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House Approves New Keeping Children and Families Safe Act

On October 10, the House unanimously passed legislation (H.R. 5601) aimed at preventing child abuse and family violence and promoting adoption (see The Source, 10/11/02). The bill includes provisions agreed upon by House and Senate negotiators and is an attempt by the House to encourage the Senate to approve similar legislation. A larger version of the bill was approved by the House on April 23 (see The Source, 4/26/02).

Sponsored by Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act (H.R. 5601) would renew programs under the Child Abuse Treatment and Prevention Act (CAPTA), the Adoption Opportunities Act, and the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act from FY2003 through FY2007. The bill would authorize $285 million in FY2003. Specifically, $200 million would be authorized for CAPTA, $40 million for the Adoption Opportunities Act, and $45 million for the Abandoned Infants Assistance Act in FY2003 and such sums as may be needed in each of FY2004 through FY2007.

The legislation would promote partnerships between child protective services and community-based organizations, such as mental health providers, to provide innovative and effective programs for children in abusive situations. The bill also would expand adoption opportunities and would provide services for infants and children who are disabled or born with life-threatening conditions. Additionally, H.R. 5601 would require criminal background checks for prospective foster and adoptive parents and would require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study on the number of infants and young children abandoned every year.

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