Child Abuse Prevention:

Status of the Challenge Grant Program

HRD-91-95: Published: May 9, 1991. Publicly Released: May 9, 1991.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO provided information on the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect's (NCCAN) Challenge Grant Program, focusing on: (1) the total amount of federal spending on child abuse prevention; (2) sources of revenue for state trust funds for abuse prevention activities; (3) the amount of funding from trust funds and other funding mechanisms used to apply for challenge grants; (4) prevention activities supported by challenge grants; and (5) administrative aspects.

GAO found that: (1) the total amount of federal funds spent on child abuse prevention was unknown; (2) by fiscal year (FY) 1989, 42 states had established child abuse prevention trust funds with revenues ranging from $29,000 to over $3 million, with a median trust fund revenue of about $240,000; (3) public and private mechanisms used to raise revenue for trust funds included state income tax checkoffs, state appropriations, interest income from endowments, surcharges on state licenses, and grants from private licenses; (4) 34 states used $16 million in trust funds in their FY 1989 challenge grant applications, 15 states relied on dedicated line-item appropriations of $9 million, and the other 8 states relied exclusively on child abuse prevention appropriations; (5) funding mechanisms other than trust funds and direct appropriations accounted for $70 million in state funding, and included a broad range of programs; (6) although more than $94 million in state funds were available for child abuse prevention activities, only $40 million were considered for federal matching funds; (7) states relied on challenge grant funds to support community prevention programs and activities that could not be supported with state funds; and (8) other funding mechanisms complicated grant administration.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In June 1992, the law was reauthorized as the Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Adoption and Family Services Act (formerly the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act). This act, which includes the Challenge Grant Program, substitutes a formula for allocating grant funds which clarifies the funding mechanisms qualifying for matching funds.

    Matter: If Congress decides to reauthorize the Challenge Grant Program to preserve the incentive for establishing and maintaining trust funds dedicated to preventing child abuse and neglect, it should consider amending the statute to award funds by either: (1) specifying more clearly which funding mechanisms qualify for matching funds; or (2) substituting a formula for the grant application process.


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