House panel to look at problem of child deaths

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By Elise Viebeck — A subpanel of the House Ways and Means Committee will confront the issue of child deaths due to neglect and abuse in a special hearing Wednesday.

The subcommittee on Human Resources will look at a proposal from Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) for a commission to recommend ways to protect vulnerable youths.

In a memo to reporters, subcommittee staff said that more than 1,500 children died in 2010 because of maltreatment.

“The death of any child is a tragedy, but there is nothing more heartbreaking than when a child dies at the hand of someone who should have cared for them most,” said Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), who leads the Human Resources panel.

“Now we have a bipartisan proposal to investigate this issue further and produce real reforms. I look forward to hearing our witnesses’ thoughts on this proposal so we can ensure that more kids are protected from abuse and neglect,” he said.

Paulsen noted that the Camp-Doggett proposal, the Protect Our Kids Act, comes as the result of a multi-year probe of the issue of child maltreatment.

The bill stated that neglect causes about one-third of child deaths in the United States, while physical abuse accounts for 23 percent. An additional 41 percent of children deaths can be traced to a combination of the two, or other factors.

The measure would establish the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities to assess the effectiveness of child welfare and protective services funded by the Social Security Act and similar policies.

The commission would also recommend methods for implementing a “comprehensive national strategy” for reducing child fatalities due to maltreatment.

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