On June 10, 2021, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Reauthorization Act (CAPTA) of 2021 reauthorization was passed via voice vote by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. This legislation, S. 1927, was re-introduced on May 27, 2021 by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC).
CAPTA provides funding to states, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations to assist in the prevention, investigation, and treatment of incidences of child abuse. CAPTA includes several provisions for children and youth experiencing homelessness, including requiring states and agencies to provide and increase access to preventative services for families experiencing homelessness, and to solicit and consider input of parents experiencing homelessness when planning and implementing prevention services.
SHC is pleased that S. 1927 contains a few additional specific provisions to protect and serve children and families experiencing homelessness, including requiring states to:
- Improve policies and procedures in order to safely reduce unnecessary investigations by child protective service agencies of families experiencing homelessness solely based on the their housing status; and
- Implement procedures to provide information and training to mandatory reporters who are educators on the requirements of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to support homeless children and youth in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school.
Families and youth experiencing homelessness often avoid seeking assistance or disclosing their situations because they are afraid that they will be referred to child welfare authorities. The new amendments to CAPTA can help remove this barrier, thereby increasing access to services and support.
CAPTA was last reauthorized in 2010. Following successful passage out of committee, the reauthorizing bill is expected to be voted on by the full U.S. Senate in coming weeks.