News Archives:

( Go to our IN THE NEWS page for the most recent events and commentary ... )

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 |

Advocates want better monitoring of heroin's child victims

The Center for Children's Justice, in Berks County, is pressing the state Congressional delegation to lobby for better oversight of cases in which newborns are exposed to illegal drugs.

"It's almost like we are losing a generation of children, and no one is talking about it," said Cathleen Palm, the center's founder.

John Finnerty - December 23, 2015 | CNHI State Reporter | Read More...

U.S. lawmakers call for action to protect drug-exposed newborns

The Pennsylvania-based child welfare organization Center for Children's Justice asked for "immediate, not delayed action" in a letter signed by 24 other organizations representing children's advocates, pediatricians, nurses, social workers and churches. The letter was sent earlier this month to Casey and other Pennsylvania lawmakers in Washington.

John Shiffman and Duff Wilson - December 22, 2015 | WASHINGTON | Read More...

Pa. must do more to help infants born addicted

Pa. is still struggling to connect the dots about the scope and effects
of the drug crisis on infants and toddlers.

This month, Reuters in partnership with NBC News released an investigative report, "Helpless and Hooked: the most vulnerable victims of America’s opioid epidemic."

Six-week-old Brayden Cummings died in Carbon County, Pa., and was featured in Reuters' investigation. His mother, who was just 20 years old and well known to many systems (e.g., child welfare, courts, probation, health care, drug treatment), is in prison serving time for causing the 2014 sleep-related death of her only child. Reuters

Cathleen Palm, Guest Writer | December 16, 2015 | York Daily Record | Read More...

More dropped calls at child abuse hotline, as auditor investigates

His will be the first independent analysis to determine how those reforms are working, Palm said. "Now is a good time to do the audit," she said. "We'll find it if we have seen hiccups" in overhauling the hotline.

John Finnerty | December 4, 2015 | CNHI State Reporter | Read More...

Is state's child-abuse reporting system working?
Audit seeks to find out

Child welfare advocates welcome this independent look after hearing assurances from department officials over the years that the system is working and yet they still get reports of dropped calls to the hotline or calls going unanswered and long wait times to speak to a ChildLine employee.

Jan Murphy December 2, 2015 | PennLive |

Details emerge about deceased toddler
in Luzerne County Children and Youth case

"There are still pieces of the puzzle that are missing to really understand what happened in this case and how different key parties arrived at very different decisions about this child's death," said Palm, who targets child abuse through the Bernville, PA-based organization.

Jennifer Learn-Andes - October 7th, 2015 | Times Leader | Read More...

Child abuse victims in Pa. once again suffering because of budget

Too many times in the past, Pennsylvania's abused children have suffered in the shadows, overlooked by state government. Wolf and lawmakers must find common ground and choose a productive and child-centered path forward. Together, they should act to immediately restore essential funding so suspected child abuse is properly investigated and every abused child is connected to interventions critical to healing and justice.

Cathleen Palm - Sep 18th, 2015 | Lancaster Online | Read More...

Pa. child welfare system is in state of emergency, advocate says

The "child protection dam broke loose" in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case, said Cathleen Palm, founder of the state's Center for Children's Justice. The state Legislature passed 23 new bills that became law and aimed to improve child protection in the state. The change resulted in an increase in reports of suspected child abuse.

Megan Trimble - September 17, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Salaries for caseworkers varies widely in midstate

"But we haven't talked as much about what happens once you make a report," she says. "How do you have people who are really well-trained and really can assess safety and can really figure out what's going on in a family not necessarily to remove a child, but to help the family get strengthened so the child can remain safely? We just haven't given that enough attention, and we probably don't value those jobs nearly as much as we should."

Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter - September 2, 2015 | WITF | Read More...

Child fatality, near-fatality reports chief among corrected data in child abuse report

For Cathleen Palm, founder of the state's Center for Children's Justice, the changes were anything but insignificant, especially when it came to the child fatality and near-fatality analysis.

Megan Trimble - August 28, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Children & Youth licensing downgrade should be 'wake-up call,' child advocate says

Citing the county agency's most recent provisional license, Cathleen Palm, founder of the state's Center for Children's Justice, said in a statement that "many of the practices, particularly around child safety cited as the basis for the downgraded license, are likely quite similar to what is happening in child-protection agencies all across this commonwealth."

Julianne Mattera - August 25, 2015 | Harrisburg Patriot News | Read More...

