Principal Research Analyst
Adrian’s law requires the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) or a representative of the law enforcement agency investigating the report to both visually observe and interact with children alleged to be victims of abuse and neglect. Adrian’s law was coined in honor of the late Adrian Jones. The bill was originally introduced in the House Committee on Judiciary as 2019 HB 2392. In Conference Committee, its contents were inserted into 2021 HB 2158, a package of child welfare-related bills signed by the Governor and enacted on May 26, 2021.
Adrian Jones was a seven-year-old boy tortured to death by his father and stepmother in 2015. In 2017, records from DCF revealed Adrian was abused for years. Social workers documented Adrian as being at “high risk” for abuse. Adrian reported several incidents of abuse by his parents, but he was never removed from their custody.
Several abuse and neglect cases have surfaced in the six years since the Adrian Jones investigation began. Kansas lawmakers hoped Adrian’s Law would save the lives of Kansas children by holding state and law enforcement officials accountable for reporting incidents of child abuse and neglect.
Investigation of Reports; Coordination and Cooperation Between Agencies
The enactment of Adrian’s law amended KSA 2020 Supp. 38-2226 by adding a visual observation requirement by DCF or law enforcement conducting the abuse or neglect investigation, requiring that DCF or the investigating law enforcement officer visually observe the alleged victim of abuse or neglect and include the date, time, and location of all visual observations of the alleged victim in the report. If a joint investigation is conducted, both DCF and the investigating law enforcement agency shall visually observe the alleged victim.
Joint Committee on Child Welfare System Oversight
The same bill that enacted Adrian’s law, 2021 HB 2158, established the 13-member Joint Committee on Child Welfare System Oversight. The Joint Committee is charged with reviewing the state child welfare-related policy enacted by the bill and overseeing the State’s child welfare system. The Joint Committee was approved for four meeting days during the 2021 Legislative Interim Session and completed the four meeting days November 4, 2021.
The Joint Committee may introduce legislation and make formal recommendations related to the charge laid out in 2021 HB 2158.
Proposed Amendments to Adrian’s Law
As part of its report to the 2022 Legislature, the Joint Committee recommended legislation be introduced to amend the component of Adrian’s law requiring visual observation of the alleged abused or neglected victim by DCF or investigating law enforcement by expanding it to also require a physician examination by a pediatrician with specialized training in examining abused children. The Joint Committee’s report is available at http://www.kslegresearch.org/KLRD-web/Interim-Committee-Reports-2021.html.
Child Fatalities Data
The graph below provides the trends of estimated maltreatment fatalities per 100,000 children in Kansas and nationally.
Adrian’s Law specifically seeks to reduce child fatalities of this kind in the state by improving the child welfare system.