Barletta Bill Protecting Opioid-Addicted Newborns Sails through Committee

Apr 28, 2016
Press Release
Bipartisan Bill Addresses Epidemic: Baby Born Addicted Every 25 Minutes in U.S.

Click here or on image for video of Rep. Barletta speaking in support of his bill to protect babies who are born addicted to opioids.


WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today successfully guided his bipartisan legislation protecting opioid-addicted newborn babies through the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  The Infant Plan of Safe Care Improvement Act, H.R. 4843, which Barletta authored with Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), requires that states which receive federal funds for the treatment of opioid-dependent babies comply with federal law and enact certain guidelines for child welfare.  The category of opioids includes a variety of pain medications or other drugs, such as heroin.  The legislation does not seek to persecute the mothers of the children, so as not to dissuade parents from allowing their newborns to access appropriate care.  The bill passed the committee by voice vote and now heads to the floor of the House of Representatives for its consideration.

“Children who are exposed to illegal substances before they’re born are helpless in avoiding the pain and suffering caused by addiction, and so many infants enter this world without even a fighting chance,” Barletta said.  “In fact, every 25 minutes in this country, a baby is born having already been exposed to drugs and suffering from opiate withdrawal.  These children will pay the price for something they had absolutely no control over – something they were defenseless against.  That’s why it’s so important we do everything we can to prevent these heartbreaking situations and ensure all children have the protection and care they need.”

“Our nation is facing a growing opioid epidemic that is destroying communities, families, and lives, and some of the most vulnerable children and families are suffering its worst consequences,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Kline (R-MN). “This bill is an important part of a much broader effort to address the national opioid crisis. The bill will strengthen protections not only for infants exposed to illegal drugs before birth, but for all children in need of help and care. I’m grateful for the leadership of Representatives Barletta and Clark and for their work advancing this critical bipartisan proposal. We have taken an important step to address a real need, and I look forward to advancing these reforms in the weeks ahead.”

This legislation would:

  • Require the department of Health and Human Services to review and confirm states have put in place policies required under the 1974 Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA).
  • Strengthen protections for infants born with illegal substance exposure by clarifying the intent of safe care plans.
  • Improve accountability related to the care of infants and their families by requiring additional information on the incidents of infants born with illegal substance exposure and their care.
  • Provide states with best practices for developing plans to keep infants and their caregivers healthy and safe.
  • Encourage the use of information made available through other child welfare laws in verifying CAPTA compliance.

CAPTA was enacted in 1974 to coordinate federal efforts to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect.  The law provides states with resources to improve their child protective services systems.  In order to receive funds under CAPTA, states are required to assure the Department of Health and Human Services that they have implemented certain child welfare policies.  Such policies include requiring health care providers to notify state child protective services agencies when a child is born with prenatal illegal substance exposure, as well as requiring the development of a “safe care plan” to protect these newborns and keep them and their caregivers healthy.  A recent Reuters investigation revealed some states are receiving federal funds without having the necessary policies in place, resulting in shocking and deadly consequences.