U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, announced that, following her push, the End Military-Connected Child Abuse and Neglect Act will be included in the final FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation will address shortcomings in the Department of Defense’s (DoD) reporting of child abuse by codifying GAO recommendations to improve how the Department of Defense tracks and responds to incidents of child abuse and neglect occurring on military installations or involving military dependents. The annual must-pass defense bill is expected to be voted on in the Senate this week.
“Every year, there are numerous incidents of child abuse in military families, and we must do more to protect innocent victims,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This legislation puts us one step closer to ending the scourge of child abuse in the military. With the End Military-Connected Child Abuse and Neglect Act included in the final NDAA, our service members will soon be assured that, should their children suffer from abuse, DoD will act swiftly and deliberately to investigate and respond.”
Gillibrand previously introduced the End Military-Connected Child Abuse and Neglect Act alongside U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) and U.S. Representatives Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA-39) and Brian Mast (R-FL-18) following a GAO report that outlined 23 recommendations for DoD to implement in order to improve the DoD’s tracking and response to child abuse. During conference negotiations, Gillibrand, Rounds, Cisneros and Mast successfully pushed Senate and House Armed Services Committee leadership to maintain essential language in the final NDAA package. The End Military-Connected Child Abuse and Neglect Act will codify the GAO recommendations to protect the approximately 1.2 million school-aged military dependents around the world, including tens of thousands in Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools, and assure U.S service members and their families that the DoD would have a strong response should their child suffer from child abuse and neglect.