Letter to the Editor: We are Helping Vulnerable Children
As a society, we must take care of our children and the less fortunate. Unfortunately, there is a crisis in the child-welfare system. Among the most compelling demands of the system are services for children who are victims of abuse and neglect.
In the 109th Congress, I introduced the Safe Babies Act, HR 6425. This legislation would amend the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974 to improve the health and well-being of maltreated infants and toddlers through the creation of a National Court Teams Resource Center to assist local communities.
With the help of Judge Cindy Lederman, presiding judge of the Miami-Dade Juvenile Court in Miami, we have developed a judicial and mental-health partnership that provides prevention and early intervention services to very young children. These services bring the legal, child welfare and children's services communities together to achieve faster permanency decisions for babies and toddlers, who are the fastest growing category of children entering foster care. They also are the most vulnerable to the effects of maltreatment.
Being separated from parents and out-of-home placement can impair infants' and toddlers' physical, cognitive, emotional and social development. Research shows that young children who have experienced physical abuse have lower social competence, show less empathy for others and have difficulty recognizing others' emotions. I am dedicated to preventing these deficiencies from affecting our younger generation.
My bill will help to educate all parties involved for the betterment of the children. Much work needs to be done to ensure all Americans have the tools to succeed in school and beyond. It is important that families take an active role in their children's development. Parents provide the tools to mold children into individuals who will become successful and prosper. We are committed to ensuring our children the knowledge that we know will prove vital in their future success.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Congressional Representative, District 18, Washington, D.C.