Contact: Senator David Gottesman

(603) 271 – 2609

May 11, 2006

Concord, NH – Senate Bill 370, of which Senator David Gottesman (D- Nashua) is the prime sponsor, permits the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to enter into agreements with other agencies and professionals to assist in investigating and evaluating reports of child abuse and neglect was signed into law today by Governor John Lynch.

Senator Gottesman commented, “The safety of our children is our primary concern. When sexual abuse and other child abuse is alleged, the need for coordinated forensic interviewing of the child victim is critical to gather the necessary evidence to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law. These Child Advocacy Centers will allow a team approach of gathering information from the child when abuse is reported; yet protect the child from further unnecessary trauma in having to confront the legal system . ”

Federal money became available to allow counties to set up childadvocacy centers. Senate Bill 370 allows DHHS to work in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office and the Child Advocacy Center network toestablish one statewide written protocol that would greatly expedite the ability of all counties to develop centers across the state.

At present, a child might have to recount an incident of abuse or neglect on several occasions, which places a tremendous amount of anxiety on the child. Child Advocacy centers allow the investigating agencies to come together and not force the child to bounce through the system. Senate Bill 370 gives the centers the tools to take this approach across the state.

Senator Gottesman concluded, “I want to thank everyone that worked very hard getting this legislation passed. We have taken a tremendous step forward for keeping the psychological trauma to a minimum for children in New Hampshire that suffer abuse.”