Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has introduced legislation to bolster efforts by child protective services and nonprofits to prevent and respond to child abuse. The Emergency Funding for Child Protection Act would provide $500 million in emergency funds for local child protective services and $1 billion for community-based child abuse prevention programs.
These flexible funds could be used to target populations that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including racial and ethnic minorities, children with disabilities, families experiencing domestic violence or homelessness, and LGBTQ youth.
Families are experiencing unprecedented stress during this national emergency, which increases the risk of child abuse. Since children are home full-time, it’s harder to identify abusive situations.
“While local child protective services are doing the best they can, most are not equipped to do virtual home visits,” said Senator Brown. “In order to protect children and workers, we have to ensure these organizations have the technology to safely carry out child abuse prevention programs.”
The proposed bill would strengthen systems put in place by the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), which provides funding to states to improve child protective services and community-based activities that prevent child abuse and neglect before they occur. Five other senators are co-sponsors.
Recent reports have shown regardless of the placement setting, the spread of COVID-19 threatens the ability of vulnerable youth to access educational, health, mental health and housing resources.