Children’s Justice Act (CJA) was originally enacted in 1984 as part of the Victims of Crime Act to encourage States to improve the handling of child abuse cases and, in particular, child sexual abuse cases. Most recently, CJA was reauthorized through the 2010 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, P.L. 111-320).
Section 107(a) of CAPTA authorizes grants to States for the purpose of assisting States in developing, establishing and operating programs designed to improve:
1. The assessment and investigation of suspected child abuse and neglect cases, including cases of suspected child sexual abuse and exploitation, in a manner that limits additional trauma to the child and the child’s family;
2. The assessment and investigation of cases of suspected child abuse-related fatalities and suspected child neglect-related fatalities;
3. The investigation and prosecution of cases of child abuse and neglect, including child sexual abuse and exploitation; and
4. The assessment and investigation of cases involving children with disabilities or serious health-related problems who are suspected victims of child abuse or neglect.
Section 107(c) of CAPTA requires States to create a multidisciplinary CJA Task Force composed of professionals and individuals with knowledge and experience relating to the criminal justice system and issues of child physical abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse and exploitation, and child maltreatment related fatalities.
The CJA Task Force:
Current Recommendations from the Colorado CJA Task Force
1. Reviews and evaluates State investigative, administrative and both civil and criminal 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 intrastate, interstate, Federal-State, and State-Tribal; and
2. Makes policy and training recommendations in each of the categories described in subsection (e) of this section. The task force may make such other comments and recommendations as are considered relevant and useful.
The Colorado CJA Task Force current system recommendations are as follows:
1. Build capacity in rural areas to ensure procedural fairness in the investigative, administrative, and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect.
2. Develop resources that ensure procedural fairness in the investigative, administrative, and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect.
3. Continue to develop and support training opportunities for child protection workers, domestic violence advocates, law enforcement officers, GALs, and judges to improve the investigative, administrative, and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect.
4. Support the activities of the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) Fatality Review Team and the CDHS Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) in disseminating information statewide.
5. Coordinate efforts with other recommending bodies to identify areas that support system-responses to child abuse and neglect.
6. Explore and make recommendations on the needs of youth who are involved across the Department of Youth Corrections and the Division of Child Welfare Services.