The following is a message from Dan Press, Legal Advisor to the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice), about the need to contact Congress regarding a COVID 19 funding bill being considered this weekend. He is urging ACEs science/trauma advocates and leaders to send emails to their U.S. Senators and Representatives immediately to address the mental health and trauma implications of this pandemic.
All – I hate to bother you on a Sunday, but we urgently need you to contact Congress to tell them they need to include funding in the COVID 19 funding bill to address the explosion in child abuse and other forms of trauma that children and other family members will be suffering as a result of being shut in, denied their usual outlets, facing food or other shortages and other effects of COVID 19. While Congress is providing two trillion dollars to address the financial and medical impact of COVID 19, it is not including a penny to deal with the very serious mental health/traumatizing impacts even though those impacts will continue to cause damage for years if not for generations.
Please read the email below from the National Child Abuse Coalition and then email the model letter they have provided to your Senators and Congresspersons asking that they provide increased funds for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and other programs that will funnel resources to those programs that are in a position to mitigate the traumatizing effects of the pandemic on children and adults.
Please take a few minutes to send the email to your Members of Congress. We are in danger of losing much of the good work everyone has done over the past few years to reduce and treat trauma unless Congress provides the necessary resources to deal with the traumatizing effects of the pandemic.
From: National Child Abuse Coalition <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2020 11:23 AM
To: National Child Abuse Coalition <email@example.com>
Subject: Urgent and time sensitive - need grassroots outreach
Dear Coalition Members,
We need the engagement of your networks this weekend! COVID discussions in Congress are moving very rapidly. Please activate your grassroots network right now to contact Labor HHS appropriators to express support for the Coalition’s COVID19 recommendations. Congress needs to hear from your networks this weekend.
You can find all the contact information for key appropriations offices here: Appropriations Contact List
A sample email would look like this:
Dear (INSERT STAFF NAME),
My name is (NAME) and I work at (ORGANIZATION) in (CITY/STATE). I’m writing to ask that you include funds in the COVID19 package that directly target the prevention, intervention, and treatment of child abuse and neglect during this nationwide public health emergency. We are already seeing the impact of the current crisis on the child welfare system. A national child abuse hotline reports that hotline traffic has doubled in the last week. The Washington Post on Wednesday, the incidence of domestic violence worldwide is increasing as a result of coronavirus. This is particularly dangerous for children, because perpetrators of domestic violence are much more likely to abuse their children.
The research on child maltreatment could not be clearer: family stress leads to increased risk of child abuse and neglect. With more Americans losing their jobs and income, and having uncertain child care if they are working, families are already feeling the devastating impact of this pandemic. In addition, COVID-19 is forcing families into isolation and away from the extensive network of community supports they rely on in times of need. This isolation will not only put families under great stress, it can also lead to significant increases in the risk of child maltreatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has carefully studied these risks and issued a report in 2018 identifying family social isolation as one of the leading risk factors for child maltreatment.
As you craft policy solutions to this crisis, please do not forget we need targeted attention to keep children safe, families, strong, and make sure that placement into foster care is an option of last resort. I strongly support the recommendations put forth by the National Child Abuse Coalition:
- $1 billion for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) grants to quickly deploy resources directly to locally-driven prevention services and programs that are best suited to meet the needs of families in this crisis. CAPTA Title II CB-CAP grants are already supporting community-based services that are trusted by families, such as Family Resource Centers, and that are essential to ensure that funding gets to the communities who need it most. These programs have mobilized into action through baby pantries, providing assistance for distribution of food and medication, information and referral services, and forming of public-private partnerships to meet the needs of families under stress. An infusion of funding for CB-CAP will get funds to communities where it is needed most to help families who are directly affected during the crisis. This crisis is placing tremendous stress on these local systems to adapt and meet the needs of families in their communities. Without adequate support these programs will buckle under the new realities. Additionally, programs that have operated under a fee-for-service model, are unable to do so during this crisis, which threatens their long-term viability. These programs need robust support to avoid waiting lists and to overcome barriers to providing the assistance that families need to thrive under these difficult circumstances.
- $500 million for CAPTA Title I state grants.For children who have already become victims of child abuse and neglect and families already working to make sure they provide safe, stable, and nurturing homes for their children, this funding is vital to ensure state and local child protection systems can continue to respond as quickly as possible to the needs of this vulnerable population. This funding will ensure the child protection workforce have necessary technological resources, when the regular face-to-face contact may be difficult, and proper safety gear when needed to conduct home visits and when face-to-face investigations are necessary. Safety gear, modified facilities, and other resources may also be needed to allow for continued parent-child visits for children who are in foster care with a goal of reunification with their birth families. There is also a great need to protect child welfare first responders who will face their own health risks. Overall, the child protection system faces greater pressure as there is a loss in workforce and the need to work remotely potentially resulting in higher caseloads for fewer caseworkers, and the need to supplement this workforce. This will also be necessary for states to be able to appropriately respond to any increase in maltreatment incidence that occurs during the pandemic.
- $1 billion for Title IV-B Part 2.Also known as the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program, Title IV-B Part 2 is a flexible funding source that can support prevention, family preservation, and intervention services provided by state child welfare agencies, whose demands will undoubtedly increase as a result of this crisis. It is critical that we make investments in these up-front interventions so that we can help families weather the stress of this crisis and prevent a major influx of children into the foster care system.
- $100 million for the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act. This funding will help domestic violence shelters stay open safely or be able to provide immediate flexible funding to victims of domestic violence so they are not forced back into abusive homes when faced with an unexpected job loss or health risk.
$30 million for the Court Improvement Program (CIP). These funds will be used directly to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the functioning of child welfare court cases. CIP is the only source of federal funding for state courts related to child welfare. Dependency courts across the country are already being severely impacted by the pandemic. Court shutdowns and reduced staffing will result in delayed hearings, and, ultimately, to compromised child safety, delayed family reunification, and other critical support to child victims and their families.
Medicaid reimbursement for tele-mental health services. During this crisis, children and families will likely experience disruptions in daily routine, a high degree of uncertainty, possible financial strain and related stress, heightened anxiety, isolation and possible experiences of grief and loss. These circumstances are likely to have disproportionate impact on people with mental health needs and already vulnerable families. While many families and children are practicing social distancing, it remains essential that they have access to necessary mental and behavioral health services. We request that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services work with states to ensure that tele-mental health services provided by qualified mental health professionals are reimbursable under Medicaid and that any regulatory barriers are eased to enable continued care for children and their parents.