1. History and
of all the harm and the indignity that can befall a child, none is as
detrimental as Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).
Unfortunately, CSA is hardly a new phenomenon, it has quite a prolonged
history within the U.S.. According to
Pérez-Fuentes, Olfson Villegas, Morcillo, Wang, & Blanco (2013), “In the U.S.,
child sexual abuse (CSA) affects approximately 16% of men and 25% to 27% of women
1,2,…” (pg.16). However, those
figures do not begin to accurately depict the issue of CSA within the U.S.
being that so many incidents are unreported.
Furthermore, CSA can leave a plethora of health issues. CSA can affect the individual on so many
levels, physically, emotionally, sexually, psychologically, etc. Many victims of CSA can develop mental
illnesses, substance addictions.
Ironically, some victims of CSA can even become perpetrators of CSA
themselves. (Maniglio, 2009, pg. 654).
The aftermath of being sexually abused as a child can continue to influence
that child far into adulthood, if not for the rest of his/her life.
to the 1970s, efforts were made to both prevent CSA and to aid CSA
victims. Regrettably, these efforts did
not always reach fruition due to copious reasons, for instance byzantine policies and
procedures, lack of available resources, ill prepared/under proficient staff
members, insufficient monetary funding. (National Child Abuse and
Neglect Training and Publications Project, 2014, pg. 6). America was failing its children and
it was exceedingly evident. Thus, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of
Representatives unified, taking substantial legislative steps in order to
protect America’s children. Through
their efforts, The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was
born. The crux of CAPTA is centralized
funding to individual states. Harfeld
& Marlowe’s (2017) study found the following:
“…CAPTA provides federal funding to States in support of
prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution, and treatment activities
related to abused and neglected children. It also provides grants to public
agencies and nonprofit organizations, including Indian tribes and tribal organizations
for demonstration programs and projects.13 (pg. 117-118).
Ironically, According to National Child Abuse and
Neglect Training and Publications Project (2014), “Two years earlier, President
Nixon had vetoed a bill that addressed child care.” (pg. 7). This was due to the fact that President Nixon
had felt that the issue of child welfare should be an issue spearheaded by
each, individual states. He thought that
child welfare should not be dealt with on the federal level. Nevertheless, in January of 1974, President Nixon signed CAPTA into
Among other things, one of CAPTA’s goals is to
develop a basic description of what constitutes child abuse and neglect. Additionally, CAPTA seeks to amend how
incidents (of CSA) are both reported and investigated. Moreover, it endeavors to focus on the
appropriate training of child protective services staff members. Stein’s (1984) study
found the following:
order to realize the objectives of the Act, abuse and neglect must be defined,
and persons required to report must be taught to identify such situations and
conditions and be knowledgeable of reporting procedures. Funds for hiring and
training of protective service staff are necessary, as are resources to assist
families.” (pg. 304).
An added essential component to CAPTA was research. It was not only crucial to prevent and treat
CSA but it was imperative to understand why CSA was occurring and how often it
was happening as well. Overall, CAPTA
attempts to unify how the U.S. protects and advocates for its children.
As each state has responded to CAPTA and to
the needs of its children, New Jersey has established child protective services
in the form of the Division
of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P).
CAPTA has instituted the obligation of mandated reporting. Accordingly,
when any allegation of possible CSA is made to DCP&P, it is the objective
of DCP&P to fastidiously investigate any and all assertion s of CSA. Central to any enquiry is the safety of the
child involved, even if protection takes the form of removal of the child from
his/her caretakers. Still, it is the
role of DCP&P to support the family unit and reunification is always the desire,
2. Structure and Design
of the Program:
the framework of social welfare policy, CAPTA/DCP&P diverge from other
policies like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
(TANF) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Initially, there is this concept of
recipients having an amount of “choice” where some social welfare policies are
concerned. Yet, when the policy is
regarding child welfare, choice is basically nonexistent. In New Jersey, when an assertion of potential
CSA is made to DCP&P and a probe has begun, very little to no choice is
exercised by the individuals receiving services. Choices are left up to caseworkers, medical
and psychological professionals and by the judicial system. In actuality, many times even the victim does
not have a choice. If a living situation
is deemed dangerous to a child and the child does not want to leave his/her
family, that same child will still be removed from the insecure environment for
his/her own safety.
