Bipartisan legislation to improve reporting child abuse deaths, helping prevent future fatalities

Bipartisan legislation to improve reporting child abuse deaths, helping prevent future fatalities
U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

WASHINGTON, D.C.. (KFVS) - U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced bipartisan legislation called the Child Abuse Deaths Disclosure Act. This act would require states to report data on all child-abuse related deaths and develop recommendations to prevent child abuse deaths from occurring in the first place.

The bill would provide policy-makers and public health officials with a clearer picture of the number of child abuse fatalities. This will allow states to collect important data to better assess when and why child abuse fatalities occur.

It is also supported by child advocacy organizations, including the National Children’s Alliance, Child Welfare League of America, Children’s Advocacy Institute, Within Our Reach, and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.

“We have an obligation to do all we can to keep children safe,” said Blunt. “Having a complete and accurate understanding of the circumstances surrounding every child abuse-related death will give policymakers, law enforcement, and public health officials the information they need to prevent these heinous deaths.”

“The only way we can prevent more of these tragic deaths is if we get an accurate picture of the problem and treat child abuse prevention like the public health issue that it is. That is why we must get an accurate picture of the problem and tailor our response to meet the needs of families in Ohio and around the country,” said Brown.

“Synergy Services is pleased to support Sen. Blunt’s continued efforts to advance the protection of children,” said Gwen O’Brien, Director of Advocacy and Prevention, Synergy Services. “Strengthening the national data on child maltreatment fatalities and implementing annual reviews of this information are critical steps in informing best practices and policies to eliminate child maltreatment fatalities. It is our hope that legislation such as the Child Abuse Deaths Disclosure Act will support the initiatives already in place in Missouri to improve accurate identification and classifications, identify risk factors, assess systemic factors at or near the time of the child’s death, and develop prevention strategies to eliminate child maltreatment fatalities.”

The National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) estimated that approximately 1,720 children died from abuse and neglect in 2017.

The federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF) indicated in its final report that NCANDS data does not fully capture all of the child abuse fatalities and recommended reforms.

These reforms included improved data collection, inter-agency collaboration, increased funding to child welfare programs, and the development of a standard definition of “child maltreatment fatality.”

The Child Abuse Deaths Disclosure Act would:

  • Require states to develop a multidisciplinary team to annually examine the circumstances of all child abuse related deaths. They would report case specific information to the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention. The task-force would also develop recommendations to prevent child abuse deaths and submit an annual report to state and federal officials to publish on a national public website.
  • Require Health and Human Services Department to consult with state and local officials, child welfare practitioners, pediatricians, public health officials, and law enforcement. They will develop a national standard definition related to child abuse deaths or child maltreatment fatalities.
  • Promote training on child maltreatment fatalities for child death review teams to address disparities in treatment by officials or outcomes in child maltreatment fatalities based on race or culture in order to encourage best practices.

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