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Making a Difference

Changing the System in the Wake of Sandusky

When the tragic sexual abuse of boys by Jerry Sandusky was revealed, the Field Center experts took action. Our team completed an in-depth analysis of Pennsylvania’s child abuse reporting laws and compiled recommendations for change. Federal and state legislators and other stakeholders sought out the Field Center’s opinions, and were invited to testify about recommended reforms before the PA Task Force on Child Protection in Harrisburg. The Field Center was asked the host to Task Force’s first community-based public hearing.

Join Dean Richard Gelles and Debra Schilling Wolfe, Executive Director as they discuss possible legislation changes in the wake of the Sandusky tragedy.

The Importance of Purpose

Refining Definitions

Practical Solutions

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Technology to Prevent Tragedies

Danieal Kelly, a 14-year old child with cerebral palsy, died in her mother’s home from profound neglect, wasting away to only 42 pounds. Nine different people were criminally charged with contributing to her death, including public and private agency staff that were supposed to be providing in-home services and monitoring Danieal’s safety. Required visits to see Danieal were not carried out and no one above the level of caseworker knew that Danieal had not been seen until it was too late. The Field Center has been at the forefront of bringing cutting-edge technology to child welfare so that home visits are tracked, photos of the conditions of children are taken and uploaded each and every month, and supervisors are alerted if a home visit has not been made.

Learning from the Past, Changing the Future

A local child welfare agency, concerned that one young child in the family died under suspicious circumstances, asked the Field Center’s Interdisciplinary Evaluation Clinic to advise them on planning for the remaining children, 3-year-old Simone and 10-month-old Javier. The Field Center’s team of experts made specific recommendations addressing risk, critical medical care, and long term planning for these very young children, who are in the process of being adopted by a loving family.

Child Abuse Across State Lines

Eight-year old Mary Ellen confided in her pediatrician that when she went to visit relatives in Ohio for the holidays, her uncle sexually abused her. When the doctor called the Ohio child welfare agency to make a report, they were unable to accept the report or investigate the allegations because Mary Ellen was a resident of Pennsylvania. Yet, Pennsylvania refused to investigate the alleged abuse because it happened in another state. Alarmed that such cases were falling through the cracks, the Field Center has been working to assure that no report of child abuse does uninvestigated because it crosses state lines.

The Field Center at Penn

The Field Center makes its mark at the University of Pennsylvania and its School of Social Policy & Practice.  Listen to SP2 Board of Overseers member Dr. Betsy Schur Levy, C’80 interviewing Field Center Executive Director Debra Schilling Wolfe.

Listen now >