Three-quarters of reports to child protective services involve allegations of neglect. Neglect happens when a parent or caregiver does not provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision to the degree that the child’s health, safety, and well-being are threatened with harm. Providing families with economic assistance or concrete supports, such as food, housing, or child care, can build protective factors and decrease the risk of neglect for children.
Families experiencing poverty are more likely to be reported for child neglect, and poverty is disproportionally present in communities of color. Because of this, child welfare professionals need to be aware of how biases and oversurveillance of families, especially low-income families, lead to unnecessary child welfare involvement. Professionals should understand biases and how they affect decision-making.
Understanding the causes of disproportionality—including racial bias as well as socioeconomic and systemic factors—can help prevent child neglect and ensure families receive services and supports that meet their needs, are culturally responsive, and are devoted to equity.
Use these resources to learn effective prevention and early intervention strategies to reduce the risk of neglect and involvement with the child welfare system.
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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.
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.
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.
Poverty and Child Neglect: How Did We Get It Wrong?
Discusses the correlation between poverty and child neglect and the evidence-based policy options that can help reduce the risk factors associated with neglect and help families thrive.
Distinguishing Poverty Experienced by Families From Child Neglect
Read about the need to distinguish poverty and neglect in families by addressing how the underlying causes of poverty can help decrease child welfare system involvement, avoid unnecessary child removals, and promote child and family well-being.