Gilbert and Terrell point out, the scope of CAPTA/DCP&P is both universal
and selective simultaneously. It is
universal in the aspect that victims of CSA are provided with services
irrespective of their familial socioeconomic status.
CAPTA/DCP&P facilitates victims in
Upper Saddle River, New Jersey just as readily as in Newark, New Jersey. As a result of CAPTA, any child needing
succor receives it. It is also selective
in the sense that it is means tested. (Gilbert & Terrell, 2013, pg. 92). According to the DCP&P Parents Handbook,
when DCP&P services are afforded, the child’s parents could conceivably be
required to fiscally contribute to the cost of the services being rendered to their
child/their family. DCP does
compel families to supply the Division with pecuniary information. However, if a family is deemed economically
unable to subsidize the expenditure of services, services will still be offered
to the child and to the family. It is
not the mission of DCP to deny services to any family due to their
inability to monetarily contribute for their own services. (http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/families/dcpp/ParentsHandbook_English.pdf).
services are delivered within a centralized manner. Mandated reports are called into a central
toll-free hotline. There are DCP
offices in each county of New Jersey.
Depending on where the child/family lives, the report is sent to a local
office nearest to the child/family’s residence.
Similarly, DCP&P maintains a number of services for
children/families in need. Although
there may be various points of contact, the services that DCP&P endows to
its participants is centralized through an assigned caseworker.
mandated reports of CSA called into DCP&P do not even reach the
investigation stage. Yet, when a
child/family does indeed become a part of DCP&P, the Division delivers a
multitude of services, some being medical care, psychological care, academic
education and housing/shelter.
Connection to other supports are offered as well, such as day/child
care, substance treatment, if there is a disability present, adoption is
another possible benefit. Training
opportunities are available too. i.e. parental education classes. Likewise, if the maltreated child is living
within domestic violence/intimate partner violence circumstances, supplementary
services are provided to those families.
essential element of the policy of CAPTA is to impart federal funding to each
state in the goal to counteract CSA and to ease its victims. Therefore, DCP&P is funded by the U.S.
Federal Government. DCP&P adheres to
the conditions of CAPTA to obtain federal dollars to make services available
for New Jersey’s most innocent victims.
New Jersey has made great strides in reducing the number of children/families
that necessitate DCP services.
Still, there is an immense need for them. For DCP “serve more than 100,000 women,
children, youth, and families in any given month.” (http://www.nj.gov/dcf/about/budget/150512_senatebudget.html). Moreover, it takes “an annual budget of $1.6
billion” dollars to not only operate the many DCP offices but to serve
the children/families of New Jersey. (http://www.nj.gov/dcf/about/budget/150512_senatebudget.html). More specifically, expenditures for DCP
include the following: “Substance
Abuse Services, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Independent Living and
Shelter Care, Out-of-Home Placements, Family Support Services, Child Abuse
Prevention, Foster Care, Subsidized Adoption, Foster Care and Permanency, New
Jersey Homeless Youth, Child Advocacy Centers, Purchase of Social Services, Child
Health Units, Child Collaborative Mental Health Care.” (http://www.nj.gov/dcf/about/budget/).
Analyze this Policy within the Frameworks We Discussed Previously:
It is a part of the American spirit to aid
those in need. We aid other countries
experiencing times of crisis.
Subsequently, at the very foundation, the U.S. has initiated a social
welfare system in the attempt of helping those individuals who are experiencing
crisis within their own lives. CAPTA is
a constituent of that endeavor. CAPTA is
framed as the most significant piece of legislature dealing with child welfare. So much so that it has been reauthorized and
amended several times. The last CAPTA
reauthorization happened in 2010, and the last amendment occurred in 2015. As a component of the CAPTA obligations, each
state is required to not only report when a child is a victim of human
trafficking but to educate staff members on how to identify victims of human
trafficking. (Child Welfare Information Gateway)
made CAPTA so appealing to American values is that it is a policy that is deals
with CSA and other manners of mistreatment in a very progressive manner. This
is due to the fact that, essentially, CAPTA was the first policy of its kind
pertaining to CSA/child abuse and neglect in the U.S.. Furthermore, CAPTA is concerned with
precluding children from being hurt from CSA.
