Our Policy Priorities in Response to COVID-19

 

 

Federal Priorities

Prevent Child Abuse NC is dedicated to the well-being of vulnerable children and families and we urge Congress to act immediately to provide crucial support to families facing the stress and disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic by investing in proven strategies that prevent child maltreatment and equipping the child welfare system with the tools it needs to handle the crisis. As this situation continues to evolve, we know that additional support will be needed for children and families struggling with this crisis.

 

Support families to keep children safe from child abuse and neglect.

  • Increase funding to CAPTA Title II Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) grants by $1 billion to quickly deploy resources directly to locally-driven prevention services and programs. CB-CAPs provide community-based grants to all 50 states for the express purpose of preventing child abuse and neglect, including key services like state child abuse hotlines, voluntary home visiting programs, parent support programs, baby pantries, distribution of food and medication, family resources centers, and respite care services. This will target specific prevention services to communities where it is needed most, help state and local systems adapt to the unique challenges of serving families during this pandemic, and avoid waiting lists.
  • Increase funding to CAPTA Title II Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) grants by $1 billion to quickly deploy resources directly to locally-driven prevention services and programs
  • Increase funding to Title IV-B, Part 2, the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF) by $1 billion to help eliminate the need for out-of-home placements, both to protect children and to prevent the child welfare system from being overwhelmed by the crisis. PSSF is a critical funding source for stabilizing families, supporting foster parents, and other prevention efforts for states during times of crisis.
  • Increase the share of IV-B Part 2 funds reserved to support tribes. Increase the funding to tribes for providing child and family services from close to three percent of the current mandatory Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) funding level to 4.5 percent of the full mandatory PSSF funding.
  • Increase the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) to help states fill in gaps to critical services including child protective services, child abuse prevention supports, domestic violence.

Provide new parent support through evidence-based home visiting.

  • $500 million to Provide Financial Support to Home Visiting Programs. Voluntary home visiting creates connections between parents and health practitioners in the community, breaking down barriers to care and strengthening the link between healthcare resources and the families who need them. It also provides depression screening for all primary caregivers, both prenatally and postpartum, developmental screening for children, and connects caregivers in need with appropriate community based interventions. Finally, it targets the social determinants of health affecting families, such as parental stress, access to health care, income and poverty status, and environmental conditions.  In this current environment, families are experiencing greater stress and, now more than ever, support from a trusted home visitor is crucial to family and child health and well-being.

Ensure service providers and consumers have the technology that they need to maintain connection during this critical time and beyond. Enhance policies that remove barriers to providing treatment.

  • Access to equipment and broadband services to providers and consumers so tele-health services can continue uninterrupted.
  • Medicaid reimbursement for tele-mental health services. During this crisis, children and families will likely experience compounding risk factors for child abuse and neglect such as 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 and access to services is critical.

 Access to Economic and Concrete Supports in Time of Need.

  • Provide additional and immediate economic relief in the form of increased access to healthcare, direct cash transfers, housing assistance, education support, child care assistance, parenting support, and more in order to protect the health of all children and families in the United States.
  • $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.
  • Expand the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit to reach low-income children and families and make federal resources available quickly and regularly during this public health crisis and economic slowdown.
  • Expand Paid Family and Medical Leave. An expansion of paid family and medical leave policies will cover working people to care for children without jeopardizing their economic security, a critical support to families during this pandemic.

Support the Nonprofit Sector

  • Immediate infusion of $60 billion in capital for American charitable nonprofits to maintain operations, expand their scope to address increasing demands, and stabilize losses from closures throughout the country.
  • Specific recommendations for assistance in helping the nonprofit sector stay engaged in serving the American people include:
    • legislation for employment-focused relief or stimulus that apply to tax-exempt organizations through making tax credits and deductions applicable not just to income taxes, but to the taxes nonprofits pay, such as payroll taxes;
    • provide payroll tax credits to all charities, regardless of size, that provide paid family leave and sick time pay as a result of COVID-19;
    • incentivize all Americans to support the vital work of America’s charities;
    • enact an “above-the-line” or universal charitable deduction for contributions through the end of 2021;
    • permit taxpayers to donate today – at the height of the pandemic – and claim the benefit from these deductions on 2019 tax returns.

