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Public Statements

Protect our Kids Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

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Mr. PAULSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, today we have an opportunity to improve the way our child welfare system works. We have a chance to learn what is most effective in preventing fatalities from child abuse and neglect. By acting on this bill today, we can make a significant difference in the lives of children who need to be protected.

In a hearing that we held just this last week on the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012, I shared the heartbreaking story of Devin Drake, who is an example of the type of tragedy we hope to prevent through the work of this important commission.

In August of 2011, Devin Drake was a 3-year-old boy living just outside of Minneapolis with his mother and her boyfriend. Child welfare officials had been in contact with the family previously, but this wasn't enough to prevent what happened next. It was on one fateful night that Devin was seriously injured when his mother's boyfriend struck him, knocking him down to the bathroom floor. Devin hit his head hard enough that he had trouble standing up, but neither his mother nor her boyfriend took the time to bring him to the hospital.

His condition worsened the next day; and when he was finally taken to the hospital, it was too late. Doctors reported that Devin had severe head trauma, punctured lungs, and a number of contusions. Four days later, Devin Drake died.

This bill will help to prevent those types of tragedies. This commission created by this bill would review the effectiveness of current child welfare services, it will examine the data we have now about childhood fatalities, and it will study factors that are predictive of child abuse and neglect. And through this work, this commission can provide Congress and others with critical information on how we can improve our child abuse prevention efforts.

I note that while this bill provides some resources for the commission to do its work, thanks to Chairman Camp and Mr. Doggett, they have worked very carefully to ensure that the commission operates within existing social services funding. As a result, this bill does not add to the deficit. This shows how critical this issue is and how bipartisan this issue is, as well.

I urge all my colleagues to support this important legislation and reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PAULSEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, the Protect Our Kids Act of 2012 will help us prevent child fatalities from abuse and neglect. The commission created by this bill will show us how we can improve on our current efforts, and it will help provide us with the information we need to move forward on this issue.

I urge my colleagues to support the bill today.

I want to thank not only Chairman Camp, but Ranking Member Doggett for his leadership and his passion on this issue.

I urge support and yield back the balance of my time.

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