As a country, we are about to make one of the biggest investments in family strengthening in decades. In times of stress, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, there is a direct correlation between families’ economic and social struggles and increases in cases of child abuse and neglect. This week, Congress is sending the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to the President’s desk with critical investments in child maltreatment prevention to lift families and communities out of this pandemic.
When families have information and access to resources to meet basic needs, we strengthen the foundation for families and communities to thrive. By investing in prevention–through economic relief measures and family strengthening and support provisions–the stimulus bill brings more resources within reach for Colorado families. These strategies build protective factors in all families to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs–including addressing systemic barriers to building protective factors across the population.
The bill will:
- Provide $150 million for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which will allow for virtual home visits, technology for parents, grocery cards, and the purchase of diapers and wipes. Voluntary home visiting programs improve family functioning by providing parents with the parenting advice and support they need and by assisting them in accessing helpful resources in their community.
- Provide $250 million for Community Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) funding to all 50 states for community-based services that support the coordination of resources and programs and concrete supports to better strengthen and support families. On the ground in Colorado, this could include providing vital supports to families, including voluntary evidence-based home visiting services, community-based parent support programs, early childhood and child care programs, family resource centers, and coordination and connection with mental health, substance use, and domestic violence services, among others.
- Provide critical economic support to families including essential unemployment benefits to the millions of people who lost their jobs, provide critical rent and utility assistance, deliver $1,400 in direct payments, and offer states and local governments billions of dollars in local aid to keep education and other vital public services running. Strengthening household financial security is a key strategy to prevent child abuse and neglect.
- Expand the Child Tax Credit to $3,000 per child, and $3600 for children under age 6. Putting more resources into parents and caregivers hands is good for families. Similar investments in the UK cut child poverty in half.
Review the 2021 Policy Agenda
Download the 2021 Illuminating Policy Agenda with key highlighting specific protective factors each policy builds in Colorado.
1) American Psychological Association (2021). What the Economic Downturn Means for Children, Youth and Families. Available online at https://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/economy.
2) National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information (1998). “Prevention Pays: The Cost of Not Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect.” Available online at www.calib.com:9500/nccanch/prevmnth/actions/pays.cfm. “Not Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect.” Available online at www.calib.com:9500/nccanch/prevemnth/actions/pays.cfm; LeCroy & Milligan Associates, Inc. (1999). “Healthy Families Arizona Cost-Benefit Analysis.” Phoenix, Arizona: Arizona Department of Economic Security.