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August/September 2002Vol. 3, No. 7HHS Commissioner of ACYF Speaks at Opening Ceremonies of 14th International Congress on Child Abuse

Joan E. Ohl, HHS Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, spoke at the opening ceremonies of the 14th International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect held in Denver this July. In her speech, Ohl remarked on the great strides and progress made in strengthening families and keeping children safe. Ohl focused on the Bush Administration's continued commitment to these issues, and stated that by working together nationally and internationally progress on these issues can continue.

The congress, held every 2 years, brings together professionals from around the world to share practical information and research, and to meet and discuss opportunities to advance a worldwide effort to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Ohl stated that the Bush Administration is strongly committed to strengthening families and reducing the number of maltreated children through prevention. Ohl outlined the following recent activities under the current Administration that demonstrate its support of these efforts:

  • Promoting Safe and Stable Families -- was reauthorized in 2001 for 5 years. In 2002, an additional $70 million was provided, for a total of $375 million. The President's 2003 budget requests full funding of $505 million per year for this program.
  • Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) -- currently the Administration is working with Congress to reauthorize and strengthen this legislation, which contains four major programs that are critical to improving the system and ensuring the safety and well-being of children: the Child Abuse and Neglect Basic State Grant program, CAPTA Discretionary funds, the Community-Based Family Resource and Support (CBFRS) grants, and the Children's Justice Act.
  • Child and Family Services Review -- the Children's Bureau is working closely with States to improve their child welfare systems through this process. These reviews will enable the Children's Bureau to ensure conformity with Federal child welfare requirements, determine what is actually happening to children and families involved in child welfare services, and help States enhance their capacity to help children and families achieve positive outcomes.

There is also a new partnership involving Early Head Start and child welfare. This demonstration initiative will enhance and expand services for children and their families who are part of the child welfare services system. Of the $72 million funding expansion Early Head Start will receive this year, $10 million of it will be reserved for the Early Head Start/child welfare collaboration. It is expected that 1,000 children referred by child welfare will be served through this collaboration.

Within HHS, other initiatives also deal with child abuse and neglect. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a pilot project in the public health systems of five States. From this effort, HHS will develop a statewide surveillance tool to ultimately help define the scope of the child abuse and neglect problem and inform intervention and prevention efforts. The National Institutes of Health is funding more child abuse and neglect research to help better understand the causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect to ultimately inform our future prevention efforts.

Ohl summarized the Presidential and Secretarial initiatives established across HHS to strengthen families and improve the well-being of children and youth. These initiatives include:

  • Promoting Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Marriages
  • Positive Youth Development
  • Faith-Based and Community Initiative
  • Early Childhood Literacy
  • Rural Initiative
  • Prevention Initiative

Ohl concluded her remarks by reiterating the purpose of the international congress: charting our progress in strengthening families and keeping children safe.

For more information about ISPCAN, visit their website at