Policy Effecting Early Childhood in Child Welfare

Federal and State Legislation

In partnership with the California Department of Social Services, the Resource Center for Family-Focused Practice actively supports statewide and community efforts to ensure that the early childhood population receives high quality services, including child welfare compliance with requirements of the state and federal legislation.

Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was enacted in 1974 and addresses child abuse and neglect by providing grants to states to support the prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse and neglect. CAPTA has been amended several times over the years and is specifically important regarding the early childhood population because this legislation requires that:

  • The needs of infants born and identified as being affected by prenatal drug exposure are addressed
  • Children under age three years involved in a substantiated case of child abuse or neglect are referred to early intervention services funded under part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that makes available free and appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities and ensures special education and related services to those children.

  • IDEA Part C: Infants and toddler, birth through age two, with developmental delays or disabilities are provided with early intervention services.
  • IDEA Part B: Children and youth ages three through 21 with developmental disabilities are provided free services through the public school system.

The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Lanterman Act)

The Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act (Lanterman Act) was passed in 1969 in California and states that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families have a right to receive services and supports they need to live like those without disabilities. The Lanterman Act outlines the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, services and supports that can be obtained through the regional centers and service providers, and what to do when someone violates the Lanterman Act.

State Policy Letters and Notices

ACL 20-25: Providing Optimal Child Welfare and Probation Services to Children and Families During Coronavirus (COVID-19) California State of Emergency. References children under the age of three years old, pertaining to parent/child and sibling visits.

ACIN I-38-20: Early Childhood Wraparound Resource Guide for Serving Children from Birth to Five Years

ACL 20-122: Assessing Child Safety and Appropriate Monitoring of Safety Plans. References safety plans involving infants affected by substance abuse or a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

ACL 17-92: Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act Of 2016 Amendments to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. References information related to the needs of infants affected by substance use.

ACL 15-11: Recording Developmental and Mental Health Screening, Referral, and Plan Intervention Information in the Child Welfare Services/Case Management System

ACL 06-54: Policies and Procedures to Refer Young Children Under the Age of Three with a Substantiated Case of Child Abuse or Neglect to the Early Start Program