On Tuesday, March 26, the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services of the House Education and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). The hearing entitled, Strengthening Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect, is expected to focus on the historic law and its ability or limited ability to impact on promoting child abuse protection and prevention.

Last week, Congresswoman Kim Schrier (D-WA) and Congresswoman Lori Trahan (D-MA) began circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to House offices seeking signers onto a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education requesting significant increases in CAPTA funding emphasizing the need to increase funding for both the CAPTA state grants now funded at $85 million and the community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) grants. That letter has more than 40 House members signing on as of late last week.

The deadline for signatures is today and CWLA members and other advocates can and SHOULD call or send an e-mail to their member of the House of Representatives and urge them to sign onto the Schrier-Trahan letter by going here to the CWLA Action Center.

The National Child Abuse Coalition has released recommendations, Taking CAPTA to the Next Level. These recommendations set a framework for increasing the focus on primary prevention both through the CAPTA state grants and the CB-CAP grants. It is a theme that should receive a positive response from the Children’s Bureau and Associate Commissioner Jerry Milner who has placed a heavy emphasis on primary prevention—preventing child abuse before it happens.

CAPTA did receive an historic appropriation increase in the FY 2018 and 2019 when Congress added in $60 million to the $25 million state grants. This was the single biggest increase and overall total state grant funding in the 1974 law’s history. The National Commission to End Child Abuse and Neglect (CECANF) in its 2016 report, recommended that Congress authorize and appropriate at least a $1 billion increase to the base allotment for CAPTA as a part of their recommendations.

In their letter, Congresswoman Schrier and Congresswoman Trahan tell their colleagues,

“Addressing substance abuse and other reasons for children entering the foster care system are best done through prevention activities, not incarceration or punishment. CAPTA programs are these prevention activities. That is why we are requesting a meaningful funding increase for CAPTA in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill.”

The increase CWLA and others are seeking is $500 million for Title I of CAPTA and $500 million for Title II, CB-CAP program.

The 2019 CWLA Legislative Agenda will make a major priority out of increasing funding for CAPTA to build one part of the continuum of child welfare services—primary prevention of child maltreatment. CWLA members will go to Capitol Hill on Thursday, April 11, as part of the CWLA National Conference. Register here.

To help you set up your Capitol Hill appointment go to the CWLA ACTION CENTER to get an easy link to your Senate & House offices.