In an attempt to prevent child deaths that result from abuse and neglect, Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, have introduced the bipartisan Protect Our Kids Act, along with companion legislation by Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas. The National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths, of which NASW is an active member, advocated for the introduction of the legislation through its ongoing efforts.
According to Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Foundation’s Social Work Policy Institute, the coalition has consistently met with members of Congress to voice the need for providing better responses to help prevent the maltreatment of children and child deaths, as well as to have a better system in place to collect data on the scope of child abuse deaths. The coalition has been working with the offices of Kerry and Collins on the issue for several years, Zlotnik said.
The focus of the Protect Our Kids Act is to create a national commission to study the problem in greater depth, she said. Recommendations can be made based on the results of the findings.
“As a society we must pay more attention to preventing child abuse and neglect,” Zlotnik said. “Our nation needs to have a holistic response. Many child abuse fatalities occur for children who are unknown to the child welfare system, but someone sees them at risk. We need to have better public education and
understanding of what the risk factors are; we need to have training of those persons who are mandated to report child abuse and neglect.”
Organizations that have endorsed the legislation include NASW; National Children’s Alliance; National District Attorneys Association; Every Child Matters Education Fund; National Center for the Review and Prevention of Child Deaths; American Professional Society for the Abuse of Children; Child Welfare League of America; Children’s Advocacy Institute; The Center for Public Policy Priorities; Prevent Child Abuse America; First Star; and National Child Protection Training Center.