Governor McMaster signs bill establishing a statewide protocol for response to child abuse cases

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)– Governor Henry McMaster put pen to paper this afternoon to tackle child abuse in the Palmetto State. The Child Abuse Response Protocol Act now requires multi-disciplinary teams involved in child abuse investigations and prosecution to correctly follow the state’s protocol.

“Our children are our state’s most precious resource,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “When one of them is subjected to the heinous crime of child abuse, we must use every tool at our disposal to protect their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This important piece of legislation ensures that investigations into child abuse will be thoughtfully and deliberately conducted by specifically-trained professionals and that the child’s health will be prioritized throughout.”

The state’s justice act task force and children’s advocacy centers will provide initial training.

“Child abuse and neglect is a constant issue in our state and around the country,” Said Michael Leach, the Director of the South Carolina Department of Social Services. “This legislation makes sure that a child that experiences abuse will receive the same standard of how abuse allegations are handled by investigative agencies no matter where they live in the state.”

Also under this act, the governor will appoint 13 members to a new Child Abuse Protocol Review Committee which will review the protocol annually. The Office of the Governor says the members will come from a variety of backgrounds including law enforcement, child protective services and victim advocacy.

“Today is the culmination of years of work to establish a protocol for our statewide response to the public health crisis that is child abuse,” said Tom Knapp, the Executive Director of the South Carolina Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers. “The South Carolina child abuse response protocol will strengthen our statewide response for children and families who have been impacted by child abuse and will help them to heal and thrive in what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult times in their lives.”

The Office of the Governor provided a flow chart illustrating how this new model will work. It can be found here.

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