The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)


CAPTA is a Federal legislation that addresses child maltreatment. In 1974, the president signed the legislation into law. The role of CAPTA includes providing Federal funds to states so that they can support activities that prevent and treat child abuse. The policy plays a critical role in authorizing government research on issues concerning child maltreatment and treatment of victims. Although there were several amendments to the original Act, the recent one was in 2010. The two Federal grant programs created by the Act in support of child abuse include basic grants and demonstration grants. The paper will entail examining the role of the policy, implementation, and expected outcome and eligibility. Also, the paper will explain the administrative auspices, funding, and history of the policy.

Role of the Policy

First, the policy provides states with Federal funding so that they can improve systems that offer protective services to children to avoid child abuse. Second, CAPTA offers public agencies and organizations grants to support their child abuse prevention activities that include projects and demonstration programs. These organizations include Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations (Price, Bergin, Luby, Watson, Squires, Funk & Little, 2012). Third, the policy determines the role of Federal in supporting innovations, research, and projects that prevent child maltreatment. Third, the Act provides a clarification of the Fourth Amendment rights by explaining the necessary legal requirements. For instance, training is essential for a child protection worker so that they can protect the legal right of the family or children during an investigation.


All children are eligible for CAPTA services. Children receive protection on maltreatment and legal rights. Child abuse and prevention program funded by CAPTA protects children and those that are at risk of maltreatment.

States are eligible for grants provided by CAPTA if they enact stronger laws that govern child abuse and neglect. Also, states should have standards that relate to investigation and cooperation among social service agencies, law enforcements, and courts (Bakalar, 2010). Therefore, states are covered by the policy if they meet the legislative requirements.

Implementation of the Policy

The implementation of the policy requires staffs from relevant agencies, Child Protective Services, and hospitals to work together and develop precise identification, response policies and referrals (Price, et al., 2012). Moreover, staffs from the relevant agencies will provide training to ensure consistent application of the policy.

Expected Outcomes and Goals

First, the policy is expected to reduce child fatalities. Preventing child deaths and promoting their overall well-being depends on the continued support from non-profit organizations, legislature, and state agencies. Second, the policy is expected to enhance the general child protective system. The policy will ensure that states develop, improve and implement tools for risk assessment. The primary focus of the policy is to provide services in response to child maltreatment by the guardian or parent (Bakalar, 2010). Third, the policy will develop and enhance the capacity of community-based programs in coordinating initiatives and activities to prevent child maltreatment.

Administrative Auspices

The role of Children’s Bureau is to administrate the policy. The federal government requires states to enact certain laws to receive grants so that they can support cases of child maltreatment. CAPTA falls under Children’s Bureau agency. This agency is in the same functional areas as the Administration for Children and Families.

How it is funded

Discretionary taxes fund the policy. The discretionary funding helps to support the policy’s activities.

Legislative History of the Policy

In 1974, President Richard Nixon signed the Act into law (Myers, 2008). The act was signed into law during the time when the concerns of most people was on the abuse of children. The Act was due to the legislative of individuals such as John Brademas and Senator Walter Mondale. The goal of the CAPTA is to address the problem of child neglect and abuse. It gets its funding from various federal programs. The objective of the CAPTA is to provide sufficient funding for not only identification but also prevention and treatment of child neglect and abuse. The Act authorized the state to conduct studies on measures that could minimize child neglect and abuse, and how to enhance treatment of the victims (Myers, 2008). The Act resulted in the establishment of the NCCAN. CAPTA further established two forms of federal grant programs.  The basic grants to the government are aimed at supporting new assessment, prosecution, prevention and treatment programs. There is also the demonstration grant that was offered to non-profit firms and public agencies such as Tribal organizations and Indian Tribes. The ACT further defines the meaning of child neglect and abuse (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2011).

The Congress made several amendments to the original CAPTA with the objective of reforming the law. For instance, CAPTA was later rewritten.  This took place in the CAPAFS Act of 1988. However, after one year, the CAPCG Reauthorization Act of 1989, further amended the Act.  The Continuing Appropriations Act of 1985 played a significant role in the CAPTA amendments by using its various sections such as 402 and 409 to authorize the programs on the CBCAP.

The 1990 Stewart B. McKinney, Homeless Assistance Act, added a new amendment to the CANPTA (Myers, 2008). The new title commonly referred to as Families at Risk of Homelessness was hence initiated and included in the mentioned Act. The amendments were made with the objective to provide all children with proper housing. The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act Amendments further amended CAPTA in 1992 and was reauthorized by other Acts. The recent amendment of the Act was done in 2010.

CAPTA is closely associated to social work, particularly on a macro level. This is because the Act needs a comprehensive and intensive approach via the efforts of the national, local and state government (Moxley, Squires & Lindstrom, 2012). Consequently, the religious and civic groups, the private agencies, individual and group volunteers, professional bodies and government entities play important roles in meeting the Acts mission and use of the allocated funds via the policy.

The Title 1 of the CAPTA contains the issue of funding to the states in the form of grants. The amount of grant given to the state is proportionate to the population of children. Approximately $26.5 million is provided every financial year. For example, in the 2012 fiscal year, CAPTA granted the states averagely $471,999.  The states should submit their updates and plans to the CAPTA for the purpose of grant renewals. The renewals are conducted annually.

Lastly, Congress took a leadership role to ensure successful passage and implementation of CAPTA. The Act focused on authorizing federal funds with the intention of improving the way in which the state responded to sexual abuse, neglect and all forms of physical abuse. CAPTA focused on reporting and investigation and provided the necessary funds needed for training all the multidisciplinary bodies interested in child maltreatment. The role of Children’s Bureau is to administrate the policy. The Act has played significant roles in improving the child protection services provided all over U.S.  CAPTA further spearheaded the passing of non-governmental and privately financed child protection services (Moxley, Squires & Lindstrom, 2012).  . The Congress has been renewing CAPTA, and the Act is still a force to reckon with in the 21st century. In summary, the Act offers a legal foundation for child neglect and abuse in the treatment and prevention activities. Therefore, the Act has faced minimal criticism.



Bakalar, N. (2010). Child abuse investigation didn’t reduce risk, a study finds. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Child Welfare Information Gateway (2011). About CAPTA: A legislative history.             Washington, DC: US. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s       Bureau.

Moxley, K. M., Squires, J., & Lindstrom, L. (2012). Early intervention and maltreated children: a current look at the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and Part C. Infants & Young Children, 25(1), 3-18.

Myers, J. E. (2008). A short history of child protection in America. Family Law Quarterly, 42(3), 449-463.

Price, A., Bergin, C., Luby, C., Watson, E., Squires, J., Funk, K., & Little, C. (2012). Implementing Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requirements to serve substance-exposed newborns: Lessons from a collective case study of four program models. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 6(2), 149-171.

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