Governor Jack Markell signed legislation Thursday adding to the protection the Delaware law affords to abused and neglected children. The new law concentrates on improving communication and cooperation between government agencies to ensure no case of child abuse falls through the cracks.
The legislation was developed by Governor’s Steering Committee on the Protection of Children using recommendations offered by Widener School of Law Vice-Provost and Dean Linda Ammons in her independent review the Earl Bradley’s child sex abuse case trial.
“Out of tradgey, we have shown how to do things the right way,” said Ammons. “People have come across the aisle, people have come across agencies, and branches of government for the benefit of our citizens.”
Highlights from the signing of new Delaware child abuse law.
Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins (D-Elsmere), a longtime supporter of anti-child abuse legislation, joined State Representative Melanie George Smith (D-Bear/Newark) in sponsoring the bill in the General Assembly.
“(The Bill) will let us cross over lines from the State Police to the kids department, even to the non-profits that work with kids, and bring all that information together so that it is no longer scattered,” said Blevins.
Blevins added that hammering out all the details of the legislation was no easy task. “It actually took a couple of years to put this together, but this is going to be very important in protecting kids in the future.”
Key provisions of the new law require the state’s Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DSCYF) to use their case management system to track every case of child abuse reported to the 24-hour child abuse and neglect report line and creation of an investigation coordinator at DSCYF to track every reported case of child abuse, as well as to oversee the tracking of active court cases involving allegations of child sex abuse or where a child has died or been seriously injured.
This bill joins nine other bills enacted in the wake of Bradley case aimed at strengthen Delaware’s laws that deal with child abuse.
“Since May 2010, the state has been actively and aggressively engaged in trying to improve the way it goes about detecting people who would harm children,” said Ammons. “This law is just one more in the right direction in doing that.”