Child Maltreatment: Referral Requirements under CAPTA and IDEA
Children under the age of three years of age account for over one-quarter of the victims of child maltreatment. The highest rate of maltreatment is for children under the age of 1. Infants and toddlers who are the subject of a substantiated case of abuse or neglect or are identified as affected by illegal substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms as a result of prenatal drug exposure must be referred to early Intervention/Part C of IDEA. There are two sets of federal laws that apply, which are described below.
Since 2003, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) has required states that receive CAPTA funds to develop provisions and procedures for the referral of a child under the age of three who is involved in a substantiated case of abuse or neglect to Early Intervention Services funded under Part C of IDEA. Reauthorization of CAPTA in 2010, 2016 and in 2019 updated the requirements with the addition in 2016 of the following:
- policies and procedures (including appropriate referrals to child protection service systems and for other appropriate services) to address the needs of infants born and identified as being affected by substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure, or a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder,
- a requirement that health care providers involved in the delivery or care of such infants notify the child protective services system of the occurrence of such condition of such infants;
- the development of a plan of safe care for the infant born and identified as being affected by substance abuse or withdrawal symptoms, or a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder to ensure the safety and well-being of such infant following release from the care of healthcare providers, including/addressing the health and substance use disorder treatment needs of the infant and affected family or caregiver; and
- the development and implementation by the State of monitoring systems regarding the implementation of such plans to determine whether and in what manner local entities are providing, in accordance with State requirements, referrals to and delivery of appropriate services for the infant and affected family or caregiver.
- Additional data reporting requirements related to:
- the number of children referred to child protective services under policies and procedures established to address the needs of infants born with and affected by illegal substance abuse, withdrawal symptoms or a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder; and
- the number of children under the age of three involved in a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect that were eligible to be referred to agencies providing early intervention services under part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the number of these children actually referred to these early intervention services.
For more information, see the following documents:
- CAPTA Substance Exposed Infants Statutory Summary (2017), The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare
- Child Welfare Information Gateway resources:
Part C of IDEA
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004, Part C, Section 637(a)(6)(A&B) requires states participating in Part C to refer for early intervention services any child under the age of 3 who is involved in a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect; or is identified as affected by illegal substance abuse, or withdrawal symptoms resulting from prenatal drug exposure.
DaSy and ECTA Centers
This presentation appeared at the 2018 DEC Conference.
More than Referral: Linkages between Early Intervention and Child Welfare Data and Improved Child Outcome (2013)
In 2003, federal legislation (CAPTA and Part C reauthorization) required states to develop referral policies for maltreated children. Although the mandate focuses on referral, the intent was to improve outcomes. This interactive session at the 2013 Improving Data, Improving Outcomes Conference discussed implementation issues and implications for state IDEA data systems.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children
DEC began in 1973 and is one of 17 divisions of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the largest professional organization dedicated to improving the educational outcomes of individuals with special needs.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Supporting the Development of Young Children in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities Who are Affected by Alcohol and Substance Exposure (2016)
This policy statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides recommendations that promote the early development of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) children, prenatal to age eight, who have been exposed to alcohol or other substances during pregnancy, or who are affected by parent or caregiver substance misuse during early childhood. Although it responds to the issue in AI/AN communities, it is also relevant to many other communities across the U.S.
This guide from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides an introduction to the topic of trauma, a discussion of why understanding and addressing trauma is important for human services programs, and a "road map" to relevant resources. It is meant to help professionals learn about trauma-informed care and improve their practices. Some of the resources in the guide are specific to Early Childhood Programs.
Child Maltreatment 2019 (2021)
This annual report from the Children's Bureau presents national data about child abuse and neglect reported to child protective services agencies in the U.S. Some key findings in the report are listed below:
- The youngest children are the most vulnerable to maltreatment, and, also, to fatalities: 45.4% of child fatalities are younger than 1 year (22.94 per 100,00 children in the same population age group).
- More than one-quarter (28.1%) of victims are in the age range of birth through 2 years old.
- This is the largest group across all maltreatment types, including physical abuse, medical neglect, and neglect.
- Children younger than one year have the highest victimization rate at 25.7 per 1,000 children in the national population for this age group (11.8 per 1,000 children). This is more than 14.9 Percent of all victims.
- Children 2 or 3 years old have victimization rates of 10.7 and 10.0 victims per 1,000 children of those ages in the population.
Thirty-eight states report 100,535 victims who are eligible for referral to agencies providing early intervention services and 28 states report 33,036 victims were referred. Of the states that are able to report both the victims who were eligible and referred (28 states), 71.9% of victims who are eligible were referred to the agencies (see: Table 6–9 IDEA: Victims Who Were Eligible and Victims Who Were Referred to Part C Agencies, 2019 and related notes).
See also: Archive of Child Maltreatment Reports
This service of the Children's Bureau, provides access to information and resources on a wide range of topics to help protect children and strengthen families. Some of these include:
- Addressing the Needs of Young Children in Child Welfare: Part C: Early Intervention Services (2018)
- Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development (2015)
- Long Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect (2013)
Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE)
This report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) explores emerging evidence on the value of early care and education services to the Child Welfare System's goals of: (1) child safety, (2) permanency, and (3) wellbeing. It finds that the vast majority of young child welfare system-supervised-children are not utilizing early care and education (ECE) services despite the apparent benefits, and discusses organizational practices that can be used to increase their enrollment ECE programs.
This report from ICF International discusses intervention strategies that could potentially protect infants and toddlers from the adverse consequences of traumatic experiences, such as supporting parents to provide stable and nurturing caregiving that promotes children's sense of safety and security. It includes a summary of evidence-based interventions for infants and toddlers exposed to trauma and looks at how child care, Early Head Start, home visitation, and child welfare can become trauma-informed infant/toddler service delivery systems.
National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)
This organization provides public policy, research, and advocacy information and training on Indian child welfare and community development services. It is the only national Indian organization focused on child abuse and neglect issues that impact Indian children and families. NICWA works to support compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 and other key legislation to support American Indian children and families.
ZERO TO THREE: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families
This document highlights of the developmental needs of infants and toddlers in the child welfare system.
See also: ZERO TO THREE: Trauma and Stress