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H.R. 485: The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
Child abuse and neglect is a pervasive public health problem that continues to affect millions of children across the country. In 2021, H.R 485: The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was introduced to prevent this crisis from worsening.
H.R 485: The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
Following significant declines in the rate of child abuse and neglect across the 1990s and 2000s, the rate of child maltreatment has ticked up in recent years as the opioid and COVID-19 epidemics have devastated families and communities across the country.
The number of children receiving an investigation or response from child protective services agencies and the number of children who have died as a result of child abuse and neglect has risen steadily over the past decade.
The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act is a bipartisan proposal that will help states address the recent rise in child abuse and neglect by providing strategic funding to build networks of prevention services designed to strengthen families and to improve the quality of child protective services.
Who Introduced H.R. 485?
H.R. 485 was introduced in January 2021, by Representative Robert C. Scott (D-VA). The bipartisan bill has 30 co-sponsors.
On March 16, 2021, the bill was passed in the House.
What Does H.R. 485 Do?
The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act reauthorizes and revises the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Adoption Reform Act of 1978 to expand services for preventing and treating child abuse.
The bill will authorize $270 million for the expansion of prevention services to reach over 3 million children annually and another $270 million to foster new research and support state child protective services agencies to expand services to meet increased demand without sacrificing quality.
The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act will also help address child abuse and neglect by improving the quality of federal and state data.
Specifically, the bill will establish uniform standards for counting child fatalities and near fatalities related to child maltreatment and will create an electronic system that allows states to share data from their child abuse and neglect registries with other states.
Additionally, the bill will:
- Address racial bias across the child welfare system and ensure that prevention services are accessible to all families
- Support the development of strategies and best practices for reducing rates of child abuse and neglect linked to parent substance use disorder
- Strengthen and expand intrastate coordination among agencies serving vulnerable families at risk of child abuse and neglect to ensure such families have access to physical and mental health services, domestic violence prevention programs, disability supports, and substance use treatment when necessary
- Educate child welfare professionals and paraprofessionals on practices and strategies that effectively treat and prevent child abuse and neglect, including child sexual abuse
- Provide funding for research and technical assistance activities aimed at enhancing providers’ and administrators’ knowledge of effective child abuse and neglect prevention and treatment strategies
- Increase prevention funding for tribal organizations and migrant programs.
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