PA Abuse/Neglect Registry Task Force

PA Abuse/Neglect Registry Task Force

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The Office of Developmental Programs (ODP) has taken the lead in creating a task force to develop recommendations for legislation supporting an Abuse and Neglect Registry in Pennsylvania. This group was formed due to the concern that care-dependent adults with disabilities and older adults are highly vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Carol Ferenz, IDD Division Director at RCPA, has been appointed as RCPA’s representative, along with representatives from ODP, OLTL, OMHSAS, DHS general council,

PDA, OCYF, Senate and House Human Services staff, Temple Institute on Protective Services, National Adult Protective Services, Autism Connection, Vision for Equality, Arc of PA, Disability Rights PA, Speaking for Ourselves, Self-Advocates United as 1, PA Association of County Administrators, PAR, and The Provider Alliance.

When abuse/neglect occurs, a substantial gap in preventing recurrence is that, even in serious cases of substantiated abuse/neglect in PA’s Adult Protective Services (APS) or Older Adult Protective Services (OAPS), unless there is a successful criminal prosecution, the responsible caregiver is not prevented from employment at another agency, obtaining guardianship of an individual, or volunteering in agencies supporting individuals with disabilities. In Pennsylvania, without a criminal conviction, there is no mechanism to identify or track caregivers who abuse or neglect the individuals they look after, because PA does not maintain a registry of caregivers who have abused or neglected individuals in their care.

The task force was charged with the following objectives:

  1. Outline desirable parameters for a registry (PS populations, types of caregivers, bar for inclusion);
  2. Analysis of challenges for implementation; and
  3. Provide recommendations for implementation of a Caregiver Abuse/Neglect Registry in PA.

The proposed timeframe for completion is October 2022.

It is recognized that there are several challenges that must be considered, such as the fact that there is no statutory authority for a registry and there must be a process to address appeal rights for caregivers. Additionally, current investigations for APS only substantiate that abuse/neglect occurred, but not responsible person(s) as well as the implications and interface between CPSL, APS, and OAPS.

This registry will require the development of an infrastructure, revision of investigatory processes, and IT changes to support collection of new investigatory information. There will be a need for policy, procedures, and IT to support assignment of — and database for — unique identifiers for all DSPs/DCWs; and of course, there will be a fiscal impact.

Several other states have implemented a similar registry, including New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, and Ohio. The group has reviewed information from those existing policies as well as current policies in PA with Children and Youth services.

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