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CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DODD. Mr. President, today the Senate passed the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, S. 3817, and cleared it for the President's signature. This bill reauthorizes several important statutes--the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, CAPTA, and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, FVPSA, the Adoption Opportunities Act, and the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act. I would like to thank Chairman HARKIN for his work on this reauthorization, and for his tireless efforts on behalf of abused and neglected children and victims of domestic and dating violence. I would also like to thank the ranking member of our committee, Senator ENZI, and the ranking member of my Subcommittee on Children and Families, Senator ALEXANDER. They have been good partners in this process. I also thank Chairman MILLER, who brought this bill to the House floor this week and worked hard to ensure that we passed it before adjourning for the year.

I would also like to thank the great work of the advocate communities that work constantly to protect children and victims of domestic and dating violence, including the National Child Abuse Coalition and the National Task Force to End Violence Against Women. Work on this reauthorization would not have been possible without the expertise and on-the-ground knowledge that these groups possess.

The numbers of children abused or neglected and individuals affected by domestic and dating violence are astounding and intolerable. In fiscal year 2008, 772,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect, 1,740 children died due to abuse or neglect, and 38 percent of victims of abuse did not receive postinvestigative services. Nearly one in four women is abused by a partner in her adult life, three women are killed by a partner each day in this country, and 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence each year. We cannot be complacent on these issues with numbers like this.

The programs authorized under CAPTA and FVPSA provide vital direct services and prevention efforts to the victims they target. I am pleased with some of the improvements we were able to make to these programs in this reauthorization bill.

CAPTA funds State and discretionary grants designed to help States strengthen their child protective service agencies to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect, including research, home visitation, outreach, and education. It also funds community-based efforts to develop, operate, expand, enhance, and coordinate initiatives aimed at strengthening and supporting families in the prevention of child maltreatment, and to foster an understanding of diverse populations to more effectively prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.

For CAPTA, our bill encourages States to adopt a differential response model in working with at-risk families to improve their outcomes and prevent child abuse and neglect from ever occurring; addresses the co-occurrence of child abuse and neglect along with domestic violence, mental health problems, and substance abuse disorders; strengthens data collection regarding our child protection service systems in States; and increases parental involvement in the planning and implementation of programs under these grants, to better meet the needs of children.

FVPSA is the primary Federal funding stream for domestic violence shelters and direct services to victims of domestic violence and their children. Over 2,000 shelters and programs receive grant funding under FVPSA, which provide emergency shelters, hotlines, counseling and advocacy, and primary and secondary prevention for victims of domestic violence. For FVPSA, our bill recognizes dating violence victims as recipients of FVPSA services, and acknowledges that women between the ages of 16 and 24 are at greatest risk for being victims of domestic violence; addresses the needs of underserved populations that find it challenging to access FVPSA services; and codifies a program to provide services for children exposed to violence in their homes and communities.

The Abandoned Infants Assistance Act provides assistance to abandoned infants by supporting recruitment of and training for foster families. The Adoption Opportunities program is designed to promote adoption, eliminate barriers to adoption, and provide permanent, loving homes for children, especially children with special needs. Adoption promotion and post-adoption support are both critical components in successfully achieving the goals of the program and I am pleased that our bill reauthorizes these two programs as well.

We have an enormous responsibility to provide for some of our most vulnerable citizens--children who have been abused or neglected, victims of domestic violence and their children, children who have been abandoned, and those awaiting adoption. The programs reauthorized under S. 3817 represent some of the Federal Government's best approaches for addressing these issues and challenges and I am pleased to see this Chamber recognizing their importance.

I would again like to thank my colleagues for their work on this important bill and pledge to continue to do the work we need to and have the responsibility to do to prevent child abuse and neglect, and domestic and dating violence in this country.

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