North Carolina Priorities

Policies that support families are essential for a society where all children and families thrive. We have an opportunity in North Carolina to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in a way that protects children and builds a tomorrow where communities are connected, supportive, and resilient. We know COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on families of color. We also know vulnerable populations have the most to gain when we invest upstream to eliminate inequities. All children benefit from strong families and positive early experiences; by the same token, all children are vulnerable to early adversity and sustained toxic stress (the kind of stress that results from neglect, abuse, or severe household dysfunction). Such adverse experiences have been shown to impede healthy development, and place children at the greatest risk for poor outcomes. But many more children face uphill odds. Those whose families are disadvantaged by poverty, homelessness, or low levels of education are more likely than their more advantaged peers to fall behind on a range of developmental measures, but they also stand to make the greatest gains from high-quality interventions. While all children benefit from smart policies, PCANC encourages policymakers to prioritize children at risk for poor outcomes, with an approach that builds on family, cultural, linguistic and community strengths.

Invest in new parent support provided through evidence-based home visiting and parenting programs.

  • Parenting supports can be delivered in a home setting (home visiting) or group setting (parenting education groups). Home visiting programs help parents gain basic parenting skills by matching new families with trained providers, such as nurses, social workers, or parent educators. Similarly, group-based parenting education increases the skills and knowledge of parenting and child development but in a setting outside of the home. Evidence- based parenting education, whether delivered in the home or in a group setting, has been shown to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Encourage government and businesses to enhance family friendly policies and programs in the workplace that support and strengthen families.

  • Family friendly work policies improve the balance between work and family while ensuring family economic security. Policies that promote family economic security such as paid family and medical leave are associated with significantly higher rates of breastfeeding and maternal health, reductions in hospitalizations for abusive head trauma, and lower rates of family stressors and risk factors.

Increase family economic and concrete supports to meet their basic needs for food, shelter, and medical care.

  • Policies that strengthen household financial security can reduce child abuse and neglect by improving parents’ ability to satisfy children’s basic needs (e.g., food, shelter, medical care), provide developmentally appropriate child care, and improve parental mental health. Having access to Medicaid is associated with parental financial stability, access to mental health care, and decreasing the likelihood of neglect. Neglect is the most prevalent type of child maltreatment in North Carolina.
    • Ensure that children and families are not hungry by appropriating emergency funding, and waiving restrictions for food relief programs during this public health crisis.
    • Appropriate at least $6 million to Feeding Carolinas and the state farmer’s markets to ensure food banks can meet increased need.
    • Remove the prohibition for state lawmakers to pursue a waiver of SNAP requirements in times of economic distress so that North Carolina can ensure struggling families are able to put food on the table without time limits.
    • Close loopholes in benefit access for recently unemployed workers. Specifically, expand the suspension of SNAP work requirements during the emergency period to recipients who were scheduled to be removed from the program before April 1st.
    • Ensure that the 110,000 NC children on NC Health Choice get uninterrupted health coverage during this crisis and cut red tape by merging NC Health Choice with Medicaid.
    • Do everything in your power to cover North Carolina’s uninsured, including accepting the federal funds to expand the NC Medicaid program. Expanding Medicaid now will bolster our health systems and families against this pandemic and create a glide path towards economic recovery when this crisis is over.
    • Enact a $125 million Child Care Emergency Economic Support Package, put forth by the NC Early Education Coalition. Better quality child care increases the likelihood that children will experience safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments and decreases the risk of maltreatment-related fatalities.

Educators who are trauma informed are essential to building social and emotional competence, a key protective factor.

  • Ensure that educators are trauma informed, trauma responsive, and know how to recognize the signs of and how to report child maltreatment.
  • Increase the number of school social workers and school nurses to meet the national recommendations endorsed by the Child Fatality Task Force.
  • Ensure all school personnel complete the free Recognizing and Responding to Suspicions of Child Maltreatment online training offered by PCANC.

Enhance North Carolina’s technology infrastructure to enroll and provide relief services virtually, efficiently and with public accountability.

  • Allocate funding for NCDHHS to strengthen the online application process for public benefit programs. The NC FAST system needs to be upgraded in order to achieve this, with NCCARE360 also upgraded to integrate referral services. The NC General Assembly should direct NC DHHS to estimate the amount needed, and then provide funding as quickly as possible.
  • Increase access to broadband internet by eliminating existing state restrictions on local government investments in broadband infrastructure. Put in place a system to allow counties and municipalities to build out broadband infrastructure and then lease it to a private provider, ensuring equal access to emergency public benefits as enrollment and eligibility processes move online.

Read the letters that Prevent Child Abuse NC has signed on from our national and local partners.

Prevent Child Abuse NC is working closely with our national and statewide partners to support policies that strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. Our policy priorities align with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Technical Packages to Prevent Violence, including the Essentials for Childhood framework and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). We also prioritize strategies and goals in the NC Early Childhood Action Plan as well as the Think BabiesTM NC initiative.

For more information on our policy priorities contact Melea Rose-Waters, Policy Director, at mrosewaters@preventchildabusenc.org.