LANSING – April has been proclaimed National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The goal is to raise awareness of child abuse and neglect across the country and highlight the work that our local community organizations do to protect children, said state Sen. John Proos.
In its 2009 report, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Kids Count Data Center reports that 1,226 children were confirmed to be victims of abuse and/or neglect within the counties of Berrien, Cass and Van Buren.
“Putting an end to child abuse starts at home by ensuring that parents have the knowledge and tools needed to care for their children,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Child Abuse Prevention Month is an opportunity to engage concerned citizens and parents by letting them know what they can do to help stop child abuse.”
April 1983 was the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Since then, child abuse and neglect awareness activities have been promoted across the country during April of each year. Residents can learn more at www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/preventionmonth.
“I am working to make sure that the state agencies are better at protecting children by increasing collaboration between all three branches of government when a tragedy happens,” Proos said. “I co-sponsored reform to strengthen Michigan’s child protection laws. The measures will require sharing of key information when a child dies in state care, so that we can quickly identify what happened and work to prevent future child deaths from happening.”
Senate Bills 226-229 would require the Department of Human Services to immediately notify the court with jurisdiction, the children’s ombudsman and the Legislature when a child dies in state care. The department would also be required to establish and maintain a publicly accessible central registry, containing non-identifying statistical information regarding children’s deaths.
DHS Director Maura Corrigan has worked with the Senate for several years to improve collaboration between state agencies on child death reviews, including during her tenure as a Michigan Supreme Court justice.
SBs 226-229 have been referred to the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee for consideration.
Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”