Press Release

Senator Min Announces Reforms for Mandated Reporters in SB 1126

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Last week, Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1126, which will clarify requirements for child abuse mandated reporters.  Under SB 1126, mandated reporters will no longer be compelled to refer families to Child Protective Services solely on the basis that a child has witnessed domestic violence. Current mandated reporting of these cases does not increase safety for children or their protective parent. The practice of mandatory reporting in cases where children have witnessed domestic violence at home deters domestic violence survivors from seeking safety by causing fear that the act of reaching out to a medical provider, a counselor, a teacher or law enforcement may result in their children being taken away and placed in the child welfare system.  

Studies demonstrate that state separation of children from a protective parent and placement in the foster care system is perhaps the most significant predictor of emotional and behavioral problems in childhood.  It is important to note that the measure does not prevent a mandated reporter from reporting child neglect, abuse, or misconduct when it is suspected or observed.

 “It is both wrong and ineffective to separate the children of domestic violence survivors solely because those parents have experienced domestic violence,” said Senator Min. “SB 1126 will make it easier for survivors of domestic violence to seek help with their children by making it less likely that telling a counselor, medical provider, or a police officer that they are a victim will trigger an investigation that could result in the removal of their children. The bill will have no effect on the requirements to report child abuse.”

“Because of racial bias, Black, Indigenous and Latinx families are most impacted by mandatory reporting policies—too often resulting in the traumatizing experience of families being separated. With SB1126, California has the opportunity to reduce the harm and systemic racism of Child Welfare practices,” said Eric Morrison-Smith, Executive Director of the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. “Family safety and well-being comes from support and healing, not punishment and separation."

“Children and their protective survivor parents should not be punished for experiencing domestic violence by being separated from each other. If passed, SB 1126 would give us the opportunity to redefine the relationship between families affected by domestic violence and child welfare. It would move us away from a place of fear, fear of children being taken away from the parents who often represent the only source of comfort and solace in their lives. Instead, we could begin prioritizing keeping families together and getting survivors and their children the help they need to escape from violence and start recovering together,” said Chris Negri, Associate Director of Public Policy Strategies at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.

 "Our appellate courts already recognize threats to call child welfare can be a form of abuse and that once reported to child welfare, survivor parents seem to be forever at risk of having their children removed.  SB 1126 is a vital step in ensuring that protection of parents and children from domestic violence is focused on what is widely known to be effective and reducing what is known to be harmful, including harms that disproportionately impact Black, brown, and Indigenous parents. This law will reduce the barriers to survivors accessing effective services for themselves and their children because of the harm of reporting and child removal.  SB 1126 helps reduce the intergenerational trauma and irreparable harm of removing children even temporarily from survivor parents who are best positioned to protect their children and foster their resilience and healing,” said Arati Vasan, Senior Managing Attorney at  Family Violence Appellate Project.

“For decades we’ve had qualitative and quantitative evidence from survivors that mandatory reporting of domestic violence is a barrier to them seeking help. They’ve also told us repeatedly that involvement in the child welfare system often makes them less safe, and left feeling unsupported as parents and blamed for their partner’s use of violence. Black, Indigenous and other survivors of color, who already experience higher barriers to accessing resources and supports, are then disproportionately harmed by the child welfare system’s reliance on family separation. It’s time to create real pathways to safer and more stable conditions for survivors and their children,” said Lonna Davis, Vice President of Children and Youth Programs, Futures Without Violence.

“It is critical that survivors of domestic violence and their children are able to access the supports and services they need to leave abusive partners and heal from abuse without the fear of being separated,” said Sharon Balmer Cartagena, Directing Attorney of the Children’s Rights Project at Public Counsel. “We are grateful to Senator Min for his continued leadership in ensuring that children and their protective parents are supported and applaud the introduction of SB 1126.”

 “Too many clients in the UCI Law Domestic Violence Clinic are paradoxically treated as culpable as the abusive parent due to mandatory reporting of a child being exposed to domestic violence, and abuse survivors risk losing custody of their children at the point when they seek help escaping violence,” said Professor Jane Stoever, who directs the UCI Law Domestic Violence Clinic.

In focusing on mandated reporting, the bill builds on federal and state efforts to narrow the scope of child abuse mandated reporting so that children who need child protective services can enter the system and those who do not can obtain services through community and other public resources.

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