• July/August 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 7

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CAPTA's 40th Anniversary

On January 31, 1974, President Nixon signed the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), bringing the Federal Government into a leadership role in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. CAPTA not only defined child maltreatment, it also mandated research into the topic and provided funds to States for training and developing programs to combat child abuse and neglect.

The story of CAPTA—what led to the legislation and how it changed over the years—has now been told in a new online publication. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act: 40 Years of Safeguarding America's Children traces the history of this seminal Act, from the early struggles to persuade Congress that child abuse was indeed an issue worthy of Federal legislation, to the later amendments that broadened CAPTA's purview. The publication is also the story of the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) and its roots in the earlier National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (NCCAN), mandated in the original 1974 legislation.

The publication draws from both historical documents as well as interviews with child welfare advocates, telling the story against the backdrop of the enormous societal and political changes of the last 40 years. Photos of the important players along the way, including such luminaries as Senator Walter Mondale, Douglas Besharov (first NCCAN Director), and former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, are peppered throughout the text. Logos from the many National Conferences on Child Abuse and Neglect also enliven the narrative. All of these features serve to document the history of legislation that has changed the face of child welfare in America.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act: 40 Years of Safeguarding America's Children was developed through the Children's Bureau's National Child Abuse and Neglect Training and Publications Project. Find it on the website of the 19th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect:


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