's Justice, points out that in spite of the systems in place, there is an added level of vulnerability that comes with very young children. Mandated reporters - professionals such as teachers and doctors who work with children - are by law required to report suspected abuse, but very young children may not have that connection.

Ivey DeJesus, December 28, 2016 | Harrisburg Patriot News | Read More...

Bill to aid child sex abuse victims stalls in Legislature

Cathleen Palm, a Jefferson Township resident and founder of the Center for Children's Justice, agreed with Scarnati in that respect. She said that House leaders should have accepted the Senate version and continued to advocate for the retroactive component in the future.

The Senate version would eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal charges going forward and give future victims until age 50 to file lawsuits. Now, victims have until age 30 for lawsuits and age 50 to press criminal charges.

"Because the retroactive piece has become so divisive ... we saw an evaporation of other really important steps forward that there was overwhelming support for," she said. "We understand it's a political calculation, but from our perspective we're struggling with cases where the statute of limitations is taking hold right now."

Karen Shuey - October 26, 2016 | Reading Eagle | Read More...

PA legislators abandon bill
to extend rights of child sex-abuse victims

"All of us want to get the retroactivity piece back and are so infuriated by the absence of justice for victims," said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice. "But continuing to delay important reforms is denying justice for a whole new class of victims."

Victims' advocates lamented the bill changes and lawmakers' inability to resolve their differences before the legislature's last voting day for the year.

Maria Panaritis and Karen Langley - October 25, 2016
HARRISBURG BUREAU - Philadelphia Inquirer |

ChildLine audit finds major delays in answering calls,
submitting investigation outcomes

The auditor general's call for the immediate creation of an independent child protection ombudsman to review complaints and recommend system improvements is long overdue, Palm said.

The recommendation has been around since 2002, when an advisory committee suggested it. "Today's audit release was powerful in some ways less about its findings, than the fact that the auditor general keeps using his office and audits to underscore that protecting children can't be a once-in-a-decade exercise," Palm added. "Pennsylvania has passed 20-plus child protection laws in the last few years, but such laws will prove less effective without continuous and independent checks and balances."

Jo Ciavaglia, staff writer, October 13, 2016 | The Intelligencer | Read More...

28 people received clearance to work with kids
despite child abuse, neglect backgrounds

"Let's not delude ourselves that a background check is going to tell us enough about what we need to know about the people taking care of our kids," she said. "There is no substitute for doing a much more thorough screening and knowing the person you might hire."

Cathleen Palm, founder of The Center for Children's Justice, said while it is reported to be only a small number of erroneous reports and the 28 individuals' histories didn't bar them from working with children, it does serve as a reminder that the state-mandated background checks are only one piece of information that should be considered in who employers and volunteer organizations allow to be around children.

Jan Murphy, October 5, 2016 | Harrisburg Patriot News | Read More...

Advocacy group urges action on child sex abuse bill

Anyway, the advocacy group The Center for Children's Justice emailed me a copy of a letter it sent this week to Gov. Tom Wolf and members of the Senate and House. I thought it was worth sharing with everyone else. Here it is:

Today, all across this Commonwealth, children are being sexually assaulted. Each of these children are courageously struggling to survive the assault against their body and spirit. More than likely, each of these children remain oblivious to the political debates unfolding about whether and how to reform the statute of limitations (SOLs) for childhood sexual abuse. Still every sexually abused child will be directly impacted by the decisions made before the 2015-2016 legislative session ends on November 30th.

Bill White, September 29, 2016 | Bill White Blog | Read More...

Family First Needed to Stop Child Deaths

"1 month, 12 days died suddenly."

The obituary of Brayden Cummings provided a wake-up call about the most vulnerable and forgotten victims of the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic.

Brayden was born physically dependent on opioids. He suffered through weeks of withdrawal in a Pennsylvania hospital. Upon discharge he was prescribed opioids to treat his Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

James Greenwood and Cathleen Palm, September 28, 2016 | | Read More...

Rozzi still pushing for overhaul of child sex abuse law

"At a minimum, doing something has got to take priority this fall," Palm said.