It is also concerned with assisting children who have unfortunately been
victims of CSA. Protecting the innocent
and aiding those in need, what could be more American than that?
as a social service policy, does not maintain the conundrums that other social
policies do. There10 is little to no
ambiguity to CAPTA. Where other policies
exhibit an amount of complexity. CAPTA
is effortless. It is the sole ambition
of CAPTA to abet children who have been traumatically harmed and to avoid any
further children from being injured within similar ways.
greatly fits in line with the feminist viewpoint of need within in
society. The feminist perspective of
change is based in the need for care.
According to Blau & Abramovitz (2014), “…the need for care arises
from the fact that not all humans are equally able at all times to take care of
themselves or others. We all have needs
that others must help us meet if we are to survive.” (pg. 151).
Children are not able to care for themselves. They are dependent upon adults for their mere
existence. Now take it a step further,
now you have a child who is dependent upon adults and being sexually
abused. Who else could exhibit the need
for care more?
One of the many ways in which social welfare policy is viewed
is through the lens of whether the policy is individualist or it is community
based. CAPTA is the without a doubt a
community based social welfare policy.
It is the result of the community’s outcry over injustice. It is the result of people coming together to
advocate for those that could not advocate for themselves.
Even though CAPTA was not signed into law until 1974, the
1960s were a pivotal time in the creation of CAPTA. It was the culmination of two extremely imperative
factors. Initially, the abuse of a child
was not always ordinarily news worthy.
That changed drastically during the 1960s. Within that time period, the media began to
report on and highlight cases of child abuse and neglect in the news. The ill-treatment of children was finally
beginning to reach the mainstream consciousness. For the first time, society was privy to what
was going on behind closed doors, to what was normally considered a family
matter. Unsurprisingly, American
society was horrified by what was befalling these children. People were so outraged that they
collectively called for something to be done about this issue on a governmental
level. Society, as a whole, sought
protection, not for themselves, but for the children and for the community as a
The second vital occurrence of the 1960 that helped to establish
CAPTA was the publishing of an article entitled “The Battered-Child Syndrome”
by Dr. C. Henry Kempe in 1962. Why was
this so significant? It is because Dr. Kempe was the first to give child abuse
a clinical name. Furthermore, Dr. Kempe
addressed within his article how, as a pediatrician, he would treat children
with injuries that were not explainable by inadvertent occurrence. He also reflected upon how he was given
descriptions of how injuries had transpired that were not the least bit
feasible. Regrettably, Dr. Kempe had concluded
that the only plausible condition in which the child had been harmed was if the
injuries were inflicted by either a child’s caretaker or by his/her parent(s)
themselves. (https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/capta_40yrs.pdf). Dr. Kempe’s medical journal article as well
as the increased media attention of children experiencing child abuse and/or
neglect both helped to generate governmental attention to this vastly complex
and damaging social issue. Both of these
critical factors helped to create a chain of events that led to the signing of
CAPTA in law a decade later.
Again, perhaps other
social policies may possess a bit more ambiguity. CAPTA is rather straightforward. CAPTA is literally about saving the lives of
children. Thus, CAPTA maintains an
enormous amount of support, such as the federal government, the individual
states, the medical community, the law enforcement and judicial communities,
even the public at large. Who might be
against this policy, be against CAPTA?
Who would be? Who would be
against aiding and protecting children?
Being that CAPTA has been reauthorized copious times is very
telling. It speaks to the general
commitment of the U.S. to its most vulnerable residents.
