Today legislation to stop child abuse in teen residential programs was reintroduced in Congress. Representative George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced identical bills in their respective chambers. The legislation passed the House in both the 110th and 111th Congresses with bipartisan support, but the Senate did not take up the bill.
The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act would set minimum safety standards that states would need to adopt and enforce to protect teens from physical, mental and sexual abuse in these programs. It would also create easily accessible information for parents about the safety record of programs.
The legislation requires investigations of reports of abuse and neglect at covered programs and requires the Department of Health and Human Services to issue civil penalties against programs that violate the new standards. The bill also calls for states, within three years, to take on the role of setting and enforcing standards for both private and public youth residential programs.
CWLA has worked with Rep. Miller’s office on the bill. We support the goals of more stringent standards and improved monitoring. We look forward to working with the sponsors as the process moves forward particularly in the area of management and coordination between federal, state, and local oversight functions.