New Data on Child Protection and an Update on Federal Prevention Action

The number of maltreated children continues to decline, according to Child Maltreatment 2011. This week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Children’s Bureau released the latest edition of their annual data report from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS). NCANDS information is collected from states voluntarily in response to requirements in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA; P.L. 111-320) and is gathered from child protective services (CPS) cases and aggregated state data. The report shows the number of children who were maltreated continues to decline from an estimated 695,000 victims in 2010 to 681,000 children in 2011.

An estimated 3.4 million referrals of possible abuse and neglect cases were made to state child protective services (CPS) agencies in the U.S., with 60.8% screened in for an investigation. Teachers, law enforcement and health and social services staff are most likely to report abuse or neglect. Of the 676,569 reported victims of child abuse or neglect, the majority (78.5%) involved neglect. The youngest continue to be most at risk, with children under age 3 comprising 27.1% of the victims. The youngest children are also at the greatest risk of death, with more than two-fifths (81.6%) of the children who died from maltreatment in 2011 being age 4 or younger. The total estimated number of children who died as a result of maltreatment only dropped by 10 to 1,570.

In other administration news, the U.S. Department of Education (Ed) announced the winners of the Race to the Top (RTT) competitive education funding. RTT intends to improve public education in, among other areas, closing the achievement gap and ensuring student graduation and preparation for college and careers. Sixteen winners were selected from a total of 372 applicants who sought the resources designated for school districts, as opposed to states. Ed’s purpose behind district competition is to incentivize improvements in states who had not won before and in rural areas. Results from another component of RTT were releases earlier, when five more states received Early Learning Challenge Fund grants. ELCF seeks to increase high-quality early childhood education opportunities with an attention to engaging low-income and disadvantaged children.

On Capitol Hill there is unofficial word of some progress on legislation that would further child maltreatment prevention. There is talk of the Foster Youth Higher Education Opportunities Act (S. 3665), reported on last week, being brought for consideration. Also in last week’s prevention review, a House resolution to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program had gained support. This week the list of cosponsors top 100. Finally, there are several pending bills to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Currently, members of the Senate and House are in negotiations to sort through provisions strengthening protections for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT), immigrants, and Native American. Our advocacy partners at the National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women have more information on how you can help encourage passage before this Congressional session ends.

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