Children do best when they grow with their own families and remain safely connected to their family and community. Effective prevention strategies that reduce risk factors and build protective factors are vital to help whole families thrive and prevent child abuse and neglect and family separation.
The Federal Family First Prevention Services Act allows funding for community- and evidence-based services for all family members (and fictive kin) to support the child and their family in their community. The most effective prevention efforts work at the community level, strengthening the family’s social network and utilizing that network as a source of support.
Families, especially those who are low-income and families of color, are placed at disproportionate risk of child welfare involvement due to societal factors such as underresourced neighborhoods and racially biased housing and employment practices. The social-ecological model acknowledges the many different levels of factors that influence families. All families should have equitable and easy access to culturally responsive prevention programs and services that address societal and community-level issues, in addition to those addressing individual and family risk factors.
Use these resources to learn more about prevention in child welfare.
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Culture as a Protective Factor
Cultural connections help support positive identity development and sustain strong families. Strong ties to family and community culture can also be a protective factor, promoting well-being and improving child welfare outcomes.
2023/2024 Prevention Resource Guide
Find information on actions taken as a society and within communities, organizations, and families to address the root causes of child abuse and neglect and how communities are doing purposeful prevention work to help children and families thrive.
Child Welfare Practice to Address Racial Disproportionality and Disparity
Explore factors that contribute to racial and ethnic disproportionality and disparity in the child welfare system. The publication also outlines strategies to assist professionals with addressing these issues and decision-making along the continuum.
Two-Generation Approaches to Supporting Family Well-Being
Read about two-generation approaches and why child welfare agencies should use them to improve outcomes for families. Learn how to build parental capacity and protective factors within families, often with the goal of interrupting cycles of poverty.
Separating Poverty From Neglect in Child Welfare
Explore the overlap among families experiencing poverty and those reported to the child welfare system for neglect, the societal context within which poverty and neglect exist, and strategies for preventing and addressing both poverty and neglect.
In-Home Services to Strengthen Children and Families
Learn about child welfare in-home services, components of effective service delivery, and Federal funding sources for services. Also read about evidence-based in-home programs used and State examples of efforts to improve in-home services delivery.
Family Engagement: Partnering With Families to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes
Find information on the foundational elements of the family engagement approach, followed by strategies and promising practices for implementing it for frontline caseworkers who directly engage families to promote safety, permanency, and well-being.
Spotlight on Prevention Teams
View a video in which child protection workers describe their role on prevention teams and learn how Louisiana created prevention teams to work with families that need support but may not require further involvement with child protective services.
Transforming Child Welfare: Prioritizing Prevention, Racial Equity, and Advancing Child and Family Well-Being
Explore the need for a transformational shift of the child welfare system to become more focused on the prevention of child maltreatment and racial equity and learn how the child welfare system should improve and sustain child and family well-being.
Working Across the Prevention Continuum to Strengthen Families
View a three-tiered prevention continuum for child abuse and neglect that defines primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Tertiary prevention strategies target families where maltreatment has occurred with the aim of preventing its recurrence.