Target: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell
Goal: Protect our kids from harm by prioritizing ending child abuse and neglect.
Abused and neglected children all over the country are not getting the help they need from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Based on the findings of a new report issued by child advocacy groups, the Department fails to make sure that states conform to important federal laws aimed at protecting children. As a result, states that violate these child welfare requirements continue to receive federal funding. HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell must stop ignoring states’ nonconformity with federal child welfare laws and start making children a priority.
In 2012, over 680,000 children in the U.S. were abused or neglected, and at least 1,640 children died as a result of abuse or neglect. Since a great deal of abuse goes unreported, the actual rate of abuse and fatalities is much higher. The impact of child abuse and neglect is staggering, especially for the child victims who often go on to suffer from physical and mental health problems. Societal costs include homelessness, special education, juvenile delinquency, and adult criminality. In terms of dollars, child abuse and neglect costs approximately $80 billion per year.
The report, Shame on U.S.: Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm, details a series of steps HHS must take to protect children from abuse, such as requiring states to conform to federal child welfare laws and imposing penalties if they do not. By signing the petition below, you will help urge HHS Secretary Burwell to consider the report and make ending child abuse and neglect a priority.
Dear U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell,
States must be held to account for failing to meet federal child welfare guidelines. Child abuse and child neglect affect hundreds of thousands of American children each year, and the negative impacts of abuse and neglect can last a lifetime. States that do not comply with all federal child welfare laws should face serious, fair consequences from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
In a report issued by the University of San Diego School of Law Children’s Advocacy Institute and First Star, Shame on U.S.: Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm, the shortcomings of HHS are detailed. The shortcomings include declining to hold states accountable for failing to substantially conform with federal child welfare laws, and instead negotiating “corrective action plan[s]” that require compliance with lower thresholds than baseline federal requirements. As a result, our country’s child welfare system is failing to protect those most in need of protection: our children.
I urge you to consider and implement the recommendations listed in the report, and to make the welfare of children a priority.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt via Flickr