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We Can Do Better: Cross-System Approaches for Addressing Child Maltreatment
March 23, 2021, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm EDT
From birth to age 18, over one-third of U.S. children are investigated by child welfare systems due to allegations of child abuse and neglect, one-eighth are determined to be victims of maltreatment, and about 6% spend some time in foster care. Child welfare services in the United States are also extremely expensive, with an estimated cost of roughly $30 billion per year to federal, state, and local governments. And current child welfare systems respond to child safety concerns through a highly intrusive and intensive government intervention that is nearly always unwelcomed by families.
Given these facts, it is high time to consider a different approach to child maltreatment prevention and intervention—one that significantly shrinks the role of child welfare systems, which, as currently organized, are almost exclusively reactive (responding to allegations of maltreatment) rather than proactive (preventing potential maltreatment).
In a webinar that drew from the November 2020 issue of The ANNALS (692), panelists asked: How can we leverage the broader social welfare policy landscape to prevent child maltreatment? Which child maltreatment prevention programs merit investment and expansion? How do families (particularly families of color, given their overrepresentation in the current child welfare system) experience child welfare interventions and how can these experiences be improved? Can predictive risk modeling aid in identifying families at risk of child maltreatment?
The March 23 online event, moderated by AAPSS Fellow Maria Cancian and co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP), offered practical and feasible steps to leverage a wealth of knowledge toward better prevention and intervention strategies and policies—spanning a host of public policies and systems serving families with children—for significantly reducing rates of child maltreatment, and more effectively serving families at risk for or having experienced child maltreatment.