House Passes Pieces of Rep. Wild’s SPEAK Up Act to Improve Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Susan Wild (PA-07) applauded the House passage of key pieces of the SPEAK Up Act – Wild’s bill to improve the reporting process of child abuse and neglect to ensure the proper authorities are alerted as early as possible about children experiencing dangerous situations.
Led by Wild and U.S. Representative Glen Thompson ‘GT’ Thompson (PA-15), language from the SPEAK Up Act passed the Committee on Education and Labor with bipartisan support as an amendment to the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Stronger CAPTA Act) – key federal legislation that addresses child abuse, neglect, and prevention programs. Specifically, Wild and Thompson’s amendment, included in the bill that passed the House of Representatives, would require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study of mandatory reporting state laws and examine differences in rates of referrals – to study the most effective ways to encourage people to properly report abuse.
In addition, Wild successfully included language from the SPEAK Up Act in the Stronger CAPTA Act to create a grant program to fund education programs on mandatory reporting and suspected child abuse or neglect and programs to help victims understand mandatory reporting.
“My bipartisan amendment will ensure that reports of child abuse make it to the proper authorities, because if the people who we empower to help don’t know that a child is in need, everything we are doing here today to strengthen CAPTA is for naught,” Wild said. “In Pennsylvania – and across the country – we’ve seen what happens when abuse is not properly reported. This amendment is an important step to stopping abusers and holding all adults responsible for alerting the authorities before it’s too late. I’m proud that the Stronger CAPTA Act includes pieces of the SPEAK Up Act to help us move closer toward our shared goal of protecting children from abuse and neglect.”
“The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) protects some of our country’s most vulnerable children and families,” Thompson said. “We should always be looking for ways to improve this law, which supports child protective service systems and programs to help communities prevent child abuse and neglect. I am thankful to work with my colleague Rep. Susan Wild to direct HHS to study how states differ in mandatory reporting of child abuse. This study will draw out best practices to ensure that each state takes on the same level of commitment. No abuse should go unreported and we all have an equal responsibility to protect children. I am pleased the House passed this today.”
According to data from the PA Department of Human Services, in 2018 in Pennsylvania there were 47 child fatalities as a result of child abuse, and 89 near fatalities. In 2018, there were 44,063 reports of child abuse, and 5,102 substantiated reports of child abuse.
Wild’s full remarks available here.