President Signs Legislation to Prevent Child Abuse, Fund Domestic Violence Services

December 20, 2010

At a White House ceremony on Monday, President Barack Obama signed into law essential child abuse prevention and domestic violence legislation. In addition to advocates, the audience included United States Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Gwen Moore (D-WI).

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is the nation’s preeminent program for preventing child abuse. It will improve services to victims of child abuse, and support programs so they can do more to help families that are experiencing both domestic violence and child maltreatment.

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) funds domestic violence shelters and services that provide lifesaving help to women and children. It also supports domestic violence prevention programs and includes new language to help children exposed to violence and better address dating violence.

“The President took a huge step to help victims of family violence by signing this legislation,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. “Domestic violence and child abuse are problems of epidemic proportions in this country, killing more than 2,000 women and children every year and injuring up to two million. The recession has only made it worse. More families experiencing abuse are seeking help from the system because they lack resources to protect themselves at exactly the time that states and localities are cutting back on funding due to lower revenues. Now more than ever, we commend the federal government for stepping up and ensuring that our most vulnerable victims of violence and abuse can get the help they need.”

“I am so proud to watch President Obama sign this much-needed legislation into law,” said Representative Gwen Moore in a statement after the ceremony. “It’s a huge victory. Domestic violence shelters in Wisconsin and throughout the country have been absolutely stretched to their limits by increased demand, and they’ve been forced to turn victims away. Today, we’re standing with victims of domestic violence and saying that the status quo has got to go,” she added.

The House of Representatives passed the bills on December 8 with leadership from Representatives Miller and Moore. The Senate, with leadership from Senator Chris Dodd, passed CAPTA and FVPSA on December 3.

More than 15 million children in the United States are exposed to parental domestic violence and about 800,000 children experience abuse or neglect each year.