Editorial: Keep background checks for university profs

“Has everyone forgotten what started this conversation?” asks Cathleen Palm, founder of the Center for Children’s Justice.

The LNP Editorial Board - August 24, 2015 | Lancaster Intelligencer Journal | Read More...

State's heavily redacted Tutko child-abuse report
leaves more questions than answers

"These are sentinel events. These kids are dying and they should be moments that stop us to really intentionally learn and work to prevent them," Palm said. "And you need reliable data to be able to do that."

Julianne Mattera - August 6, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Right move to pull flawed state child abuse report,
but accurate data is critical

However, Cathleen Palm, founder of the state's Center for Children's Justice, has said she and other child advocates have "struggled to have any confidence in the fatality data for a while."

Julianne Mattera - July 31, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Months late, state's annual child abuse report
is 'full of flaws,' lawyer says

That clarification on the one chart was "good news" Palm said, but it leaves "open the question as to whether or not the original error filled-table impacted the report overall."

Julianne Mattera - July 31, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Bucks, Montco seeing big uptick
in child abuse reporting

The Center for Children's Justice noted that the 2014 report includes 13 children who died or nearly died in previous years because the abuse investigations were not completed until last year. The report also doesn't include four children in Allegheny County whose deaths were substantiated as child abuse, according to the center.

Jo Ciavaglia - July 31, 2015 | Bucks County Courier Times | Read More...

Child abuse reporting up, but thousands of children
remain at risk in Pennsylvania

"Clearly that's a barometer that children and families remain in a pretty high crisis state," said Cathleen Palm, founder of the Pennsylvania-based Center for Children's Justice. "There's a heck of a lot of vulnerable kids."

Julian Routh - July 29, 2015 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Read More...

Report: State lags on mandated child abuse reporting

The Center for Children’s Justice’s latest report outlining data involving death and near deaths among Pennsylvania children shows that 163 children died and another 245 nearly died as a result of abuse or neglect over almost five years, between January 2010 and September.

Jo Ciavaglia - July 16, 2015 | Bucks County Courier Times | Read More...

Report: Fatalities and near fatalities from child abuse in Luzerne County 8th highest in state

In releasing the data, the center focused on the need to refine “plans of safe care” required under state laws enacted in 2014 and 2015, designed to assure the safety of children in situations that may not meet the definition of child abuse, but who face greater risks because of parental drug use.

Mark Guydish - July 13, 2015 | Times Leader | Read More...

New bill would modify background checks

"Background checks are not a panacea," said Palm. "We can't see background checks as a substitute to really knowing and monitoring the interaction between adults and our children - and when boundaries seem to be crossed, to speak up early."

Madison Russ - July 1, 2015 | Philadelphia Inquirer | Read More...

After Sandusky, A Debate Over Whether
Sex-Abuse Law Goes Too Far

"We struck a pretty good balance the first round. We didn't clarify things enough. So now we're back trying to clarify it," Palm says. But she warns, "There's a difference between clarifying and walking back protections."

Jeff Brady - June 25, 2015 | NPR | Read More...

House passes revisions to state's background checks law

Founder of the Center for Children's Justice, said it sends a message that Pennsylvania feels some 16- and 17-year-olds don't need as many protections as others. She said exempting children who fall into that age group is troubling and takes two steps backward in legislation that tried to take one step forward

PennLive staff and wire reports - June 17, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Dauphin County Children & Youth grand jury report:
Mistakes left trail of victims

"In Pennsylvania, there's no way for any of us outside of the system to measure the degree to which children are dying or nearly dying from child abuse," said Cathleen Palm, founder of Pennsylvania's Center for Children's Justice. "That's one of the things we should move to fix."

Christine Vendel - June 12, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Commissioners unaware of 'serious problems'
prior to Jarrod Tutko Jr.'s death

"There's both an expectation and opportunity for the county commissioners to have oversight and know and monitor what's going on with regards to how we care for children and families," Palm said.

Julianne Mattera - June 12, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Dauphin County grand jury report on Children & Youth Services:
What really went wrong

"The report, for all its strengths," Palm said, "didn't address some problems that adversely affect children in counties across the state."

Christine Vendel - June 5, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Duggar case illustrates how poorly we treat child victims

Cathleen Palm - June 1, 2015 | Lancaster Intelligencer Journal | Read More...

Lawmaker pushing to waive background check fees for volunteers

That change more so than the others Moul is proposing raises a red flag for Palm. "Just because I lived and worked in Pennsylvania doesn't mean I didn't commit a crime in another state," she said.

