Proposed Legislation Would Change the Way Virginia Investigates Child Abuse

Dec 5, 2018

Credit MBandman / Creative Commons

Child abuse investigations are at the center of one bill that’ll be considered next month in Richmond.

The tragic story of a Norfolk child who died after horrendous child abuse may be on the verge of changing how child abuse investigations are conducted in Virginia.

Delegate Mike Mullin of Newport News says if Virginia has a pending child abuse investigation, social service investigators need to contact any other state where the family lived in the last five years.

“I think that it’s common sense. If somebody has been jumping from one place to another, they shouldn’t be able to escape a child abuse allegation just because they move to another state.”

Legal expert Rich Kelsey says he was surprised to learn this wasn’t already the case.  He wonders if it will slow down the system as a whole.

“The downside is that it may make it harder to find qualified people and it may make longer lines to get people properly placed. But at the end of the day, placement should be with people we can reasonably trust.”

Mullin is calling the bill Heaven’s Law in honor of the girl who prompted the legislation, Heaven Watkins.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.