WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced today that critical legislation to help combat child abuse and neglect has passed the Senate and is on its way to the President’s desk. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Reauthorization Act of 2010, which Harkin co-sponsored, supports programs that prevent child abuse, neglect and domestic violence in Iowa. As chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Harkin played a key role in shepherding the bipartisan legislation through Congress.
"Incidents of child abuse are on the rise – both in Iowa and around the country – according to the latest statistics. And this disturbing trend must be reversed immediately,” said Harkin. "It is for that reason that I have made this bill a priority. I’m certain that I speak on behalf of many adults – myself, as a father and grandfather – who cannot fathom this kind of neglect. This legislation will give Iowa and states around the country the additional resources to protect our most valuable resource – our children.”
"Funding for the programs CAPTA authorizes is critical as we go about trying to prevent child abuse before it occurs,” said Stephen Scott, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa. "Providing these important services helps make families stronger, children safer, and saves society the high costs of responding to child abuse."
Numerous studies have shown that abused and neglected children are more likely to suffer from depression, drug abuse and severe obesity than children who are not abused. Iowa’s rate of child maltreatment is consistently higher than the national average, and shelters across the state have experienced a 10% state funding cut. In 2009, over 102 requests for services went unmet.
Some of the highlights of the legislation include:
• Reauthorizing the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, the only U.S. federal funding source dedicated directly to domestic violence shelters and programs.
• Enhancing the general child protective system by including the use of differential response systems which allow greater flexibility in investigating cases of child abuse or neglect and encourage an emphasis on prevention.
• Improving training protocols for mandatory reporters of suspected cases of abuse or neglect by developing and facilitating the use of research-based strategies.
• Supporting collaboration and enhancing interagency communication among public health agencies, agencies in the child protective service system, and agencies carrying out private community-based programs.
• Improving procedures for collaboration in investigations, interventions, the delivery of services and treatment provided to children and families.
• Providing services that assist children exposed to domestic violence, including addressing mental health issues, and reducing substance abuse.
• Improving training for individuals working with children to ensure they are consistent with best practices in the field of early childhood and adolescent development.