Our future workforce, innovators, leaders and community members can only reach their full potential through thoughtful development and investment in services and policies that strengthen families and protect children. Given the unprecedented challenges the pandemic has inflicted on America’s families, there is an urgent need for services and supports made possible by federal policies. Access to these services and supports can be instrumental in lowering parent and caregiver stress and incidences of child abuse by providing families the support they need before harm occurs. It is essential for elected officials and policy makers–at every level–to understand how to prevent child maltreatment and listen to parents in every community.
Review the 2021 Policy Agenda
Download the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda with key highlighting specific protective factors each policy builds in Colorado.
Building on Prevent Child Abuse America’s Digital Advocacy Day last month, the Illuminate team will be participating in Prevent Child Abuse America’s Virtual Capitol Hill Days this week to educate Colorado’s Members of Congress and their staff on issues affecting Colorado children and families, as well as the key federal programs that support them. Along with other PCA chapters, we’ll be elevating three federal policy opportunities for investing in prevention Colorado’s US Senators and US Representatives can support:
Prioritizing primary prevention by investing $750 million in Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants (Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)) for Fiscal Year 2022.
CBCAP represents the main federal investment in primary prevention for the entire country; however, it has been chronically under-funded. In 2020, CBCAP funded prevention at only 82 cents per child per year, resulting in a great deal of unmet need. Due to the pandemic, parents and caregivers are confronted with extraordinary challenges, including decreased wages or loss of work, lack of adequate childcare, and housing instability, among other hardships that can compound the day-to-day stress of raising children.
CBCAP is designed to help families get the support they need before harm occurs, including voluntary evidence-based home visiting services, community-based parent support programs, early childhood and child care programs, family resource centers, and coordination and connection with mental health, substance use, and domestic violence services, among others. Through CAPTA reauthorization, the current 117th Congress has an extraordinary opportunity to strengthen community-based supports to families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Expanding this program would be transformational for communities and families and greatly expand our capacity as a nation to prevent child abuse and neglect by supporting families.
Increasing current Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program funding by $200 million each year over five years, to a total of $1.4 billion annually.
The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program supports evidence-based, voluntary home visiting services for families. Home visiting is a prevention strategy where highly trained professionals partner with families to provide personal support from pregnancy through their children’s first years of life— raising children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. It has also been shown to reduce rates of child abuse and neglect.
Evidence-based home visiting programs have also been shown to reduce major risks for maternal and infant mortality, giving communities an opportunity to address a major health concern disproportionately impacting communities of color. While the program’s ability to impact maternal and child health outcomes is clear, years of level funding limit its reach to vulnerable families. Of the 18 million current and expectant parents who could benefit from MIECHV, only 150,000 currently benefit from the program, reaching only 3 to 5% of eligible families each year based on pre-pandemic estimates. To bring the power of home visiting to more families and promote improved maternal health outcomes, we need Congress to invest more in MIECHV annually.
Extending the Child Tax Credit expansion to bolster economic support for families.
Strengthening the Child Tax Credit in the recently-passed American Rescue Plan Act may lift as many as four million children out of poverty and significantly cut child poverty for Black and Hispanic children–and could in fact cut child poverty by more than half. Over 90% of children in the US will benefit from the child tax credit expansion in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, ranging from 76% of children in DC to 96% of children in Arkansas.
Poverty is an important predictor of child maltreatment and policies that strengthen the economic security of low-income families may reduce child maltreatment. Moreover, economic policies that increase household incomes may decrease familial stress while at the same time increasing child health and well-being. We are hopeful that lawmakers will extend this Child Tax Credit expansion and investment in families. These types of sustained economic supports to families will allow for greater and better access to child care, home visiting, other human services, etc., leading to increased family stability and reducing child abuse and neglect.
Investing in prevention at the federal level is among the many policy priorities on the Illuminating 2021 Policy Agenda which highlights policies that build one or more protective factors. As Congress continues to consider CAPTA, MIECHV, and the Child Tax Credit, Illuminate will continue to encourage policymakers to prioritize primary prevention strategies to ensure families have the foundations they need to thrive.
Stay up to date on policy that prevents child maltreatment and the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda by subscribing to Illuminate’s blog.