Legislation NCA supports
NCA is committed to supporting its members at every level, including legislative advocacy efforts to support the work that we do and the children we serve.
NCA’s federal policy priorities are:
- Ensuring that abused children receive the services they need through restoring and increasing funding for the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which funds the Crime Victims Fund.
- Supporting the work of Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs)—and demonstrating Congressional support for these vital services—through full funding of the Victims of Child Abuse Act (VOCAA).
- Working toward the passage of the U.S. National Blueprint to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents, a roadmap that outlines steps the federal government can take to prevent sexual violence against children and adolescents and ensure that those who experience sexual violence have access to the healing and justice they deserve.
- Supporting the work of CACs with the support and resources they need to serve victims of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and human trafficking, and bringing attention to legislative changes needed to improve services to these victims and their families.
- Reauthorizing and fully funding the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), ensuring CACs are well resourced and serve as an integral part of investigations of child abuse nationwide.
Legislation NCA currently supports includes:
Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and the Crime Victims Fund
Congress created the Crime Victims Fund in 1984 based on a simple idea: Money the government collects from those who commit crimes should be used to help those victimized by crime. Each year, criminal fines and penalties collected in federal court are deposited into the Crime Victims Fund. The Department of Justice disburses money from this fund to states and other entities to support victim compensation and assistance programs.
In 2019, victim service organizations saw a reduction in the amount of VOCA funds released to states by 25%, followed by an additional 35% reduction in 2020. This was due to a rapidly depleting balance in the Crime Victims Fund. By 2020 it had become obvious that the situation was dire, with the fund projected to reach a 10-year low by the end of 2021 and a balance of $0 not far on the horizon.
NCA responded by working with a bipartisan group of members in both houses of Congress, as well as a broad group of advocates, to introduce a legislative fix that would reverse and prevent continued devastating cuts to federal funding for victim service programs through the Victims of Crime Act, including our nation’s Children’s Advocacy Centers serving victims and survivors of child abuse.
Finally, on July 20, 2021, our efforts paid off when the VOCA Fix Act completed congressional action, passing the Senate unanimously. This will ensure that federal financial penalties from deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements are treated the same way as penalties resulting from criminal convictions: that they go to serve and compensate victims. This includes funding for our nation’s CACs serving victims and survivors of child abuse. It will take time for the fund to replenish, but NCA continues to work toward the maximum availability of funds needed for CACs through both VOCA and alternative funding sources.
Victims of Child Abuse Act
FY23 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill
This year, we will continue working with our House and Senate champions to increase funding for the Victims of Child Abuse Act to $50 million in the Fiscal Year 2023 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, consistent with the President’s request for the past two years. We are also advocating for Congress to release as much as possible from the Crime Victims Fund, and will continue to look for additional funding streams for CACs and State Chapters. At the same time, we are working with our champions in Congress to reauthorize the existing act.
The U.S. National Blueprint
The U.S. National Blueprint to End Sexual Violence Against Children and Adolescents is the roadmap that outlines steps the United States federal government can take to prevent sexual violence against children and adolescents and ensure that those who experience sexual violence have access to the healing and justice they deserve. The Blueprint outlines a plan with three pillars supporting children and adolescents: prevention, to protect this and every generation to come; healing for victims, survivors, and their families; and justice for survivors and accountability for perpetrators and institutions who covered up abuse. NCA and our more than 900 Member CACs are in an excellent position to help lead the charge to pass this blueprint at the federal level, given our direct services to children and families in the areas of prevention, mental health services that heal the impact of trauma, and investigations that lead to justice and accountability.
Child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) and sex trafficking
Building on successes in passing the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act in 2015 and the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act/Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (FOSTA/SESTA) in 2018, NCA now continues the fight on behalf of children victimized by CSAM and other forms of exploitation, working with fellow advocates on trafficking legislation, most recently in supporting:
- The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA)/Abolish Human Trafficking Act
- The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act (EARN IT Act) would create incentives for companies to “earn” liability protection for violations of laws related to online CSAM.
