Office on Child Abuse and Neglect Essay

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The Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN) is part of the Children’s Bureau, which is headed by an associate commissioner and which advises the commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) on matters related to child welfare, including child abuse and neglect, child protective services, family preservation and support, adoption, foster care, and independent living. The Children’s Bureau recommends legislative and budgetary proposals; operational planning, system objectives, and initiatives; and project and issue areas for evaluation, research, and demonstration activities. It represents ACYF in initiating and implementing projects affecting children and families and provides leadership and coordination for the programs, activities, and subordinate components of the Children’s Bureau, including the OCAN.

In December 1998, an agency reorganization consolidated the functions of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect with those of the Children’s Bureau. This action was taken pursuant to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), 1996, as amended. At that time, OCAN was created within the Children’s Bureau to provide national leadership and maintain a national focus on this critical issue. All aspects of CAPTA, as amended in the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, are being implemented by OCAN or are integrated into the functions of other divisions across the Children’s Bureau.

OCAN provides leadership and direction on the issues of child abuse and neglect, including child sexual abuse and exploitation, and on the prevention of abuse and neglect under CAPTA. OCAN is the focal point for interagency collaborative efforts, national conferences, and special initiatives related to child abuse and neglect and for coordination of activities related to the prevention of abuse and neglect and the protection of children at risk.

OCAN supports activities to enhance community based, prevention-focused programs and activities designed to strengthen and support families and prevent child abuse and neglect through Title II of CAPTA, the Community-Based Grants for the Prevention of Child Abuse or Neglect Program. Formula grants are provided to states to develop and implement or to expand and enhance a comprehensive statewide system of community-based child abuse prevention services and activities. To receive these funds, the state chief executive officer must designate an agency to implement the program. Federal, state, and private funds are blended and made available to community agencies for child abuse and neglect prevention activities and family resource programs.

The Children’s Justice Act provides funds to support the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the territories to improve the systems that handle child abuse and neglect cases, particularly child sexual abuse cases, and to improve the processes of investigation and prosecution. Funds are also available to support the analysis of child fatalities involving suspected abuse.

For more information, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, formerly called the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information, offers up-to-date information and publications on all aspects of child abuse and neglect and child welfare, including prevention, protection, investigation, family support and preservation, foster care, adoption, and independent living programs. The Child Welfare Information Gateway answers queries from public and private agency personnel, professionals working in related fields, and the general public.

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