Washington, D.C. – As the COVID-19 pandemic strains the child welfare system, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are releasing a draft of the Emergency Funding for Child Protection Act, which would provide $500 million in emergency funds for local child protective services and $1 billion for community-based child abuse prevention programs. As children are being kept at home to limit the spread of COVID-19, those who are vulnerable to child abuse are at particular risk during the national emergency. As a result, local child protective services and non-profits that prevent child abuse face challenges in continuing home visits or setting up the technology to do virtual visits during the pandemic. This bill would provide swift, flexible funding to allow them to bolster their efforts. U.S. Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA-8) is introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“We must do everything we can to ensure that our Nation’s children are safe from harm. This legislation would provide additional support to the caseworkers who investigate cases of abuse and neglect, as well as strengthen the systems in place to prevent abuse from occurring in the first place,” said Senator Casey.
“As a pediatrician, I am very concerned about children who are under the same roof as their abuser 24/7 during this time when many families are under extreme stress, and without the safe harbor of daycare or school, with educators who interact with them every day. We need to get child protective agencies the resources they need to support and protect children, and ultimately prevent child abuse when warning signs present. I am proud to introduce this bill in the House,” said Representative Schrier, M.D.
The Emergency Funding for Child Protection Act would strengthen systems put in place by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). CAPTA provides funding to states to improve child protective services and funds community-based activities that stops child abuse and neglect before it happens. In April, Senator Casey sent a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership and appropriators requesting that additional funding and critical provisions to support the victims of family violence, domestic violence and dating violence be included in the anticipated fourth COVID-19 legislative package. Senator Casey is also a co-sponsor of the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act (SPEAK Up Act).
Read the Emergency Funding for Child Protection Act here.