Press Releases

Senators Feinstein, Kyl, Lott, Dole and Boxer Call for Explanation of Failure by HHS to Establish National Registry on Child Abuse

- Ten months after Congress and President authorize registry, no progress made -

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) today sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt seeking an explanation of the Department’s failure to establish a national registry on child abuse more than nine months after its creation was authorized. 

 The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, signed into law in July 2006, authorized the creation of the National Registry of Substantiated Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect.  The registry is intended to assist child protection authorities in tracking parents, foster parents, day care providers, and others who cross state lines to avoid prosecution for child abuse and neglect.  However, it appears that in the following nine months, the Department of Health and Human Services has made no plans to create such a registry. 

The following is the text of the letter to Secretary Leavitt:
May 1, 2008

The Honorable Michael O. Leavitt
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
615 F St. S.W.
Washington D.C. 20201
Dear Mr. Secretary:
As you are aware, the Congress passed and the President signed in July of 2006 the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, hailed by National Center for Missing and Exploited Children founder John Walsh, as ‘the toughest pieces of child protection legislation to pass Congress in 25 years’ to keep America’s children safe.
In addition to enacting longer sentences, cracking down on child pornography, expanding the definition of sex offenders, and providing law enforcement more tools for dealing with solicitations of children over the Internet, the law also established two national registries. 
The first registry, located at the Department of Justice, requires the establishment of a National Sex Offender Registry, which tracks details on convicted sex offenders and makes the information electronically available to authorities in all jurisdictions and even to the public at large. This Registry is up and running.
The second registry authorized by this new law was the National Registry of Substantiated Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect, which is directed to be located at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. This registry is a very different, but vital resource intended for use by child protection authorities only.  Each state already collects information on substantiated case of abuse and neglect, but once an investigation is underway, adult perpetrators of violence or neglect upon children in their own care need only move to another state to escape prosecution.  In this way children may never escape abuse in their own home, and offending day care providers and foster parents may easily find new victims elsewhere.  The National Child Abuse and Neglect Registry is supposed to help close this troubling loophole.
Much to our disappointment, it has been brought to our attention that your Department has not taken even the first step in establishing this registry, and in fact has informed inquiring agencies that there are no funds to establish the registry and further that there are no plans to have the Department request needed funds from Congress.
We would like to receive a report from you at your earliest opportunity outlining why the law is being ignored and why, when Congress and the President announced that this registry would be established, your Department apparently has no plans to do so.

Senator Dianne Feinstein      Senator Jon Kyl
Senator Trent Lott                    Senator Elizabeth Dole
Senator Barbara Boxer