The State of Maryland announced a total of $331,654 in grant funding to 18 Maryland organizations to improve the judicial, administrative and investigative handling of child abuse and neglect cases. The grants are awarded by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention and the Children’s Justice Act Committee (CJAC) under the federal Children’s Justice Act (CJA) grant program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The CJAC, a federally mandated Task Force under the grant program, completes a comprehensive assessment every three years and makes funding recommendations to GOCCP. The goal is to protect vulnerable children while successfully developing information to prosecute suspected abusers. This is done primarily through training for professionals and volunteers who respond to suspected child abuse cases to interview children who have been victimized.

The funds support efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of child abuse or neglect,  cases of sexual child abuse and neglect or fatalities that may be linked to those offenses. Recipients may also use grant funds for the investigation of cases involving children with disabilities or serious health-related problems who are suspected victims of child abuse and neglect, and suspected cases of child human trafficking, as well as child abuse victims who may be immigrants or LGBTQ youth.

These grants include funding spent this year on the ChildFirst program, an innovative and intensive five-day course specifically designed for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and child abuse professionals. The ChildFirst program teaches these professionals how to conduct skillful and sensitive forensic interviews of child sexual abuse victims to provide evidence that will be used in court.