Oct 17 2007
Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate today approved by voice vote an amendment to the Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to provide the funds needed to start the federal government’s process of creating a national registry on child abuse.
The Feinstein-Kyl amendment approved today provides $500,000 for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a feasibility study on the creation of a National Registry of Substantiated Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect. The amendment also requires the HHS Secretary to report to the Congress on the results of that feasibility study within one year.
“The problems of child abuse and neglect are serious, and deserve a serious solution,” Senator Feinstein said. “Congress took an important step forward by passing the Adam Walsh Act. Now it is time to ensure that the law has the necessary funding to enact its principles.”
“No child abuser should escape prosecution simply because he or she has crossed a state line. We need a national registry on child abuse to track abusive adults wherever they may go in the country and to protect the children they encounter at each stop.”
“Congress instructed the Department of Health and Human Services to implement the national child abuse registry as mandated by the Adam Walsh Act – a law enacted over a year ago,” Senator Kyl said. “The amendment approved today will ensure that this registry finally gets off the ground.”
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 was 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 more than a year after the bill was signed into law, the Department of Health and Human Services has not taken any steps to create such a registry. The Department has stated that the registry has not been created because there have been no funds provided to complete a feasibility study.
This registry would be a vital resource for child protection authorities. Currently, each state collects information on substantiated case of abuse and neglect. But once an investigation is underway, adult perpetrators of child abuse or neglect need only move to another state to escape prosecution. Because of the lack of a national registry to track perpetrators, children may never escape abuse in their own home and offending day care providers and foster parents may find new victims elsewhere. The National Child Abuse and Neglect Registry would help close this troubling loophole.