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The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is a federal legislation that was enacted in 1974 and has been reauthorized multiple times, in fact the recent reauthorization was recently amended on January 7, 2019 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, 2019). CAPTA was essentially enacted to target prevention, assessment, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect. In addition, it is a federal law that directs Child Protective Services (CPS) across the country, including New Mexico, through funding, guidance, and grants, which also includes Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, 2019). Since this federal law aims to help child abuse and neglect, they established their own Federal definition of what child abuse and neglect is and what it consists of; meaning that a definition for child abuse is not universal. In 2015, however, the Federal definition of child abuse and neglect has been expanded by Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act to include a child who is considered a victim of sex trafficking or any form of trafficking (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, 2019).
CAPTA funds are limited and there are requirements and guidelines the states must adhere to before obtaining the CAPTA state grant. In order to do so, in section 106b of CAPTA, each state needs to have a specific area they will focus on. It is made up of 14 program areas which the state chooses to improve in support of ensuring better assistance to states in proving their child protective services system (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, 2019). They then report this to qualify for the funding. Furthermore, in New Mexico, the state has chosen the programs in accordance with CAPTA that will be focused on provided with the grant funds. New Mexico has chosen to use CAPTA’s funding through 10 program areas to concentrate on. In the CYFD state grant program report of 2018, it is demonstrated that Program 1 focuses on the investigation regarding reports of child abuse or neglect. Program 2 improves the use of multidisciplinary teams to boost investigations; Program 3 is intended to focus on case management as well as services and treatment given to children and their families; Program 4 focuses on providing better child protective systems by implementing risk and safety assessment tools; Program 5 improves the systems of technology which helps to keep track of child abuse and neglect intake; Program 6 focuses on training for supervisors. Program 7 improves the skills or competency of workers providing services to clients; Program 8 aims to help with implementing research-based strategy training for workers assigned to report child abuse and neglect; Program area 10 delivers public education regarding what child protection system does as well as how to report suspected incidents of child abuse; and the last Program area 14 develops and implements procedures for collaboration within child protective services and other agencies (New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families, New Mexico State Plan, 2018).
According to the Report to Congress on the Effectiveness of CAPTA, it is difficult to have a concise knowledge of the effectives of each individual state because of the information that is available through the state CAPTA plans (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, 2019). In addition, they view information through CAPTA’s annual updates provided by each state reports to see how they are determining improvements and they also assess state performance by looking into the Annual Report to Congress on Child Welfare Outcomes (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, 2010). In the CAPTA annual state data report in 2018 which provided by the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD), 26, 597 children were reported to the State during year as victims of child abuse and neglect (New Mexico Children, Youth, and Families, New Mexico State Plan, 2018). 8, 577 children were substantiated and 17, 534 were unsubstantiated. The report noted that Protective Services Division (PSD) do not collect information on false reports. 7, 394 children were reported to receive services from the state, however the number of children not receiving services from the state was not available. The report also included the number of children receiving preventative services from the state which was 241 but did not report on the number of families that received preventative services from the state during that year. The report also provided information on the Child Protective Services Workforce which included their qualifications and their education. There was other information that was not available or reported on the 2018 Annual Report, like CPS response time, number of children who are drug affected at birth.
In CYFD’s 2018 Annual Progress and Services Report, it is noted that a lot of the safety outcomes for children have increased or declined from the previous years in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 (New Mexico Children, Youth, and families, Annual Progress and Services Report, 2018). In safety outcome 1, the highest reported percentage of children protected from abuse and neglect went from the highest of 91.8% in 2014 to 85.5% in 2018. In permanency outcome 1, children have permanency and stability in their living situations from a low 19.2% in 2014 to 25.6% in 2018. In well-being outcome 1, families have enhanced capacity to provide for their children’s needs went from 30% in 2014 to 35.7% in 2018. Well-being outcome 3: children receive adequate services to meet their physical and mental health needs declined from a 64.1% in 2014 to a 58.95% in 2018. The mental or behavioral health of a child decreased from 66.7% in 2014 to 63.9% in 2018. In the included update report, they mention that they acknowledge that some of the numbers are still low but have been working to change that by improving training for supervisors on a state level to implement framework (New Mexico Children, Youth, and families Annual Progress and Services Report, 2018).
A weakness of CAPTA is how severely underfunded they are (Prevent Child Abuse America, Federal Policy Agenda, 2019). The result of underfunding is that it has led to uneven implementation that is mandated in the requirements by CAPTA (Prevent Child Abuse America, Federal Policy Agenda, 2019). Thus, it may be beneficial if CAPTA were to receive more funding. Furthermore, increasing the fund would potentially give states the opportunity to expand their local services and work thoroughly with the population most affected by child abuse since each state knows what area to focus on without being limited. In addition, having more money may allow states to also focus on and implement the prevention of child abuse and neglect before it occurs.
- About CAPTA: A Legislative History. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/about.pdf.
- Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) State Grants. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/resource/capta-state-grants.
- New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department 2018 Annual Progress Services Report. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://cyfd.org/docs/2018-2019_New_Mexico_CYFD_APSR_September_2018_Final.pdf.
- New Mexico State Plan Protective Services . (2018, September 25). Retrieved from https://cyfd.org/docs/CAPTA_State_Grant_Program_September_2018_Final.pdf.
- Prevent Child Abuse America 2019 Federal Public Policy Agenda. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://preventchildabuse.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2019_Prevent_Child_Abuse_America_Federal_Policy_Agenda_full_-FINAL.pdf.
- Report to Congress on the Effectiveness of CAPTA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/capta_effectiveness_rptcongress.pdf.
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