Jan Murphy - May 22, 2015 | PennLive | Read More...

Protecting Children and the Elderly

Originally aired on April 19th, 2015 - This week's Pennsylvania Newsmakers features an interview with Katherine C. Pearson, Professor of Law at Penn State's Dickinson Law, who discusses what's being done in the state to combat elder abuse. Then, joining host Terry Madonna is Cathleen Palm, Founder of the Center for Children's Justice, to discuss increasing child protection.

April 19th, 2015 |

Work being done on child abuse
background checks law to provide clarity

"We had been worried that given all the confusion and anxiety, we felt there was an opportunity to walk it back but it doesn't appear that people are trying to walk it back at all," Palm said.

By Jan Murphy for the Harrisburg Patriot News | April 15, 2015 | Read More...

Child-abuse clearance backlog
posing problem for child care centers

"These are people making decisions about providing people with information that makes the difference between them being gainfully employed or not and between the safety of a child being guarded or not," she said.

By Jan Murphy for the Harrisburg Patriot News | March 17, 2015 | Read More...

Op/Ed: Changes in Pa. abuse laws
bring focus on children

But for too long, our children lived in a state that under-valued child safety, completely misunderstood the lifetime impact associated with childhood trauma and permitted politicians to get elected (and re-elected) without championing child protection. Change has consequences; refusing to change has proven consequential for abused children.

By Cathleen Palm Lebanon Daily News | March 10, 2015 | Read More...

Post-Sandusky child protection laws won’t work, if state child abuse hotline isn’t working well

And this is promising, but the “time to decide more ChildLine staff was needed was not when they’re getting a thousand calls a day,” says Cathleen Palm of The Center for Children’s Justice.

The LNP Editorial Board | February 26, 2015 | Read More...

LTE: PA’s investment in training mandated reporters of child abuse is good news

Mandated reporters (e.g., social workers, child care providers, teachers, Girl Scout volunteers) have a legal duty to report suspected child abuse. These individuals are critical to protecting children, and Pennsylvania recognizes training them is important.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | February 23, 2015 |

Editorial: Real impact measured by penalties

“Sandusky was the tipping point, but Pennsylvania’s law/practices really left too many children unprotected from serious physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect for years,” Cathleen Palm, founder of The Center for Children’s Justice in Berks County, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Sunbury Daily Item | January 25, 2015 |

Northampton DA takes second look
at deaths of Lehigh Township couple’s babies

Under the new law, at least, social services must physically check on a child and cannot merely clear the report through a phone call to the doctor, said Cathleen Palm, director of the Berks County-based Center for Children’s Justice.

By Pamela Lehman and Riley Yates Allentown Morning Call | January 25, 2015 | Read More...

Pregnant women rarely face charges for drug use

“ If Mom knows that the minute she goes someplace, someone’s going to say, 'You're a criminal.' 'We're going to put you in jail,' or 'This is child abuse, we're going to take away your baby,' that’s counterintuitive, ” she said.

By Riley Yates Of The Morning Call | January 24, 2015 | Read More...

Want to work with kids in Pennsylvania?
Background checks required

“This impacts thousands and thousands of people,” said Palm, who noted that the state doesn't charge volunteers at rape crisis centers or domestic violence shelters for their background checks.

By JOHN FINNERTY CNHI Harrisburg Correspondent for the Sharon Herald | January 23, 2015 | Read More...

Wolf must follow through to prevent child abuse in Pa.

As Cathleen Palm of the Center for Children’s Justice rightfully says, "Laws are just words on paper. It’s really about the practice, and it’s really about the leadership."

The LNP Editorial Board | December 16, 2014 | Read More...

Pa Newsmakers has Cathleen Palm
on combating child sexual abuse


Want to volunteer in a kids' program in Pennsylvania?
Prepare for background checks

"Much of the work to this point has centered on how do we react to child abuse," said Palm, director of The Center for Children's Justice. "This is a nice preventive tool in terms of knowing that an adult shouldn't be working directly with kids."

Charles Thompson | | | October 14 2014 | Read More...

Summit head to parents: No injury in 'hazing' incident

"There are so many competing interests at this time ... but schools should always err on the side of turning things over to the authorities and letting them do an investigation and not to taint any further investigation," said Cathleen Palm, president of the Center For Children's Justice.

James Pilcher | | | September 12, 2014 | Read More...

