The safety of children and youth is the primary focus of the child welfare system. Child welfare agencies provide services and supports to address safety concerns and reduce the risk of future harm, keeping families together whenever possible.

When a family comes to the attention of child welfare, various assessments of risk, safety, family functioning, and the impact of trauma are conducted. If there are safety concerns, caseworkers recommend services, but the decision about whether they are needed should be made jointly with the family. Caseworkers should involve the family and its support system while considering the many factors needed to achieve a balance between safety and risk.

The use of risk assessment tools can guide decision-making. Enhancing caregiver protective capacity while providing equitable services tailored to the family’s needs can help maximize children's safety.

Families from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds may experience inequitable child welfare outcomes. For example, African American families are more likely to be investigated by child protective services than other families. Additionally, Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native families disproportionately experience poverty, which increases their likelihood of being reported to child protective services.

Adjust the filters below to refine your list of resources.

Can’t find what you need in the filtered results? Try searching our Library catalog to access a large selection of peer-reviewed journal articles, evaluation reports, Children’s Bureau grant materials, research studies, and more.