Public Policy

Our policy work is proactive and focused on proposing and supporting policies that promote health and well-being and prevent child maltreatment.

Responding to Family Needs During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing tremendous stress on families and children and their communities. Families are doing their best to manage their own fear and stress and to reduce the trauma being experienced by their children – but they need help. History has shown the connection between economic challenge, high stress and increased risk of child maltreatment.

We have spoken with the members of the Alliance National Parent Partnership Council (ANPPC), and used the ANPPC’s new tool – Conversations for a Better Normal – to visit with parents and community leaders and gathered data from those virtual meetings. We developed the Alliance Resiliency Project in partnership with Casey Family Programs to provide supportive resources for parents who are members of the Birth Parent National Network (BPNN), the Birth Parent Advisory Committee (BPAC) and the Birth and Foster Parent Partnership (BFPP). We hold weekly Caring Conversations to help parents navigate the challenges they may be experiencing during this pandemic. We have TouchPoint Parents who are providing peer support and connecting families with needed resources.

Also, the Alliance has held webinars with our members – state children’s trust funds – and learned what they and their community-based grantees are doing to help families through this hard time. In addition to providing information and referral services to families, they are convening virtual meetings and playgroups for parents via technology, forming public-private partnerships to meet the needs of families and enacting other strategies to ensure the well-being of families and children in their communities. Visit our From the Field Blog to learn more about what state CTFs are doing during this time.

And we’ve been in conversations with some of our national prevention partners to learn more about what they are doing.

We have compiled what we are hearing from parents and some of the creative and flexible responses that our members have been implementing into a document that you can download HERE. We originally developed this at the request of policymakers who wanted to know what we were hearing from parents about their challenges. We think it is a useful tool for acknowledging what many parents are dealing with right now.

We will survive this challenging time by using the Strengthening Families Protective Factors to build resiliency, stay socially connected (virtually) and provide concrete support to our children, families and communities.


Alliance Supports Lifespan Respite Funding Request

The Alliance was one of 60 national organizations to join the National Respite Coalition in urging Congress to include $10 million for lifespan respite in the Fiscal Year 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. For more than a decade, respite provided by the Lifespan Respite Care Program, which is administered by the Administration on Aging, Administration for Community Living, has been a vital safety net for the nation’s family caregivers of both children and adults. During this pandemic, social isolation among family caregivers has intensified. To read the Dec. 3, 2020, letter that points out respite providers may be their only immediate contact for relief and other critical supports, click HERE.


Rescind Executive Order Restricting Anti-Bias Training

Children’s Trust Fund Alliance has joined with other charitable organizations to express our concern about Executive Order (EO) 13950, Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping, signed on September 22, 2020 by President Donald Trump. Together, with 41 other organizations who are committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, we are asking the Administration to immediately rescind this EO that restricts anti-bias training.

In the letter, we point out “Among other things, the EO bans the use of certain terms, including ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ ‘intersectionality,’ ‘systemic racism,’ and ‘unconscious bias’ in materials and trainings. Rather than being ‘divisive concepts,’ these are core principles of equity and inclusion developed and confirmed through decades of research and scholarly articles by academics and practitioners that cannot simply be ignored or dismissed.”

Read the October 21, 2020, letter HERE.

Additional CAPTA Funding

We are working hard to get additional funding allocated through CAPTA for CBCAP programs in Title II so that systems can better respond to the needs of families. Now is the time for Congress and the Administration to expand support for families and for the community-based services that will help them weather this crisis and stay strong for the future. Help us by downloading two social media images and using them in your outreach to Congress.

Free the Families and Promote Family Unity

The Alliance joined 93 child welfare, health and safety experts and national organizations to request that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) safely and immediately release all children together with their parents from family detention. The June 26 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly M. Gee to release children being held in family detention centers by July 17 (a deadline that was extended to July 27) does not require ICE to release children together with their parents. To read the letter that points out the extraordinary harm family separation does to children, click HERE.

Letters and Reports

Resources for These Challenging Times

During these stressful times, the Children’s Trust Fund Alliance is working tirelessly to provide information, support and opportunities for action to strengthen and promote the well-being of children, families and communities.

The Parent Voice Page has tools created by our parent partners:

  • Alliance Resiliency Project: weekly Caring Conversations and TouchPoint Parents
  • A social media campaign to support parents
  • A collected list of COVID-19 resources for families
  • Virtual conversations – in English and Spanish – for a better normal around the protective factors
  • An index of existing Alliance tools that are adaptable to virtual conversations

Visit the From the Field Blog to find out what resources and supports state children’s trust funds are providing for families during the pandemic.


Alliance Action Alert List

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For More Information

Jim McKay
Public Policy Director
Children’s Trust Fund Alliance

Public Policy Framework

The Alliance endorses issues based on their potential to advance the mission of the Alliance and the work of our members. Endorsement by the Alliance does not imply endorsement by individual Alliance members. In making this determination the Alliance considers the following criteria:

Based on Research

The policy aligns with policy strategies identified by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in their Technical Assistance Package for Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect:

  • Strengthen economic supports to families
  • Change social norms to support parents and positive parenting
  • Provide quality care and education early in life
  • Enhance parenting skills to promote healthy child development
  • Intervene to lessen harms and prevent future risk

Strengthen Protective Factors

The policy promotes the five Strengthening Families Protective Factors to achieve positive outcomes for children and families including reductions in child maltreatment:

  • Parental resilience
  • Social connections
  • Knowledge of parenting and child development
  • Concrete support in times of need
  • Social and emotional competence of children

Advance Equity

The policy advances issues of equity, diversity and inclusiveness.

