Handle with Care Maryland
Changing Marylandand for the Better

Maryland Children’s Justice Act Committee


The Children’s Justice Act (CJA) program was established in 1986 by Congress as Section 109 of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and provides grants to States to improve the investigation, prosecution and judicial handling of cases of child abuse and neglect, particularly child sexual abuse and exploitation, in a manner that limits additional trauma to the child victim. This also includes the handling of child fatality cases in which child abuse or neglect is suspected and some cases of children with disabilities and serious health problems who also are victims of abuse and neglect.

Since Fiscal Year 2000, $17 million in CJA formula funds have been made available annually for distribution to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands. States must apply for the funds and meet certain eligibility requirements, including receipt of the CAPTA Basic State Grant (in MD, this goes to DHS) and establishment of a CJA Task Force (Children’s Justice Act Committee) as outlined in the legislation. In Maryland, the CJAC is one of three standing committees of the State Council of Child Abuse and Neglect (SCCAN) per MD Family Law § 5-7A-05. Maryland currently receives approximately $306,000 annually in CJA funding.

Typical CJA activities:

  • Developing curricula and conducting training for personnel in law enforcement and child protective services, as well as health and mental health professionals, prosecutors and judges.
  • Establishing or enhancing child advocacy centers and other multidisciplinary programs to serve child victims and their families in order to minimize trauma.
  • Establishing and supporting local and/or State child fatality review teams, including multi-disciplinary training, team development, and annual reporting.
  • Supporting the enactment of laws to improve systems response, including allowing the admission of indirect testimony of children into evidence, making the courtroom setting less intimidating to children, increasing the penalties for sexual offenses against children, requiring mandatory sentencing, shortening the trial process, and permitting victims to make statements prior to sentencing.