legislation created the present-day Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (the “Office”), housed in
the HHS.38 CAPTA tasked the Office with funding state initiatives to follow new federal
directives regarding the identification, prevention, and treatment of child abuse.39 These
directives included mandatory reporting within state child-protective agencies, investigation of
reports of child abuse or neglect, and preserving confidentiality of records.40 Before 1974, few
states met the standards CAPTA demanded.41
In 1992, Congress amended CAPTA to loosen confidentiality requirements following the
death of a New York boy named Adam Mann, who child welfare officials knew had long suffered
abuse.42 The amendment allowed for the release of records to multidisciplinary fatality review
teams.43 Congress intended that these teams would increase the level of accountability in child
Currently, CAPTA makes federal funding for child-welfare programs contingent on each
individual state meeting several requirements. One of the requirements is the filing of annual
reports with the secretary of HHS.45 These annual reports must include aggregate information
about the state agency’s activities, such as the number of children reported as abused or
neglected, the number of those reports that were substantiated, and the number of case workers
responsible for all intake and assessment of the reports.46 CAPTA further requires the secretary
of HHS to prepare a report based on all of the states’ annual reports and present it to Congress
and the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information.47
In addition, CAPTA requires states to provide methods to “preserve the confidentiality of
all records in order to protect the rights of the child and of the child’s parents or guardians.”48
Providing general guidelines, CAPTA allows for access to records by:
(I) individuals who are the subject of the report; (II) Federal, State, or local
government entities, or any agent of such entities . . .; (III) child abuse citizen
review panels; (IV) child fatality review panels; (V) a grand jury or court, upon a
finding that information in the record is necessary for the determination of an
issue before the court or grand jury; and (VI) other entities or classes of
individuals statutorily authorized by the State to receive such information
38 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106a(b)(2)(B) (West 2014). "The original CAPTA authorized the creation of the National Center on Child Abuse
and Neglect (NCCAN)” housed in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) “to help establish the parameters of
the problem and to provide incentives for developing effective methods of treatment.” S. REP. 111-378, at 4 (2010). In 1980, HEW
split into the Department of Education and the HHS. Kurt Stout, Spotlight: Centers for Medicare and Medical Services, CAPITOL
MARKETS (Nov. 14, 2013), http://www.capitolmarkets.com/category/agencies/hhs/. In 1984, CAPTA was amended to reflect this
split. See Act of Oct. 9, 1984, Pub. L. No. 98-457, § 101, 98 Stat. 1749, 1749 (“striking out ‘Health, Education, and Welfare’ and
inserting in lieu thereof ‘Health and Human Services’”). CAPTA was again amended in 1996; those amendments included renaming
the Center to the Office on Child Abuse and Neglect. See Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Amendments of 1996, Pub. L.
No. 104-235, § 101, 110 Stat 3063, 3064.
41 Mangold, supra note 29, at 1434.
42 See Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Amendments of 1992, Pub. L. No. 102–586 § 9(a), 106 Stat. 4982 (codified at 42
U.S.C.A. § 5106a (West 2014)). The case of Adam Mann had prompted a documentary that revealed failures in the child welfare
system based on records obtained by the filmmaker. See Who Killed Adam Mann?, (PBS Frontline Dec. 3, 1991); Robert Koehler, TV
Review: A Tragedy of Abuse in PBS’ “Adam Mann,” L.A. TIMES (Dec. 3, 1991), http://articles.latimes.com/1991-12-
03/entertainment/ca-426_1_adam-mann. The records that served as the basis of conclusions in the documentary were not usually
available to journalists, and what they revealed prompted calls for more openness and accountability in the child welfare systsem. Id.
43 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Amendments § 9(a); see also id. § 9(c) (providing a “sense of the Congress” that all
states develop formal “interagency, multidisciplinary teams” to review cases in which a child known to have suffered abuse or neglect
dies, and whenever there is evidence of negligence by the State in handling a report of abuse).
44 Id. § 9(a)(9).
45 42 U.S.C.A.§ 5106a(c)(6), (d) (West 2014).
46 Id. § 5106a(d).
47 Id. § 5106a(e).