ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A bill aimed at protecting foster children from abusive natural parents is making progress in the Maryland General Assembly.

The House of Delegates approved the measure Thursday. The Senate previously approved a version of the bill.

At least one version must pass both houses before it can become law. The lead sponsor, Republican Frederick County Delegate Kathy Afzali, says prospects for passage are great.

The bill was inspired by the death last year of a Frederick toddler who was fatally beaten after she was returned from foster care to her natural parents, who are awaiting trial.

Supporters say the bill would tighten a legal loophole that generally requires states to try to reunite families. It would strike a standard that abuse must be chronic for the state to maintain custody.

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