Lawmakers fight for funding to train child care workers how to spot abuse


ABC 2 News

Brittany Schmidt

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (WBAY) – Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are supporting a bill aimed at improving the early detection of child abuse.

Northeast Wisconsin residents expressed horror this week to learn of the death of Two Rivers boy Gilbert Grant. Court documents show he had been physically abused by his mother and her two roommates for months.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) is one of the lawmakers pushing for the bill to pass. It’s called the Early Detection to Stop Infant Abuse and Prevent Fatalities Act.

Baldwin says early detection is key to saving the lives of children who are victims of abuse.

The National Child Abuse and Neglect data system shows that more than 1,700 children died of abuse or neglect in 2017. That’s more than four children per day. Seventy-two percent of those children are under age 3.

The bill was written by Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Washington). The pediatrician and congresswoman says more people need to be aware of what to look for when it comes to child abuse.

“This would be going through some very typical injuries: bruises, fractures in parts of the body that shouldn’t be fractured,” Schrier tells Action 2 News. “Injuries in the mouth or burns—-many of which, if not trained, they would not make you think twice about that injury. To the trained eye it can trigger a cascade of events that can then protect a child.”

The bill would provide training for a variety of people who deal with children. This includes caregivers and child welfare professionals.

“A pediatrician will see an infant every couple of months, but a daycare provide will see that child every day,” Schrier says. “A day care provider could be doing a diaper change and find bruises on the bottom. So this is a way to have just more eyes out in the community, keeping our children safe.”

The bill would allot $10 million for a training program over three years.

“Other professionals who deal all the time with children may not have the background to detect possible abuse early on,” Sen. Baldwin says. “And this really funds a program to start providing that type of training and awareness to people who are often in contact with children.”

Baldwin says she is sad to hear what happened to Gilbert Grant in Two Rivers. Bill co-sponsor Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) says this bill could help prevent another child from dying at the hands of abusers.

“I understand in your area, you had a young child die of child abuse at two years of age. But I am sure that child abuse didn’t just start the day that child died. It started much earlier. And if we can detect these injuries earlier, we can actually help save these kids’ lives and keep them from more harm,” Stivers says.

Lawmakers hope they can pass the bill this year.