Align with Theory of Change

The policy aligns with the Alliance’s child neglect prevention Theory of Change.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)

Infographic to Share

The Alliance worked with a team from the National Child Abuse Coalition to put together this infographic, which is being shared with policymakers in Congress. Click HERE to download and share widely, particularly with your Congressional representatives.

  • Shares facts that support the importance of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
  • Underscores the critical need to reauthorize CAPTA in a way that will increase the funds for use by states to prevent child abuse and neglect.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), was first enacted in 1974. It is the only federal legislation exclusively dedicated to the prevention, assessment, identification, and treatment of child abuse and neglect.

Since its enactment, Congress has amended the law many times to strengthen state child protective services and promote child abuse prevention. Recently, the legislation has been amended to require states to implement “plans of safe care” for babies born exposed to opioids and other substances.

Title II of CAPTA includes multiple smaller programs including the Community Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants. Many state Children’s Trust Funds serve as the CBCAP lead agency for their state and those who are not CBCAP leads are often partners with the CBCAP lead agency for their state.

CAPTA was last reauthorized in 2010 and is pending reauthorization when Congress takes action on the legislation. Policy advocates expect Congress to consider reauthorization of CAPTA during 2019, although they could act earlier if they decide to do so.

CAPTA legislation is under the jurisdiction of the Senate HELP Committee and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

The Alliance is working with our members, our partners with the National Child Abuse Coalition, and others to advocate for reauthorization of CAPTA during the upcoming year with expanded support for prevention included in the legislation.

November 14, 2019 – Congressional Briefing

MOVING UPSTREAM: What works to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect

The “Moving Upstream” Congressional Briefing promoted the public health approach to help families thrive rather than our current system which focuses on how to respond after child abuse or neglect has occurred. The briefing’s goal was to help lawmakers and their staff learn more about successful efforts that help strengthen families and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.

Topics discussed:

  • Passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) in 2018 was a promising step towards transforming our child welfare system. Reauthorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) will continue this progress, but action is needed now to reauthorize and fund this vital legislation to meet the current needs of our families and communities.
  • The House of Representatives passed their version of CAPTA Reauthorization (Stronger CAPTA) on May 20, 2019 with broad bipartisan support. The House bill includes provisions that would strengthen Title I and Title II of CAPTA including bolstering the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants program to better meet the needs of children, families and communities and enhancing efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect.


  • Sallye R. Longshore, MS, Ed.S, Director Alabama Children’s Trust Fund, Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (State CBCAP Lead)
  • Natalie Towns, MSW, Section Director, Georgia Children’s Trust Fund / Prevention and Community Support, Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (State CBCAP Lead)
  • LaCrisha Rose, Parent Leader, Co-Chair Alliance National Parent Partnership Council, Facilitator of West Virginia Circle of Parents Network
  • Melissa Merrick, PhD., President and CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America
  • Teresa Rafael, MSW, Executive Director, National Alliance of Children’s Trust & Prevention Funds (moderator)

March 26, 2019 – Congressional Hearing

Strengthening Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect

Committee on Education and Labor

Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services Protections Hearing

From the Opening Statement of Chair Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1):

“We cannot continue to address this public health crisis by just reacting after child maltreatment cases arise. As this Committee considers reauthorizing the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act—last updated nearly a decade ago—we must shift our focus to preventing the maltreatment from occurring in the first place. We need a CAPTA reauthorization that strengthens federal investments in community-based prevention services so families across the country can receive help before children suffer.”

Link to the Full Hearing
Transcripts of Testimony:

Dr. Yo Jackson, Ph.D., ABPP – Associate Director, Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, Penn State University
Professor of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts, Penn State University
Research Professor, University of Kansas

Judy King, MSW – Director of Family Support Programs, Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families

LaCrisha Rose – Parent

Brad Thomas – Chief Executive Officer, Triple P America, Inc.

Judy King Testimony and Questioning

LaCrisha Rose Testimony and Questioning

Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA)

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) is a landmark bill, which was signed into law on February 9, 2018 as part of the as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892).

The legislation introduces historic reforms for child welfare financing to help keep children safely with their families and avoid the traumatic experience of entering foster care. It also includes provisions to help ensure children are placed in the least restrictive, most family-like setting appropriate to their special needs when foster care is needed.

This legislation allows states to use federal child welfare matching funds for certain evidence-based prevention services for children and their parents and encourages the placement of children in foster care in the least restrictive, most family-like settings.

Funding would be available for three types of prevention services and programs:

  1. Mental health services,
  2. Substance abuse prevention and treatment services,
  3. In-home parent skill-based programs, which include parent skills training and parent education.

The legislation makes these services available to children who are at “candidates for foster care”, without regard to income. The bill specifies that services are available for a maximum of 12 months, but can be received more than once throughout different points in the child and family’s life.

The Alliance advocated for passage of Family First and we are now working with state CTFs to prepare for implementation of the legislation. We are also advocating for states and federal officials to approach implementation with the greatest emphasis on primary prevention allowable.

The Children’s Defense Fund has prepared summaries of the Family First Prevention Services Act, which are listed below.

See here for a short summary.

See here for a detailed summary.

See here for an implementation timeline.

See here for the law language.