In keeping with her ongoing interest in child protection and safety, Speaker-designee of the House Sam Smith (R-Jefferson/Indiana/Armstrong) has selected Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th) to serve as House Children and Youth Committee chairman where she will continue to advocate for the well-being of Pennsylvania’s children.
“I am very honored to be given the chance to help strengthen Pennsylvania’s laws when it comes to the well-being of our children,” said Watson. “Sadly, cases of physical and sexual abuse of children have captured far too many headlines, and as a result, it is time that we take a look at our current laws and update them for our ever-changing world. After all, our greatest asset is our children, and we must do everything that we can to protect them.”
In addition to child protection and child welfare issues, the House Children and Youth Committee addresses issues related to child day care services, infant/child/mother health issues, juvenile delinquency, adolescent and teen problems, and adoption and foster care.
Watson is hopeful that in addition to the major policy initiatives of transportation funding, pension reform and the budget for the 2013-14 legislative session, that child protection is at the top of the agenda.
Specifically, Watson will lead the committee’s review and consideration of numerous recommendations made late last month by the Task Force on Child Protection, which included ways to improve Pennsylvania’s child welfare system.
“The task force’s recommendation is a great blueprint for us in helping to make sure that our laws protect children in the best ways possible,” Watson said. “However, I expect that our committee members and legislators from around the Commonwealth will have many ideas on how we can make things better for children and help make them safer. It’s our job to do the right thing.”
Watson has considerable experience in protection issues as a long-time member of the House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee, where she worked to ensure accountability and safety at long-term care facilities, and on the House Transportation Committee, where she authored updates to the state’s teen driver law and led the House’s efforts to ban texting while driving.
Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler, who led the Task Force on Child Protection, believes Watson is a natural choice to lead this committee at this crucial time.
“Representative Watson is one of the most down-to-earth and astute people I can think of to deal with children’s issues in a caring and realistic way. She has demonstrated her commitment with various priorities in the past, including her long and ultimately successful fight to protect young drivers and their passengers,” Heckler said. “Having seen the hard work and commitment of my task force members in producing a far-reaching set of proposals to protect this Commonwealth’s children, I couldn’t be happier that someone as tenacious, thoughtful and committed as Kathy Watson will be in a key position to bring our proposals to life.”