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Pennsylvania CPS News Archive

Pennsylvania News Coverage

by Mary Claire Dale

A mother of six whose infant son starved to death at a homeless shelter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on Tuesday. Tanya Williams had shown no emotion when paramedics found her emaciated, lifeless son alone on a bed, wearing only a diaper.

The jury also convicted Williams, 34, of the aggravated assault of the infant's surviving twin, who was found near death, and of child endangerment. It found Williams not guilty of first-degree murder but deadlocked on third-degree murder and the attempted murder of the twin.

May 21, 2013

by Sam Masters

An American judge known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom manner was jailed for 28 years for conspiring with private prisons to hand young offenders maximum sentences in return for kickbacks amounting to millions of dollars.

Mark Ciavarella Jnr was ordered to pay $1.2m in restitution after he was found to be a "figurehead" in the conspiracy that saw thousands of children unjustly punished in the name of profit in the case that became known as "kids for cash".

May 21, 2013

Mark Ciavarella Jr, a 61-year old former judge in Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison for literally selling young juveniles for cash.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has overturned some 4,000 convictions issued by him between 2003 and 2008, claiming he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles - including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Some of the juveniles he sentenced were as young as 10-years old.

May 21, 2013

by James Loewenstein

Misdemeanor charges were filed Monday against the director of Sullivan County Children & Youth Services and a caseworker for failing to report to a law enforcement agency a suspected incident of child abuse, police said.

Sullivan County Children & Youth Services director Lisa Kay Wilcox and Children & Youth Services caseworker Elaine Margaret Wich were notified on April 6, 2012, that a 13-year-old boy had allegedly had indecent contact with a five-year-old boy, state police at Laporte said. But as of Oct. 11, 2012, neither Wilcox nor Wich had notified the state police or the Sullivan County District Attorney's office of the incident, police said.

May 14, 2013

by Diane Fornbacher

Edward "Ed" Kenzakoski was a strong guy. He was an all-star wrestler going into his senior year at James M. Coughlin High School in Wilkes-Barre, PA and was actively scouted since 9th grade.

He was expecting to take the state title and hopefully the scholarships would follow. He had a fair amount of friends, and was a thoughtful young man who had a bit of a tough guy reputation because he was quiet and muscular in stature. Although he rarely let people in, he was very affected by the world and other people's feelings. Though he had some close friends from childhood, he cherished hiking with his dog and often told his mother he wanted to have his own island. His favorite outdoor sport was ice fishing, and when it was cold enough, that's where one would most likely find him.

April 18, 2013

by Steve Esack

A computer system that does not track child abuse complaints among counties. Hospital lawyers who keep doctors from sharing medical information on children they suspect are abuse victims. Low pay and high burnout for young, inexperienced social workers.

Those are three main reasons the training and laws governing how and when child abuse claims are handled need to be overhauled, according to Senate testimony Tuesday by members of the Pennsylvania Task Force on Child Protection. The Legislature started the 11-member task force to examine the state's patchwork of child protection laws after Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach, was arrested in 2011 on charges of sexually abusing children.

April 10, 2013

by Bill Lascek-Speakman

The Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia hosted area home-school students Tuesday to teach them about how Turkey Hill ice cream and tea products are made.

March 20, 2013

by Jill Whalen

Even though he called it a lofty goal, Serento Gardens President Ed Pane still hopes at least 5 percent of Luzerne County residents complete a child sexual abuse prevention program.

State lawmakers appear to feel similarly, judging by the number of child protection bills passed recently by the state House. And legislators are continuing to design laws to keep children safe from abuse and neglect, said state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Butler Township, a member of the House Committee on Children and Youth. In Hazleton, Serento Gardens introduced Stewards of Children, a national training program proven to reduce the number of child sex abuse cases in areas where it has been taught.

February 18, 2013

by Michael P. Buffer

Luzerne County officials are reconsidering a plan to outsource the supervision of foster care and kinship care to private providers after hearing objections from two state representatives and a Children and Youth Services supervisor.

State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, and state Rep. Tarah Toohil, R-Butler Township, are expected to address county council on Tuesday. "I feel very strongly about doing everything I can to prevent this very bad idea," Mundy said Thursday. The county Children and Youth agency has initiated a plan to eliminate the in-house units that supervise foster care and kinship care and would outsource all foster-care and kinship-care supervision to private providers.

November 30, 2012

by Melissa Daniels

While many Pennsylvania lawmakers have publicized their desire to see changes to child protection laws, the question is how long that process is going to take. 10:00 am

The state's Task Force on Child Protection released a much-awaited report on Tuesday, recommending essentially a re-write of the Child Protective Services Law. That includes redefining what behavior constitutes child abuse, as well as expanding who is required to report suspected child abuse under the law.

November 30, 2012

The Task Force on Child Protection, which was created by the Pennsylvania General Assembly and Gov. Tom Corbett, has issued a report recommending several changes to the existing laws governing child abuse.

The report also calls for upgrading some crimes and adding new offenses, transforming the way information about child abuse is handled and maintained, how crimes are investigated, and how people who are responsible for the well-being of children are trained.

November 30, 2012

by Harry Funk

A Moon Township woman accused of producing child pornography waived her right to a preliminary hearing Friday in Coraopolis. Pamela Smallis, 50 who has residences listed in Moon and Oakdale, faces a formal arraignment Jan. 3.

She is charged with 34 counts of sexual abuse of children; 16 counts of unlawful contact with a minor; five counts of sexual exploitation of children; five counts of endangering the welfare of children; five counts of corruption of minors; and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

November 17, 2012

by Emily Thiel

The Bucks County agency for Children and Youth Social Services assisted with 47 adoptions during the 2011 - 12 fiscal year, five of whom were children ages 12 - 18.

