Projected, Federal spending on children will drop about a quarter within a decade

“The Urban Insitute projected, Federal spending on children will drop about a quarter within a decade, as appropriations for the elderly and rising interest payments on a soaring national debt will squeeze spending on America’s youth. 

Contributing to the drop are congressional budgeting rules that build in increases for entitlements like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, while annual discretionary spending is capped by rules Congress adopted a decade ago. Discretionary programs include funding for low-income public schools, early education programs like Head Start, child welfare and aid for students with disabilities. “The budget illustrates shortcomings in the ability to govern. 

Underinvestment and declining investment in children shows how much we pay attention to immediate consumption, instead of long-term investment,’ said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a nonprofit organization in Washington, during a panel discussion Wednesday organized by the Urban Institute. ‘And it is  easy to keep it on automatic pilot.'”

John Fenderwald, Federal spending on children projected to drop substantially over next decade Urban Institute report underscores need for budgeting reforms” (July 18, 2018).

Renewed Appeal from Experts in Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, and Child Development to Halt Separation of Children and Families From Parents at the Border

“There is ample evidence that separating children from their mothers or fathers leads to serious, negative consequences to children’s health and development. Forced separation disrupts the parent-child relationship and puts children at increased risk for both physical and mental illness. Adverse childhood experiences—including the incarceration of a family member—are well-recognized precursors of negative health outcomes later in life. And the psychological distress, anxiety, and depression associated with separation from a parent would follow the children well after the immediate period of separation—even after eventual reunification with a parent or other family. NCCASP along with 539 other child welfare organizations are deeply concerned that recent agency actions institutionalize such harm by taking children from their parents as a matter of policy.”

Large-scale Implementation of Home Visiting Program in CT Shows Promise By Reducing Child Abuse by 22%

CAMP HILL, Pa.April 24, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — 
The research represents one of the largest studies in the U.S. conducted to investigate the impact of home visiting on child maltreatment, including nearly 8,000 families in Connecticut. Researchers found a 22 percent decreased likelihood of substantiated cases of child maltreatment as reported by Child Protective Services data when comparing two groups of children born to first-time mothers. Children whose mothers received home visiting were compared to children whose mothers where eligible for home visiting but did not receive the services.


“Jurisdictional Issues” in Indian Country have life and death consequences

Journalist Rachel Monroe brings to light what many us working in Indian Country have seen: the “jurisdictional issues” leading to deaths and tragic injustice for people who live in these areas.Capture.JPG

Jurisdictional issues – whether the Federal government, state, or tribal police investigate a crime can sometimes only be determined by using a GPS.  Furthermore, tribal courts are limited to sentencing  Indian offenders (other ethnicities do not fall under their jurisdiction) to prison terms not greater than three years per offense.  Prosecution of major crimes are often left to the U.S. Attorney’s office, which often declines to prosecute – leaving dangerous perpetrators living amongst the people.


The Omnibus Spending Bill

From: the Children’s Defense Fund 

The Omnibus bill had the following provisions to aid vulnerable children:

o   $20 million to fund Kinship Navigator Programs in all states and territories (no state match required). The intent of this money is to help develop navigator programs in states and localities that do not have them and to help existing programs get the evaluation they need or adapt their programs to meet evidence-based standards in the Family First Act. With Family First, once the programs meet these standards they will be able to draw down Title IV-E reimbursement.  

o   $20 million additional funds for Regional Partnership Grants

o   $1 million additional funds for the startup costs related to the clearinghouse of promising, supported, and well-supported practices, which was established in the Family First Prevention Services Act for evidence-based mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services and in-home parent skill-based programs.

o   $37 million additional funds for the Adoption and Guardianship Incentives Program, which recognizes and rewards states for improved performance in ensuring children and youth leave foster care to permanent adoptive and guardianship families.

o   $60 million additional funds to CAPTA (the Child Abuse Treatment and Prevention Act) to help states do other child abuse prevention work (totaling $85 million).



Congress Serves Kids in Continuing Resolution

“The Title IV-E Social Security entitlement, currently reserved for foster care and adoption assistance expenses, can now be used for 12 months of services aimed at helping families without the use of foster care.  The Family First Act will enable child welfare systems to tap into IV-E S to get addiction treatment for parents that they determine, with the right amount of support, are not a danger to their children. So too for parents suffering from mental illness or basic parenting deficits.

The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, which pairs professionals with new and expecting mothers to help prepare them for parenthood, faced a shortfall that likely would have prompted program eliminations and staff layoffs across the country.  It received a five-year extension at its current rate of $400 million per year.

