Turner/Rice Bill Would Make Child Abuse And Neglect Task Force An Active Player In Fight For Child Safety

TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved legislation today sponsored by Senators Shirley K. Turner and Ronald L. Rice that would expand the responsibilities of the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect to make them an active participant in reforming the State’s child abuse-related services.

“The Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect has served New Jersey well as an advisory body reviewing the practices and policies of DYFS, but given the recent high-profile cases of child abuse and neglect, we need them to take a more active role in promoting child safety,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “By enlisting the individuals serving on the Task Force to educate the public about the problems of child abuse and mobilize other citizens and community agencies to proactively address the problem, we are further strengthening efforts to reform DYFS and stop child abuse.”

The bill, S-495, would expand the responsibilities of the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect to provide that the task force would: educate the public about the problems of child abuse and neglect and coordinate activities relating to it; develop a statewide plan to prevent child abuse and neglect and the mechanisms needed to facilitate child abuse and neglect prevention strategies; mobilize citizens and community agencies in a proactive effort to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect; and foster cooperative working relationships between State and loacl agencies responsible for providing services to victims of child abuse and neglect and their families.

“We have a responsibility to provide love and guidance to our children. It is our duty to protect our children from any abuse or neglect,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “It’s not enough to form a task force to just study child abuse and neglect. We must expand their work in order to improve the quality and scope of services that DYFS provides. We need to promote the task force from watch dogs to active participants in child protection.”

Under current law, the Task Force is simply required to study and develop recommendations for improving the quality and scope of child protective services provided by State government. This law would expand the role of the body to make them an active participant in the process.

The bill passed the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committee unanimously. It now goes to the full Senate for their approval.

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