Today, Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC) spoke in support of H.R. 485, the Stronger Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). Stronger CAPTA is bipartisan legislation to strengthen federal efforts to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.
On the House floor today, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Republican Leader of the Education and Labor Committee, delivered the following remarks:
"Child abuse and neglect are heartbreaking, immoral, and inexcusable. No child should ever have to endure pain and suffering at the hands of a parent or caregiver, yet unfortunately, such behavior continues to affect millions of children across the country.
"This bill, Stronger CAPTA, is focused on doing what Congress can do to see that no child experiences the dreadful impacts caused by neglect and abuse.
"This legislation is the result of bipartisan collaboration among Members of the Education and Labor Committee and will strengthen federal efforts to recognize, prevent, and treat child abuse and neglect nationwide. While we have a variety of perspectives represented on the Committee, I believe this compromise will benefit children and families and maintain important protections for parents and faith-based providers of care to families.
"Importantly, Stronger CAPTA not only protects children but also maintains and strengthens parental rights. While there are certainly instances where intervention is necessary, this legislation includes important safeguards to limit unsubstantiated or false reports and provides education to child protective service workers about the rights of parents and families.
"The first priority of the federal government should always be to protect and respect the family unit, while fostering an environment for both parents and children to thrive.
"Stronger CAPTA gives a holistic view of child abuse and neglect, providing states with resources designed to strengthen families and keep children with those who love them most.
"CAPTA was originally enacted in 1974 to support the development of programs aimed at prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Stronger CAPTA seeks to continue this important work while putting more emphasis on prevention so that abuse and neglect can be stopped before it happens.
"The need to pass this legislation and send it to the President’s desk is urgent. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heightened stress, school closures, loss of income, and social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have increased the risk for child abuse and neglect.
"The rate of child maltreatment has ticked up in recent years, devastating families and communities across the country and underscoring the necessity to open America’s schools safely. Without teachers interacting with students every day, an entire line of defense against neglect and abuse is lost. Additionally, due to the increased demand on their services, state child protective services agencies are struggling to respond to the growing number of reports they receive each year.
"That is why we’re here.
"Stronger CAPTA will help states address the recent and devastating rise in child abuse and neglect by improving the quality of child protective services and building networks of prevention services designed to strengthen American families. It improves collaboration between states regarding accountability, supports the development of strategies and best practices for reducing rates of abuse and neglect linked to parent substance abuse disorder, and ensures that no child is removed from a family solely because of their economic situation or without a judicial order, except in cases of imminent harm.
"Furthermore, the bill seeks to prevent and treat child abuse by engaging the community. We want to prevent abuse before it ever happens, and one of the best ways to accomplish that goal is to ensure that communities and parents work together in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of prevention services.
"I believe every Member of this body wishes to live in a world where laws like Stronger CAPTA are not necessary. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a world. But it’s reassuring that during times of extreme political divisiveness we can come together for the greater good.
"I would like to acknowledge the hard work done on both sides of the aisle to author this bipartisan legislation aimed at protecting some of our most vulnerable citizens. Protecting America’s children from abuse and neglect is something we can all agree is of paramount importance, and I’m glad that we could work together on such a meaningful initiative."