This deal added an additional four years, giving CHIP a full decade extension, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will actually save the federal government $6 billion over the decade.Community health centers serve about 27 million people a year in America, many of them low-income families. Federal funding expired in September, and is renewed in this bill with an increase from last year’s $3.6 billion. The centers will receive $3.8 billion this year, and $4 billion next year.”

– Chronicles of Social Change

Director of NCCASP chosen as Class of 2018 Presidential Leadership Scholar

On Jan 30, 2018 –  The Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program announced that Ann Ratnayake, Managing Director of NCCASP has been selected as one of the 59 Scholars chosen for the program’s fourth annual class.  PLS is a partnership with the Clinton Library, George Bush Library,  LBJ Library, and the George W. Bush Library.


PLS serves as a catalyst for a diverse network of leaders brought together to collaborate and make a difference in the world as they learn about leadership through the lens of the presidential experiences. The fourth class was selected after a rigorous application and review process.  Over the course of several months, Scholars will travel to each participating presidential center to learn from former presidents, key former administration officials, and leading academics. They will study and put into practice varying approaches to leadership, develop a network of peers, and exchange ideas with
mentors and others who can help them make an impact in their communities. The program kicks off in Washington, D.C. on February 6.

Predictive Analytics – Highlighting the line of Danger for A Child In Need


The New York Times  By  Dan Hurley

“The [team] linked many dozens of data points — just about everything known to the county about each family before an allegation arrived — to predict how the children would fare afterward. What they found was startling and disturbing: 48 percent of the lowest-risk families were being screened in, while 27 percent of the highest-risk families were being screened out. Of the 18 calls to C.Y.F. between 2010 and 2014 in which a child was later killed or gravely injured as a result of parental maltreatment, eight cases, or 44 percent, had been screened out as not worth investigation.

According to Rachel Berger, a pediatrician who directs the child-abuse research center at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and who led research for the federal Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, the problem is not one of finding a needle in a haystack but of finding the right needle in a pile of needles. “All of these children are living in chaos,’ she told me. ‘How does C.Y.F. pick out which ones are most in danger when they all have risk factors? You can’t believe the amount of subjectivity that goes into child-protection decisions. That’s why I love predictive analytics.

It’s finally bringing some objectivity and science to decisions that can be so unbelievably life-changing.'”


Increasing both prevention and treatment will lead to a net cost reduction in spending of approximately 5.2 billion dollars


Researchers at Rand Corp modeled the complex child welfare system and found “that combining expanded prevention and treatment in the form of support for kinship care leads to a net cost reduction in the range of 3 to 7 percent of total spending (or approxi mately $5.2 billion to $10.5 billion saved against the current baseline of $155.9 billion) for a cohort of children born over a five-year period.

Increases in prevention lead to decreases in mal-treatment and improvements in young adult outcomes but do not affect the experiences of children who enter the system and result in small additional costs. Increases in treatment lead to improvements in system experience and outcomes and reduce lifetime costs but do not reduce maltreatment. It is only when increases to prevention and treatment are implemented together that all of the policy objectives are achieved. It is not necessarily unexpected that this approach would generate reductions in maltreatment, improvements in system experience, and improvements in outcomes. “


Read the Full Report Here:  Jeanne S. Ringel et. al., Improving Child Welfare Balancing Investments in Treatment and Prevention (Rand Corp 2017)

A Statutory Tool to Address Severe Familial Violence: Domestic Violence, Torture, and Mass Shootings


Law enforcement officials investigate the scene of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP


Devin P. Kelly a 26-year-old Texan opened fire at a Sunday Service at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs.  Kelly killed at least 26 people their ages range from 18 months to 77 years old.  Law enforcement describes the incident as a “domestic situation” targeting his mother-in-law.  In the Southerland Springs shooting, 12 of the victims were also children.

Most mass shootings in the U.S. are related to domestic or family violence. In at least 54 percent of mass shootings from 1999-2017, the perpetrator shot a current or former intimate partner or family member. More than 40 percent of the victims were children. Most of these cases ended with the perpetrators killing themselves.[1]

Not until 1984, when the landmark case Thurman v. The City of Torrington[2] recognized that police had a legal responsibility to respond to and protect victims of domestic violence,[3] did the criminal justice system begin to prosecute domestic violence.  Prosecuting domestic violence is difficult. Evidence suggests that 80–85% of battered women will dispute that abuse occurred at some point.[4] A victim who telephones the police in immediate fear for her life will likely later recant her statement due to control and manipulation tactics used by the abuser.[5]

The current statutes used to prosecute domestic violence further complicate these cases.  Codified state laws only address family violence by a single transaction or instance – i.e., a single instance of strangulation, a single instance of assault, or battery.[6]  However, intimate partner violence is not limited to a single act of assault or battery, but instead is a coercive pattern of one partner’s physical violence, intimidation, and control of the other partner that often leads to homicide.[7]

In 2009, after graduating high school in New Braunfels, Kelly enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.  In April of 2011, he married Tessa Kelley.  According to the General Court Marshall Order, Kelly on or about June 24, 2011 and April 27, 2012 hit his wife, strangled, kicked her least once, threatened her with a loaded gun numerous times, and struck his two-year-old stepson with enough force to cause a skull fracture.

