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Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003 - Conference Report

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ALEXANDER. Mr. President, I rise today with my colleagues Senators GREGG, KENNEDY, and DODD to pass the conference report for S. 342, "The Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003." I also want to congratulate Senator GREGG, the chairman of the conference committee, and commend his leadership.

Unlike many Federal Government programs, this is a relatively small level of funding, but it is vital for the safety and sanctity of our most precious resource—our children. S. 342 reauthorizes the "Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, (CAPTA)," which provides grants to States to improve child protection systems and grants to support community-based family resource and support services. The changes made to this program will encourage new training and better qualifications for child and family service workers. Additionally, this program will create or improve coordination between child protection services and education, health, mental health, and judicial systems to ensure that children who are abused
and neglected are properly identified and receive referrals to appropriate services.

Tennessee has used CAPTA funding for many innovative pilot programs, such as Therapeutic Visitation Services. This is a pilot project that provides intensive service to families with children in the foster care system from four rural areas in east Tennessee. The goal is to preserve and strengthen family relationships while facilitating visitation between children and biological parents. Children in the pilot program saw their parents sooner and more frequently.

In Davidson County, the Chap-Plus program provides service and helps coordinate care for families that are stressed due to their child's medical condition, such as a life threatening disease. Another program that receives CAPTA funding is the University of Tennessee Legally Defensible Child Interviewing program, which trains Child Protective Services case managers. This training is focused on improving interviewing skills of investigative teams when they interview children who are the possible victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

These important programs will benefit from this legislation. I thank my colleagues for voting for this bill.

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