Is the Program Effective:
after all of the time that has been invested, all of the effort that has been
made, and all of the money that has been spent, any observer would have to
query as to whether or not DCP&P is an effective program. In the spirit if authenticity, New Jersey
child protectives services have not always been effectual, to say the least. In fact, DCP&P is the reincarnation of
the New Jersey Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). DYFS had diverse and various struggles, such
as impossible caseloads per casework, undertrained staff members, abuses of
power and so many others. However, it
was not until a class action lawsuit was filed against DYFS that it was finally
realized that substantial changes needed to be made. Hence, DCP&P is the culmination of those
a sense, to ask if DCP&P is an effective program is a tad unfair being that
DCP&P, for lack of a better phrase, is attempting to make up for the sins
of the past. Also, in all actuality,
DCP&P is at such a disadvantage, it has an appalling history to overcome. Yet, since extensive vicissitudes have been
made to the program, proficiency strides have been made too. Alvarez’s (2016) study found the following:
DCF had considerable work left to do, after a decade of work, reform strategies
had brought about positive improvements in key areas that included application
of the CPM to case management, placement of children in out-of-home care,
caseworker visitation, timely access to health care services, programs and
services for older youth in foster care, increased adoption placements,
appropriate utilization of NJ SPIRIT for case management across the agency
system, and a stronger quality review process.” (pg. 148).
Progress has been and is currently
being made. Of course, evolvement cannot
be made fast enough. Still, this can
only serve as positive news for the state of New Jersey. Because, unfortunately, CSA is a social issue
that will not be eradicated any time soon.
At the very least, a child and/or family who experience CSA will find a
stronger support system in DCP. DCP.
DCP preserves two sets of goals.
The first being the goals it has for its participants. Secondly, DCP has goals relating the
program itself. As far as participant goals
are concerned, safety is the utmost goal of DCP for both the children and
the families placed into their care. Regarding the children, stability is a
vital goal as well, whether that means remaining with his/her family,
reunification, foster care or adoption.
That is why permanency is highlighted within the program’s name because
it is focal to everyone involved with DCP&P. Not only does the program want every
participant to be secure but they want the children and families to flourish as
well. As far as program goals are
concerned, DCP&P is focused on providing continuity of care to its
participants. This would take the form
of the appropriate training of staff members, connecting children/families to
additionally services, completing an investigation within a timely manner. In essence, in meeting its program goals,
DCP&P is aiding them to meet their participant goals. As a consequence, the children/families within
the program will find security. They
will be empowered to move past their trauma and to go on to succeed in their
DCP&P has indeed made key improvements with the program. Nonetheless, there is still work to be done
as far as correcting past mistakes. The
class action lawsuit brought against DYFS has ensured that the work will
continue. As a component of the
settlement agreement, DCP&P and its various county offices are required to
have extensive and consistent audits conducted by the Office of Performance
Management and Accountability (OPMA) on an annual basis. A review was conducted by OPMA in 2013 found
that DCP&P was still grappling with inconsistencies. It found that documentation remained to be challenging,
such as submitting documentation within a timely manner, not having the
appropriate signatures, not maintaining any additional needed paperwork, etc. In the course of the audit, the evaluators rated
investigations on the basis if the caseworker safeguarded the child, provided
him/her with apposite and needed services, and if the case worker was able to work
with the child/family so that the child could remain at home and not be placed
within foster care. Evaluators, based
the investigations on three criteria, that the investigation was all-inclusive,
that is was in-depth and that it had positive attributes. Yet within in all three criteria,
approximately 40% of the investigations were found to be inadequate. (http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/about/divisions/opma/docs/NJ%20DCF%20Investigations%20Review%20Report.pdf). These critiques were based in actual research
conducted within DCP&P and not ideological differences.
OPMA investigation brought with it recommendations on how best for DCP&P to
move forward in their processes and procedures.
They included further, more detailed training and additional supervisions
for staff member on various policies and procedures. Documentation was included in the
recommendations as well. There is a need
to record everything that transpires during a case. It highlighted the necessity of the
caseworker to be familiar with any accounts of previous child protection. It was also suggested that the program focus
more on interviewing. Meaning that
caseworkers should never interview a child with anyone else in the room and
that both parents of the child should be interview when applicable. (http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/about/divisions/opma/docs/NJ%20DCF%20Investigations%20Review%20Report.pdf).
U.S. has always had a willingness to care for those in need resulting in numerous
social welfare policies. CSA is a terrible
trauma to happen to a child. Thankfully,
with social welfare policies like CAPTA and child welfare programs like
DCP&P both victims of CSA and their families cannot only survive the trauma
but can go on to thrive. They can go
onto live full and happy lives and isn’t that the ultimate American dream?