Abused children at center of new Delaware law

Delaware’s newest law on the books is expected to further protect children, who are victims of abuse and neglect, by enhancing communication among agencies and improving follow-through. 

Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del, signed House Substitute 1 for House Bill 371, Thursday; a move he hopes will prevent abuse and neglect claims from slipping through the current system’s cracks.

“It is imperative that those involved in investigations or prosecutions of child abuse and neglect, including law enforcement, state agencies and the courts, communicate openly and share the information needed to protect children,” said Gov. Markell. “This bill further strengthens Delaware’s child protection network.”

The measure requires the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families to track every case of child abuse reported to the 24-hour child abuse and neglect report line and creates the position of Investigation Coordinator within DSCYF. The Investigation Coordinator’s job duties will include monitoring reported cases from start to finish and providing information to the Child Protection Accountability Commission, as requested.

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“This bill reflects hard work and commitment on the part of all agencies who are partners in protecting children from abuse,” said DSCYF secretary Vivian Rapposelli. “By creating a mechanism for tracking reported cases of abuse, the bill provides us with a critical resource to manage coordination across agencies.”

The legislation stems from the work done by the governor’s steering committee on the protection of children, in conjunction with recommendations issued by Widener School of Law Vice-Provost and Dean Linda Ammons in the wake of the Dr. Earl Bradley case.

“This new law incorporates many of the report’s recommendations to improve reporting and interagency communication and to ensure that we as a state are doing everything we can to address child abuse and neglect better and prevent it whenever possible,” said Rep. Melanie George Smith, D-Bear, lead sponsor of the bill.

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