Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Amendments of 1996

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P.L. 104-235

Enacted 1974; Amended 1978, 1984, 1988, 1992, 2003

For the text of the Amendments, visit the Children's Bureau Web site:

For a summary of key changes made to CAPTA by the 1996 amendments visit:

For an explanation of CAPTA as it relates to a State's role visit:

Reasons Bill Initiated

  • CAPTA needed reauthorization.
  • Immunity to child abuse reporters had led to concerns about false reporting of abuse and neglect.


  • To reauthorize CAPTA.
  • To reauthorize several other acts related to CAPTA.
  • To consolidate and reorganize Federal agencies in order to facilitate better child maltreatment research and a more coordinated response to the issues facing the States.

Services Provided/Measures Taken

  • Reauthorized CAPTA through Fiscal Year 2001.
  • Abolished NCCAN and created the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect.
  • Added new requirements to address the problems of false reports of abuse and neglect, delays in termination of parental rights, and lack of public oversight of child protection.
  • Required States to institute an expedited TPR process for abandoned infants or when the parent is responsible for the death or serious bodily injury of a child.
  • Set the minimum definition of child abuse to include death, serious physical or emotional injury, sexual abuse or imminent risk of harm.
  • Recognized the right of parental exercise of religious beliefs concerning medical care.
  • Continued the Community-Based Family Resource and Support Grants Program, the Adoption Opportunities Act, Abandoned Infants Assistance Act, Victims of Child Abuse Act, Children's Justice Act Grants, and the Missing Children's Assistance Act.

Credits: National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information

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