Springfield, IL… State Representative David Leitch (R-Peoria) passed a bill unanimously through the Human Services Committee Thursday to protect children who have become victims of child abuse. House Bill 421 would require the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to notify law enforcement officials as soon as a report of serious child abuse has been reported through the state-wide, toll-free child abuse telephone hotline.
“DCFS has an ineffective system now which fails to notify law enforcement of cases involving serious child abuse,” said Leitch. “I have been working to implement a solution to this problem for the last two years. This legislation hopefully will get a police officer on the scene of a serious abuse case sooner, along with the DCFS investigator.”
Prompt notification will enable police to obtain an accurate account of events and obtain evidence. “In too many instances DCFS waits too long or fails to notify the police at all,” said Leitch. “In these cases, it is difficult to know what the true circumstances are.”
Leitch sponsored a similar bill in the 94th General Assembly. The legislation received House approval but was never called for a vote in the Senate. “Every day that we wait to institute some kind of legislation to tighten up the reporting process may be a day lost for a child who is being abused,” said Leitch. “This is a serious bill with serious consequences if it is not passed. I hope that our leadership will understand the gravity of this legislation and will send it to the governor’s desk as soon as possible.”
Peoria Police Sergeant Michael Eddlemon, who proposed the idea to Leitch, testified on behalf of the measure in committee.