New report shows increased drug-related child abuse

Jun 06, 2018
child neglect drugs

According to a new report, child abuse and neglect reports have increased dramatically over the past few years in New Hampshire, due in part to the opioid addiction epidemic. 

The report was published by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

From 2013 to 2016 the state Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) accepted 21% more reports of child abuse and neglect for assessment.

Child protection bills close to becoming law

Apr 30, 2018
child abuse and neglect

Several child protection bills are close to passing the House and Senate, and Gov. Chris Sununu has already indicated he intends to sign them into law.  Here is a summary of the major policy changes proposed by the Legislature:

Funding for voluntary services

HB 1103, SB 590, and SB 592 all provide some form of funding for voluntary services offered to families in "unfounded but with reasonable concern" cases of possible child abuse or neglect.

Should foster parents have a "bill of rights" codified in state law?

Feb 13, 2018
foster parents

HB 1562, a bill sponsored by Rep. Sean Morrison (R-Epping), would create a foster parent “bill of rights.”

What would a foster parents’ bill of rights look like?

The 18 point bill, among other things, would make the following part of state law:

Law against female genital mutilation?

Nov 24, 2017
Female Gential Mutilation

Rep. Victoria Sullivan is sponsoring a 2018 bill that would outlaw female genital mutilation.

Sullivan's proposed law would make it a felony to participate in female genital mutilation, whether you are a doctor, parent, guardian, or other involved party. It would also be a felony to take a girl out of state for female genital mutilation.

About female genital mutilation

The practice of female genital mutilation involves cutting off or altering a girl's external genitalia for non-medical reasons.

NH becomes 1st state to favor grandparents as guardians

Jun 28, 2017
grandparents custody

At a ceremony this week Gov. Sununu signed a bill that gives preference to grandparents for child custody if the parent is abusing drugs. 

According to bill sponsor Mariellen MacKay, the law is the first of its kind in the country.

Supporters of the bill argue that grandparents should be given special consideration in court because they are particularly aware of the needs of their grandchildren.  Before this bill, grandparents had no rights to advocate for their grandchildren in family court.

Sununu to sign child protection, mental health bill

Jun 14, 2017
mental health and child abuse

On Wednesday, June 14 Governor Chris Sununu will sign a bill that aims to increase protections for children and people with mental illness in New Hampshire.

The bill, HB 400, adds a new category to reports of child abuse.  A founded report has definite evidence of child abuse or neglect.  An unfounded report does not have enough evidence.  The new category, “unfounded but with reasonable concern,” is somewhere in the middle.  This new category of reports will be kept on file for seven years, the same as founded reports.

Contract approved for review of child abuse reports

Jun 08, 2017
child abuse and neglect

On Wednesday the Executive Council approved a contract to review 100 of 1,500 alleged child abuse and neglect cases prematurely closed last year.

Lorraine Bartlett, then-Director of the Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), closed the cases in bulk over two days in February 2016.  According to some DCYF employees, the children in those cases were not at risk, and Bartlett’s action freed up caseworkers’ time to focus on other reports.  Others say that there was pressure to close cases that needed more investigation.

Funding for DYCF counseling for parents?

May 27, 2017
child protection DCYF

This week, the Senate Finance Committee endorsed a key reform related to child protective services in the state.

If passed by the House and Senate and signed into law, the amendment would create a third category regarding allegations of child abuse that have been brought to the attention of the state Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).

Based on recommendations from an outside evaluation of DCYF, the new category would be called “unfounded but with reasonable concerns.” It would exist between “founded” and “unfounded” reports of child abuse.

States move to ban female genital mutilation

May 18, 2017
female genital mutilation

Following federal charges against two doctors for performing female genital mutilation in the state, this week the Michigan Senate passed a bill to ban the practice. 

Should DCYF keep child abuse reports longer?

Mar 13, 2017
DCYF child abuse reports

On Thursday, March 16 the New Hampshire Senate will vote on a bill that would require the Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to keep reports of child abuse and neglect at least seven years.

Under current law, a screened-out report – a report that DCYF determines is not credible or worth investigating – is destroyed after one year.  An unfounded report – a report that DCYF investigates but does not find evidence to support – is destroyed after three years.  A founded report – a report with supporting evidence of abuse or neglect – is destroyed after seven years.

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