Tag Archives: Better Laws

Better Record Keeping To Combat Child Abuse

.jpg photo of New Hampshire Police Officer
N.H. Senate considering bills to better protect Children

Senate committee considers bills designed
to combat child abuse, neglect

“Proposals would keep records of alleged abuses longer, extend time frame in custody”

CONCORD, N.H.  –  A trio of bills aimed at protecting New Hampshire’s abused and neglected children got a favorable reception from a Senate committee on Tuesday, though the chairman questioned whether one measure would give police and state workers too much access to sensitive information.

The Health and Human Services Committee held public hearings on bills that would require the Division of Children, Youth and Families to keep records on file for longer periods of times, would give police and DCYF workers more time to prepare for initial court hearings after children are removed from homes, and would allow DCYF and police to access a child’s medical records once an investigation is underway.

Those bills, along with another that is up for a vote on Thursday, were developed by the Commission on Child Abuse Fatalities, a group of lawmakers, state officials and advocates.

DCYF has faced increased scrutiny since the deaths of two toddlers. Sadence Willott, 21 months, of Manchester, died Sept. 6, and her mother has since been charged with second-degree murder.  In Nashua, Katlyn Marin is charged with beating her 3-year-old daughter, Brielle Gage, to death in November 2014.

Rebecca Ross, a senior assistant attorney general and member of the commission, said together, the four bills aim to bridge the gaps between law enforcement, medical providers and the child protection system.

“What we need is more communication and more resources and tools to make sure everyone has accurate information” to do their jobs, she said.

The committee chairman, state Sen. Andy Sanborn (R), of Bedford, questioned whether the third bill was necessary, because investigators already can get a child’s medical records by going to court and getting a warrant.

But the bill’s supporters, including several police officers who testified, said that can take a long time, particularly if a judge decides to review the records before granting access.  In most cases, a parent will grant access to the records, but that is not the case when the parent may be the abuser.

“I think we would use this fairly sparingly, when the suspects are guardians who are denying us the records,” said Lt. Nicole Ledoux, who supervises the juvenile unit at the Manchester Police Department.  “There is no other crime I can think of where the perpetrator controls the evidence that may help you determine what happened to the victim.”

Under the first bill, reports deemed unnecessary to investigate would be kept for seven years instead of one, reports deemed unfounded after an investigation would be kept for 10 years instead of three, and reports deemed credible would be kept indefinitely instead of for seven years.

Sanborn suggested that records should be destroyed after a child turns 18, but supporters of the bill noted that the goal is be able to see potential patterns of abuse.  The records could help an abused child bring civil claims against an abuser once he or she becomes an adult, they said, or could help prevent a grandparent who abused his or her children from later being given custody of a grandchild.

State Sen. David Boutin, a Hooksett Republican, and chairman of the commission that wrote the bills, called them critical steps toward making the state safer for children.

“I think we wish we could all wave a wand and this problem would go away, but that’s not possible,” he said.

KY AG Candidate Beshear Releases Child Abuse Prevention Plan

.jpg photo of Attorney General Candidate
Kentucky Attorney General Candidate Andy Beshear

KENTUCKY – Attorney General candidate Andy Beshear releases a seven-point plan to combat child abuse in Kentucky. The full plan, Preventing Child Abuse In Kentucky: A Seven-Point Plan, highlights Beshear’s commitment to protecting Kentucky children and families and ending the child abuse epidemic in Kentucky.

“As Attorney General, my mission will be to end Kentucky’s child abuse epidemic so that every child can grow up in a safe and secure environment,” said Beshear. “Kentucky has one of the highest physical child abuse and child abuse death rates in the country. As a father of two young children, I cannot live with this reality. It’s time to make preventing child abuse a priority for leaders across our country, and especially right here in Kentucky. I am committed to ending this epidemic and if elected, I will work with anyone, Democrat or Republican, to implement my seven-point plan and make Kentucky a safer place for our children.”

A summary of the central proposals can be found below, and the full plan is available here.

Create a Child Abuse and Exploitation Division: The Child Abuse and Exploitation Division will bring together specially trained investigators, prosecutors, and policy experts with vast experience in combatting child abusers and helping victims. The Division will work with local prosecutors and law enforcement on a statewide mission to vigorously and aggressively prosecute child abusers, sexual predators, and human traffickers.

Expand use of latest technology to combat abusers: We will work to expand Kentucky’s use of technology to identify and keep abusers out of our childcare industry so that every entity has the tools and data they need to ensure no abuser is able to outwit the system and slip through the cracks.

Regulate all sectors of our childcare industry: Currently, Kentucky law does not regulate caretakers in certain groups, such as summer camps, that care for thousands of Kentucky children each year. We need to extend Kentucky law and regulation to all portions of our childcare industry so that all our children are protected.

Integrate our non-profits’ ideas into state policy: Our regulations should adopt best practices that have been created and tested by our most effective non-profits. The Child Abuse And Exploitation Division will work to coordinate non-profit efforts to ensure we maximize our combined efforts.

Require participation in STARS program and better monitor day cares: Currently, the STARS program is only voluntary for day care providers that do not receive childcare assistance funds from the state. By mandating that all Kentucky day care providers participate in the STARS program, we can better monitor our day cares to ensure quality child programs are in place.

Conduct a thorough review of foster care system: We will push the state Legislature to conduct a top to bottom study of our foster care system that compares our current guidelines and procedures with best practices so we can make any necessary changes so that foster children can live without fear of abuse.

Promote good parenting: The number one way we can protect our children is through good parenting, which provides a safe, healthy, and nurturing home environment. Promoting good parenting will be a top goal of the Attorney General’s Office, which will be achieved by working with community organizations that aim to help strengthen families across Kentucky.

Throughout the campaign, Beshear will release additional plans that highlight his commitment to protecting Kentucky children and families.