Alexander Applauds Senate Passage of Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Reauthorization Act

Posted on December 14, 2010

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) issued the following statement regarding Senate passage on Friday, December 10, of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Reauthorization Act (S. 3817), legislation cosponsored by Alexander that reauthorizes the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the Family Violence Services Prevention Act, and the Adoption Opportunities Act:

“Each year, roughly 800,000 children in this country are abused or neglected—including nearly 11,000 children in Tennessee alone,” said Senator Alexander. “This legislation will help states and local communities begin to reduce that number and more quickly respond to the needs of abused children. One way it does that is by giving case workers more flexibility to respond to the unique circumstances of each child abuse case.”

One of the bills being reauthorized by this legislation – the Family Violence Services Prevention Act – provides $88 million a year to domestic violence shelters and provides direct services to victims of domestic violence and their children. 

“The 2,000 emergency shelters nationwide are often the only relief for abused spouses who have nowhere else to turn,” Senator Alexander said.  “By updating and improving the Family Violence Services Prevention Act, we are enhancing the services these shelters can offer.” 

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A Summary of the S. 2817, the CAPTA Reauthorization Act

The CAPTA Reauthorization Act reauthorizes the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the Adoptions Opportunity Act and the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act.  It is an important piece of legislation designed to help states and communities improve services prevent and support victims of child abuse and neglect as well as family and domestic violence.

Since the 2003 reauthorization the nation has not seen enough progress in reducing the rate of child abuse or neglect.  Each year an estimated 794,000 children are victims of child abuse or neglect. In its Child Maltreatment 2008 Report on Child Abuse and Neglect, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that, each year, 141,700 children are seriously injured, 18,000 are severely disabled, and 1,760 children die as a result of abuse or neglect. Children younger than 6 years of age accounted for 76 percent of child fatalities and children younger than one year of age accounted for 42 percent of child fatalities.

The CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010 is bipartisan legislation intended to strengthen and support families with children; to protect children from abuse, neglect and maltreatment; improve services for victims of domestic violence and children exposed to domestic violence; and improve adoption assistance.

Specifically the CAPTA Reauthorization Act builds on current law by ensuring that all states have the capacity to provide services and improve their child protective services systems, including:

  • Enhancing the general child protective system by including the use of differential response systems which allow greater flexibility in investigating cases of child abuse or neglect and encourage an emphasis on prevention;
  • Improving training protocols for mandatory reporters of suspected cases of abuse or neglect by developing and facilitating the use of research-based strategies;
  • Supporting collaboration and enhancing interagency communication among public health agencies, agencies in the child protective service system, and agencies carrying out private community-based programs,
  • Improving procedures for collaboration in investigations, interventions, the delivery of services and treatment provided to children and families,
  • Providing services that assist children exposed to domestic violence, including addressing mental health issues, and reducing substance abuse,
  • Including parental involvement by the non-abusing parent in decision making about best options for abused or neglected children,
  • Strengthening state data collection and analysis to improve program operation, service delivery and effectiveness by:
    • Improving state coordination through data systems to help track and monitor services provided to families both within a state and between states;
    • Collecting data on training, education, and caseloads to ensure CPS workers are qualified and examine caseload burden;
    • Improving data collection to better align IDEA Part C services with child protective service systems in states; and 
    • Requiring a study of the effectiveness of the citizen review panels, and
    • Improving training for individuals working with children to ensure they are consistent with the best practices in the field of early childhood and adolescent development.

 

FVPSA is the primary federal funding stream for domestic violence shelters and direct services to victims of domestic violence and their children. Over 2,000 shelters and programs receive grant funding under FVPSA.  Specifically the FVPSA reauthorization improves the law by:

  • Modernizing the structure of the Act to improve understanding of, and compliance with, the provisions of the Act. (As Joe would say: that’s a BFD)
  • Expanding access to services for victims of dating violence. 
  • Addressing the diverse needs of local communities by increasing the emphasis on victims in underserved populations under the Act; and by supporting national special issue resource centers to provide information, training, and technical assistance to State and local domestic violence service providers to better serve racial and ethnic minorities as well as Indian tribes and other native populations.
  • Improving inter-agency collaboration by adding research coordination for reporting data from all Federal entities that support domestic violence.
  • Strengthen the law to better address the needs of children exposed to domestic violence
  • Allowing for the creation of a National Indian Resource Center to better coordinate and support service providers to native populations. 
  • Strengthening provisions relating to confidentiality to protect victims from repeated abuse.

The Abandoned Infants Assistance Act provides assistance to infants with AIDS who are abandoned at hospitals and churches and training for and the provision of foster families for abandoned infants.  No substantive changes are made to this program.

The Adoption Opportunities program is designed to promote adoption, eliminate barriers to adoption, and provide permanent, loving homes for children, especially children with special needs. Adoption promotion and post-adoption support are both critical components in successfully achieving the goals of the program. Major changes include:

  • Strengthening the focus on improving the adoption of minority (specifically African American) and older children to address the disproportionate representation of these populations in foster care.
  • Improving placement rates of (all or minority, older, disabled? children) by reducing barriers to adoption, increasing post-placement support and encouraging positive practices.
  • Reserving 30% of funds for services and activities designed to support the adoption of older and minority children.