State Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, has introduced two bills to address serious safety and health risks facing children, particularly those who have lived in homes with domestic violence, or who have suffered abuse or neglect. Senate Bill 910 strengthens protections against convicted domestic abusers, and Senate Bill 909 facilitates medical screenings for children who are leaving a dangerous home environment.
“These bills will protect the health and safety of some of California’s most vulnerable residents,” Pavley said.
SB 910, sponsored by Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, closes a gap in the issuance of criminal protective orders. Currently, spouses may receive up to 10 years of protection when abusers are released from jail or prison, but in many cases, children are not protected unless they obtain a new restraining order in family court. This costly and time consuming process puts children at risk of abuse and violence when perpetrators are released.
There are more than 430 domestic abuse incidents reported in California every day, according to the state Department of Justice. There were 147 domestic violence fatalities – 8 percent of all California homicides – in 2011, the latest year for which data is available.
“Tragically, children are often the first target for abuse when a domestic violence offender is released from prison or jail,” Pavley said. “This bill closes a potentially life-threating gap in the law by giving sentencing judges a tool to protect all potential victims from abuse, regardless of their age.”
SB 909, sponsored by the County of Los Angeles, closes a separate legal gap that threatens the health of children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. The bill lets county social workers authorize consent for medical and dental screenings for children under the county’s temporary care. Currently, some children do not have access to these screenings while they are awaiting placement in foster care or other custodial arrangements.
“Children leaving dangerous homes have suffered enough trauma without being denied medical care,” Pavley said. “This bill will ensure that every child receives appropriate health care in a timely fashion.”
Pavley’s 27th Senate District includes about half of the Santa Clarita Valley.