Victims' advocates: Celebrate the Penn State football team, but remember what led to the sanctions

"You understand youthful exuberance," said Cathleen Palm, of the Center for Children's Justice. "But it is challenging because there's not a whole lot of celebration that is warranted in terms of what led to those sanctions... I do think that it goes to show that in some ways, the culture has only changed so much."

Anna Orso | | | September 9, 2014 | Read More...

Changes could strain child protection system

Palm said she and advocates like her will be vigilant to see whether local caseworkers are overwhelmed – and whether the state's ChildLine hotline can manage any spike in cases.

John Finnerty | CNHI Harrisburg Correspondent | September 6, 2014 | Read More...

Criminal misconduct complaints against teachers in PA growing

Pennsylvania has had the second highest number of teacher sex crimes in the nation this year. That’s according to a nationwide report released last month. Twenty-four cases have been reported so far in 2014. Overall, there have been 450 complaints against teachers since January. In all of 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education reported 482 complaints. There have been 416 sex abuse cases nationwide since January, about the same number ordinarily seen in an entire year. Other instances of teacher misconduct have included drunk driving and drug possession. So, are teachers violating their students’ trust more frequently or are the methods for reporting inappropriate relationships between teacher and student different than in the past? It is worth noting that the teachers accused of misconduct make up a small margin of the 150,000 K-12 teachers and administrators working in the state. Kristen Houser, Vice President of Communication for the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), Dr. Lou Manza, professor of psychology at Lebanon Valley College and Cathleen Palm of the Center for Children’s Justice will discuss the issue on Thursday’s Smart Talk.

Smart Talk | August 7, 2014 |

Within bounds of the law and decency, county and state
should share as much as they can on Jarrod Tutko case

As child welfare activist Cathleen Palm noted in these pages earlier this week, "protecting children is a shared community responsibility."

PennLive Editorial Board | August 6, 2014 |

After Jarrod Tutko's death,
some important questions must be answered ...

... Many times, when case workers are sent to a home to report on one child, they can be blind to what may be occurring throughout the rest of the house.

Cathleen Palm | The Center for Children's Justice | August 4, 2014 Read More...

Child advocates warn against unmonitored homeschooling

Less visibility often hides cases of abuse

“One of the most important ways that cycles of abuse stop, that kids get connected to investigations, is because someone makes a report,” said Cathleen Palm, founder of The Center for Children's Justice in Bernville

Kaitlynn Riely | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | July 27, 2014 Read More...

Stronger laws to be sought
in Mercer County starvation case

“We are far more tolerant than we should be with what we allow to happen to the child before there is a stiff penalty that would send a message to anyone who would think to do this,” Palm said.

By Aaron Aupperlee | July 21, 2014 |

Safety group: Falling furniture
a common problem with deadly consequences

“The degree to which children die is often not on people’s radars, particularly policymakers,” Palm said. She said they could do more to increase the sense of urgency around preventable child deaths.

By Ben Zigterman / The Times | July 17, 2014 | Read More...

Casey, Toomey introduce bills to aid abused children

By Tracie Mauriello / Post-Gazette Washington Bureau | May 15, 2014 | Read More...

Protecting kids from abuse
Pennsylvania is making progress, though there’s much more to do

By Mary Carrasco / Cathleen Palm | May 14, 2014 | Read More...

Lawmakers Broadening Their Focus
to Fight Against an Array of Sex Crimes

By Jennifer Steinhauer | April 21, 2014 |

WITF Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson talks with Cathleen Palm of the Center for Children's Justice about legislation that is designed to protect kids from abusers and predators.


Bill creating better tools in state's fight
against child sex abuse heads to Corbett

By Charles Thompson | |

Harm, but no foul at Susquehanna Township High School after sexual assault charges rattle district

By Donald Gilliland | |

Susquehanna Twp. School District administrator's reported inquiry showed "absence of skill set and sensitivity," child advocate says

By Julianne Mattera | |

Lynn's conviction overturned

Reporter's Roundtable |

Corbett Inks Post-Sandusky PA Child-Abuse Bills

By The Associated Press |

Pennsylvania child protection package lauded, but reporting
loopholes exposed by Sandusky scandal still need closure

By Charles Thompson |
on December 19, 2013 at 8:00 AM, updated December 20, 2013 at 1:13 AM | Read More...
Download this article in PDF format... ( 1.9MB )

Package of child-protection bills headed to Corbett

Angela Couloumbis, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
Last updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013, 2:01 AM
Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013, 7:58 PM |

Lessons From the Sandusky Case

Published: December 19, 2013 |

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