Megan Dahle’s legislation to increase access to exams for child abuse victims gains support

Assemblywoman Megan Dahle announced the progress of AB 1402, a critical piece of legislation aimed at enhancing support for victims of child abuse.

This bill, which has garnered significant support from key stakeholders, seeks to increase the availability and affordability of Suspected Child Physical Abuse and Neglect Medical Forensic/Evidentiary Examinations, ensuring victims have access to essential medical services.

Megan Dahle

AB 1402 addresses a pressing gap in current legislation that overlooks the reimbursement for medical forensic examinations related to suspected child physical abuse and neglect. Despite the strides made in protecting victims’ rights and access to justice through previous bills such as AB 925 and AB 2185, this specific aspect remains unaddressed.

The bill allocates $7.4 million annually from the General Fund to the California Office of Emergency Services, allowing for full reimbursement to providers offering these crucial exams.

“AB 1402 represents a crucial step in our ongoing commitment to support victims of child abuse,” Dahle said. “By extending reimbursement coverage to Suspected Child Physical Abuse and Neglect Medical Forensic / Evidentiary Examinations, we ensure vital medical services are accessible and affordable for those who need them most. Every child deserves protection,  justice and the necessary resources to heal, and this bill brings us closer to our goal.”

“AB 1402 will provide increased access to specialized medical care for the most vulnerable population in California- abused children,” said Dr. Sean Dugan, a Redding Pediatrician who specializes in conducting forensic medical examinations for maltreatment. “Specialists in child abuse are few and far between. AB 1402 will increase the number of physicians, advanced practitioners, and nurses that specialize in child abuse.”

“The impact of this legislation on the safety and well-being of California’s children cannot be understated,” said Children’s Legacy Center CEO Kimberly Johnson. “Removing historic gaps in forensic medical exam funding will provide support for youth who have experienced abuse and sexual assault. Without it, we risk compounding existing trauma and perpetuating unnecessary barriers to healing. We thank Assemblywoman Dahle for her dedication and commitment to systemic change that will create hope, resilience, and healing for children across the state.”

The need for such legislation is evident, given the staggering number of substantiated child maltreatment cases in California, with nearly 60,000 reported cases in 2021 alone. AB 1402 directly addresses the financial barrier that clinics and providers face in offering these essential services, particularly in rural districts where access to specialized medical care is limited.

AB 1402 has garnered strong support from prominent organizations and associations dedicated to championing the rights and well-being of children and families.

Backed by the Legislative Women’s Caucus, Rural County Representatives of California, Peace Officers Research Association of California, and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, AB 1402 has earned recognition for its potential to make a difference in the lives of abuse victims.

AB 1402 signifies Dahle’’s steadfast commitment to ensuring a safer, more supportive environment for California’s children.

About Assemblywoman Megan Dahle
Assemblywoman Megan Dahle represents the 1st Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of El Dorado and Placer counties, along with Lassen, Alpine, Amador, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, and Siskiyou counties.