On Tuesday, March 16, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 485 – Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) by 345-73, and now it heads to the Senate. It proposes robust funding increases for states and local communities to implement strategies and programs that prevent child abuse is critical to strengthen families and protecting children. The passing of the reauthorization of CAPTA in a bipartisan manner prioritizes the need to build networks of prevention services and improve the quality of child protection services to strengthen families.
“One of our most basic responsibilities as public servants is to protect children from the physical and emotional trauma of child abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the last decade, we saw a disturbing rise in rates of child maltreatment, which coincided with the devastating opioid epidemic. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is only reaffirming the urgent need to address this growing crisis,” stated Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA). Chairman Scott emphasized that the bill “is the bipartisan solution we need to not only better treat child abuse and neglect but prevent maltreatment from happening in the first place.”
Republican Ranking Member Virginia Foxx of North Carolina stated that “this legislation is needed, we know school closures have increased the risk for child abuse and neglect, and mental health cases are on the rise among school-aged children. This heartbreaking issue demands immediate attention.” Ranking Member Foxx went on to urge the need to send this legislation to the President’s desk, “The rate of child maltreatment has ticked up in recent years, devastating families and communities across the country… Additionally, due to the increased demand on their services, state child protective services agencies are struggling to respond to the growing number of reports they receive each year.”
In support of CAPTA reauthorization, the National Child Abuse Coalition is calling for a strong public health approach to child maltreatment prevention, as recommended by the Commission to End Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities to increase funding by one billion dollars. Robust funding is critical for CAPTA to help state and local systems effectively empower families and communities to be safe and healthy for children to grow and thrive. CWLA is a founding member of the National Child Abuse Coalition.
With the overwhelming support of Stronger CAPTA that died in the last Congress after failing to get a vote in the Senate, many are confident that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will bring it to a vote.