HARRISBURG – As one of the strongest child-protection advocates in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne) plans to introduce legislation to create a special state commission that would make recommendations for improving Pennsylvania’s child welfare system.
Specifically, the proposed commission would be made up of 17 members from the legislative, executive and judicial branches of state government. The so-called Interbranch Commission on the Child Welfare System would conduct investigations and recommend changes to child protection laws through legislation or by rule.
“This body would be patterned after the Interbranch Commission for Juvenile Justice, which did an outstanding job of investigating deficiencies in the juvenile justice system that contributed to the Kids-for-Cash scandal in Luzerne County,” said Toohil. “That commission developed an extensive series of reform recommendations, the majority of which were implemented.”
Toohil pointed to the Grace Packer case as a tragic example of why such a commission is needed in Pennsylvania. The 14-year-old Montgomery County girl was raped, murdered and dismembered in 2016 by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, who dumped the body in Luzerne County.
“During Grace’s short life, she had multiple contacts with the Department of Human Service and children and youth systems that should have protected her. Her case is a grim example of what happens when a child falls through the cracks,” added Toohil.
Toohil expects the legislation to be formally introduced in the coming weeks.
Representative Tarah Toohil
116th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office