The Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities has been holding a series of deliberation calls to settle on recommendations that have the potential to be wide ranging in their impact on state child protective services and child welfare systems.
The Commission established by Congress at the end of 2012 (Protect Our Kids Act of 2012) has focused on the tragedy of the more than 1500 annual child deaths that result from child abuse, a total many argue is much higher but not counted. In addition to issues of how to track and count these fatalities is the greater challenge of developing a strategy that can better address those child deaths that occur in families known to the child welfare system and how to more globally address a larger population of vulnerable families and children that may have no contact with CPS.
The Commission has crafted a CECANF National Strategy Draft and Final Report Outline Draft and Fatalities Along the Continuum that will likely change between now and the end of this year as members of the Commission publically deliberate what they will recommend, how specific those recommendations should be, and how large (funding) and encompassing recommendations should be for a report that will ultimately come back to Congress.
One area that has been discussed is a potential set of recommendations regarding the redesign of CAPTA. CAPTA’s reauthorization expires at the end of the fiscal year but in recent years it has not been reauthorized within the five-year time period.
A set of recommendations by the Commission could focus much needed attention on a CAPTA reauthorization and may push appropriators to better fund the Act which in recent years has lost funding while Congress amends it with new requirements. Reauthorization is the responsibility of the House Education and the Workforce and Senate HELP Committee but those two committees have focused most of their attention on the reauthorization of the education law (ESEA) with other items such as higher education likely next up. A CAPTA reauthorization reinforced by Commission recommendations that would elevate the Children’s Bureau and the issue of child abuse protection and child abuse prevention could give those committees impetus to re-engage on child welfare issues and focus much needed attention on prevention and front end services.