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Committee Approves Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Support for Missing and Exploited Children

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce today advanced the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act (H.R. 1808). Introduced by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development, and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), the bill updates the Missing Children’s Assistance Act to help the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) strengthen its recovery and prevention efforts.
 
Members issued the following statements upon conclusion of today’s markup:
 
“Sadly, last year there were more than 465,000 reports of missing children in the United States,” Rep. Guthrie said. “I was proud to introduce the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act of 2017 so that endangered children can continue receiving help from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). This bipartisan bill will update and streamline the Missing Children’s Assistance Act to strengthen NCMEC’s critical programs. I look forward to having the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act considered by the House of Representatives.”
 
“Updating the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a critical task for Congress,” Rep. Courtney said. “The threats to children from human trafficking and online predators requires new countermeasures that NCMEC is uniquely positioned to execute. Passage of this bipartisan bill is an important achievement that shows Washington can rise above partisan politics to protect our most vulnerable population.”
 
“We have taken an important step in making sure our country’s most vulnerable children receive the help, protection, and support they desperately need,” Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said. “This bipartisan legislation delivers reforms that have the potential to change and save lives. We will continue working to advance the bill in the House and do our part to reunite families and keep kids safe.”
 
“Across the country, more than 10,000 children still go missing each year and scores of children are forced into sexual exploitation and trafficking,” Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) said. “H.R. 1808, the Improving Support for Missing and Exploited Children Act, ensures NCMEC maintains its independent status, so it can continue to protect children, especially the most vulnerable in our communities, such as runaway and homeless youth.”

BACKGROUND: In 1984, Congress established a grant under the Missing Children’s Assistance Act to support efforts to find missing children and prevent child exploitation. For more than 30 years, that grant has helped the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) coordinate and support state and local efforts to recover children who are missing and protect youth who are the victims of sexual exploitation. A unique public-private partnership, NCMEC works with families, law enforcement, schools, community leaders, and nonprofits to help build a national response to crises and crimes affecting some of the most vulnerable children across the country. To update and streamline the Missing Children’s Assistance Act, Reps. Guthrie and Courtney introduced H.R. 1808. The bipartisan legislation will strengthen the role of NCMEC in efforts to:
 
  • Encourage and increase public awareness of new and innovative ways to recover and protect missing and exploited children;
      
  • Better protect the growing number of children who go missing from state care and those who are victims of sex trafficking;
        
  • Improve assistance in identifying and locating abductors, criminal offenders, and missing children;
        
  • Prevent children from becoming the victims of exploitation online; and
          
  • Provide transparency surrounding recovery and prevention efforts.

 
For a copy of the bill, click here.

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