"Every child deserves a loving and nurturing home," said Commissioner Chair Robert Loughery. Loughery shared there are currently 14 adoptions that have been filed with the courts and are awaiting finalization dates.

November 8, 2012

by Jake Blumgart

Powered by millions of dollars in big-pharma marketing in recent years, HPV - the human papillomavirus, most commonly associated with causing cervical cancer - has jumped to the forefront of public-health concerns for young women.

Vaccines are distributed at doctors' offices and at little or no cost at community health centers and Planned Parenthood, and women under 27 are urged to partake. For young men, though, it's a different story. Access to the vaccine has been relatively limited - as I found out the hard way - and its importance has been under-recognized. But the city of Philadelphia is taking steps to change that with "3 for Me," a recently launched city vaccine program for teens. It could be a game-changer, especially for men - if only anyone knew about it.

October 22, 2012

HARRISBURG - The Department of Public Welfare will be participating in a new federal project that will invest child welfare dollars into preventative and intervention services for almost half of the state's at-risk children and families.

Allegheny, Dauphin, Lackawanna, Philadelphia and Venango counties were selected to participate in the project, representing 45 percent of all Pennsylvania children in placement. In the past, the department was limited to how the funds were used and distributed for child welfare services. This project will give these five counties flexibility to use funds to assess children's and family's needs, as well as develop and expand effective services.

October 12, 2012

by Angela Liddle

Just as 9/11 flipped the switch about how our country viewed protecting our homeland, so has the Jerry Sandusky scandal flipped a switch about how we think about child abuse.

Most of us have wondered how a person could prey on children. Many of us have proclaimed without equivocation what we would have done given the opportunity. The artificial situations we create in our minds are never as messy as real life, though, and often we fail to realize how much we don't know about the complexity of our state's Child Protective Services Law and the dynamics that accompany child abuse and neglect.

October 5, 2012

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Pennsylvania lawyers are teaming up to educate the public about reporting suspected child abuse.

The state bar association and 36 county bar associations announced a campaign Monday that focuses on the Child Protective Services Law and how people can alert authorities to suspected abuse.

October 1, 2012

by Upi - United Press International, Inc.

A Philadelphia toddler's mother was ticketed when her potty-training son urinated on the street.

Caroline Robboy said she was shopping with her 2-year-old son, Nathaniel, and other family members Sunday when the boy said he needed to go to the bathroom. Robboy asked an employee at the store to use a bathroom and was told the facilities weren't open to the public. As the family was leaving the store, Nathaniel took matters into his own hands, walking up to a light post and doing his business. A police officer watching the family came over and wrote Robboy a ticket, which also came with a parenting lecture.

Personal Liberty Alerts

September 14, 2012

LEBANON -- Home schooling families around Lebanon County annually dedicate time, energy and money to educating.

Unlike families who choose private schools -- who also do not receive government aid -- home-school families often sacrifice the income of one parent, who becomes their children's primary instructor, in addition to the cost of buying books, taking classes outside the home and a variety of other education-related expenses. Campbelltown resident Jim Panyard, the retired president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association and a home-school father, says that the schooling choice requires great sacrifices on an ongoing basis.

August 18, 2012

by Carolyn Davis

Danieal Kelly's starvation death in 2006 set off waves of change at the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.

The latest promises to reshape the agency like no other reform has, giving private groups more control over the cases of abused and neglected children. DHS has unveiled a program called Improving Outcomes for Children that puts neighborhood-based contractors in charge of managing cases.

August 9, 2012

by Tom Yerace

New Kensington sits in Westmoreland County but the state welfare office there might soon provide full services only to Allegheny County residents.

The department told the 26 caseworkers handling the Westmoreland County cases they would be moved to the welfare office in Greensburg. If that is the case, it would indicate that Westmoreland County residents who use the office, many of them living within two miles and some just blocks away, will have to travel to the welfare office in Greensburg, about 28 miles away, to get the same full level of services.

August 9, 2012

by Bonnie L. Cook

State officials have arrested two caseworkers from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare's Darby Borough office and charged them with stealing nearly $300,000 in public assistance funds in separate schemes.

The two were identified as Cynthia A. Lewis, 47, of Oxford Street, Lansdowne, and Ivan Jones, 43, of the 1400 block of South Etting Street, said Attorney General Linda Kelly.

August 3, 2012

by Robert J. Vickers

Inflamed by the damning Freeh Report on Penn State and the crippling sanctions handed down by the NCAA, lawmakers are baying for changes to state laws on two fronts.

Lawmakers say a priority is to better protect children from sexual predators. Some also say that legislators have a rare window to impose greater transparency on state-related universities. Officials at the state Office of Open Records, which enforces Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law, champion greater transparency for the state-related schools — Penn State, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln and Temple universities. But they decline to advocate the degree of that transparency.

July 31, 2012

by Michael Volpe

Jim Singer, said that he reported a case of child molestation in 1986 to Pennsylvania's Child Protective Services agency, and not only was his report ignored, but soon after, the Pennsylvania Psychology Board removed his license to practice psychology.

In 1986, Singer was working as a psychologist at the Dubois Regional Medical Center in Dubois, Pa. During a session with a female teenage patient, Singer said the patient revealed to him that she was being sexually abused by her father. Upon having two more medical professionals confirm this, Singer said that he reported the abuse to the state's Child Protective Services agency.

July 30, 2012

by Bonnie Cook

Montgomery Bar Association's Women in the Law Committee and the county's Office of Children and Youth are collecting school supplies for children in foster care.

From now until August 14, new school supplies and book bags can be dropped off at the Montgomery Bar Association between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

July 26, 2012

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