ACT 126 – Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Act
On December 18, 2013, Governor Corbett signed Act 120 of 2013 (SB 34), which made significant changes to the Educator Discipline Act. Those changes, which became effective
February 18, 2014, include enhanced mandatory reporting requirements. There have also been significant changes to the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) that greatly impact mandated
reporters. As a result of these new laws, PDE suspended the approval of all Act 126 child abuse and reporting trainings previously approved for Act 48 credit until all pertinent Acts
were passed. All Acts impacting Act 126 training are now passed. As a result, vendors previously approved by PDE to deliver Act 126 training for Act 48 credit must review the new Acts,
revise their presentations based on the information provided in the Acts and resubmit their scripts and other training materials to PDE for re-approval as an Act 126 provider. Once the
resubmitted course is reviewed and approved, the provider will again be listed on the site as an approved Act 48 provider for Act 126. A list of all Acts that impact Act 126 training
is provided as a reference.
Any training completed
prior to the changes in the Child Protective Services laws or the Educator
Discipline Act counts toward the Act 126 requirement. PDE strongly
recommends that training in the updated laws be provided as the changes
significantly impact practices on both areas: Child Recognition and Reporting
and Educator Discipline.
Section 1205.6 (a) (4) of Act 126 states if a school entity awards professional education (Act 48) credit to certificated professionals the trainer must be one approved by The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and The Department of Public Welfare (DPW). According to the law, if you are not going to give Act 48 credit you may use any other trainer to deliver the training.
In accordance with the requirements of Act 126, PDE with DPW review Act 126 training courses submitted by various providers. These courses are mainly online and the providers may charge a fee for their courses. The Department’s Office for Safe Schools has a Frequently Asked Question section about the Act's requirements which is posted on the office's webpage.
A school entity may have staff attend a "train-the-trainer" session so that they can have their own internal qualified trainer. This would give the school flexibility in conducting trainings. The method a school entity uses to accomplish the required act 126 training hours is the school entity’s decision.
The following information outlines the requirements of the Act:
- The Act was effective January 1, 2013. That is the start date for first the 5 year training cycle requirement.
- Any Child Abuse Recognition training that a school employee or contractor has participated in starting in July 1, 2012 is acceptable for inclusion of the three (3) hour training requirement.
- Both PDE and the DPW recommend that all current school employees and contractors obtain the Child Abuse Recognition training portion of the Act as soon as reasonably possible in order to avoid potential legal issues.
- Each school entity must augment the training with a session to all school employees and contractors outlining the district's policy on child abuse.
- PDE is currently working with the Legal Counsel Professional Standards and Practices Commission that handles educator misconduct/disciplinary actions to develop a one hour online course on the provisions of the Act of December 12, 1973 known as the " Educator Discipline Act" and to make it available, at no cost, to each school employee and contractor.
Training must address, but not be limited to, the following topics:
- Recognition of the signs of abuse and sexual misconduct and reporting requirements for suspected abuse and sexual misconduct in this Commonwealth.
- Provisions of the Act of December 12, 1973 (P.L.397, No.141), known as the "Educator Discipline Act," including mandatory reporting requirements. This Act was revised in February, 2014 and enhances many aspects of the Act.
- The school entity's policies related to reporting of suspected abuse and sexual misconduct.
- Maintenance of professional and appropriate relationships with students.