HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The State Senate has passed a bipartisan bill to protect Pennsylvania’s children. The change is stemming from tragedy: a seven-year-old killed during a child custody dispute.
Kayden’s Law is a way to keep Kayden Mancuso’s legacy alive and reform the Keystone State’s child custody statute.
“We’re coming up on the anniversary… August,” Tom Giglio, Kayden’s maternal grandfather, said. “That’s when we found Kayden.”
Almost three years ago, Kayden was killed by her biological father during an unsupervised weekend visit that was ordered by the court.
It happened after Kayden’s mom gave evidence of abusive and violent behavior by Kayden’s dad.
“You can’t get over the pain,” Giglio said. “You can’t get over the loss but perhaps we can do some good.”
That’s exactly what Kayden’s family is doing.
Her mom Kathy Sherlock has advocated tirelessly for legislation that would protect other kids from a similar fate.
“The tragedy of Kayden is so horrific but it happens to other children and what we’re hoping to do is break that cycle,” Sen. Lisa Baker, a co-sponsor of the bill said.
Kayden’s Law would do this by adding restrictions on visitation if there is a known risk or history of abuse.
Those include making sure a child would not be left alone with an abuser.
It would also update the factors a judge must consider when deciding short or long-term care to put the focus on children’s health and safety.
The bill recommends the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania implement better training for judges and court personnel involved in custody cases.
“The most that we can do is ask that they do an annual training on these issues of domestic violence and abuse,” Sen. Steve Santarsiero, who sponsored the bill said.
“Kayden’s Law could have saved my daughter if it had been in place in 2018,” Sherlock said in a statement. “Let’s hope it helps other children suffering and at risk right now.”
“Help other children, other families, that are in these situations be able to navigate the system, be able to protect their children, and keep their children safe and alive,” Giglio said.
Kayden’s Law is now being considered by the house judiciary committee.
A Facebook group called Kaydens Korner is following the legislation and keeping her memory alive.