- The Invest in Child Safety Act would direct $5 billion in mandatory funding to investigate and target the predators and abusers who create and share child sexual abuse material online. It also directs substantial new funding for community-based efforts to prevent children from becoming victims in the first place, including specific funding for CACs.
Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA)
NCA is working closely with fellow advocates and congressional champions to actively support the bipartisan CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2021. This bipartisan bill not only reauthorizes and provides significant increases in funding for CAPTA programs, but it also makes critical updates to better reflect a full, comprehensive, trauma-informed approach to child abuse prevention and intervention.
We worked closely with staff and are especially encouraged that the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2021 highlights the multidisciplinary team approach, and specifically CACs. Further, we are also excited to see the commitment to addressing child abuse fatalities. We will continue to work with our partners and Hill champions to see this bill passed and signed into law.
Other legislation NCA actively supports or helped pass
The Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse and Safe Sport Authorization Act
This act requires amateur athletics governing bodies like USA Gymnastics and other amateur sports organizations to report sex-abuse allegations to local or federal law enforcement, or a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department within 24 hours. Among other things, this new law also makes sure that all national governing bodies follow the strictest standards for child abuse prevention, detection, and investigation, makes it safe and easy for victims to report abuse and mandates oversight to ensure strong sexual-abuse prevention policies are implemented. Even more, this new law extends the statute of limitations. NCA worked closely with Senator Feinstein and other champions on this new law and will continue working with champions on implementation.
Family First Prevention Services Act
On February 9, 2018, President Trump signed into law the historic and bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act as a part of the bipartisan budget agreement. This landmark piece of legislation aims to help keep children safely with their families when they come to the attention of the child welfare system, and when placement in foster care is needed, it provides an assurance of quality care for children in the most family-like setting appropriate for their special needs.
What is so historic about Family First is that this new law provides targeted funding and support specifically for child abuse prevention. The goal is to keep children from ever having to enter into the child welfare system, so this law provides resources for prevention programs that aim to do just that. However, should children need the foster care system, this new law strengthens the programs available to ensure the best possible care for kids.
NCA worked with advocates to support passage of this new law and are excited to continue working on its implementation. We will keep you updated on the latest.
State legislation NCA actively promotes
Statutory definitions of Children’s Advocacy Centers
State statutes that clearly define Children’s Advocacy Centers and their role in the response to allegations of criminal child abuse, support the development of the multidisciplinary team (MDT) model, the expansion of services and the pursuit of resources to assure the success and long-term viability of the proven approach to providing justice and healing to child victims of abuse. The adoption of such legislation clearly conveys policy makers’ vision for, support of, and belief in the CAC/MDT model as the preferred response to allegations of abuse. This in-turn can provide surety to the child welfare and judicial system, victims and non-offending caregivers that their case is being handled in the most professional manner available. Furthermore, it lays a foundation whereby funders, both public and private, can be assured that their investment of resources will benefit their intended target.
State funding legislation for Children’s Advocacy Centers
A secure and stable source of core funding is essential to the long term viability of Children’s Advocacy Centers. While no source of funding is an absolute guarantee from year to year, some sources are more stable than others. Governmental funds dedicated to Children’s Advocacy Centers tend to be one of the more stable sources. Nationally approximately 33.8% of the dollars flowing to Children’s Advocacy Centers come at the discretion of state governments. The potential for growth in this area is tremendous considering that 11 states currently receive no state support and 7 receive very little (less than $240,000 with a low of 27,189.
Other state legislation NCA generally supports
Statute of limitations reform
Research shows that the majority of victims of child sexual abuse do not disclose until adulthood, if ever. Narrow statutes of limitations can prevent the punishment of perpetrators, deny compensation to victims, and hinder the healing process. NCA generally supports legislation that eliminates or greatly extends statutes of limitations on crimes against children.
Abuse prevention education
NCA is generally in support of Child Sex Abuse Prevention Education laws that require age appropriate child sex abuse prevention education in schools for children, educators, and staff. This legislation is commonly referred to as Erin’s Law or Jenna’s Law.