The list of individuals in Pennsylvania who must report suspected child abuse grew at the close of 2014 thanks to the state’s newly enacted child protection law and the University of Pittsburgh wants to help.
Along with expanding the universe of those who must report, the law, which went into effect Dec. 31, 2014, also changes the way suspected abuse is reported. In reaction, the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work began offering on-line training that lives up to the new mandates included in Act 31.
Among the “mandated reporters” are licensed professional health care workers, school employees and religious leaders. These reporters must complete a training program that teaches them how to identify child abuse, and how to report it.
Reportabusepa.pitt.edu is accessible to anyone 24 hours a day and the program can be completed in three hours.
“It’s not just a simple click through and get to the end, it’s actually interactive. So you’re answering some questions, you’re responding to some questions there, you actually have to engage in the process,” said Helen Cahalane, Pitt’s principal investigator of child welfare education and research programs.
The site was actually launched in anticipation of the enactment of the bill, which was passed and signed in April. Since the launch in November, 82,000 individuals have completed the training.
“People are really engaged in this process and there is an increased community awareness and response. Everybody is really on board with the fact that it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure that our kids are safe and protected, and that abuse needs to be reported and investigated,” said Cahalane.