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November/December 2001Vol. 2, No. 6CAPTA Update

Congress has made progress both in reauthorizing and funding the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).

On October 17, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Select Education held a hearing on the reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act entitled the "Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect: Policy Directions for the Future." The hearing had been rescheduled several times due to the shifting legislative agenda in Congress following the September 11 terrorist attacks.

On October 11, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees voted to fund CAPTA programs for Fiscal Year 2002 at the following levels:

  • CAPTA basic State grant program: House—$23 million; Senate—$21.026 million (2001—$21.026 million)
  • Community-based family resource and support prevention grants: House—$34 million; Senate—$32.834 million (2001—$32.834 million)
  • Discretionary research and demonstration grants: House—$19.978 million; Senate—$33.717 million (2001—$33.717 million)

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Select Education on Oct. 17 were:

  • Ms. Sandra Alexander, Georgia Council on Child Abuse, Inc., Atlanta, GA
  • Ms. Patti Weaver, A Hand to Hold, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Mr. Christopher J. Klicka, Home School Legal Defense Association, Purcellville, VA
  • Ms. Linda Dunphy, Northern Virginia Family Service, Falls Church, VA
  • Dr. Joann Grayson, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

The hearing was chaired by Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), the subcommittee's vice chair.

Several witnesses said that CAPTA's focus on prevention must be maintained and strengthened. They also provided examples of how intervention programs, such as home visitation and Early Head Start programs, are preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting school readiness at a much lower cost than treatment services. Public-private partnerships were also presented as successful prevention efforts. Mr. Klicka testified about the problems of false reporting and the need for better parental due process rights under CAPTA. Weaver discussed safe haven/baby abandonment programs as a way to prevent child abuse and murder, using the example of A Hand to Hold, a program she founded that serves three counties in western Pennsylvania.

Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA) expressed concern about the plight of overburdened, underpaid, and inadequately trained Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworkers. He also suggested that the rising unemployment since the terrorist attacks may lead to increased child abuse and neglect as families endure more stress. Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) asked the panel of witnesses whether the religious exemption clause in CAPTA for cases of medical neglect should be removed. All the witnesses, with the exception of Mr. Klicka, agreed that it did not protect children.

The complete written statements of witnesses, as well as those of the subcommittee Chairman and Vice Chairman, are available online at: ( (This link is no longer available)

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Subcommittee on Children and Families ( (Editor's note: this link is no longer available) is scheduled to hold hearings on CAPTA at a later date.

Visit Thomas, a service of the Library of Congress, to access transcripts of committee hearings at:

Related Item

See the following related article in the July/August 2001 issue of Children's Bureau Express:

  • "HHS Assistant Secretary Testifies Before Congress on CAPTA"