September 13, 2018

Bill to Protect Victims of Child Abuse Clears Committee, One Step Closer to Becoming Law

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) joined Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Chris Coons (Del.), co-chairs of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, to announce their bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCAA) has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is ready to be considered on the floor. The VOCAA provides funding for Children’s Advocacy Centers that serve child victims and help law enforcement hold perpetrators accountable. 

“The unthinkable harm of a child is pure evil,” said Senator Young. “Supporting Children’s Advocacy Centers is one way we can help ensure justice and healing for the victims of child abuse.”

Children’s Advocacy Centers employ a multi-disciplinary team of trained professionals to conduct forensic interviews of children who have been victims of abuse. These interviews are designed to be admissible in court while also preventing children from being re-traumatized by having to tell their accounts multiple times. Use of Children’s Advocacy Centers leads to faster criminal charging decisions in sexual abuse cases, increased felony prosecutions of child sexual abuse, and lower average per-case costs.

In addition to Senators Young, Blunt and Coons, original Senate cosponsors include U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and Dick Durbin (Ill.). U.S. Representatives Ted Poe (Texas) and Jim Costa (Calif.) introduced similar legislation in the House. 

The bill has garnered widespread support from the nation’s top advocacy groups, including the National Children’s Alliance, National Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs’ Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and National District Attorneys Association. The bill is also backed by the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the North East Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, the Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the National Children’s Advocacy Center, and the Southern Regional Children’s Advocacy Center.