Child Fatalities Commission Bill Heads to President’s Desk
National Children’s Alliance
With unanimous bipartisan support, the Senate passed the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 (H.R. 6655) on January 2, 2013. Supported by the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths (The Coalition), the Protect Our Kids Act creates a bipartisan, two-year Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, consisting of 12 members who will be appointed by the President and congressional leaders. The commission will study data on child fatalities from abuse and neglect, review current prevention methods and best practices, and evaluate the adequacy of current programs in order to recommend a comprehensive national strategy to reduce fatalities from child abuse and neglect.
Upon passage of H.R 6655, Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children’s Alliance, stated, “As a member of The Coalition, National Children’s Alliance is very pleased with all of the support in Congress for the Protect Our Kids Act and see the bill’s passage as a milestone in our collective goal of ending child abuse and neglect related deaths. We look forward to working with the commission to develop programs and strategies for combatting this national problem.”
Experts estimate that upwards of 2,000 children die from abuse and neglect each year, and nearly 82 percent of the victims are under the age of four. These preventable deaths are significantly underreported in the U.S., as there is no national standard for reporting this data.
In addition to advocacy from the Coalition, a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued in 2011 spurred the Act. The report called on the Department of Health & Human Services to “further strengthen data quality, expand available information on child fatalities, improve information sharing, and estimate the costs and benefits of collecting national data on near fatalities” in order to help prevent child fatalities nationwide.
At a recent House Ways & Means Committee hearing regarding the proposed passage of the Act, Teresa Huizar explained that “the overall rate of abuse has declined and the overall substantiated physical abuse appears to have declined, but what has not declined is the rate of child abuse fatalities or near fatalities that warranted emergency department treatment. The horrifying persistence of fatal child abuse despite the implementation of effective prevention and intervention measures for most other forms of abuse calls for a deeper examination of its causes and scope.”
The Coalition and its five member organizations believe that fatal and near-fatal child abuse and neglect is a preventable public health problem. With allies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children’s Advocacy Institute, and the American Psychological Association, the passage of the Protect our Kids Act is a bipartisan effort to prevent fatal child maltreatment. Supporters and cosponsors of the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 include 17 Representatives and 7 Senators.
Click here to view the press release from the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means announcing the passage of the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012.
About National Children’s Alliance:
National Children’s Alliance is the national association and accrediting body for the over 750 children’s advocacy centers serving each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Dedicated to helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient, and put the needs of child victims of abuse first, National Children’s Alliance provides support and advocacy to its accredited membership, as well as numerous developing centers, multidisciplinary teams and child abuse professionals around the country, and the world. As the national authority on multidisciplinary approaches to supporting child victims of abuse, the purpose of National Children’s Alliance is to empower local communities to provide comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to victims of child abuse. Founded in 1998, National Children’s Alliance provides accreditation opportunities, financial assistance, training, technical assistance, research and education to communities, child abuse professionals and children’s advocacy centers throughout the United States in support of child abuse intervention, advocacy and prevention. www.nationalchildrensalliance.org
About the National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths:
The National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths is comprised of five national organizations, formed in response to a collective concern about the escalating number of child maltreatment deaths across the country. The five organizations include the National Association of Social Workers, the National District Attorneys Association, National Children’s Alliance, the National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths, and Every Child Matters Education Fund.www.endchildabusedeaths.org