The Children’s Justice Act (CJA) is a federal grant awarded to each state to develop, establish, and operate programs designed to improve the child-protection system focusing on four program improvement goals:
- The handling of child abuse and neglect cases, particularly cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation, in a manner which limits additional trauma to the child victim;
- The handling of cases of suspected child abuse or neglect related fatalities;
- The investigation and prosecution of cases of child abuse and neglect, particularly child sexual abuse and exploitation; and
- The handling of cases involving children with disabilities or serious health-related problems who are the victims of abuse or neglect.
In particular, grant funds should be used to implement programs or projects in the following three program focus areas (the three categories from Section l07(e)(1)(A) (B) and (C)) of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act:
- investigative, administrative, and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect, including child sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as cases involving suspected child maltreatment related fatalities and cases involving a potential combination of jurisdictions, such as interstate, Federal-State, and State-Tribal, in a manner which reduces the additional trauma to the child victim and the victim's family and which also ensures procedural fairness to the accused;
- experimental, model, and demonstration programs for testing innovative approaches and techniques which may improve the prompt and successful resolution of civil and criminal court proceedings or enhance the effectiveness of judicial and administrative action in child abuse and neglect cases, particularly child sexual abuse and exploitation cases, including the enhancement of performance of court-appointed attorneys and guardians ad litem for children, and which also ensure procedural fairness to the accused; and
- reform of State laws, ordinances, regulations, protocols and procedures to provide comprehensive protection for children from abuse, including sexual abuse and exploitation, while ensuring fairness to all affected persons.
CJA funds are to support programs or projects that reform Pennsylvania’s systems and improve the processes by which it responds to cases of child abuse and neglect, including child sexual abuse and exploitation and cases of suspected child abuse or neglect related fatalities. In Pennsylvania, projects funded through CJA must focus on at least one of the program improvement goals above as well as one of the program focus areas.
CJA projects will enable Pennsylvania to deal more effectively with both the child victim and the offender and to limit additional trauma to the child victim. Funds cannot be used to support child abuse prevention or treatment activities.
Questions regarding the Children’s Justice Act can be directed to Shauna Reinhart at CWRC (717.795.9048) or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.