While the Senate HELP Committee was debating mental health legislations and amendments to CAPTA, on Tuesday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce used testimony from Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to raise questions in regard to enforcement of the same CAPTA provisions.

In his opening remarks Chairman John Kelley (R-MN) said,

“…the department is also responsible for helping states to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect, specifically those outlined in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act or CAPTA. … It’s come to our attention that some states are making these assurances without putting the necessary policies in place. Yet, not a single state is being denied federal funds.

A Reuters’ investigation (on drug addiction) ….cast serious doubts as to whether basic requirements of the law are being met and enforced. In light of this tragic report, we wrote to you to better understand the department’s process in reviewing and approving state plans under CAPTA, and I’d like to continue that discussion today. It’s clear that the current system is failing some of our country’s most vulnerable children and families, and something has to change.”

In the back and forth during questioning of Burwell indicated the issues raised by the Reuters report specifically dealing with the state of South Carolina has caused HHS to go back to the state and is implementing a program improvement plan in that state.  The Secretary said that HHS will be taking a different approach in reviewing the detail states provide in their CAPTA state plans.

The Reuters report from late last year described the tragic impact on children when they are born addicted.  That publication indicated that in at least 110 cases of parental opioid addiction that the newspaper examined infants died from their conditions.  The reports highlighted the lack of implementation of the safe care plans mentioned here.  Originally it was part of a 2003 reauthorization of CAPTA with the law amended again in regard to safe care plans in 2010.