Military prosecutors charged Kelly with five counts of assault under the Uniform Code of Military Justice Article 128.[8]  Rather than go forward with the trial, he pled guilty to two out of the five counts.   The Court’s sentenced reduced Kelly’s rank to E-1, provided a bad-conduct discharge usually reserved for misdemeanors and confinement for 12 months.[9]  The Court sentenced Kelly for two abusive acts which most likely was only two of hundreds in the course of the relationship.

From what we know about domestic violence, it is a coercive pattern of one partner’s physical violence, intimidation, and control of the other partner that often leads to homicide. Two states: California and Michigan have laws that address the arch of intense violence in the most heinous of domestic violence relationships.[10]

Both state laws do not address a single instance of physical assault but instead, focus on the “cruel or extreme pain and suffering” caused by the perpetrator.  The Michigan law was passed after the California law and improves upon it.  The Michigan torture law states, “ A person who, with the intent to cause cruel or extreme physical or mental pain and suffering, inflicts great bodily injury or severe mental pain or suffering upon another person within his or her custody or physical control[11] commits torture and is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of years.”

If Kelly had been prosecuted under the Michigan Torture, the likelihood is high he still would be in jail and not have committed mass murder.  In cases where domestic violence against a family member is the canary in the coal mine, prosecutors should have the charging tools to prevent future violence against family members and the public at large.   Only California and Michigan have laws that criminalize the torture of adults.   Legislators should provide prosecutors the tools to address domestic violence as the serious problem and potentially not only protect the lives of family members, but also the public at large.

By.  A. Ann Ratnayake, JD/BBA

[1] Everytown for Gun Safety, Mass Shootings In The United States 1999-2017, 3 (2017),; See also J. Reid Melo Ph.D et al., A Comparative Analysis of North American Adolescent and Adult Mass Murderers, 22 J. Behav. Sci. Law, 291, 296  (2004),

         [2]   Thurman v. City of Torrington, 595 F. Supp. 1521 (D. Conn. 1984).

         [3]   Id. at 1528.

         [4]   Tom Lininger, Prosecuting Batterers After Crawford, 91 Va. L. Rev. 747, 768 (2005).

         [5]   Id.

         [6]   Eg. 21 OK Stat § 21-644 (2014)

         [7]   Shannan Catalano, et al., U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Female Victims of Violence 2 (2009) (“In 2007 intimate partners committed 14% of all homicides in the U.S. The total estimated number of intimate partner homicide victims in 2007 was 2,340, including 1,640 females and 700 males.”); Tim Donaldson & Karen Olson, “Classic Abusive Relationships” and the Inference of Witness Tampering in Family Violence Cases After Giles v. California, 36 Lincoln L. Rev. 45, 81 (2008) (citing Joan B. Kelly & Michael P. Johnson, Differentiation Among Types of Intimate Partner Violence: Research Update and Implications for Interventions, 46 Fam Ct. Rev. 476, 478 (2008); see also Amy Holtzworth-Munroe & Gregory L. Stuart, Typologies of Male Batterers: Three Subtypes and the Differences Among Them, 116 Psychol. Bull. 476, 477–94 (1994)).

[8] Dep’t  Air Force Headquarters: Davis Monthan-Airforce Base Arizona, General Court-Marshall Order No. 10 Jan. 14, 2013,

[9] U.S. v.  Devin P. Kelly, ACM 38263 (A.F. Ct. Crim. App. filed Dec.3, 2013),

[10] Cal. Penal Code § 206 (2016); Torture; Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 750.85 (2016). Torture; felony; penalty; definitions; element of crime; other laws.

[11] See People v. Studier, No. 317351, slip op. (Mich. Ct. App. 2015), (The Court found a victim of Domestic Violence afraid to leave the premises due to death threats made by the perpetrator to be forcibly restrained).

[12] Torture; Mich. Comp. Laws Serv. § 750.85 (2016). Torture; felony; penalty; definitions; element of crime; other laws.