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Helping Children and Victims of Domestic Violence

The U.S. Senate reauthorized the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) - two important steps toward protecting victims of domestic violence and breaking the cycle of abuse

In October, President Obama and Vice President Biden announced unprecedented coordination across the federal government to protect victims of domestic violence and help break the cycle of abuse. Last week, the U.S. Senate took an important step towards the same goal by reauthorizing the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) which also included the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA). This important legislation has broad bi-partisan support, and will help states both improve child safety and continue critically needed services for victims of domestic violence.

CAPTA helps states strengthen the efforts of child protective service agencies to prevent and treat child abuse. By providing states and local communities with new tools to identify and treat abuse and neglect, CAPTA-funded services will continue to protect our youngest victims. And, CAPTA will help parents get the help they need by addressing high risk factors like substance abuse, mental illness and domestic violence.

In spite of all the progress we have made, domestic violence still affects 1 in 4 women, and these women are not strangers - they are our friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members.  The emergency services provided under FVPSA are a lifeline for victims fleeing violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline answers more than 22,000 calls for help each month, and connects many of these callers to their local battered women’s shelter. FVPSA helps keep those shelter doors open, and links victims with the resources they need to rebuild their lives.

Taken together, CAPTA and FVPSA will help end abuse, give hope to victims, and build strong families. We commend the Senate for taking the important step of passing this legislation, and urge the U.S. House of Representatives to act quickly to make these protections and services a reality.

Lynn Rosenthal is the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women