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Responding to Child Abuse

Description

Overview

Child abuse can have lifelong consequences that last well into adulthood. However, the psychological toll on victims and families can be mitigated with evidence-based, trauma-informed care from experienced multidisciplinary teams. OJJDP funds projects, programs and training that are critical to the intervention and investigation of child abuse and neglect cases.

In fiscal year (FY) 2022, there were an estimated 1,990 deaths from child abuse or neglect and 558,899 victims nationwide, according to the 2022 Child Maltreatment report from the Children's Bureau at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families.

Programs and Funding

Victims of Child Abuse Act Program

OJJDP's Victims of Child Abuse (VOCA) Act program works to improve the lives of those affected by child abuse by maximizing the impact of victim services and ensuring professionals have access to effective and innovative training.

In FY 2023, the Office awarded $41 million in projects and training for responding to child abuse. While the funding cycle varies and some programs are multi-year efforts, OJJDP supports the following initiatives in this area: 

  • Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs):
    • FY 2023–$28,674,791 million
  • Child Abuse Training for Judicial and Court Personnel:
    • FY 2023–$1 million
  • VOCA Child Abuse Training and Technical Assistance for Child Abuse Professionals
    • FY 2023–$3 million
  • Post-Secondary Education Opportunities for Child Protection Professionals 
    • FY 2023–$1,761,681

Children's Advocacy Centers

In FY 2023, OJJDP awarded more than $28,674,791 million to the Children's Advocacy Centers National Subgrants Program to support local Children's Advocacy Centers (CACs) and state chapters. CACs coordinate the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse cases using multidisciplinary, trauma-informed teams of professionals from child protective and victim advocacy services, law enforcement and prosecution, and the medical and mental health fields.

There are four regional centers: Midwest Regional Children's Advocacy Center, Northeast Regional Children's Advocacy Center, Southern Regional Children's Advocacy Center and the Western Regional Children's Advocacy Center. These centers provide training and technical assistance to CACs and state chapters in each of the region that are tailored to the needs of their region.

OJJDP's CAC partners provide service and support through grants and training and technical assistance to Centers nationwide.

  • That includes more than $34.4 million to support local, Tribal, and regional CACs and $4.8 million for training and technical assistance to Tribal CACs, child abuse prosecutors, and judicial, legal and social services professionals. Also in 2023, OJJDP awarded $7,779,244 million under the Strategies to Support Children Exposed to Violence program to enhance support services for children exposed to violence. 

OJJDP's CAC Partners under VOCAA

  • National Children's Alliance
  • Regional Children's Advocacy Centers:
    • Northeast Region: Philadelphia's Children’s Alliance
    • Southern Region: National Children’s Advocacy Center
    • Midwest Region: Children's Hospital of Minnesota
    • Western Region: Rady's Children's Center
  • Training and Technical Assistance for Child Abuse Professionals: National Children's Advocacy Center
  • Training and Technical Assistance for Child Abuse Prosecutors: Zero Abuse Project

National Children's Alliance

The National Children's Alliance oversees accreditation, advocacy, membership, national leadership and quality assurance to the network of 950 CACs. The Alliance also provides training, technical assistance, and networking opportunities to communities that are planning, establishing, or improving local centers.

Alaska and Tribal Children's Advocacy Centers Expansion

OJJDP is working to expand the coverage and capacity of CACs in Alaska and Indian country as part of the American Indian and Alaska Native Children's Advocacy Centers Expansion program to improve the investigation of child abuse cases and treatment for children and their families in Tribal and Alaska native communities. In FY 2020, OJJDP awarded $14.2 million to support the expansion effort through the following initiatives:

Child Protection: Dependency Courts 

FY 2022—$16.0 million
FY 2021—$14.3 million
FY 2020—$14.0 million
FY 2019—$13.4 million

Court Appointed Special Advocates

Court appointed special advocates are volunteers trained to serve as fact finders, monitors, and facilitators for children who have been abused, neglected or are at risk of victimization.

In FY 2022, OJJDP awarded $12.4 million to the National CASA Association to expand the national membership and accreditation program for state and local CASA Programs and make available training and technical assistance to support new and existing state and local CASA programs across the nation under the CASA Training and Technical Assistance project.

CASA has trained 97,900 volunteers from 939 CASA programs and served 242,000 abused and neglected children in 49 states and the District of Columbia. 

Child Abuse Training for Judicial and Court Personnel

In FY 2023, OJJDP awarded $1 million to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges to provide training and technical assistance to judicial, legal and social service professionals to improve their understanding of and response to cases of child abuse and neglect.

The Child Abuse Training for Judicial and Court Personnel project trains judicial, legal and social service professionals to improve their response in child abuse and neglect cases. It also teaches practitioners how to coordinate information and services across the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

OJJDP continues their efforts to support intervention and investigation of child abuse cases. Through evidence-based training by their network of training and technical assistance providers and funding for programs to assist multidisciplinary teams, the Office strives for positive outcomes for victims and their families. 

Post Secondary Education Opportunities for Child Protection Professionals 

In FY 2023, OJJDP awarded $1,761,681 million to organizations to support the training of future mandated reporters and child protection professionals in the field, including law enforcement officers, social workers, mental and medical health professionals, and prosecutors. The goal of this program is to increase the knowledge base and skills of mandated reporters and child protection professionals to recognize and appropriately address the impact of violence and psychological trauma on children. The two organizations awarded were the University of Washington to implement the Honoring Native Children through Strengthening Child Protection: Native Child Advocacy Studies (NCAST) Program and the University of Texas at Arlington for the Interprofessional Education to Promote Equity in Mandated Reporting: A Certificate Program Approach.

Resources

OJJDP Resources:

Additional Resources: