The Friday before the holiday break was an important day as Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced a bipartisan bill that would establish a commission to develop a national strategy for reducing child abuse fatalities. Called the "Protect Our Kids Act", the bill would create a special task force dedicated to reducing child abuse and neglect in America. According to Baucus, more than 15,000 children have died due to abuse and neglect, though the numbers could be higher.
- “We don't have clear facts because currently, there is no national standard for collecting data on these young victims,” Baucus said when introducing the bill. “Many state child protection agencies do not share vital data and statistics with other agencies, officials or law enforcement. Clearly, more must be done to better protect our nation's children. More must be done to protect them from the fear and terror of abuse, especially when the threat to their safety often comes from those that should cherish them the most. We need to bring this issue out of the shadows.”
The plan is for the task force created under S. 3705 to be made up of child welfare administrators, researchers, law enforcement and other experts with the expressed goal of studying and evaluating federal, state and private child welfare systems and develop a comprehensive national strategy to prevent and reduce the deaths of children being abused.
- Seriously missing in the reporting of this announcement is any mention of representation of parents on this commission. The Children's Mental Health Network is calling on all family advocates to get involved with this. Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) are co-sponsoring the bill, so you know who to call. You can find their contact information on our legislative advocacy page.
- Read the article about this bill in thehill.com
- Since we all know there will be the inevitable clamor to participate on the task force, the words of Bill Frenzel, former US congressman, in his testimony to the Ways and Means Committee on the establishment and structure of the commission, provide some words of wisdom worth reading.