Children's Justice Act (CJA) is authorized as part of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), which is administered by the Children's Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The CJA program, enacted as an amendment to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) in 1985, established a federal grant program to assist states in developing programs and procedures to improve their response to child abuse cases.


The Children’s Justice and Assistance Act of 1986 (CJA, Public Law 99-401) was a set of amendments to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, originally enacted in 1974. The legislation was proposed by U.S. Senator Paula Hawkins of Florida and the amendments were designed to encourage states to enact reforms to improve the legal and administrative handling of child abuse cases, particularly cases of child sexual abuse. CJA amended the Victims of Crimes Act of 1984 to increase the maximum amount which may be deposited into the Crime Victim’s Fund and required that specified portions of such funds be used for Children’s Justice Act Grants to states. 

In 1988, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act amended the Victims of Crime Act, authorizing the use of a portion of the state CJA funds to help tribal communities develop and establish programs to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases. 

In 2000, the President signed the CAPE (Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement) Act into law. CAPE increases the total funding for CJA from $10,000,000 per year up to as much as $20,000,000 per year. 

In 2003, the President signed the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act. This law reauthorized and amended the Children’s Justice Act to also address the handling of cases of children with disabilities and serious health problems who are victims of abuse or neglect.

CJA in Texas

In July of 1989 the Governor of Texas authorized the Texas Department of Human Services (TDHS), then home to Child Protective Services (CPS), to apply for and receive the state’s CJA grant. In September of 1992, Texas established the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (PRS) and transferred CPS to this agency. The Governor subsequently named PRS as the entity to receive and administer the CJA grant. In 2005, administration of the CJA grant moved from PRS, which by that time was the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), to the Texas Center for the Judiciary (TCJ).