But she said if senators can't "muster the political courage" to approve that measure, advocates should push to get the other protections adopted this year and continue to advocate for the retroactive component.

Liam Migdail-Smith, September 28, 2016 | Reading Eagle | Read More...

Child abuse calls get answered, but questions persist

The stories behind those numbers are still unknown, said Cathleen Palm, director of the Center for Children's Justice. How many of those 9 in 10 calls led to intervention by social workers to help families, even if abuse wasn't documented?

How many involved cases where people reported things that were not abuse? How many times was abuse not documented because overworked investigators haven't been able to keep up with a flood of calls? People are now getting to the hotline operator. "That, on the surface, is a good thing," Palm said.

John Finnerty, Updated: September 18, 2016 | Johnstown Tribune Democrat | Read More...

Back to school brings child abuse reports;
PA says it's better able to react

Pa. human services secretary: state making progress on child abuse 'crisis'

founder of the Center for Children's Justice, said the improvements to the abuse reporting and background check processes are "good news." But she says a big part of the job remains — to evaluate the actual outcomes after the state reports cases to the appropriate local authorities. As it stands, there's no assurance each of Pennsylvania's 67 counties is appropriately handling cases referred by the state and has the resources to do so. "That's the real story ... I think that's the next conversation Pennsylvania needs to have," she said.

David Wenner, Updated: September 15, 2016 | Harrisburg Patriot News | Read More...

Multiple warnings precede a child's death by abuse

Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice, questioned
why the state hadn't launched a more comprehensive review sooner.

"We've essentially lost eight years," she said. "You asked a lot of people to jump through hoops, get in a room, make these recommendations, to what end? If all that happens is we dump them on a website then nothing changes."

Julia Terruso, Updated: August 22, 2016 | Philadelphia Inquirer | Read More...

The Philly delegates won’t see: 'People want jobs
... what’s a president going to do about that?'

"If you're a mom and you've gotten a notice that you’re going to lose your apartment," said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children’s Justice, "you’re not tuned in to what either political party is saying."Programs that serve needy women and children are struggling. Each year more than 500 infants enter emergency shelters in Philadelphia, she said, a crisis fueled by poverty, drugs and desperation. "There’s so much work to be done, there’s not a lot of time to have a party," Palm said.

Laura McCrystal and Jeff Gammage, July 27, 2016 | Philadelphia Inquirer | Read More...

Organization asks lawmakers
to look into effect of heroin on babies

News 8's Beccah Hendrickson looks into how babies are affected
when they are born to mothers addicted to heroin.

We cannot look at this from a punitive or criminal justice perspective. We have to look at this from a public health perspective. The Center for Children’s Justice wants NAS to be a reportable health condition to better track the epidemic.

Beccah Hendrickson, July 25, 2016 | WGAL |

Special session called to find solutions to
PA’s opioid epidemic: 'This is about saving lives'

The Center for Children's Justice, hopes to have a seat at that table to renew children advocates' call for forming a task force focused on the impact of this epidemic on children. Specifically, the advocates want to see more efforts made to prevent substance-exposed infants, improve outcomes for pregnant women and mothers struggling with addiction recovery; and improve the welfare of substance-exposed infants and young children at risk of abuse and neglect due to drug-using parents.

Jan Murphy, June 23, 2016 | Harrisburg Patriot News | Read More...

Advocates say PA's child abuse hotline has had major problems
since 2010, so why did the state wait so long to investigate?

C4CJ and Palm continue to push for independent oversight and transparency in child protective services. "We have confidence that, going forward, protecting children remains a priority," Palm said. "But we also can't afford to overlook how for so long there was scarce leadership and urgency on behalf of abused children."

Courtney Linder, May 26, 2016 | PublicSource |

Pennsylvania's child abuse hotline
still leaves too many calls unanswered

And then consider this: Advocates have been worried about ChildLine for years (it was they who pushed for an audit). Cathleen Palm of The Center for Children's Justice first wrote a letter of concern to state officials in 2010, after a Gov. Ed Rendell commission reported that calls were being abandoned because of long hold times "due to ChildLine operating at reduced staff levels." That year, 8.82 percent of calls to ChildLine were abandoned or deflected.

