March | April 2020

OJJDP Will Expand Services for Child Abuse Victims in Alaska and Tribal Communities in the Lower 48 States

Depressed teen boy with head in arms.According to Child Maltreatment 2018, a report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, American Indian and Alaska Native children have the highest rate of victimization of any race or ethnicity. In Alaska Native villages and other remote tribal communities throughout the United States, accessing medical and legal services to help children who have been physically or sexually abused is a serious challenge. Services are often many miles away and scattered in disparate locations.

To address this urgent need for centralized and accessible services, OJJDP will be making grant awards in fiscal year (FY) 2020 totaling $14 million to develop, expand, and build the capacity of children’s advocacy centers (CACs) in Alaska and tribal communities in the lower 48 states. The funding was made available to OJJDP by the Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime.

Using a multidisciplinary team approach, CACs coordinate the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases and the treatment of victims. These child-focused centers bring together professionals in medicine, law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, victim advocacy, and mental health to offer services in one location. Working together, these professionals conduct interviews and make team decisions about the investigation, treatment, management, and prosecution of child abuse cases.

CACs exist in  strategic locations throughout Alaska; however, there is a need for additional resources to meet the needs of children in other remote areas of the state. Through its FY 2020 Alaska Children's Advocacy Center Expansion Initiative for Child Abuse Victims, OJJDP will fund the development of new satellite CACs, supervised by a National Children’s Alliance-accredited CAC. In addition, OJJDP will expand the capacity of existing Alaska CACs by increasing the number of mental health, forensic, and advocacy services professionals and providing specialized equipment and transportation services.

OJJDP’s Tribal Children’s Advocacy Center Expansion Initiative for Child Abuse Victims will fund the development of new satellite CACs for federally recognized tribes in the lower 48 states.

A third FY 2020 OJJDP grant will fund a training and technical assistance provider to guide and support these projects.

Through Victims of Child Abuse Act programs, OJJDP supports the development and expansion of CACs in communities throughout the country. Last year, more than 880 CACs served 367,797 children nationwide.

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month

On March 31, 2020, President Donald J. Trump proclaimed April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month to encourage action to improve the safety and well-being of children. Following are helpful resources for professionals and others committed to preventing and mitigating the effects of child abuse:

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  • The Department of Health and Human Services’ National Child Abuse Prevention Month website provides the latest resources and outreach materials on engaging communities in the prevention of child abuse.
  • The National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC), which developed the CAC model, provides in-person and online trainings on how to recognize and support maltreated children. NCAC’s annual International Symposium on Child Abuse addresses all aspects of child maltreatment, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, trafficking, prevention, and intervention.
  • NCAC’s Child Abuse Library Online (CALiO) contains thousands of publications, videos, audio files, articles, and reports that promote evidence-based practices to prevent and address child maltreatment.
  • To learn more about how OJJDP is working to address child abuse through partnerships, programs, and training and technical assistance, visit the Office’s Child Abuse Prevention webpage.