Protect our Kids Act Clears House After Hearing

On December 12, 2012 The House Ways and Means Human Resources subcommittee held a hearing on child deaths, a follow up to a July 2011 hearing that explored the issue after a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report showed child deaths are underreported. During this most recent hearing, the committee members focused on fine tuning the Protect our Kids Act, which creates a national commission charged with making recommendations related to:

  • Effectiveness of services and best practices
  • Collection of accurate uniform data
  • Current barriers to preventing fatalities
  • Demographic trends and risk factors
  • Methods of prioritizing maltreatment prevention for families with the highest need
  • Methods of improving data collection

In her testimony, Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children’s Alliance, said that lack of standardized definitions must be addressed. She also listed some other barriers, such as the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act, which prevents the sharing of information about prior reports or siblings of deceased children. She said there are practical solutions that could be implemented.

Madeline McClure, founding and executive director of Texprotects, created a picture of the number of abused children by asking the subcommittee to picture nine famous sports stadium filled to capacity. She urged prevention, pointing out that one Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) is estimated to return over $6.00 for every $1.00 invested.

According to David Sanders, executive vice president of systems improvement at Casey Family Programs, most child deaths involve children unknown to the child welfare agency; therefore, child deaths must be treated as a public health issue. He also urged a preventative approach to reduce identified risk factors.

Bill Frenzel, a former member of Congress, gave the subcommittee advice on forming a commission. He said that presidential commissions often fail, and urged that Congress retain control over the commission created by the legislation.

According to acting chairman of the subcommittee Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) the costs associated with the legislation would be “very small.”

The Protect our Kids Act (H.R. 6655 ), which was introduced by full committee chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) and has bipartisan support passed the House Dec. 19, 2012.

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