The LNP Editorial Board, May 25, 2016 | | Read More...

Thousands of unanswered, undocumented
ChildLine calls show 'a lot more work is needed'
'Disturbing' initial findings led auditor general
to issue ChildLine interim report

But issues involving unanswered calls, long wait times and staffing levels have dated back to former Gov. Ed Rendell's administration, according to the state's Center for Children's Justice, when, in 2010, it was reported that between 9 and 13 percent of calls a month were unanswered. Palm said Monday that there were real concerns with ChildLine and its operations well before the Sandusky case. "We already had so many cracks in the dam and then we had Sandusky and the pressure just got bigger," Palm said. "This is not a short-term fix. This is not a short-term problem. This has been an evolution of a system that is being asked to do way way more than it has the capacity to handle."

Julianne Mattera May 25, 2016 | |

Audit finds thousands of unanswered calls
to Pa. child-abuse hotline

Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice, said she and other advocates asked in 2010 for an audit of ChildLine.

Palm said that protecting children only works if people are confident in the system. "We've got to get to restored confidence in the child welfare system," she said.

Karen Langley, HARRISBURG BUREAU - May 24, 2016 | | Read More...

Pa. auditor general: 1 in 5 calls
to state child abuse hotline went unanswered

"Today we finally have the independent confirmation that the Commonwealth has for too long neglected the very front end of how we protect children," Palm said in an statement. "It is both telling and quite troubling that as a Commonwealth we have made a massive push for individuals to report suspected child abuse without sufficiently preparing for or being responsive to the crushing demand created on ChildLine." Palm also touched on another issue in the report involving a failure to document or track all calls.

Jo Ciavaglia - May 24, 2016 | |

Long waits, busy signals await callers to abuse hotline

Palm said the system could benefit by finding a way to quickly redirect callers to 211 information hotlines supported by health and human services agencies. That would keep the child abuse hotline free for those trying to report abuse, she said. It might also cut down on overtime and stress for operators who are being asked to deal with calls that they aren't prepared to handle, she said.

John Finnerty - May 24, 2016 | |

Audit Reveals ChildLine Understaffed

Child advocates pushed for the audit of ChildLine and hope the results don't deter people from reporting abuse. "We have to keep instilling that confidence. People won't make the call. People won't stand up and speak up for children if they think the system won't respond," said Cathy Palm, child advocate.

Jim Hamill - May 24, 2016 | |

State lawmakers turn attention to drug epidemic

Cathleen Palm, founder of The Center for Children’s Justice, wants officials to also address a heretofore neglected area: how the epidemic is affecting pregnant women and infants born with withdrawal symptoms. “I do think it (attention) is bipartisan and there is a lot of energy,” she said. “We would like to see the same urgency with a focus on pregnant women and children.” Ms. Palm suggested a starting point could be providing $10 million to support home visits by professionals to those families.

Robert Swift, Harrisburg Bureau Chief - May 23, 2016 | | Read More...

Senate acts to close loophole that exempted doctors,
clergy from background checks law

"Clearly most professionals and institutions committed to protecting children don't need another law or even a fixed up law to do the right thing," said child advocate Cathleen Palm. This bill "makes it crystal clear that health care providers like physicians and members of the clergy who have direct contact with children must undergo and pass comprehensive criminal and child abuse background checks if they want to work with children."

Jan Murphy - May 10, 2016 | Harrisburg Patriot News | Read More...

Changes since 1976 Sandusky allegations
'eliminated going up chain of command': child advocate

"We need to look forward," Palm said. "We have to make sure today, tomorrow, we don't live in a world where it's taboo to talk about child sexual abuse and where people feel powerless or unprepared to do anything ... when they think a child is being harmed."

Julianne Mattera - May 6, 2016 | Harrisburg Patriot News | Read More...

Editorial: State should study effect of drug abuse on babies

The Issue: A Berks nonprofit requests a task force to investigate the opioid crisis' impact on infants.

Our Opinion: We favor any reasonable attempt to contain the scourge's effects.

WHO - April 13, 2016 | Reading Eagle | Read More...

