The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) today released its annual report on child abuse and neglect. "Child Maltreatment 2009" marks the 20th issuance of the report and shows a steady decrease in the number of victims who suffered maltreatment for the third consecutive year.
Data collected through the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, a voluntary data collection system, shows an estimated 763,000 children were victims of child abuse and neglect, at a rate of 10.1 per 1,000 children. Of those, 693,174 total victims were counted once, regardless of the number of reports of maltreatment. Data from states continue to indicate the greatest proportion of children suffered from neglect and that the 87,612 child victims younger than one year had the highest rate of victimization at 20.6 per 1,000 children in the population of the same age.
"We are pleased to see a steady decrease in the rate of abused and neglected children, however we also know even one child abused is one too many," said David A. Hansell, HHS acting assistant secretary for children and families. "The more we support and implement evidenced-based programs and services to prevent child maltreatment and promote healthy families and communities, the sooner we can ensure children are able to have the safe, happy and healthy childhood they deserve."
ACF has been implementing major initiatives aimed at bringing down the rate of child abuse and neglect, including the recently funded Family Violence Prevention and Services Act grants geared toward domestic violence victims and organizations, as well as grants to reduce long-term foster care and develop innovative intervention strategies to help move children into permanent homes. ACF also awarded $3 million in Affordable Care Act funds for the Tribal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Grant program, which addresses the diverse needs of at-risk American Indian and Alaska Native children and families and assures effective coordination and delivery of child abuse and neglect prevention.
Moreover, President Obama's 2011 budget reflects a further commitment to reducing child maltreatment by requesting $107 million for child abuse prevention programs through child abuse state grants, community-based child abuse prevention and child abuse discretionary activities. This includes a $10 million increase in funding for a new competitive grant program to encourage states to use evidence-based practices for preventing child abuse and neglect. The budget also requests $145 million for family violence prevention and service programs, $11 million more than FY 2010 funding. The increase would assist in expanding shelter capacity and support services and provide help to children who witness domestic violence.
Thursday's release comes four months earlier than it has in prior years, when publication coincided with Child Abuse Prevention Month. From now on, the report will be released in December with a mid-year update published in April.