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House Approves Bill To Help Kids

October 6, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Giving child protective services and child welfare workers need greater access to some court records to more thoroughly assess how safe children are in their homes, House members say.

House members voted 425-2 on Tuesday to provide more access to criminal conviction information and protection orders based on child or domestic abuse. Republicans Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage of Idaho and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas voted against the bill. The Senate has not yet acted on the issue.

Money for the change would come from federal grants to provide equipment and training for closed-circuit television and videotaping of children in criminal child abuse cases.

``Children should be focused on school, Little League, piano lessons _ not reeling from punches or cowering from adults,″ Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, sponsor of the legislation, said during debate on the House floor. ``As a former prosecutor and judge, I have seen firsthand the manifestation of child abuse in the criminal behavior of adults,″ she said.

The bill also would increase the amount of federal money set aside for child abuse and domestic assistance programs in the federal Crime Victims Fund from $10 million to as much as $20 million. The fund is drawn from forfeited assets, forfeited bail bonds and fines paid to the government.

The legislation would expand the permitted uses for federal crime-fighting and anti-drug grants to include enforcing child-abuse and neglect laws and funding programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect.

The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect reports that 2,000 children die each year as a result of abuse or neglect.

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The bill is H.R. 764.

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