Nonprofit urges state leaders to create task force
for substance-exposed infants

Seeking to bring attention to this topic, the Center for Children’s Justice sent a letter March 30 to Gov. Tom Wolf and six legislative leaders. Ten county coroners, the executive director of CASA Youth Advocates Inc., Office of Victim Advocate, Center for Children’s Justice, the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association and others signed the letter.

Amy Marchiano - April 11, 2016 | Pottsville Republican | Read More...

Pa. seeing more heroin-addicted babies,
abused children of addicted parents

The advocates, organized by The Center for Children's Justice, are asking for a task force "focused on the impact of this epidemic on children in Pennsylvania." It would figure out ways to prevent infants from being exposed to drugs during pregnancy, improve outcomes for pregnant women and parents trying to recover from addiction, and promoting the health and safety of drug-exposed infants and children of addicted parents

David Wenner - April 8, 2016 | PennLive | Read More...

In our words
On justice for child victims, and an important debate

Victims and advocates have been waiting and hoping for progress on statute of limitations reform.

So advancing House Bill 1947 "is big news and promising," Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice, said. "Still, why did it take so long?"

LNP Editorial Board - April 7, 2016 | Lancaster Online | Read More...

State bill advances to protect rights of child sexual-abuse victims

"It's not a solution for every victim," said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children's Justice, a Pennsylvania-based group. "That said, it is a really positive step forward in the sense we should never be in a position again where horrific acts of abuse against kids are revealed, and we can't press forward in criminal court or civil court because there's this arbitrary statute of limitations."

Karen Langley - April 6, 2016 | Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau | Read More...

Grassroots group seeks change for child welfare system it calls 'tangled and broken'

"Can we keep this family together and still keep this child safe" is the question, Palm said. "There is always a healthy tension between the rights of parents and the safety of a child. That requires really good facts, really well-trained people to sort through," Palm said.

It is critical that those deciding whether to return a child to a family "have enough facts and are they clear enough about what the goal is," she said.

Barbara Miller - April 1, 2016 | Harrisburg Patriot News | Read More...

Heroin gives birth to new problem

Palm supplied statistics that showed the number of children who suffer from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome when born to Medicaid-covered mothers in Pennsylvania increased from 1,080 in 2010 to 1,970 in 2014. The infants were exposed to opiate or narcotic drugs during the mother's pregnancy and at least some experienced withdrawal symptoms after birth.

Ford Turner - April 1, 2016 | Reading Eagle | Read More...

U.S. senator calls for GAO probe
to protect babies born drug-dependent

"By GAO and Congress saying we want states to tangibly tell us what they are doing, it's going to force them to really look at it," Palm said. "It just feels like we're about to get a whole lot more motivated about these babies and their families."
— Cathleen Palm, executive director of the Center for Children's Justice, a Pennsylvania non-profit advocacy group, supported Casey's action.

Duff Wilson - March 3, 2016 | Reuters, New York | Read More...

Pa.: Increased efforts to track teacher backgrounds

Pennsylvania has several systems in place to check an educator's history

"We could change all the laws, have the strongest, toughest laws, law enforcement on the lookout, schools on the lookout ... ultimately we still have to remember it's about changing the culture," Palm said.

It's important to help kids and adults recognize what's appropriate behavior and what's not, she said, all while not making adults so nervous they are afraid to "genuinely interact" with children.

Palm said the legislature has created some important tools for helping to protect children. But she urges parents not to let their guards down.

Angie Mason - February 14, 2016 | York Daily Record | Read More...

Legislature plans to doctor up state's background checks law

"I do think it's a quick fix and the good news is it's on the Legislature's radar," Palm said. "While it's good to get it clarified, I don't think there's a crisis in protecting kids inside medical practices at this time either."

Jan Murphy - February 5, 2016 | PennLive | Read More...

Background checks under review

But advocates wonder if everyone might want to take a little time to make sure that this correction is the last.

"Pennsylvania needs to take a step back," said Cathleen Palm, executive director of the Center for Children’s Justice.

Sunbury Daily Item - February 6, 2016 |

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