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June 8th, 2011

Grassley Named a “Defender of Children”

Senator Chuck Grassley again has been named a Defender of Children by the First Focus Campaign for Children for his support of policies that advance the well-being of children. Grassley also was named a Defender of Children in 2010.

According to the First Focus Campaign for Children, consideration was given to members who have introduced, co-sponsored and voted for legislation that would best meet the needs of children, with special emphasis given to members who sponsored hearings or fought for their colleagues’ support of policies that would improve the health and well-being of children.

“We applaud our Champions and Defenders of Children for their unflagging commitment to protect our nation’s future,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “Children cannot vote, hold press conferences, or donate to political campaigns to thank the Members of Congress that support them and protect their interests. And because of that, today we are honoring those members on behalf of children. This award is intended to give recognition to our nation’s top public officials who take action to make children a national priority. We look forward to working with our Champions and Defenders to continue protecting America’s next generation of leaders.”

“I’m honored to receive this award. I’m glad that I’m able to work in the United States Senate for America’s most vulnerable citizens, including missing, neglected and exploited children, and America’s foster youth, who need the system to work and, wherever possible, want permanence and a loving family,” Grassley said. “I will continue to work with my colleagues on the needs of America’s children.”

Grassley has long been an advocate for children. Many states have doubled their adoptions from foster care since the bipartisan Adoption and Safe Families Act, which Grassley helped draft and fought to get through Congress, became law in 1997. Grassley worked to get funding included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 that was used to train judges, attorneys and legal personnel in child welfare cases, as well as grants that strengthened and improved collaboration between the courts and child welfare agencies. As then-Chairman of the Finance Committee, Grassley presided over the 2006 hearings on child welfare that helped ensure passage of his Child and Family Services Improvement Act later that year. In 2008, Grassley introduced the bill that became the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. This bipartisan bill made it easier for children to stay in their home communities and be adopted by family members, provided incentives for states to move children from foster care to permanent adoptive homes, made all children with special needs eligible for federal adoption assistance, and established new educational and vocational opportunities for youth during the difficult transition period when they age out of the foster care system at age 18. Grassley founded the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth in 2009. He currently co-chairs the caucus with Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

Grassley’s “Jetseta’s Bill,” a version of which was signed into law in 2006, as part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, established mandatory minimum prison sentences for criminals who commit murder, kidnapping, or serious bodily harm against children. “Jetseta’s Bill” was named after a 10-year old Cedar Rapids girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered by a repeat sex offender in 2005. In 2008, Grassley introduced the Prevention and Deterrence of Crimes Against Children Act, which increased mandatory minimum sentences for the exploitation of children, boosted penalties for certain crimes against children, put controls on the use of passports by convicted sex offenders, and strengthened the process for removing criminal aliens who commit sex offenses.

As the co-chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, Grassley has introduced numerous pieces of legislation designed to protect America’s children from the dangers of illegal drugs and misuse of prescription drugs. In March of this year, Grassley re-introduced legislation with Senator Dianne Feinstein of California to increase federal criminal penalties for drug dealers who entice children with candy-flavored methamphetamine, marijuana and other dangerous drugs. Also in March of this year, Grassley and Feinstein introduced the David Mitchell Rozga Act, which would ban the chemicals identified in K2 by the Drug Enforcement Administration and list them as illegal substances in the same category as other deadly drugs, such as heroin and methamphetamine. This bill was named for an Iowa teen who, after smoking K2, became extremely upset and terrified and committed suicide. David’s friends and family, as well as police investigators, found no evidence that David was suicidal prior to smoking K2.

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