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Are States in The US Complying With CAPTA Laws For Kids Not in Foster Care? (Pt 1)

A Judge's hammer and a set of scales, representing the law, on a wooden table.
Federal laws dictate how child welfare agencies around the US treat vulnerable children who aren’t in foster care.

Did you know, there’s a federal law that many people aren’t aware of called the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (commonly called CAPTA) that states in the US are required to comply with? CAPTA provides Federal funding to States in support of prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities to do with child abuse. It also provides grants to public agencies and nonprofit organizations, including Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations, for demonstration programs and projects to raise awareness about child abuse and promote prevention. However, that’s not all CAPTA does. 

US states are required to comply with CAPTA regulations

According to numerous experts, there are five areas in which child welfare agencies across the US need to work in order to meet those regulations. Recently, ProPublica partnered with The Globe to assess the child welfare agencies around the US, and determine which ones were actually meeting these standards. “Over more than two years, child welfare agencies were surveyed about their efforts to protect children.” Propublica explained in a recent article. “The survey responses, which were also reviewed by child welfare experts from around the country, showed that every child welfare agency fell short in at least one category.”

  • Plans of Safe Care: Protecting Drug Affected Infants

One of the areas where CAPTA requires child welfare agencies to protect vulnerable children without removing them from their parent’s care, is the subject of infants affected by drugs during pregnancy. If a baby is born with drugs in their system, CAPTA requires that the child welfare agency overseeing that case create a “plan of safe care” for those infants. However, as it turns out, only Nevada, Ohio and Washington, D.C. are fully compliant with this provision of CAPTA.

  • Differential response: Identifying Children Most at Risk

CAPTA law requires that states report the different ways they prioritize child abuse allegations. It also encourages child welfare agencies to use “differential response” systems that allow agencies to respond in more “family friendly” ways to lower risk allegations. The difficulty here is that CAPTA doesn’t make it clear what they consider to be compliance with this statute, and the response system itself can be somewhat controversial – as some cases identified as low risk end up being considerably more serious. Twenty-nine of the fifty states ended up being in compliance.

Most child welfare agencies don’t follow state or federal guidelines properly.

Although ProPublica didn’t focus on any one agency, they did a fascinating job or proving that most child welfare agencies around the country weren’t holding up their end of the bargain when it comes to protecting kids who aren’t in foster care. Join us next time for the rest of the list, and remember that if Michigan’s CPS accuses you of child abuse or neglect, it doesn’t matter how “low risk” they claim the allegation is – you need to protect yourself and your family. Call 866 766 5245 right now and get help from Michigan’s premier CPS defense attorneys.

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