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PA Legislator Pushes For Increased Children's Advocacy Centers Funding

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Specialized child abuse treatment facilities in Pennsylvania could get a boost if one lawmaker's long-advocated proposal gets traction this year. State Representative Julie Harhart (R-Lehigh) said the 21 Children's Advocacy Centers in the commonwealth need more funding, judging by the rate of reported child abuse.

"Just in 2011 there were over 3,400 substantiated cases of child abuse in Pennsylvania, and over 50% of the child abuse cases, which the Department of Public Welfare classified as substantiated, classified as sexual abuse," Harhart said.

The advocacy centers have a variety of staff on hand to assist children who may have suffered physical or sexual abuse. The state has 13 accredited centers, and eight more in development.

"It's a one-stop shop for the tiniest victims of crime," Harhart said. "A Child Advocacy Center brings together doctors, nurses, prosecutors, social workers, and police in order to provide a unique, essential program of treatment and healing."

State Representative Ron Marsico (R-Dauphin) chairs the House Judiciary Committee, which is holding a hearing on the proposal. He's offering an amendment to fund the Children's Advocacy Centers with an increased fee on child abuse background checks, –something he's sure will rankle groups required to check the abuse history of new employees.