WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Chris Coons (Del.), co-chairs of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, announced their bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCAA) has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is ready to be considered on the floor. The VOCAA provides funding for Children’s Advocacy Centers that serve child victims and help law enforcement hold perpetrators accountable.
“Children’s Advocacy Centers provide key support services and a safe environment for thousands of Missouri’s most vulnerable children every year,” said Blunt. “Reauthorizing this program will provide vital, continued support to law enforcement in their efforts to investigate and prosecute child abuse cases. I appreciate the strong, bipartisan support this bill received in committee. I urge all of my colleagues to support the bill and help ensure Children’s Advocacy Centers and law enforcement have the tools they need to keep children safe and hold perpetrators accountable.”
“Children’s Advocacy Centers protect children in Delaware and all across the country, and I’m very glad that Senator Blunt and I have been able to work across the aisle to move forward a reauthorization of the Victims of Child Abuse Act,” said Coons. “This legislation will ensure that law enforcement, along with health and other service providers, have the resources they need to care for children who have been abused and quickly prosecute the perpetrators of these horrific crimes.”
Children’s Advocacy Centers employ a multi-disciplinary team of trained professionals to conduct forensic interviews of children who have been victims of abuse. These interviews are designed to be admissible in court while also preventing children from being re-traumatized by having to tell their accounts multiple times. Use of Children’s Advocacy Centers leads to faster criminal charging decisions in sexual abuse cases, increased felony prosecutions of child sexual abuse, and lower average per-case costs.
In addition to Blunt and Coons, original Senate cosponsors include U.S. Senators Todd Young (Ind.), Shelley Moore Capito (W. Va.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), Deb Fischer (Neb.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Bob Casey (Pa.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) and Dick Durbin (Ill.). U.S. Representatives Ted Poe (Texas) and Jim Costa (Calif.) introduced similar legislation in the House.
The bill has garnered widespread support from the nation’s top advocacy groups, including the National Children’s Alliance, National Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, National Association of Police Organizations, National Sheriffs' Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and National District Attorneys Association. The bill is also backed by the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the North East Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, the Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, the National Children’s Advocacy Center, and the Southern Regional Children’s Advocacy Center.