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I assume, if he is examined within 24 hours, I assume, if the injury was there, you would not need the testimony of the practicing private physician.
Ms. HUHN. I think that is probably Mr. Yeldell's department, D.C. General. He would probably have to speak to his opinion on that particular thing.
Mr. YELDELL. Well, I would have no problem, from the intent of your question.
I think there would be a huge problem to be worked out in the medical profession itself. I think, with the huge number of cases coming from the National Children's Center, and the issue of concern that is exemplified there, as opposed to the lack of concern that may be elsewhere, that there would be something to be worked out within the medical profession itself, and with the medical societies, it probably could be worked out.
I think that, clearly
Mr. HOGAN. Certainly, if these children are taken to some District facility, normally you have some contract with either some retainer with a private physician, or you have the medical facilities of the medical treatment available through D.C. General Hospital or something. But they handle, for instance, the facilities out at Laurel there, for the facilities at your placement centers.
Mr. YELDELL. Counsel, I have no basic problem with the intent of what you are suggesting. I can see problems in actually working it out.
A child arriving at Children's Hospital in a severe state may not be movable within a 24-hour period of time.
Mr. HOGAN. Well, I understand that the Committee may require the individual to go to D.C. General or to go to Children's Hospital, and to examine this individual.
Mr. YELDELL. Well, that is why I am saying I think that there are many problems to be worked out logistically with it.
The intent of what you are suggesting is that a District doctor would examine within 24 hours, and be prepared to testify in Court.
The intent of that is good. The logistics of working that out, I see having problems of many magnitudes, and I would rather look at that very carefully to see just what could be done before agreeing that that ought to be embodied in the law.
Mr. HOGAN. Now, how much Title IV-A funds do you get from the Federal Government, do you recall on that?
Mr. YELDELL. We get about $8.9 million in total funds.
Mr. HOGAN. And as far as the state agency is concerned, or whatever agency you are going to set up, the Mayor has the authority now to do that.
In other words, if this goes September 15th, if the plan goes September 15th to the Mayor or to the City Council, the Mayor could, within 30 days, presumably set up an agency, could he not? A board? Whatever he wanted to set up?
Mr. YELDELL. Well, he could, certainly.
Mr. HOGAN. So that, what is proposed here could take place relatively soon.
Mr. YELDELL. It could, in terms of movement of plans. I doubt that it would be—I would suggest that it would be highly unlikely.
Because the very thrust of the Mayor's concern is to go into an integrated service situation, rather than an isolated one.
In other words, that is exactly why the District has been in the forefront of establishing Human Resources as a concept in the District. Mr. HOGAN. I am not talking about a separate agency. I am talking about an agency within the Department of Human Resources.
Mr. YELDELL. Well, our suggestion is that that is unnecessary, because Human Resources already has the responsibility. And another agency would not be the required situation, but strictly what is there. Mr. HOGAN. Well, you are talking about a board then. Is that right? Mr. YELDELL. There is already in existence an Inter-Agency Board. Now, what we are suggesting is that that be strengthened and expanded, and that be established under the Executive Order of the Mayor, rather than as it has been under the Welfare Department. Mr. HOGAN. But he can issue that Executive Order immediately, couldn't he?
Mr. YELDELL. I suspect he would, soon after the comprehensive child care plan is forwarded to him. That is one of those early implementable items, yes.
Mr. HOGAN. Now, again, Corporation Counsel, there is a mandatory provision for examination of the parents here, as I understand it. Ms. HUHN. In the one Bill, yes.
Mr. HOGAN. In the one Bill. And Dr. Green, as I recall, opposed that provision.
Couldn't there be a provision in here that would permit that particular matter to be adjudicated? You know, let Corporation Counsel petition the Court for that authority?
Ms. HUHN. I would say this. Again, if I can draw a correlation, especially in the psychiatric area.
The code, as it now stands, says that a child could be neglected if psychiatrically the parent is unable, or physically really, for that matter, to exercise those responsibilities for the child.
Unfortunately, we get into this dichotomy that this would assist us on. And that is, the parent may absolutely have unbelievable medical, emotional, psychiatric problems, and, because the person does not go to a psychiatrist, there is no way I can go into Court and show that is so.
Because the way our law is, we cannot get a psychiatric evaluation of the parent until after neglect has been found, which is really a kind of, you know, a problem argument, because you cannot prove it-you cannot get the information until you prove it, and you cannot prove it until you get the information.
I think that something within the discretion of the Court, upon motion possibly of the Corporation Counsel, where cause is shown, would be a very good idea.
I think it would modify the way it is a little bit, and I think probably take away some of the possible privacy arguments that many people would raise.
Mr. HOGAN. This is what I am talking about. Could you give this language to the Committee?
Ms. HUHN. I would be glad to do that.
Mr. MAZZOLI. Thank you very much. I appreciate the time the panel has given to us. It was very helpful. Thank you.
Our next panel consists of Brian Fraser, the Staff Attorney for the National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse; Jose Alfaro, the Deputy Staff Director, Select Committee on Child Abuse in New York State Assembly; and Prof. Judy Areen, Juvenile Justice Clinic, Georgetown Law Center, Georgetown University.
So, however you want to proceed. You might identify yourselves for the Reporter so he will know in what order you have arranged yourselves at the table.
Mr. BRIAN FRASER. My name is Brian Fraser.
Ms. AREEN. I am Prof. Judy Areen.
Mr. MYLNIEC. Prof. Wallace Mylniec. I am Co-Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic.
Mr. MAZZOLI. Excuse me. Do I understand that Jose Alfaro is not here this afternoon? Apparently not. You may proceed.
