Child Welfare Policy Manual

April 20, 2014

2.1B  CAPTA, Assurances and Requirements, Appeals

1. Question: Please explain the requirements in the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) for appealing findings of child abuse or neglect.

Answer: States are required to have in place an appeals process by which an individual who is officially found to have committed child abuse or neglect can appeal such a finding. States have some flexibility in determining the type of appeals process that best meets their needs. For example, the appeals process can be established through the courts, through some other external appeals process, or through an internal appeals process.

The appeals process, however, must meet the following minimum conditions in order to satisfy the CAPTA requirements:

1) The process must afford the individual with a finding of child abuse or neglect an opportunity for due process.

2) The office or individual(s) hearing such appeals cannot be involved in any other stage of the case.

3) The office or individual(s) established to hear such appeals must have the authority to overturn a previous finding of child abuse or neglect.

4) Individuals must be given written notification of their right to appeal, and the method by which they may appeal, at the time they are notified of the official finding of child abuse or neglect.

2. Question: To whom does the appeals process under 106(b)(2)(B)(xv)(II) apply?

Answer: CAPTA requires States to establish provisions, procedures and mechanisms by which individuals who disagree with an official finding of abuse and neglect can appeal such finding. We understand this provision to apply to the perpetrator; however, individuals with standing under State law are not precluded from participating in the appeals process should such individuals disagree with a finding of abuse or neglect.

3. Question: The Department has stated that an appeals process under CAPTA should include steps to assure that individuals with appeal rights receive timely notification of the right to appeal a finding of child abuse and neglect. What is considered timely notification (e.g., at the time individuals come to the attention of the agency or after the finding of abuse and/or neglect)?

Answer: While there is nothing in Federal statute or regulation which defines "timely notification" for this purpose, we believe that the term is directly related to an official finding of abuse or neglect. Therefore, States should implement processes and procedures to assure that individuals are notified of their right to appeal upon a final finding of abuse or neglect.

  • Source/Date: ACYF-NCCAN-PIQ-97-03 (9/26/97) ; updated 9/27/11
  • Legal and Related References: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.) - section 106(b)(2)(B)(xv)(II)
4. Question: Must States set up an administrative appeals process if they do not maintain a central registry?

Answer: Yes. Pursuant to section 106 (b)(2)(B)(xv)(II) of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), States must have a process to hear appeals from individuals who disagree with an official finding of child abuse or neglect. There is nothing in the statutory language or legislative history that indicates that this requirement is limited to only those States with central registries. Additionally, in order for an appeals process to be complete, it must include steps to assure that individuals with such rights receive timely notification.

  • Source/Date: ACYF-NCCAN-PIQ-97-01 (3/4/97); updated 9/27/11
  • Legal and Related References: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.) - section 106(b)(2)(B)(xv)(II)