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Assembly Committee Votes for Quicker Reports of Neglect or Abuse
Legislation authored by Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) that will lead to faster reports of possible child abuse and neglect cases continues to receive unanimous support, passing out of the Assembly Human Resources Committee July 14th. SB 478, sponsored by Los Angeles County and the County Welfare Directors Association, would create a pilot program for Internet-based reporting of child abuse and neglect to child protection agencies.
“The changes spelled out in this legislation are absolutely essential for the well-being of so many at-risk children,” 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.”
Child welfare agencies continue to grapple with significant increases in the volume of child abuse and neglect reports being made by telephone. Some calls are placed on hold for long periods of time, often resulting in dropped calls.
SB 478 creates a voluntary 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.
“I’d like to thank Senator Huff for authoring SB 478 and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for their support of online child abuse reporting for selected mandated reporters, such as those in law enforcement, hospitals and schools,” said LA County DCFS Director Philip L. Browning. “As a child protection agency that handles over 200,000 phone calls every year, our agency will benefit greatly by having this online reporting option which will improve efficiency, reduce on-hold times and increase productivity for our social workers and mandated reporters.”
SB 478 has earned the support of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Urban Counties Caucus, Children’s Law Center of California, and the Junior Leagues of California.
Senator Huff serves as the Senate Republican Leader and represents the 29th Senate District covering portions of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Follow Senator Huff on Twitter at @bobhuff99.