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Panel on sex abuse considers mandatory reporting training


August 19, 2015

PIERRE — A state panel working to combat sexual abuse of chilwdren in South Dakota began consideration Tuesday about whether to ask the Legislature to require training in mandatory reporting for people in professions that often deal with young people.

The Jolene’s Law task force looked at the on-line program used in Arkansas as a possible model for South Dakota. Several panel members said there could be small amounts of federal funding available within the budgets of several departments of state government.

“It is kind of a big issue,” said Casey Murschel of Sioux Falls. A former state legislator, she is part of several advisory groups working with the task force. She said the committee researching mandatory reporting supports a training requirement.

Murschel said that as a minimum, people in school settings should be required to receive training.

Roxanne Hammond, a policy attorney for the state Legislative Research Council, told the task force the Arkansas program offers a TV training video that can be tailored to the profession and an Internet portal.

“This is one of the things that could be an easily achievable goal for this group,” Hammond said.

TateWin Means, a task force member from Pine Ridge, suggested that training in mandatory reporting could be more effective if it becomes a condition for professional licensing and certification and if it aligns with tribal law or state law.

The task force didn’t take a formal vote on whether to recommend the training requirement but the chairwoman, Sen. Deb Soholt, said the outline is taking shape.

“We’re going to move forward in that direction, and more to come at our next meeting,” Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, said.

The task force did vote to endorse a proposal for a new Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment that would be located at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion.

The state Board of Regents last week made the center one of its budget request priorities to the governor for the 2016 legislative session. The regents are seeking $210,725 in base funding and authority for a new position for a center director.

A handful of task force members unofficially gave the proposal their backing earlier this summer so the plan could be presented to the regents. The center would be part of USD’s School of Health Sciences, whose dean is Michael Lawler.

Jay Perry, a member of the regents central staff, said Lawler supports the plan. Perry said Mike Rush, the regents’ new executive director, is aboard after receiving a briefing from Soholt.

“We’re all on the same page and want to see this go forward,” Perry said.

Soholt said the center would be involved in work throughout South Dakota.

“There have been preliminary conversations already with the executive branch making sure this is positively looked at through the governor’s budget as this rolls forward,” she said. “I would share the preliminary conversations have been very positive.”

As seen in Black Hills Pioneer.

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