MONTGOMERY (May 3, 2013) – On Thursday, the State Legislature gave final passage to a bill aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect. The bill expands the list of professionals who are mandatory reporters of abuse and neglect and gives them protections.
Currently, only certain professionals – doctors, social workers, nurses, day care workers, teachers, police and others – are required to report suspected child abuse. Under this new law, physical therapists, all public and private K-12 employees, and employees of public and private institutions of postsecondary and higher education will be added to the list of mandatory reporters.
The bill passed through both the house and the senate under the bipartisan leadership of two child advocates – Representative Dickie Drake, R-Leeds and Senator Vivian Figures, D-Mobile. “It was such an honor to carry this bill for Children First Foundation and thanks to the Department of Human Resources for their help, also,” stated Rep. Drake. This is the second year Drake and others have tried to reform mandatory reporting in Alabama. “This will help to protect our greatest asset, the children of the state of Alabama,” continued Drake.
Also, under this bill public or private employers are prohibited from punishing a worker for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. “We hope that this will help encourage mandatory reporters to bring forward suspected abuse when they might not have previously in fear of losing their job,” noted Christy Mehaffey, Executive Director of Children First Foundation.
The foundation helped shape the bill and has guided it through the legislative process. “Children First is very pleased with the passage of this bill and hopes it will aid Alabama in its fight against child abuse and neglect,” Mehaffey added.
The bill now goes to Governor Bentley for his signature.