FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 3, 2015
CONTACT: Bill Bird @ 916-651-4029
Senate Approves Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act
Huff Measure Allows for Quicker Reports of Neglect or Abuse
SACRAMENTO: Legislation authored by Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) that will lead to faster reports of possible child abuse and neglect cases received unanimous support during a recent Senate Floor vote and will now move to the State Assembly. SB 478, sponsored by Los Angeles County and the County Welfare Directors Association, would amend current state law to allow specified mandated reporters to make initial reports of non-emergency child abuse or neglect to the Child Protection Agency through a detailed and comprehensive online report.
“This is a measure that is long overdue,” said Senator Huff. “Cumbersome wait times on the phone hinder reporting and timely investigations. Under current law, a mandated reporter must make an initial report of child abuse or neglect to the Child Protection Agency by telephone. Yet these mandated reporters have often been stuck on hold for periods of up to 45 minutes to several hours, and must call back if they can’t get through.”
Child welfare agencies continue to grapple with significant increases in the volume of child abuse and neglect reports being made by telephone with approximately 200,000 calls per year to the Los Angeles County’s Child Protection Hotline alone. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services indicates that mandated reporters in the fields of law enforcement, medicine, and education are currently requesting an online reporting option for hotline calls in the county.
SB 478 creates a voluntary pilot program for certain geographic counties, specified by the Department of Social Services and the County Welfare Directors Association, where non-emergency online reports of possible child abuse and neglect can be reported quickly and more efficiently.
Nine states – Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, Tennessee and Texas currently operate online child abuse and neglect reporting systems. Their reporting shows increased efficiencies within multiple jurisdictions.
“This pilot program is absolutely essential for the well-being of so many at-risk kids,” said Senator Huff. ‘By virtually eliminating wait times, an online reporting system will increase efficiencies at every level of the non-emergency and emergency response services. SB 478 will be an excellent resource to help county social workers assess and respond to child abuse and neglect cases in a timely manner.”
SB 478 passed both Senate Public Safety and Appropriations committees with unanimous support. The measure has earned the support of the California State Association of Counties, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Urban Counties Caucus and the Junior Leagues of California.
Senator Huff serves as the Senate Minority Leader and represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter at @bobhuff99.