STATEMENTS OF BRIAN FRASER, STAFF ATTORNEY, NATIONAL CENTER FOR THE PREVENTION AND TREATMENT OF CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT DENVER, COLORADO; ACCOMPANIED BY WALLACE MYLNIEC, CO-DIRECTOR, AND JUDY AREEN, DIRECTOR OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE CLINIC, GEORGETOWN LAW CENTER, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY
Mr. BRIAN FRASER. Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today.
I am Brian Fraser. I am the Staff Attorney for the National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect in Denver, Colorado.
Today, I am representing the Center for Dr. C. Henry Kempe, who expresses his regrets that he cannot be here today, and the Education Commission of the States, for whom I am a consultant on legislative
I have been working exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect for the past two years, and in particular, in the legislative area. And I would like to start out this morning by saying that both H.R. 15918 and H.R. 15779 represent the direction I see most of the country moving over the next three years. Both are good bills.
SUPPORT H.R. 15918
We believe, however, with a few reservations, that Mr. Fraser's Bill, H.R. 15918, is the better Bill, and we would suggest its adoption. Both the centers that I represent and myself applaud the idea of a child abuse prevention center. We have suggested this for some time
We are of the firm belief that you can only solve these problems with a multidisciplinary team. And I think this is probably one of the basic concepts found in Public Law 93–247.
We would, however, make a few suggestions concerning the roles and the procedures to be utilized by this center in D.C.
One, we would suggest that the language found on page 3, lines 11 through 15 be redrafted to read: the Director shall coordinate all efforts, and shall contact—and this means, striking out the words, when appropriate all public and/or public agencies, groups, or individuals within the community in an attempt to coordinate and make available all services and resources.
In layman's terms, we believe that the Director of the center should be mandated to identify all tertiary agencies and individuals within the community who can be of aid.
In too many cases, there are existing but fragmented and uncoordinated service agencies. To mention a few, Families Anonymous, or Parents Anonymous, lay therapy groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, crisis nurseries, mental health centers, visiting health agencies, public health nurses, school social workers and nurses, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, et cetera, et cetera.
These could all be utilized, but they have not been identified, and they have not been brought into our delivery system.
If the Director is not mandated to do this identifying and this coordinating, we have got a queasy feeling that it is just not going to be done.
I am afraid that what is going to happen is you are going to create another quasi-public agency, and just increase the confusion.
We would also like to point out that, when you educate the community members, and when you expand the definition of abuse to include neglect, you are going to increase astronomically the number of reported cases of child abuse.
This increase in the number of reports is going to mean an increase in the number of required investigations, and an increase in the number of families that must be offered services.
If you do not develop a more effective utilization of services, you are going to be simply swamped. The example that comes into mind is Florida. In 1971, there were 250 reported cases of child abuse. In 1972, they initiated an advertising campaign, what child abuse is, how do you identify it, where do you report it to.
At the end of that year, the number of reported cases had increased to 14,000. In 1973, they initiated a state-wide hot line, one number to report cases of child abuse. And by the end of 1973, the number of reported cases had increased to 28,000.
The important fact to note, I suppose, is the number of social workers handling these cases were the same in 1973 as they were in 1971. They were just swamped.
On pages 4 and 5 of both Bills, there are specific tasks noted for each member of the child protection team. And we have no quarrel with specific professional duties.
But we would suggest that the team, the child protection team as an entity, have certain tasks. And these tasks should be enumerated.
In short, we believe that the group, or the entity tasks should be noted and incorporated into the final version of the bill.
Well, as I was saying, we believe the team has duties itself, and that these duties should be enumerated in any bill that comes out of the committee.
We would suggest that the duties include:
One, an attempt to determine in every case whether or not this is abuse or neglect;
Two, if it is abuse or if it is neglect, whether the case should go to the juvenile court or the district court with juvenile jurisdiction;
And three, determine what services are available within the community and what services should be offered to the abusing parents or the abused child.
I would just like to expand a little bit on point two, the filing of the petition in the juvenile court.
We believe that a petition should be filed if any one member of this multidisciplinary child protection team feels that it would be in the best interest of the child. Not a majority, but if any one member feels it would be in the best interest.
I guess what I am saying is a child is a person under the law, and as a person he should have his rights to a day in court. In too many cases, children just don't get their day in court.
On page 6 in Section 102 (a), and I am talking about Mr. Fraser's bill, 15918, there is a provision made for the removal of the child from his home once the investigation has been initiated, and we have no quarrel with a concept such as this.
We would suggest, however, that you may consider adding another provision, as a number of other states have, and make provision for temporary custody in certain situations before the investigation has been initiated.
We have suggested the additional provision would give authorization to an individual physician or a hospital to assume temporary custody when, one, the physician or the hospital has a child before them that they believe to be abused; and two, they feel there would be a certain amount of danger if the child was returned home.
As you know, in cases such as these there is a tremendous amount of doctor shopping and hospital shopping, and it seems to me somewhat ludicrous to say we are going to identify cases of child abuse but then we have to wait 6 to 24 hours and file a petition, and hope that the name that the parent gave to the doctor or that the address that the parents gave to the doctor or the hospital is the correct one. In too many cases, it just turns out it is not.
Now, under Title I there is a provision made for a central registry, and again we applaud the concept. About 33 states do have central registries. Another 10 have central registries created by administrative fiat.
We would hope, however, that the term "credible evidence" on page 8, lines 9 and 10,, would not be interpreted to mean evidence which is sufficient to support an adjudication in the juvenile court.