Wednesday, March 26, 2003
WASHINGTON (AP) - Prospective foster and adoptive parents would have to undergo criminal background checks under a package of anti-child abuse legislation passed Wednesday by the House.
The bill, which reauthorizes the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, is designed to protect children and the victims of family violence.
``This bill emphasizes the prevention of child abuse and neglect before it occurs,'' said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich.
The measure was passed by voice vote. The Senate passed a similar bill last week and the two bills will have to be reconciled before heading to the White House.
``We must do much more at the federal level to prevent child abuse,'' said Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas.
Under the legislation, states would be required to run criminal background checks on prospective foster and adoptive parents, and other adults living in the household to ensure that children are not being put in dangerous situations.
The proposed law would also require child welfare caseworkers to reveal to parents any allegations against them.
Abused children are more likely to become adult criminals, lawmakers said.
``If we don't pay now for prevention and treatment, we pay later in our criminal justice system and health care costs,'' Hinojosa added.
The bill would increase public training on caseworkers' roles, and training on appropriate reporting of abuse.
That will help decrease the number of false reports, said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
The bill number is H.R. 14.
On the Net:
for bill text: http://thomas.loc.gov
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