American Humane Testifies for Reauthorization & Expansion of Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, Plus Increased Use of ‘Differential Response’ and Other Approaches
In testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities on Nov. 5, 2009, Caren Kaplan, MSW, director of child protection reform for the American Humane Association, strongly urged Congress to reauthorize and increase funding for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), the landmark 1974 legislation that addresses child abuse and neglect. The hearing was titled “Preventing Child Abuse and Improving Responses to Families in Crisis.”
American Humane, a national nonprofit organization, was created 132 years ago to protect the welfare of both children and animals. Kaplan’s testimony reflects well over a century of American Humane advocating at the federal, state and local levels for laws that protect children and animals from abuse and neglect.
Kaplan urged that CAPTA include language that supports and enhances interagency collaboration between the child protection system and animal welfare agencies to address what American Humane calls The Link®, which is the connection between animal abuse and other forms of social violence such as child abuse, elder abuse and spousal violence.
She also recommended that, in reauthorizing CAPTA, Congress encourage child welfare agencies to more fully utilize an emerging and promising approach to dealing with reports of child abuse or maltreatment, namely “differential response” or “alternative response,” in addition to the traditional investigative approach that continues to be most appropriate for allegations of severe maltreatment and cases that have the likelihood of serious harm to the child. She also encouraged widespread integration of what are known as family involvement and leadership models that build on the protective capacities of the family group, both immediate and extended, to give those families more decision-making abilities about their children, and she recommended having the federal government provide additional leadership to the state and local levels in dealing with chronic neglect, which is the ongoing, serious pattern of depriving a child of his or her basic physical, developmental and/or emotional needs by a parent or caregiver.
Subcommittee Chair Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), left, with Caren Kaplan.