S. 1799, The Victims of Child Abuse Act

S. 1799

The Victims of Child Abuse Act

Sponsor
Sen. Christopher A. Coons

Committee
Judiciary

Date
July 28, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, July 28, 2014, the House will consider S. 1799, the Victims of Child Abuse Act, under suspension of the rules.  S. 1799 was introduced by Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE) and passed the Senate on June 26, 2014 by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

S. 1799 amends the Victims of Child Abuse Act to authorize appropriations of $15 million per year from FY2014-FY2018 for 1) regional Child Advocacy Centers, and 2) grants to develop and implement multidisciplinary child abuse investigation and prosecution programs; and $5 million per year during the same period for grants to national organizations to provide technical assistance and training to attorneys to improve the prosecution of child abuse cases in state or federal courts.

S. 1799 further amends the Victims of Child Abuse Act to add oversight and accountability measures.  The bill requires the Inspector General of the Department of Justice to conduct audits of grant recipients to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse.  A grant recipient found to have an unresolved audit finding[1] is ineligible to receive grant funds during the following two fiscal years.  If a barred entity is erroneously awarded a grant, the Administrator must try to recoup the costs from the grant recipient.  S. 1799 prohibits grants from being awarded to nonprofit organizations that hold money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes on unrelated business income.  S. 1799 prohibits the use of funds to host or support any conference that uses more than $20,000 in DOJ funds, unless prior written authorization is given by the Deputy Attorney General or other designated officials.

S. 1799 clarifies that funds available to the FBI for victims’ services under DOJ’s Crime Victims Fund may only be used to directly benefit victims, and not for administrative purposes.

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[1] “The term ‘unresolved audit finding’ means a finding in the final audit report of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice that the audited grantee has utilized grant funds for an unauthorized expenditure or otherwise unallowable cost that is not closed or resolved within 12 months from the date when the final audit report is issued and any appeal has been completed.” S. 1799,  Sec. 2(b).

Background

The Victims of Child Abuse Act, which was created by Congress in 1990, “authorizes several child welfare programs that are administered by [DOJ].”[2]  The Act “support[s] . . . Children’s Advocacy Centers [CACs] . . . [which] are intended to coordinate a multi-disciplinary response to child abuse (e.g. law enforcement, child protection/social service, medical, mental health) in a manner that ensures child abuse victims (and any non-offending family members) receive the support services they need and do not experience the investigation of child abuse as an added trauma.”[3]  There are approximately 775 CACs across the nation, with locations in each of the fifty states and D.C.[4]  Almost 300,000 children received service at CACs in 2013, seventy-four percent of whom were 12-years-old or younger.[5]

In addition, “[t]he law authorizes funds to directly support establishment and operation of local children’s advocacy centers as well as training and technical assistance. . . .  Finally, the law also seeks to improve the prosecution of child abuse cases by authorizing additional funds specifically for training and technical assistance to attorneys and others involved in criminal prosecution of child abuse.”[6]  Although funding authority expired in FY2005, Congress has continued to appropriate funding for the programs.  S.1799 reauthorizes appropriates through FY2018.[7]

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[2] Emilie Stoltzfus, Child Welfare: An Overview of Federal Programs and Their Current Funding, Congressional Research Service (July 16, 2014) at 21.
[3] Id. at 22.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id. at 22-23.
[7] Id. at 23.

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is not available at this time.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.