“Kayden’s Law” (S.B. 868) is sponsored by Sen. Steve Santarsiero, a Democrat who represents Lower Makefield in Harrisburg. The bill is designed to toughen protections for children involved in custody cases.
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, at Lower Makefield Township Community Center, at 1550 Oxford Valley Rd.
Kayden Mancuso, an Edgewood Elementary student, was killed last August while visiting her father in Philadelphia. Her stepfather and grandfather discovered her body, bludgeoned to death, at the Manayunk home. Her father, Jeff Mancuso, was found dead in his bedroom.
RELATED: Stepfather: Proposed Law Could Have Saved LMT 7-Year-Old’s Life
At the time, Kayden’s mother had a restraining order against Mancuso because of his violent past and family members have told local media that Mancuso had made death threats against them.
Santarsiero’s bill aims to ensure that the paramount factor in custody cases must be the health and safety of the child. Histories of abuse and domestic violence must be considered, under the bill, as must allegations of child abuse or violence.
In custody cases in which those issues are a factor, a court hearing to consider them would be required before custody can be awarded.
The legislation also calls on Pennsylvania’s court system to require training for judges and other court officers to make sure they understand issues surrounding child abuse and domestic violence.
“The safety of our children is being overlooked in far too many custody proceedings,” Santarsiero said. “It is our responsibility as legislators to reform the system so that a child’s safety is prioritized.”
The committee that is meeting Thursday is chaired by Sen. Lisa Boscola, of Bethlehem.