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National Children’s Awareness Month and the Safe Home Act

June is National Children’s Awareness Month.  This month brings awareness to children’s safety and well-being and provides the perfect opportunity to generate awareness on child abuse and neglect.  Just recently, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), co-chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, announced that they have reintroduced the Safe Home Act to protect adopted children from unregulated custody transfers (UCTs).

If passed, the legislation would add UCTs to the federal definition of child abuse and neglect under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act.  Parents who transfer their adopted children outside of the child welfare system potentially place the children at risk of neglect and abuse.  This is because UCTs occur without the child welfare system’s involvement; therefore, background checks, home studies, or supervision do not happen before the child is placed within the home.  The Safe Home Act does allow for an adoptive parent to place their adoptive children in the care of a trusting relative when appropriate but prevents the adoptive parent from placing adoptive children in the care of strangers without the involvement of the child welfare system.  This bill ensures that vulnerable youth are guaranteed a safe, loving, and stable home.

The statistics for child abuse are harrowing.  As with adults, children cope with abuse in a multitude of ways.  Although most children cannot speak up to protect themselves from abuse, physical and emotional signs such as bruising and extreme behaviors may be signs that a child is experiencing abuse.  Legislation such as the Safe Home Act provides another layer of protection for children who deserve nothing but love and guidance.  If you suspect child abuse or neglect, contact the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services  or call Childhelp (800-422-4453) for assistance.