H.R. 4843, Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act

H.R. 4843

Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act

May 11, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Molly Newell

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, May 11, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4843, the Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on March 23, 2016, by Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) and was referred to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, on April 28, 2016, by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4843 amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) (P.L. 111-320) to strengthen protections for infants identified as being affected by illegal substance abuse, withdrawal symptoms, or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to better ensure states are meeting current child welfare requirements and to disseminate information to states on best practices relating to the development of safe care plans for infants. States must provide additional information to HHS on their plans to ensure the safety of such infants prior to receiving HHS grants and provide additional data on the number of infants who were identified. The bill also prohibits the Secretary from adding any new requirements to the state plans or assurances.



CAPTA was enacted in 1974 to coordinate federal efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect. The law provides states with resources to improve their child protective services systems. In order to receive funds under CAPTA, states are required to assure HHS they have implemented certain child welfare policies. Such policies include requiring health care providers to notify state child protective services agencies when a child is born with prenatal illegal substance exposure, as well as requiring the development of a “safe care plan” to protect these newborns and keep them and their caregivers healthy. A recent Reuters’ investigation revealed some states are receiving federal funds without having these necessary policies in place.

According to the sponsor, “Children who are exposed to illegal substances before they’re born are helpless in avoiding the pain and suffering caused by addiction, and so many infants enter this world without even a fighting chance. In fact, every 25 minutes in this country, a baby is born having already been exposed to drugs and suffering from opioid withdrawal. These children will pay the price for something they had absolutely no control over—something they were defenseless against. That’s why it’s so important we do everything we can to prevent these heartbreaking situations and ensure all children have the protection and care they need.”[1]

[1] See Education and the Workforce Committee Statements, “Barletta Statement: Markup of H.R. 4842,” April 28, 2016.


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the legislation would cost less than $500,000 annually for additional personnel to carry out the new requirements; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Because enacting this bill would not affect direct spending or revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4843 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 21374.