The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was originally enacted in 1974 and reauthorized in 2010 to include a policy requiring states to implement a notification process to DCF when a baby is born who has been prenatally exposed to substances.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) was signed into federal law in 2016, with the aim to address the problem of opioid addiction in the United States and offered amendments to CAPTA.

Changes to federal legislation around CAPTA and CARA have outlined new state mandates requiring data collection around the impact of substance exposed infants and development of Family Care Plans nationwide.

What Does CT CAPTA Legislation Require?

Effective since March 15, 2019, CT birthing hospitals are required to submit a de-identified notification to a CAPTA portal when an infant with prenatal substance exposure is born or presents with suspicions of abuse or neglect, through an online portal. This portal guides the reporter through a variety of questions to determine if the matter is a CAPTA Notification or requires a referral to the Department of Children and Families. If it is a referral of abuse and neglect, this is accomplished online through this same portal, with a call to the DCF Careline no longer required.

Starting in 2019, CT state legislation also requires:

  • The creation of written Family Care Plans, which must be developed between the providers and mothers/birthing person of the newborns.
  • A provider involved in the delivery or care of a newborn who, in the provider’s estimation, is exposed to substances in utero or exhibits physical, neurological, or behavioral symptoms consistent with prenatal substance exposure, associated withdrawal symptoms, or Fetal alcohol Spectrum Disorder must submit notification to a CAPTA portal of these conditions in the newborn.

It is essential to understand that in Connecticut, prenatal substance exposure alone is not grounds to substantiate child abuse or neglect.

What Are The Substances of Concern?

Substances that infants can be prenatally exposed to and require a CAPTA notification include: methadone, buprenorphine, prescription opioids, cannabis, prescription benzodiazepines, alcohol, other illegal/non-prescribed medication, and/or the misuse of prescription/over the counter medication. Empowering birthing persons, supporting families, and connection to treatment and resources to support the well-being of families is part of the focus. Psychotropic medications are NOT included in the notification requirement.