News Archives:

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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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