HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — On Thursday, Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller encouraged Pennsylvania families during the back-to-school season to consider taking proactive steps to keep kids safe in their home environments and reminded all Pennsylvanians that the responsibility to protect children from abuse and neglect belongs to each of us.
Many, many thousands of Pennsylvania children are going back to school, but not yet back to the classroom. While necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, remote learning is a fundamental shift in daily life for many families that has potentially significant implications for children.
This is an important opportunity for Pennsylvania families to very deliberately consider the environment of their child’s education, as there can be potential dangers for children even in our own homes.Secretary Teresa Miller
DHS is responsible for oversight of Pennsylvania’s county-run child welfare system through the Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF), which also administers statewide programs like ChildLine, Pennsylvania’s child-abuse reporting hotline.
OCYF also analyzes child fatality and near-fatality data and identifies trends to inform the work of developing a policy that can prevent tragedies.
OCYF Deputy Secretary Jon Rubin reminded Pennsylvania families to ensure that their home environments are as safe for children as possible. Specifically, families should consider gun and gun storage safety; pool and water safety; safe storage of medication and other dangerous substances; and potential fall/heights hazards.
Taking proactive, deliberate action now can prevent accidental tragedies in the future. We want Pennsylvania families to go into the 2020-21 school year with the peace of mind that they’ve carefully considered the environment of their child’s education and taken necessary steps to keep them safe in that environment.Secretary Jon Rubin
Secretary Miller also reminded Pennsylvanians that we all share the responsibility of protecting children in our communities from abuse and neglect.
DHS administers ChildLine, which is a 24/7 hotline available to anyone concerned for the safety or well-being of a child. To report a concern, call 1-800-932-0313. Pennsylvanians can learn more about the signs of potential abuse at www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov.