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Doug Jones introduces bills to curb child abuse and neglect, boost adoptions

Eddie Burkhalter

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Members of the U.S. Senate could vote as early as this week on two bipartisan bills meant to help prevent child abuse and neglect and eliminate barriers to adoption for children in foster care. 

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, told APR on Tuesday that he expects a vote this week on both the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Reauthorization Act of 2019 and the  Adoption Opportunities Act of 2019. Jones and co-lead on the legislation, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., introduced both bills on Friday. 

The Child Abuse and Prevention and Treatment ACT (CAPTA),originally passed in 1974, is the federal framework for state protections for children from abuse and neglect. 

Jones said the proposed reauthorization would support a wide range of community based solutions to prevent child abuse and neglect and help strengthen families. The bill would also strengthen reporting on child fatalities and near fatalities. 

“We want to make sure that we are able to capture every instance of child abuse and neglect, and I think this bill will do that,” Jones said, adding that the legislation would also expand services for children exposed to domestic violence.

“It’s going to require research on how to address geographic, racial and cultural disparities in the child welfare system and how to strengthen the child protection workforce,” Jones said. 

Isakson, 74, announced in August his plans to retire before the end of the year, citing health problems. The three-term senator has been battling Parkinson’s disease. Jones said Isakson wants to get a vote on the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Reauthorization Act before he leaves office. 

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The Adoption Opportunities Act of 2019 would provide support to states to help eliminate barriers to adoption for minority children, older children, and children who are disabled. 

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“It is also going to help post-adoption support Services for adoptive families to improve their permanency,” Jones said. “We don’t want these kids to go back into the system, so we want to make sure these families have the right support.” 

Jones also urged lawmakers to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. 

“I think the Violence Against Women Act has shown in the past that it works, and that it’s effective. It not only saves lives, it saves injuries,” Jones said. “And it’s time I think for Congress to go ahead and reauthorize that. The holdup seems to be on a provision involving a change to the firearm laws.” 

Jones was referring to a provision in the legislation not supported by Republican leadership that would prohibit a person’s dating partner from owning a firearm if the person was convicted of domestic violence. 

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo on Monday stood outside the medical examiner’s office and spoke to reporters following the shooting death of Sgt. Christopher Brewster, killed while responding to a domestic violence call. 

Acevedo called out those Republican leaders for not supporting a fix to the so-called “boyfriend loophole” that Acevedo said could have prevented his officer’s killer from having own a gun, and perhaps saved Brewster’s life, according to The Washington Post

“Anything that we can do that will protect law abiding citizens and their ability to possess firearms, but at the same time help reduce the incidences of domestic violence where so many deaths occur, we need to do it,” Jones said. “I think we need to do what we can to bring the Violence Against Women Act at to the floor of the U.S. Senate and let’s get it passed.”

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