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Gov. Henry McMaster Signs the Child Abuse Response Protocol Act

September 9, 2021

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster was joined today by Lieutenant Governor Pamela S. Evette, members of the General Assembly, and children advocacy leaders for a ceremonial bill signing of S.229, the Child Abuse Response Protocol Act. The act establishes a statewide protocol to effectively and efficiently respond to child abuse cases.

“Our children are our state’s most precious resource,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “When one of them is subjected to the heinous crime of child abuse, we must use every tool at our disposal to protect their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This important piece of legislation ensures that investigations into child abuse will be thoughtfully and deliberately conducted by specifically-trained professionals and that the child’s health will be prioritized throughout.”

The legislation requires law enforcement or child protective services to take a victim of suspected child abuse to one of South Carolina’s Child Advocacy Centers. At the center, a team of trained professionals begins the investigation and conducts a single interview specifically tailored to not retraumatize the child. Then, a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals, law enforcement, child protective services, and other professionals review the case and decide the best way to move forward.

A flow chart of the model can be found here.

“Child abuse and neglect is a constant issue in our state and around the country,” Said Michael Leach, the Director of the South Carolina Department of Social Services. “This legislation makes sure that a child that experiences abuse will receive the same standard of how abuse allegations are handled by investigative agencies no matter where they live in the state.”

S.229 also creates a Child Abuse Protocol Review Committee comprised of 13 members appointed by the Governor. The committee will include members with backgrounds in law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medical, mental health, education, and victim advocacy. The committee will review the protocol on an annual basis and provide updates as needed.

“Today is the culmination of years of work to establish a protocol for our statewide response to the public health crisis that is child abuse,” said Tom Knapp, the Executive Director of the South Carolina Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers. “The South Carolina child abuse response protocol will strengthen our statewide response for children and families who have been impacted by child abuse and will help them to heal and thrive in what is undoubtedly one of the most difficult times in their lives.”