Turner/Vitale Measure To Improve Child Abuse Task Force Passes Senate

TRENTON – The NJ Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect would be given additional responsibilities to become an active participant in the fight against child abuse under legislation sponsored by Senators Shirley Turner and Joseph Vitale approved today by the State Senate.

“There are few crimes more despicable than child abuse and neglect and the State must make every effort possible to eradicate these scourges,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “This legislation with rejuvenate the Task Force and allow the State to more effectively bring the collective knowledge of the public to bear on issues of child abuse and neglect in New Jersey.”

The bill, S-1217, would expand the responsibilities of the NJ Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect to develop a statewide plan to facilitate child abuse and neglect prevention. Specifically, the Task Force would educate the public about the problems of child abuse and neglect, develop the mechanisms to facilitate the statewide prevention plan, mobilize citizens and community agencies in proactive prevention efforts, and foster cooperative working relationship between State and local agencies.

“Every month there seems to be a story in the news about another horrific case of child abuse or neglect, and there are countless more cases that never even make it to the public,” added Senator Vitale, who is the chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “The Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect is a valuable resource that we need to better tap to develop a comprehensive plan to eradicate abuse.”

Currently, the 24-member Task Force only reviews the practices and policies of the Division of Youth and Family Services to ensure optimum coordination of child abuse-related services, promote the safety of children at risk of abuse or neglect and guarantee a timely determination for reports of alleged child abuse.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 40-0. It now awaits action by the Assembly.

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