Child Welfare Legislation

Child abuse and neglect legislation exists at the Federal, State, and sometimes county or other local (parish, for example) levels. Federal legislation provides mandates and guidelines for how State and Tribal child welfare systems should work to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. Some notable examples of Federal child welfare legislation include:

  • Title IV-B: Child and Family Services and Title IV-E: Federal Payments for Foster Care and Adoptive Assistance of the Social Security Act
  • The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974 (CAPTA)
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 (ICWA)
  • The Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980
  • The Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA)
  • The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999
  • The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
  • The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014

Click the links below for further details about each of these pieces of legislation.

State Statutes

In order to receive Federal funds, States are required to comply with the guidelines mandated under CAPTA. They generally, however, have autonomy in their provision of services to maltreated children and their families. For example, all States have enacted laws or statutes about reporting suspected maltreatment and intervention, which are enforced by civil and criminal courts. These statutes also include definitions of the acts and omissions considered abuse and neglect in a particular State. In addition, all States, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have enacted statutes requiring that the maltreatment of children be reported to a designated agency or official. The State has the authority to intervene if the parent fails to provide for or protect the child.

For more information about individual States’ statutes, visit here.