Chairman Scott Urges Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment

WASHINGTON – Today, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) delivered the following remarks in favor of legislation that strengthens federal efforts to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.  The Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Stronger CAPTA) provides greater funding and establishes new tools to combat the rising rates of child maltreatment over the past decade. 

“Thank you, Madam Speaker.  I rise in support of the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, or Stronger CAPTA. 

“One of our most basic responsibilities as public servants is to protect children from the physical and emotional trauma of child abuse and neglect.

“Unfortunately, at the beginning of the last decade, we saw a disturbing rise in rates of child maltreatment, which coincided with the devastating opioid epidemic.

“Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is only reaffirming the urgent need to address the growing crisis.  Across the country, families are coping with severe financial and emotional challenges.  State child protective services agencies, which have been chronically underfunded, are also struggling to help families while keeping caseworkers safe.

Stronger CAPTA is the bipartisan solution we need to prevent child abuse and neglect from happening in the first place and provide better treatments to address child abuse when it takes place. 

“This legislation provides states with the resources they need to expand locally driven prevention strategies, which will help strengthen families and improve child protective services.  It also invests in child protective services so they can ensure that caseworkers have the resources to both help children and keep themselves safe.

“The legislation also streamlines communications between child protective services across the country so that critical information is not lost across state lines.  Such a system would likely have saved the life of Heaven Watkins, an 11-year-old girl from my community who tragically died because local child protective services had no way of knowing that her parents had a history of child abuse in another state. 

“Finally, Stronger CAPTA builds on our bipartisan commitment to keeping families together when it’s in the best interest of the child. 

“Madam Speaker, we must do everything in our power to ensure that our nation’s children learn and grow in healthy environments.  That is why, last Congress, both Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass Stronger CAPTAwith broad bipartisan support.

“Our bipartisan effort to pass this bill again this year demonstrates that—no matter our party affiliations—we can all agree that Congress must do everything we can to support children and families.

“To that end, I want to thank the Subcommittee Chair, Ms. Bonamici, and Subcommittee Ranking Member, Mr. Comer, for their leadership on this key priority for our communities. 

“I urge my colleagues to support the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and I reserve the balance of my time.”


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